The saying “what off-season” continues to be used in NASCAR because there really is no break in the NASCAR world. Moves are constantly being made in preparation for the season to come. Over the past few months, the Nationwide Series has been full of changes involving who will be competing for the championship in 2013. The result of the changes is a field full of stars that will compete against one another to bring home the Nationwide Series crown in 2013.
Richard Childress Racing
After coming oh so close to the championship in 2012, RCR has made some changes for the upcoming season. Elliot Sadler was not re-signed so that left the No.2 car vacant for 2013. Who could come in and replace Sadler? Well RCR’s answer was Brian Scott. Scott has competed in the Nationwide Series for the past couple of seasons but has no wins or any great results to back him up. Scott brought sponsorship to the team from Shore Lodge so RCR decided to put Scott in the No.2 car. Scott will really need to prove he deserves the ride because RCR would like to better the performance of Elliot Sadler from the past two seasons and to better Sadler’s performance would mean to win the championship.
Austin Dillon will be the second full-time driver going after the Nationwide Series championship for RCR. Dillon placed third in the final standings last season in his first full-time season in the Nationwide Series. Dillon is definitely one of the stars that could compete for the championship in the upcoming season. RCR has the No.33 Nationwide car as well and many drivers ran the car last season. RCR plans on having Ty Dillon run select races in the car for 2013 and possibly a few other drivers. RCR said it would like to have three full-time teams in the Nationwide Series for 2013 so a possible third team could be announced to compete for the championship out of the RCR stable in the coming weeks.
After an iffy 2012 season, JR Motorsports has a whole new attack plan for success in 2013. Jr Motorsports will have Regan Smith competing full-time for the Nationwide Series championship in the No.7 car with Tax Slayer as the primary sponsor. Smith was released from his Sprint Cup ride with Furniture Row Racing last October and Smith has no full-time ride in the Cup Series for 2013 so Smith has found a home with JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series for the next season. Smith is one of the bigger names to be going after the Nationwide crown in 2013 so he should be a major threat for the championship.
JR Motorsports will have two drives share the No.5 car in 2013. Kasey Kahne and Brad Sweet came over from Turner Motorsports where they shared the No.38 car sponsored by Great Clips last season and they will bring Great Clips to JR Motorsports to run a nearly full schedule in the No.5 car. The No.5 car is looking to go for the owner’s championship and it should be a great fight for that title. Team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr will run select races in the No.88 car in 2013 including the February Daytona race. Cole Whitt is still signed with JR Motorsports but Whitt is without sponsorship which means he is without a ride. Whitt is not expected to run in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports this upcoming season.
Roush Fenway Racing
Following a championship season for RFR in 2012, they will have at least one car trying to bring home the teams’ third straight championship in 2013. With Ricky Stenhouse Jr moving up to the Cup Series, Trevor Bayne will fill in his No.6 car for 2013. Bayne has run numerous races for RFR in the Nationwide Series over the past few years but lack of sponsorship prevented Bayne from running full seasons. Bayne is now in a fully funded car and this will be our first opportunity to witness Bayne compete for the championship with a great car and team.
Travis Pastrana will field a second full-time Nationwide ride for RFR but the team is still likely going to have various sponsors. Pastrana ran a few Nationwide races for RFR last season but the team is going to run a full-time schedule in 2013 and compete for the championship.
Joe Gibbs Racing
Probably the most star studded team in the Nationwide Series is Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR will have two former Cup drivers competing for the Nationwide Series championship out of their stable. Elliot Sadler will be in one of two full-time rides that are coming out of JGR. When RCR didn’t re-sign Sadler, JGR picked him and his sponsor (One Main Financial) up and put them in the No.11 car. Sadler finished second in the Nationwide standings the past two years and now with Ricky Stenhouse Jr out of the Nationwide Series, Sadler has a chance to win the championship that Stenhouse Jr has edged him out for in the past two seasons.
Brian Vickers will field the second full-time JGR car in the Nationwide Series in 2013. Vickers hasn’t had a full-time NASCAR ride since 2011 but he is currently running part-time in the Cup Series with Michael Waltrip Racing. Vickers will be behind the wheel of the No.20 Dollar General car and he’ll be looking to bring home the Nationwide Series championship to JGR in the upcoming season. JGR will also field a part-time ride for various drivers in 2013. The No.18 car is expected to be piloted by Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Darrel Wallace Jr and possibly Matt Kenseth. The No.18 car would be going after the owner’s championship if it were to run full-time.
Sam Hornish Jr will drive the one full-time car for Penske Racing in the Nationwide Series for 2013. Hornish Jr competed full-time in the Nationwide Series last season for Penske, finishing fourth overall. Hornish Jr will pilot the No.12 Alliance Truck Parts Ford with a few other potential sponsors. Penske is also going to field the No.22 car in the Nationwide Series but it will not be competing for the championship. The car will be shared among Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney.
Turner Motorsports has not announced their Nationwide Series plans for 2013 but two full-time cars are expected. Justin Allgaier is likely going to compete for the championship in the No.31 car. Turner had also been rumored to have a second team running full-time for the championship but when Turner truck series driver James Buescher announced he was going to run a small amount of races for Turner in the Nationwide Series, the rumors of the second team basically died out.
Turner Motorsports is also expected to run a part time schedule with Danica Patrick with Go Daddy as the sponsor. Patrick will be running a full-time Cup schedule but she has showed interest in running a part time schedule in the Nationwide Series. Jeb Burton will also run a part-time schedule for Turner in the Nationwide Series in the No.32 car. Burton is running the full-time Truck Series schedule for Turner as well.
Kyle Busch Motorsports
After a semi-successful Nationwide Series program last season, KBM will field a full-time Nationwide Series ride for Parker Kligerman in 2013. Kligerman ran in the Truck Series last season and he was expected to move up to the Nationwide Series for 2013. Kligerman will drive the No.77 car and sponsorship for the car is currently un-announced.
KBM will also field a second car which will likely compete for the owner’s championship. The second car will be the No.54 Monster Energy car driven by Kyle and Kurt Busch. Team owner Kyle Busch is also expected to run some Nationwide Series races for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Various other teams will compete in the Nationwide Series in 2013 including Richard Petty Motorsports with Michael Annett. With the Nationwide Series field shrunken down to forty cars in 2013, many start and park teams may not be able to run in the series which was the goal of shrinking the field.
After a few seasons of just having three or four drivers able to compete for the Nationwide Series crown, in 2013 we will see multiple more teams competing of the championship. Many drivers are looking to either to save their NASCAR career or build upon it in the Nationwide Series this upcoming season. A star studded field in the Nationwide Series will surely create some excitement, drama and much more. The Nationwide Series will be back on the map in 2013 with competitive racing once again. The excitement for 2013 builds as we head into the New Year and Daytona is just around the corner.