Nationwide Series Building Momentum, Looking Ahead To 2013By Justin Tucker
The 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) can be best summed up with one word. Transition. Familiar faces in new places seems to be the theme this year for NASCAR’s number two series. Heading into to this season we know with all certainty we will have a new NNS champion as 2-time champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is heading to the Sprint Cup Series to drive Roush Fenway Racing’s iconic No.17 vacated by Matt Kenseth when he left for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Also departing the series on a full time basis is the series’ Most Popular Driver Danica Patrick who will begin her full time NSCS career for Stewart Haas Racing in 2013 but Patrick will drive in 10 races this upcoming season for Turner Scott Motorsports.
As for the familiar faces in new places let’s start with Trevor Bayne who will fill the seat vacated by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No.6 Cargill Ford. Bayne’s best points finish in Nationwide Series competition is 11th in 2011 and will look to improve upon that in 2013 and keep the NNS title in the RFR stable for the third consecutive season.
Elliott Sadler, the series runner up the last two seasons for Richard Childress Racing will drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013. One Main Financial will join Sadler at JGR as they set their sights on that elusive first NNS championship.
Joining Elliott Sadler at JGR is Brian Vickers. Vickers will drive the No.20 Dollar General Toyota Camry in hopes of returning to the championship form that he showed in 2003 when he edged David Green by 14 points to win the championship. Vickers will also continue his part time NSCS effort with Michael Waltrip Racing.
Regan Smith closed out 2012 in grand fashion by winning the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway. Smith who will pilot the No.7 Tax Slayer.com Camaro for JR Motorsports. Smith and new crew chief Greg Ives will look to give the organization its first NNS championship. Ives comes over to JR Motorsports with loads of championship experience. Ives served as the lead engineer for Jimmie Johnson during his five consecutive NSCS championship seasons.
Brian Scott will take the reins of the No.2 Chevrolet Camaro for Richard Childress Racing in 2013. Shore Lodge will be the primary sponsor for Scott’s inaugural season with RCR. Scott drove for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012 finishing 9th in series points.
Now time to look at the familiar faces in familiar places in 2013. Austin Dillon returns to Richard Childress Racing to drive the famed No.3. Many speculated that Dillon would make the jump to full time NSCS Racing in 2013 but decided to make another run at a NNS championship for his Grandfather’s organization.
Justin Allgaier will return to Turner Scott Motorsports and the No.31 Brandt Chevrolet Camaro in 2013. Allgaier finished 6th in series points in 2012 and went to victory lane at Montreal in August for his first win on a road course. Look for this driver and team to assert themselves in the championship fold early on in 2013.
The Nationwide Series does have a couple of new faces in 2013. Parker Kligerman comes over to Kyle Busch Motorsports from the Camping World Truck Series and Red Horse Racing. Kligerman will drive the No.77 for KBM in 2013. Travis Pastrana will run his first full NASCAR season behind the wheel of Roush Fenway Racing’s No.60 Ford Mustang.
As for other players in the title fight in 2013. Michael Annett returns to the No.43 for Richard Petty Motorsports and Sam Hornish Jr. will return to the No.12 Ford Mustang for Penske Racing, Both will look to improve on their top-5 finishes in points in 2012. Annett is looking for his 1st career series win and Hornish is looking to go to victory lane for the first time since Phoenix in November 2011.
2013 is also a big year for fans as two muscle car icons will do battle on the track. Chevrolet will field the Camaro for the first time in NASCAR competition when the cars hit the track at Daytona in February. Ford will once again field Mustangs in 2013 as Toyota will field the Camry. The Camaro has already drawn rave reviews among race fans and the battle between the Camaro and Mustang should also be great for those fans who are muscle car enthusiasts.
Part time drivers will play a prominent role in the series in 2013. Kasey Kahne and Brad Sweet will make the move from Turner Scott Motorsports to JR Motorsports. Kyle Busch will run a number of races for his own team Kyle Busch Motorsports as well as Joe Gibbs Racing, and the aforementioned Danica Patrick will compete for Turner Scott Motorsports while competing for Rookie of the Year honors with Stewart Haas Racing in the NSCS.
The series will also make its trip to a new venue in 2013. The Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in Morrow County, Ohio will host its first NASCAR Nationwide Series race in August. Mid Ohio replaces Montreal on the series schedule after negotiations were unsuccessful to keep a Canadian presence in the sport.
2013 has all the ingredients to be one of the most successful season in Nationwide Series history. A deep field of drivers every week paired with the battle between Camaro and Mustang should keep fans on the edge of their seat all year long. The anticipation will continue to build until the green flag drops at Daytona in 46 days.