Harvick has been real close, last year and one other IIRC. Bowyer was right there at least once too. This year not so good. With the exception of Burton, they have been regulars in the chase. As has been seen, that is quite an accomplishment in its' own right. I think, the bigger issue may be, Chevy and RCR used to be like one mind. With the emergence of HMS, with Jeff Gordon, I think that some of the race tipping information may be hitting that shop as least as often or more often than RCR. It takes a fair amount of ingenuity to make that kind of power with the aspiration and exhaust setups they are required to use, and get better on top of that.
Richard is doing ok, and DE was probably a once in our lifetime type of character. Even if another came along, like say Kyle Busch, who can wheel a car every bit as good and maybe better is considered a pretender. (he lacks the character of DE, but if he had that package, he would still be a pretender.) RCR's grandson is on the way, he has a burn that may be quite interesting when he arrives. The competition is a lot more competitive today. DE had to worry about 2 or 3 guys. Now you have 3 or 4 teams of up to 4 cars that are a legitimate threat. Jimmy Johnson may well set all championship records before he is done if he and Chad stay together. If so, that will be the most remarkable feat ever IMO. Richards 200 is safe from him, and I don't consider Kyle amassing 200 wins in three classes the same thing.
Hillary, it would be like Frasier being elected president; only uglier.