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Motorsports 101 Debate: Who Will Have the Most Improved 2013 Season in Sprint Cup?

January 16th, 2013 at 12:07 PM
By Mark Eddinger

As the 2013 season rapidly approaches Motorsports 101 debates which driver will have the most improved season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

A Rebound From Carl Edwards at Roush-Fenway – By Clayton Caldwell
I think it’s out of necessity. Carl Edwards has to have a big season in 2013 and I think he will. Let me tell you why.
'IMG_5990' photo (c) 2012, Parker Anderson - license:
I believe Carl Edwards’ 2012 had a lot to do with Carl Edwards’ mind being in the gutter. When you lose a championship, like he did in 2011 I believe it was a mental problem with Edwards and he just didn’t have his heart into the 2012 season like he should have. The last five years the runner-up to the championship has really struggled in the season after finishing runner-up.

I believe that is because the NASCAR Sprint Cup Season is such a long and mentally draining season that when you put your heart and sole into something and you come that close it affects you into the next season and you need an entire season to get over the heartbreak of the season.
Edwards’ got a new crew chief for the 2012 season and it didn’t help as he continued to struggle throughout the 2012 season. Entering the 2013 season Edwards will have veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig on top of his pit box.
Fennig brings over 25 years of experience as a Sprint Cup Series crew chief. Fennig is an old school, tells you like it is crew chief and he demands the best from his racecar drivers. Edwards will have a fiery crew chief on top of the box and that should give him the kick in the pants he needs to have a big time season in 2013.
Edwards is now the premier driver at Roush-Fenway Racing and has one of the biggest contracts in the sport. Roush-Fenway needs for him to have a big year, as rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr will replace Matt Kenseth. Edwards needs to pick up the slack for the organization and I believe the team will give him all the resources in the world to be successful in 2013 and he will be.
Martin Truex Jr Will Continue to Improve – By Mark Eddinger
There are going to be a lot of drivers who show improvement in the 2013 season as compared to what they accomplished in 2012. Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch will have rebound seasons and return to the top of their game like they have shown in the past but one driver to keep an eye out for is Martin Truex Jr.
'Pocono Saturday Practice' photo (c) 2010, BethAnne Heisler - license:
Last season Truex was one of the most improved drivers on the Sprint Cup circuit. If it wasn’t for Brad Keselowski and Truex’s Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Clint Bowyer, Truex probably was hands down the most improved driver. The 32-year old scored a career best 19 top 10 finishes. His previous high was 14 back in 2007. He also scored his best average finish of 12.1 which was 3.1 positions better than his 2007 season.
In 2007 Truex when with Dale Earnhardt Inc. he picked up his lone Sprint Cup Series win to date in 261 starts. That season he led 581 laps. In 2012 Truex was out front for 434 laps. From 2008 through 2011 Truex only led a total of 483 laps to put it into perspective. While Truex ran near the front a lot in 2012 and made the Chase for the Sprint Cup field of 12 drivers, he was unable to cap off a race with a victory. He also ended up finishing 11th in the points after not having the greatest Chase.
With the way MWR stepped up their game in 2012 the race organization is looking like a top contender in the sport. The No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota team led by crew chief Chad Johnston should take another step forward in 2013. The new Gen-6 car may throw a few new challenges the team’s way but MWR is in as good a position as any team to figure the car out quickly.
If Truex does not reach victory lane in 2013 it will be a disappointment for him and the team. Don’t expect that to be the case, in fact expect to see Truex at the front of the field a lot in 2013 and even standing in victory lane a few times.
Tags: Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Chase for the Sprint Cup, Clayton Caldwell, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Inc, Jimmy Fennig, Mark Eddinger, Martin Truex Jr., michael waltrip racing, Motorsports, NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Ricky Stenhouse

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