We’re 2 weeks away from the NASCAR season, and it’s time once again to attempt to predict the winners and losers of 2013. It can be tough to make predictions weeks before the season even starts, but in general I think we have a good idea of who should do well, and who won’t. The big questions of course are, can Brad Keselowski repeat as champion, will Kasey Kane build on his 2012 chase run and do more in his 2nd year with Hendrick, and how will Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch bounce back from disappointing season? Let’s take a look at specific categories to see how things may play out.
Champion: Denny Hamlin
Picking Denny Hamlin to win the Sprint Cup title may be surprising but he is a threat to win any race, and 2012 was one of the best seasons of his NASCAR career. He averaged a career best 12.2 place finish in 2012. His 5 wins and 14 top five finishes was 2nd best in his career. Hamlin finished 6th in the points chase, so there shouldn’t be the 2nd place curse dragging him down in 2013. He also has a new teammate in Matt Kenseth that has won the title before, so he can get some championship caliber advice from him throughout the season.
Most Disappointing: Greg Biffle
Biffle is a very good driver, but in the past has had some troubles stringing 3 or 4 good seasons together. His best run was from 2008 – 2010 when he finished 3rd, 7th, & 6th in the standings. In 2011 he finished 16th and was back in the chase with a 5th place finish in the standings in 2012. Biffle shouldn’t be a failure by most driver’s standards, but for him and Rousch Fenway Racing not making the chase will be disappointing, and that’s what may happen.
Most Surprising: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
It’s tough for a perennial favorite to be a surprise, but I think Earnhardt may be that in 2013. He has been hanging around the top of the pack in the standings over the last couple years, but was unable to put anything together in the chase to stay up there. A 5th place finish in the standings in 2006 is the closest he’s gotten. In 2013 look for Earnhardt to start the chase off strong and contend for the title. He may not be the one to win the title, but Jr. Nation should be excited and watching the chase more closely than ever.
Rookie Of The Year: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Rookie of the year should be a good battle in 2013. It’s been a while since NASCAR has had legitimate contenders for the award, but this season there are two with Danica Patrick and Senhouse Jr. Both are driving for championship caliber teams and have top of the line equipment to drive. The difference is the skill level of the drivers. Stenhouse is just better than Patrick and should prove that this season. Hopefully Danica isn’t the jealous type and it doesn’t cause a breakup of the couple (just kidding).
Comeback Driver: Carl Edwards
Edwards never seemed to click in 2012. It was a disappointing year for him all around. He had no wins for the first time since 2009, and career lows in top five and top ten finishes with 3 and 13. He also had a career low average finish of 15.6. No wonder he finished way back in 16th. 2013 will need to change for Edwards. After his poor performance in 2011, finishing 11th he bounced back to finish 4th in the standings with a couple wins and 19 top ten finishes. Look for similar numbers this season.
Most Wins: Kyle Busch
Joe Gibbs is giving Kyle what he wanted with the new contract. More racing. Kyle Busch will compete in 25 Nationwide races and a handful of Truck races as well. He’ll be competing at all of the events that take place at the Sprint Cup tracks so he won’t have to fly back and forth during the weekend. This should lead to a happier Kyle Busch since he’ll be doing what he loves, and getting back to the days when he was winning multiple races each season.
Leave a comment and tell everyone your own predictions.