Unpredictable 2013 Ahead for the Cup SeriesBy Jason Schultz
The talk of the off-season has been all Gen 6. Yeah, a few drivers have switched rides, but this new car has everyone stoked for the upcoming season. Better racing, more competition and more fans are expected out of arrival of the Gen 6 car and we are less than a week away from finding out if indeed, the Gen 6 car lives up to its hype. There are a million reasons why this car should make fans happy and those reasons will be presented throughout this season.
Other than a few exceptions, everyone who was in the Cup Series last season, is back again in 2013. Many drivers will be looking to avenge Brad Keselowski after Keselowski took home the championship last season. Jimmie Johnson is looking for revenge this season as he tries to beat Keselowski after Keselowski barely beat him in 2012. The competition will be even better this season with the Gen 6 car and with all the returning drivers here again, they will put on a great show each Sunday.
Who’s Moved Around
The list containing the drivers who have moved around this off-season contains some pretty big names. A few big time names changed rides in hope of a new beginning that may be bringing better times with a new team. The biggest off-season move involved 2003 Cup Champion Matt Kenseth who switched from Roush-Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth wants to revive his career in 2013 and moving to JGR, gives Kenseth a much needed restart on his career. Kenseth will take over the No.20 car in 2013 from Joey Logano who also made an off-season move.
Joey Logano made his first real big move of his career by leaving the team that brought him to the Cup Series (JGR) and heading to the defending champs team (Penske Racing.) Logano has only been in the Cup Series for four full-time seasons and he couldn’t prove much with JGR so he decided to take his talents to Penske Racing in hopes of bettering his on-track performance. Kurt Busch didn’t really make an off-season move since he began racing for Furniture Row Racing at the end of last season but, he did indeed move over to the No.78 car for 2013. Another small driver move involved David Reutimann who will be racing at BK Racing this year instead of Tommy Baldwin Racing, where he raced last season.
For the first time in years, we have two new drivers entering the Cup Series who are in great equipment and will battle for the Rookie of the Year title. Well, the Rookie of the Year trophy may go to the same house unless SparkleHouse breaks up. Danica Patrick and her new boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr will be competing in the Cup Series this year and they will both be going after rookie honors. They are the most notable new drivers in the Cup Series this season.
Both of these drivers raced select races in the Cup Series last season but, in 2013, they will be doing the whole slate. Danica Patrick will be driving full-time in the No.10 GoDaddy.com Chevy for Stewart-Hass Racing and she will look to contend for the title. Her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr will be driving the No.17 Best Buy (along with other sponsors) Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing. So the biggest question going into the season is who will stand next to who’s car during pre-race ceremonies , or , the real question, which driver will come out on top in the Rookie of the Year battle this season. SparkleHouse will surely be a sight to see this season.
A few drivers departed from the Cup Series after last season and they have found new homes outside of the Cup Series for 2013. Sam Hornish Jr and Regan Smith were the biggest named leavers and both are competing for the Nationwide Series title in 2013. Hornish Jr filled in for A.J Allmendinger after Allmendinger was suspended at Daytona last July and with Penske adding Joey Logano, Hornish Jr’s ride was filled. Hornish Jr will compete in the Nationwide Series this season, much like he did last season.
Regan Smith is the other big name driver who departed from the Cup Series after Smith was essentially kicked out of his Furniture Row ride after Talladega last October. Kurt Busch took over Smith’s ride after Talladega since the management at Furniture Row Racing wanted Busch to get some experience in the car before he took over full-time in 2013. That left Smith without a ride for 2013 so, he went down to the Nationwide Series and found a full-time ride with JR Motorsports for 2013.
No major schedule changes were made for the 2013 season but, in 2012, when Kansas Speedway was being re-paved, they moved their fall race back two weeks and they’ll be moving that race back up in 2013. The Chase races for Talladega and Kansas were switched around last year and they’ll switch back again for 2013 which makes Kansas the fourth race of the Chase and Talladega the sixth race of the Chase. Possible impacts of the switch? Talladega becomes much more important since a wreck could end your title hopes.
2013 will surely be exciting since anyone can come out ahead with the new car. The Race to the Chase will be as close as ever and the summer months will surely be exciting to watch. Below, I give my Chase predictions and how I believe the final standings will look like after the 36 race season.
- Denny Hamlin
- Jimmie Johnson
- Brad Keselowski
- Kasey Kahne
- Kyle Busch
- Matt Kenseth
- Clint Bowyer
- Tony Stewart
- Dale Earnhardt Jr
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Jeff Burton
- Jeff Gordon
Unpredictable is the one word we will be talking about in the next two weeks leading up to the Daytona 500. The whole season will be unpredictable due to the fact that the new car makes everything different and the unknown factor is as present as ever before. How, who, when, what and why are the beginnings of questions fans will be asking up until Homestead but, the journey to answer those questions will be a real exciting one. Pull those belts tight because the 2013 season is just about to start its engines.