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Motorsports 101 Debate: 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion

February 13th, 2013 at 11:07 AM
By Mark Eddinger

With only 11 days left until the start of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season it is time for Motorsports 101’s writers to make our preseason picks for who will win the championship.

Amidst the Unpredictability Denny Hamlin Will Reign – By Clayton Caldwell
The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season is probably the most unpredictable season in the sports history. With a completely different car coming into play, it’s is going to be a matter of who gets their arms around the new car fastest and if they are slow with development there is still the 10 race Chase where teams who may have struggled early could rebound if they sneak into the Chase.
'Denny Hamlin' photo (c) 2011, Parker Anderson - license:
With the new testing rules that will be in place for the 2013 season teams will be able to work on their stuff if their cars are not very good. Add that in with the fact that some teams may struggle because some manufactures may have a struggle period. Their cars may not aerodynamically race as competitively as the other manufactures.

It’s all still very much up in the air. So picking the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion for the 2013 season is a very difficult decision because we have no idea what is going to happen. So my strategy with this pick will be simple. Who would I have picked at the end of the 2012 season had there not been a new car coming into play. That pick to me was simple.

If you look at the 2012 season Brad Keselowski and his No. 2 Miller Lite team won the championship. Brad Keselowski’s championship interview certainly was interesting but he did hit on something. He said it was all about his team. The No. 2 team was the best team and to me Keselowski was the second best driver on the circuit.
The best driver in 2012 was Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was right in the championship hunt all the way through Martinsville. That’s when Denny Hamlin’s championship hopes and dreams crashed at Martinsville when it was found that he had electrical problems. Although his car stopped on the track on lap 393, Hamlin came from the back twice due to speeding penalties most likely caused by the electrical problems.
Hamlin proved in 2012 that he and Darian Grubb are a good match at Joe Gibbs Racing and will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. He proved that his so called “mental” issues from losing the championship a few years back are far behind him.
If there wasn’t a new car Denny Hamlin would be my pick to win the championship. That’s who I am going to go with even though I honestly have no idea what is going to happen.
One Season and One Championship for Matt Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Racing – By Mark Eddinger
The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is going to be phenomenal in my opinion. It is hard to say how it will play out with so much being unknown. The Gen-6 car has had the reset button pushed on everything as teams start from square one. The list of drivers that could win the championship this season seems almost endless. But with that said one name stands above the rest for me.
 'Matt Kenseth' photo (c) 2009, Bertho RF1 - license: Kenseth, who is going to be competing in his first race with his new team at Joe Gibbs Racing at Daytona, will win the championship. Once the news broke mid-2012 that Kenseth was leaving Roush Fenway Racing after 13 full Cup seasons for JGR my first thought was, “Oh my, he’s going to win the championship.”
Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole will be phenomenal with Kenseth in the No. 20, Denny Hamlin in the No. 11, and Kyle Busch in the No. 18. It is hard to say who the top driver is within the organization as all three are number one caliber.
Kenseth, who will turn 41 in March, won the 2003 Sprint Cup Series title but that was before the Chase format that puts more emphasis on winning and on the 10-race stretch run than the full season was implemented. Even so, I have a feeling that Kenseth will be able to show he can win in the Chase format as well.
He has 24 wins in his career and never more than five in a season. I think that number will be in serious jeopardy this season even with the increased competition level in the Sprint Cup Series.
Maybe I am totally off on this one and Kenseth won’t even be a championship factor in his first season with JGR. The main thing for Kenseth to be in the mix is how he jells with his new crew chief Jason Ratcliff
He will certainly have earned the 2013 championship by having to beat his two JGR teammates and the Hendrick Motorsports foursome of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. It doesn’t stop there, last year’s champion Brad Keselowski, the 2011 champion Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, and Greg Biffle will also pose a championship threat in my opinion.
In the end it will be Matt Kenseth sitting at the head table when his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing comes to a close.
Tags: Clayton Caldwell, Darian Grubb, Denny Hamlin, Jason Ratcliff, Mark Eddinger, matt kenseth, Motorsports, NASCAR, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

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