How we voted and why your driver isn't in

February, 7, 2011
02/07/11
3:56
PM ET

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Dim the lights! Drum roll! Play a couple of bars from Queen's "We Will Rock You" followed by a few from the Black-Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started!" Our illustrious, albeit sometimes confused, panel of writers and editors are ready to break out our Top 12 preseason picks for the Sprint Cup Series.

And the winner is -- You'll have to wait. But Kasey Kahne is No. 12.

We may not be the brightest group in the world, but we were pretty decent last year. We picked Jimmie Johnson No. 1 then and he went on to win his fifth straight title.

And we should remind you we had Denny Hamlin second to Johnson, just as they finished. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No brainer. A blind squirrel could get that right.

We were way off on Kevin Harvick, not ranking in the preseason the driver that dominated the regular season and finished third in points. We also had Mark Martin finishing third when he didn't make the Chase and Juan Pablo Montoya seventh when he finished 17th.

Maybe we'll do better this year, although looking at the six drivers who received votes and didn't get in and a few like Martin that didn't get a vote, there are no guarantees.

Those that got a vote and didn't get in, by the way, are: Clint Bowyer, who won two races in the Chase last season, Montoya, Jeff Burton, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman.

If you've noticed NASCAR's most popular driver's name hasn't been mentioned yet, well, it's because Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't receive a vote. Not one, even though I had him in my top 12 and then replaced him with Logano on my final list.

So check back every day between now and Feb. 18 for our picks. I'm sure a couple of you will disagree and will let us know about it.

Have at it boys and girls.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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