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Published on April 23rd, 2010 | by Michael J Smith


What If NASCAR Drivers Were Drafted?

If you’re anything like me — and a football fan — you’ve probably wondered what would happen if NASCAR held a draft to determine which drivers would end up with which teams. So, with the NFL draft currently underway, I decided to do just that.

To keep from things getting too confusing with start and parkers and part time drivers, I only included drivers that had a driver’s page (not just a stats page.) There were 35 drivers, but I decided to include Robby Gordon because he drives full time and doesn’t start and park, despite not having a page. (That’s right, RG doesn’t have a page. It’s a travesty!)

The draft order was determined by current owner’s points, instead of last year’s mostly because of laziness. Trades were disaollowed for the same reason.

Drivers were awarded points based on their statistics, and then put in order based on those points. This determined the order in which they would be drafted. For more information, see the methodology page.

Otherwise, without further adieu, here it is, your 2010 NASCAR Draft: 

#1 Pick Jimmie Johnson  New Team: Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 36  Pros: Winning the last four Championships, and earning several victories on the way, Johnson has to be considered the best, most dominant driver in NASCAR right now. He manages to overcome adversity behind the wheel and posts good finishes when other teams would falter. He is comfortable on camera, and gains a lot of sponsor exposure through wins. He’s sure to lure a big time sponsor. Cons: Johnson doesn’t really have any cons. Some fans view him as bland and corporate. Others dislike him because he wins a lot.  
#2 Pick  Jeff Gordon New Team: Robby Gordon Motorsports No. 7  Pros: One of NASCAR’s most well-known drivers with a proven ability to win races, championships. He can run up front week in and week out and is a threat to win any time. He knows how to make the Chase, and lead laps. At his age, he is still marketable and would have the sponsors lining up to sign with him.  Cons: While still posting respectable results, his stats have fallen off lately. He’s still strong, but not as dominant as he used to be. He has trouble closing the deal with the race is on the line. Victory lane eludes him. It takes a lot to get him angry, but when he does, he can get overly aggressive and cost himself a win. He’s also been bothered by back issues.  
#3 Pick Carl Edwards New Team: Front Row Motorsports No. 37 Pros: Edwards is a proven winner. He’s got the drive, ambition, focus, and work ethic to be a threat to win week in and week out. His personality and look make him appealing to sponsors and an asset on camera. He is well spoken and is at ease dealing with the media. Cons: Edwards can be very aggressive inside and outside of the race car. This could harm a sponsor’s image. He’s known to retaliate during races, which is not only unsafe, but can damage race cars. Of late, he has been very inconsistent.  
#4 Pick Kyle Busch New Team: Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Pros: Busch has the talent and skills to compete for wins, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. He finds a way to finish races and can quietly find his way to the front. He is comfortable in front of a camera and can be a good spokesman for a company. He’s not the most likeable driver but on track performance more than makes up for that. Cons: He lets his emotions get the best of him at times. He doesn’t always deal with frustration or adversity well, which makes him seem immature and unprofessional. He also embraces the role of the villain, which could put off some sponsors. He has yet to be considered a legitimate threat for a championship. 
#5 Pick Tony Stewart New Team: TRG Motorsports No. 71 Pros: Stewart is a championship driver who has proven he can run up front and win. He’s also proven he can make the Chase and be competitive. He may not be the first name you think of when you think of championship drivers, but he shouldn’t be overlooked. He has the ability, skills, and talents to be a consistent threat. He’s comfortable in front of a camera and is marketable. Cons: He has a temper that can get him into trouble. He’s also vocal in his criticisms which might make some sponsors hesitate for a moment. He also has little tolerance for the media, and can get some negative attention. Some accuse him of not trying his hardest at times because he is temperamental. 
#6 Pick Matt Kenseth New Team: Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Pros: Kenseth is a championship driver who knows how to make the Chase, win races. He’s consistent and usually keeps himself out of trouble. He is a quiet, reserved driver, but he can still attract sponsors. Cons: Kenseth hasn’t been as strong as he was a few years ago. He’s qualifies near the back, and has had trouble finding his way to the front of late. His reserved personality could turn off some potential sponsors. 
#7 Pick Greg Biffle New Team: Michael Waltrip Racing No. 00 Pros: Biffle is a veteran driver with the skill and talent to keep the car consistently near the front of the pack. He knows how to make the Chase, and can keep the car near the top of the points’ standings. He’s at ease with the media and is serviceable during commercial spots. He’s not the most charismatic or marketable driver, but he still serves sponsors well. Cons: He’s not considered a threat to win week in and week out. When he’s off, he’s way off. He’s also not a favorite to win the championship.  
#8 Pick Denny Hamlin New Team: Penske Championship Racing No. 77 Pros: Hamlin is a talented driver who has proven he has what it takes to win races. He is consistent. He’s a young, marketable driver with the on camera skills and personality to take a sponsor far. Driving with a torn ACL and after surgery, he’s proven he is tough and will not miss much seat time due to injury. Cons: His emotions are his biggest obstacle. He can be a little aggressive on the track and damage his race car. He also has trouble closing out the season. His temper can get him into feuds with other drivers, which could lead to fan backlash. That could scare a sponsor. He also has two injured knees which could affect him in longer term. 
#9 Pick Jeff Burton New Team: JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Pros: Burton is an articulate, wise driver with a lot of experience behind the wheel. He is respected in the garage area and can contend for wins. He’s not aggressive and knows how to take care of a race car. He has loads of experience in front of a camera and is a respectable spokesman for any company. Cons: Burton’s recent on track results have not been as consistent as we’re used to. He quietly runs in the top 15, but isn’t always a contender to win races. He missed the Chase last year and could easily miss it this year. His age could also be less attractive to sponsors with a younger target audience. 
#10 Pick Kevin Harvick New Team: Richard Petty Motorsports No. 19 Pros: Harvick has the ability to win races, make the Chase, and keep the car up front. He’s not always a threat to win race, and hasn’t been of late, but he finds a way to post top 10 and top 15 finishes. He has decent on camera abilities and can serve a sponsor well through commercials. His personality makes him likeable to some fans. Cons: He has been known to be aggressive on and off the track, which may keep some sponsors away. He has also been inconsistent and is going through a winless drought. He has potential, but there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with him. 
#11 Pick Mark Martin Team: Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Pros: Martin is a veteran driver that is well-respected in the garage area. He’s been driving race cars for a long time, so he can offer more to a race team than just driving skills. He has intangibles that few drivers have, and he can mentor younger drivers. He also keeps his cars clean and almost always brings them home in one piece. His age may turn off some sponsors, but most will want to take advantage of his large following and his marketability. Cons: Martin has been around NASCAR for quite some time, but a championship eludes him, leading some to classify him as not being able to win one. Martin is a respectful driver, which may allow some of the younger, more aggressive drivers to take advantage of him.
#12 Pick Dale Earnhardt Jr Team: Penske Championship Racing No. 12 Pros: NASCAR’s most popular and well-known driver. He is very laid back, which allows fans to feel connected to him. Thus, he’s a sponsor’s dream regardless of his on track performance. He’s at ease on camera and can and will move product. He has talent behind the wheel and at certain tracks can be a consistent threat to win. Cons: He has been inconsistent at best recently. He can at times be overly aggressive on the track, and he can become so frustrated that he is unable to help the team improve the car. Given his famous last name and huge following, he brings with him high expectations and high pressure. Some have questioned his focus, desire.
#13 Pick Kurt Busch Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing No. 42 Pros: Busch is a championship driver who can contend for wins and Chase berths. He knows how to drive and can get a car to the front. He is a little rough around the edges at times but is an adequate acquisition for a sponsor. Cons: Busch has a bit of an attitude problem and may be hard to get along with. He lets his emotions get the best of him at times. He has trouble staying calm in an ill-handling car and can hurt a team’s ability to recover. He’s a little awkward on camera and isn’t as marketable as some other drivers.
#14 Pick Kasey Kahne Team: Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Pros: Kahne is a proven winner with the abilities to contend for wins and Chase berths. He has the talent to keep the car up front week in and week out. He’s also a sponsor’s dream, being young, attractive, and highly marketable. He’s comfortable in front of a camera and is sure to have sponsors lining up to sign with him. Cons: Kahne is not yet a legitimate contender to win a championship. He’s got the talent and the skills, but he hasn’t yet proven he can consistently run up front or turn a bad day into a good day. 
#15 Pick Ryan Newman Team: Richard Petty Motorsports No. 9 Pros: A solid driver with a proven history of winning and qualifying well. He has also proven he can make the Chase. He’s got enough charisma and a personality to attract sponsors. Cons: He’s not the most consistent driver, and there are some races where he struggles mightily and never cracks the top 15. His performance over the last few years has left a lot to be desired, making him a risky pick. 
#16 Pick Clint Bowyer Team: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing No. 1 Pros: Decent driver who can quietly run in the top 15 and keep his car out of trouble. He manages to finish races, and had only one DNF in 2009. He is generally an even-keeled, quiet racer. He is at ease with the media and has little trouble in front of a camera. He’s a safe, reliable driver. Cons: His run-of-the-mill personality doesn’t make him stand out much, which could keep sponsors from noticing him. He doesn’t tear up the track for victories, either. And while he may not tear up race cars, he won’t win very many races on talent alone. 
#17 Pick Juan Montoya Team: Red Bull Racing No. 82 Pros: Montoya is a talented race car driver who is getting better behind the wheel of a stock car. He is a legitimate threat to win at every road course on the circuit and is steadily becoming more of a threat to win on oval tracks. He has the ability to attract new fans and sponsors to the sport. He is decent on camera. Cons: Montoya is a hot-tempered driver who lets anger cloud his judgment at times. He has been known to be overly aggressive in the car, which rubs other drivers and fans the wrong way. He is also still unproven. He needs to be more consistent before he can be mentioned with the top tier drivers. 
#18 Pick Martin Truex Jr Team: Red Bull Racing No. 83 Pros: A two-time Nationwide Series champion, Truex has proven he can win in stock cars. He’s young driver with some upside. He’s comfortable on camera and is marketable. He may not be the most charismatic, or recognizable driver, but his personality should be enough to keep any sponsor happy. Cons: On occasion, Truex has a solid, top 10 or top 5 run, but most of the time he runs mid-pack. He runs quietly around the track, which doesn’t gain him a lot of TV time. He does have a lot of upside, but after four seasons, some think he should be farther along. 
#19 Pick Jamie McMurray Team: Richard Petty Motorsports No. 98 Pros: McMurray is one of the most underrated drivers in NASCAR. He’s got the talent and skills to contend for wins. He’s young, good looking, likeable, and marketable. He’s got a charm and charisma that makes him appealing to sponsors. He’s got a lot of potential and upside. Cons: He hasn’t proven he can consistently run in the top 10, yet. While he can keep the car in the top 20 in points, he hasn’t proven he can be a Chase contender yet. He also has a lot of quiet days on track, which keeps the car from gaining TV time. 
#20 Pick Brian Vickers Team: Michael Waltrip Racing No. 56 Pros: Vickers is a decent driver who has proven he can get around the track quickly. He won six poles in 2009. He’s a young driver that seems comfortable in front of a camera and would serve a sponsor well. He also has the ability to save fuel when required.He also has a Nationwide Series championship to his credit. Cons: Can be overly aggressive at times and put himself in precarious positions in a race car. He’s not afraid to mix it up with other drivers, but run ins with Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Kyle Busch could hurt his image with fans. That could lower his value in terms of sponsorship. He’s also still figuring things out in the race car and learning how to tell the crew what the car is doing. 
#21 Pick Joey Logano Team: Stewart Haas Racing No. 39 Pros: Logano has arguably the most upside of any young driver in NASCAR. He’s won in just about everything he’s driven and has the tools to have a successful NASCAR career. The general consensus is that it’s only a matter of time before he is consistently contending for wins and championships. Despite being young, he is very mature and can serve any sponsor well. He’s humble. Cons: He is relatively inexperienced, and is still learning the tracks on the circuit. He is inconsistent. He runs up front one week and runs near the back the next. He also needs to learn how to get to the front; he doesn’t lead very many laps. 
#22 Pick David Reutimann Team: Roush Fenway Racing No. 99 Pros: Reutimann is a decent driver who has proven that he can run with the leaders. He manages to stay out of self-inflicted trouble. When he doesn’t get caught up in someone else’s wreck or have a mechanical problem, he brings home decent finishes. He’s likeable and his goofiness makes him marketable to the right sponsor. He’s also charming on camera. Cons: While he has the ability to post top 15 finishes, he doesn’t contend for wins very often. Despite the fact that it isn’t always his fault, he still manages to find a way to wreck race cars. At 40, he may not have much upside. 
#23 Pick Brad Keselowski Team: Richard Childress Racing No. 33 Pros: Hot, young driver with proven talent, determination, and skill. He’s aggressive enough to do what takes to win, and he’s proven that. His young age makes him attractive to sponsors because he’s very marketable. Cons: His on track aggression can be perceived by veteran drivers as a lack of respect, which could result in wreck race cars. He doesn’t have a lot of experience at all of the tracks on the circuit, so team owners will need to be patient as he learns. 
#24 Pick David Ragan Team: Stewart Haas Racing No. 14 Pros: Ragan is a young driver with a lot of upside. He may not be the most well-known driver, but he has a quiet charm that could make him appealing to sponsors. Cons: He had a strong season in 2008, but faltered in 2009. He runs mid-pack and gains little TV coverage, which may not be acceptable for some sponsors. He’s a little stiff on camera, but that should improve with time. He needs to produce results. 
#25 Pick Marcos Ambrose Team: Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Pros:Ambrose is a road course expert who is a treat to win every time the series visits a road course. He’s also turning into a decent short track racer and is getting better as he gets more comfortable on ovals. He has a likeable disposition which should attract some sponsors. Cons: He has recently been struggling and has had some issues with being a too aggressive at times. He has rubbed some drivers the wrong way and could have lost a little respect in the garage area. Also, he’s been inconsistent week to week, which makes him a risky pick. 
#26 Pick Sam Hornish Jr Team: Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Pros: He is a talented race car driver who has experienced success in other forms of racing. He has proven he can qualify near the front from the time to time. He’s relatively young and has some marketability. Cons: He has had trouble finishing races and keeping his race car in one piece. A lot of drivers criticize his abilities leading one to speculate that he is not the most respected driver in the garage area. 
#27 Pick Paul Menard Team: Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Pros: Brings with him a dedicated sponsor that will provide funding for a full time Cup ride. Cons: Despite the occasional top 15 finish, Menard doesn’t usually run with the leaders, instead finding himself running and finishing in the 20s. Being that far back in the pack, he is susceptible to being involved in costly wrecks. Fans view him as an entitled racer because his father’s company sponsors him. 
#28 Pick Bobby Labonte Team: Penske Championship Racing No. 2 Pros: Labonte is a respected driver both on and off the track. He is an experienced driver with a proven ability to win races. He doesn’t get himself in trouble and he finds a way to bring race cars home in one piece. He’s also a past champion, which could mean a guaranteed starting spot. Cons: Labonte’s statistics have declined in recent years, which could affect his ability to lure sponsors. While being a good ambassador for any sponsor, his age doesn’t give him the appeal of some of the younger drivers. 
#29 Pick AJ Allmendinger Team: Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Pros: Allmendinger is a talented driver who has shown, at times, that he can drive a stock car. He has improved his average finish every year since 2008. He’s also a well-spoken individual who has enough charisma to attract fans, and please sponsors. Cons: Allmendinger has never been with a program long enough to show that he’s anything more than a mid-pack driver. His DUI arrest in 2009 may keep some sponsors away. 
#30 Pick Elliott Sadler Team: Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Pros: Sadler’s personality is his strong suit. His charisma, charm and personality can make him very appealing to potential sponsors. He’s generally liked by fans and has proven he can win. Cons: His on track performance of late is nothing better than mid-pack, which could hamper his ability to get sponsors. He is underperforming and is not a serious threat to crack to top 15 consistently. Running in the back has made him susceptible to being caught up in wrecks. He has also been known to cause wrecks.
#31 Pick Scott Speed Team: Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Pros: Speed has proven that he can qualify for races, and while he runs in the back, he has proven that he can keep a car in the top 35 in points. He has a unique personality and is connected to his fans. With the right sponsor, he can be marketable. Cons: Speed lacks the consistency and results to be considered a serious competitor. He does have upside, but some teams may not have the patience to allow him to develop. 
#32 Pick Travis Kvapil Team: Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Pros: Kvapil has proven he can be competitive at times, and can keep a car out of trouble, despite spending most of his time in the back. Cons: He hasn’t spent a lot of time running up front, which could lead to mistakes in the event that he is running up the front or contending for a win. He is relatively unknown, so sponsors will not be banging down the door to sign with him. 
#33 Pick Robby Gordon Team: Richard Childress Racing No. 29 Pros: Gordon is a decent road course racer with proven success at those tracks. He also has a lot of experience racing on NASCAR tracks. He’s got a small but loyal fan base.  Cons: Despite the occasional top 15 run, Gordon hangs out at the back of the pack. He’s got a bit of a temper that can get him into trouble. He also races Baja, which will lead some owners to question his focus and commitment to stock cars. 
#34 Pick Regan Smith Team: Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Pros: Decent driver who does what’s expected of him. He won’t content for wins or run up front, but he can qualify for races and bring the car home in one piece. Has proven that if in a position to win, he will do whatever he can to win. He also won rookie of the year. Cons: Smith doesn’t have much experience running with the leaders, which makes him susceptible to mistakes. He hasn’t had to deal with much pressure, so in a pressure situation teams can’t be confident in what they have. Because sponsors don’t know him, it might be hard for him to land one. 
#35 Pick Mike Bliss Team: Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Pros: Bliss is a journeyman driver with lots of experience behind the wheel. High profile sponsors won’t be banging down the door for Bliss, but smaller sponsors could do a lot worse than Bliss. Cons: Back of the pack driver who has been relegated to start and park of late. Lacks the consistency and results to make a case for a full time Cup ride. Is a quiet, relatively unknown driver despite a long history in the sport. Lacks charisma and marketability. 
#36 Pick Kevin Conway Team: Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Pros: Conway is an inexperienced driver who stays out of the way and out of trouble. While he runs at the back every week, he brings the car home in one piece. Cons: He is unproven and unknown. Sponsors will be weary to sign on with a rookie driver with so little experience. 

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About the Author

Michael J. Smith is a NASCAR enthusiast and blogger. In addition to founding this website, Michael is a journalist with over a decade of experience writing for prestigious media organizations.

5 Responses to What If NASCAR Drivers Were Drafted?

  1. Alan Fors says:

    Interesting. To be complete though, a draft would have to include crew chiefs and the pit crew guys as well, right?

    Would Knaus still with Hendick equipment and the same #48 team be such an advantage that Conway just had to keep the car in one piece to be competitive?

  2. Michael J Smith says:

    Yeah, crew chiefs, pit crew, everything would make it complete. But that would have been a lot of work, and virtually impossible to run through statistically because it’s hard to quantify the part each crew member plays on a stop to assign it a statistic and/or point value. (Mainly because NASCAR doesn’t post pit crew time data.) Crew chief would be hard to quantify as well because its hard to tell whether a driver or car is the reason for performance.

    I doubt putting Conway in a Hendrick car would lead to wins. You’d think he’d be able to run better than he is with HMS equipment, but there’s no way to know for sure. He might be competitive, but if he has the car to run up front, it’d be easier to determine whether or not he has the talent.

    Thanks for reading and for commenting.

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  4. Scott Carver says:

    Very well done and interesting. Something I would like to see if only for one race, after the drivers and crew has had time to practice together and be comfortable of course.

    I’d say leave the crew chiefs with the teams and only swap drivers. This would give us a better look at driver skills, I think. If we just move drivers and crew from one owner to another, there won’t be anything gained if you know what I mean.

    Enjoyed the post. Thanks.

  5. Michael J Smith says:

    Thanks for reading. I think leaving everything in place, just swapping the drivers and giving them time to practice together would show driver skills. It would also answer once and for all whether or not the No. 48 is driver or crew chief and crew. I suspect, it’d be a mix of both.

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