What Did NASCAR Dream Up THIS Time?
Just when I think the season is just about set to go, NASCAR dreams up some other promotional idea to get the fan more interested in racing for the 2013 season.
The brain trust at NASCAR now thinks having the fans decide the format of the Bud Shootout, now called the Sprint Something or Another, just like they do in the All Star race is a brilliant marketing move to energize the fan base. Wow, what a novel idea! We’re going to change the name of the Shootout to something that makes no sense but ties into the current Sprint marketing campaign and to make sure we don’t tick off the fans too much, we’ll let them choose the race format. And pick the outfit Miss Sprint Cup will wear this year.
I can barely wait!
OK, onto more of the drivers to watch in 2013.
Kasey Kahne had a less than great start to his 2012 season but he made up for it in spades. After having folks wonder if he was going to have “one of those” seasons, they kept focused and the next thing you know, Kasey has 2 wins and finished the season in 4th. Sophomore jinx aside, there is no reason to think that Kahne and the 5 team can’t put together an even better season next year. Frankly, there are some that think the 5 team is not the ugly sister 4th car in the Hendrick stable. That belongs to the 88 team. You could even make an argument that Kahne could be the number 2 car behind the 48.
Jeff Gordon barely made the Chase but the team showed all kinds of moxie fighting till the end to get in. The Gordon blew a fuse and wrecked himself and Clint Bowyer at Phoenix. Thus ended the championship hopes for Bowyer and set us up to believe that in his twilight racing years, Gordon may become the new Jaws. Fans of the 24 believe that Gordon exorcised some demons last year and that 2013 is his for the taking. On the other hand, all the gremlins and ineffectiveness of 2012 may return. Gordon is a bit of an enigma to me. If the 24 gets off to a slow start again in 2013, look for a new crew chief to be on top of the war wagon.
Clint Bowyer has what it takes to be the next Champion. He has made his presence felt at MWR and is the most likely driver to hand Michael Waltrip his first Sprint Cup trophy. He has proven that he is quick to adapt to new situations and that bodes well for 2013 with the new car. If he can stay out of Jeff Gordon’s way, Bowyer should be able to make the Chase again and contend for the title.
Jimmie Johnson had some uncharacteristic problems coming down the stretch in the Chase last year and Brad Keselowski did not. That was the difference in the end. Johnson is still going to make the Chase in 2013 and even though he is not the reigning champ, he will definitely contend.
Bread Keselowski, Special K to this writer, returns in a new car, a new manufacturer, a new teammate and with a big target on his back. One of the most fun drivers to enter the sport in recent years, Special K has a lot to overcome to repeat in 2013. I think he will make the Chase again, but I would not be surprised if he did not seriously contend for the title. But he’ll be fun as heck to watch.
Matt Kenseth had another pretty strong season at Roush, made the Chase and then left for Joe Gibbs Racing this year. What the…? Kenseth has said nothing about why he made the leap from Roush to Gibbs, but it would not surprise me if part of that reason was Carl Edwards. This move should really help solidify the Gibbs stable. Kenseth is a former champ, a more tenured veteran, unflappable and should be a calming voice in the garage when all else seems to be coming unglued. Kenseth just might prove to be the best opportunity for Denny Hamlin to win a title.
OK, that’s enough for now. More later. Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts!!