Three Questions for the Nationwide Series in 2013By Jason Schultz
Each new season brings new chances, new opportunities and usually new drivers. The Nationwide Series will be full of new drivers this season and those drives will have new opportunities and a new chance to be successful. Catch a theme here? A lot of new things will be happening in the Nationwide Series this season. New also raises questions, especially the three questions I propose below regarding the Nationwide Series in the upcoming season.
How well will the new full-time drives do?
For the first time in years, there are new drivers entering the Nationwide Series to drive full-time that we believe will be contenders for the championship. Brian Vickers, Regan Smith and Nelson Piquet Jr are the newer names that will be in the Nationwide Series garage this season and all three of them could be considered pre-season favorites to take home the championship.
Brian Vickers had a rough end to his full-time Cup ride after Red Bull Racing closed their operations after 2011 and Vickers was left without a ride. Vickers didn’t compete full-time in NASCAR all last year but, he’s back in 2013. Vickers will be driving the No.20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing and he will look to bring the driving talent we know he has to the No.20 and contend for the championship. Regan Smith will also be a new contender for the Nationwide championship in 2013 after getting booted out of his Cup ride at Furniture Row Racing. Smith will be looking to take his new opportunity at Jr Motorsports to be successful.
Nelson Piquet Jr is the final new driver in the Nationwide Series this season that could contend for the championship. Piquet Jr had some success in the Truck Series last season and he believed it was time to take his talents to the next level. All three of these drivers should do extraordinary well in the Nationwide Series this season, especially because of their racing talent and the quality of rides they will be competing in. These three drivers will do better than good and will be competing for the championship, which sends a statement to their competition that says, watch out, we’re here to contend.
Will the Cup Series drivers have the same affect that they have had in years past?
Prior to every season, the talk of Cup drivers surrounds the Nationwide Series. We know they’ll be competing in the series and have the best chance of winning each week but, 2013 seems different. With the new crop of Nationwide regulars filing into the series with great rides, will the Cup drivers be as successful as they have been in years past? These new regulars in the Nationwide Series have some serious driving talent and could be beating out the Cup drivers each weekend.
I don’t believe we’ll see Cup drivers have the same affect in the in the Nationwide Series this season partly due to the fact that the Nationwide drives are some great drivers, in some great rides. Instead of the Cup drivers being favorites to win each race, the Nationwide regulars will be and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. The best battle in the Nationwide Series this season will be the new Nationwide regulars versus the Cup drivers. This will be a battle that the Nationwide regulars could finally win after losing for so many years.
Who will follow up as champion after Ricky Stenhouse Jr’s championship reign?
2013 will be the first time ever that a Nationwide regular will win the championship that isn’t Ricky Stenhouse Jr since the rule was made before 2011 that only Nationwide regulars could be eligible for the Nationwide championship. Who will fill Stenhouse Jr’s shoes as champion? There is a long list of candidates but, all the candidates have an equal shot.
Stenhouse Jr’s Nationwide Series reign is over as he moves to the Cup Series. The reign that lasted two years and within those two years, Stenhouse Jr dominated the series. 2013 we could see a new guy dominate the league. That list includes names like Elliot Sadler, Austin Dillon, Brian Vickers, Regan Smith, Sam Hornish Jr, Nelson Piquet Jr and many more. All of these drivers are eligible candidates to fill Stenhouse Jr’s shoes as champion and a huge fight for the championship will start in three weeks at Daytona and last until Homestead in November.
To find the answers to these questions, all you have to do is watch the battle unfold live on the track in each of the Nationwide Series events this year. For the first time in awhile, we don’t have a clear favorite for the Nationwide Series championship due to the caliber of drivers chasing the crown. The battle that will unfold on the track this season will epic and never before seen. As Darrell Waltrip would say, “Pull those belts tight one more time” because this year’s Nationwide Series season is about to begin and it will be wilder than ever before.