Making the most of the new Dodge engine, the 2004 champ was rock-solid throughout '09, never falling below 11th in the standings. Penske has not yet announced a new crew chief for Busch after the departure of Pat Tryson, which points to an early-season adjustment period.
9 KYLE BUSCH
2009 SEASON 13th place, 4 wins, 13 top 10s
After eight wins in 2008, the Shrub missed the Chase in '09, done in by his checkers-or-wreckers approach. Crew chief Steve Addington—who'd won 12 races with Busch in two years—was replaced late in the season by Dave Rogers, whose charge is to get Busch not just back in the Chase but also all the way to a Cup title.
10 CARL EDWARDS
2009 SEASON 11th place, 0 wins, 14 top 10s
What a difference a year makes. After pacing the series with nine victories in '08, Edwards went winless in '09, leading fewer laps (164) than any other Chaser, save Brian Vickers. Nobody doubts his talent, but an Edwards resurgence will depend on whether Roush Fenway can close the gap on the powerful tandem of HMS and Stewart-Haas.