As the off-season comes to a close, it’s that time to start thinking about what is to come for the 2013 season. The 2012 season will be hard to live up to, but I think 2013 will be just as wild and unpredictable.
Here is my wish list for this season and how I hope scenarios will play out.
1. David Stremme performs well with new team and crew chief Tony Eury Jr.
NASCAR’s newest team, Swan Racing, will take to the track for the first time in the Daytona 500, led by team owner Brandon Davis. Driver David Stremme will compete full-time in the Sprint Cup Series in the No. 30 Toyota, with Michael Waltrip running the Daytona 500 for the team.
Davis is the CEO of an oil and gas company, Swan Energy Inc., and is a former dirt modified driver of the United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS). He purchased the assets of Inception Racing, the team Stremme drove for in 2012.
With Swan Racing, Stremme’s start and park days are over. The team intends to run competitively every week and I have no doubt that they will. Tony Eury Jr. will be on top of the No. 30 pit box serving as Stremme’s crew chief.
Eury worked with Dale Earnhardt Inc. from 1993 to 2007 and moved to Hendrick Motorsports with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2008. Eury left the No. 88 team in 2009 and moved to JR Motorsports to crew chief in the Nationwide series. Eury will be reunited with former DEI employee Steve Hmiel at Swan Racing, who is serving as competition director.
My first wish for the 2013 season is for Stremme to have success with Swan Racing and crew chief Eury Jr.
2. Jeremy Mayfield makes strides in returning to NASCAR
In May of 2009 Mayfield failed a drug test issued by NASCAR and was suspended indefinitely from the sport. He fought NASCAR in court for nearly three years, saying the test was a false positive from a mix of Clairton and the prescription drug Adderall.
Mayfield recently called to a radio talk show to speak to Brian France Jr. to ask how he could return to NASCAR and what all that would entail. NASCAR’s chairman told him point blank – he would have to go through NASCAR’s Road to Recovery drug program.
“Well, Jeremy, you know the path back for you,” France said. “It’s the path back for anybody. I’ve always hoped that you would choose the right path and not litigation and a bunch of other things. That’s up to you.
“You have a welcome mat out for anytime you want. There’s a stated process that AJ Allmendinger just went through. We welcomed him back, and it’s terrific. That’s up to you.”
Mayfield said he is willing to do whatever it takes for him to be allowed to race in NASCAR again.
My second wish for the 2013 season is for Mayfield to do what it takes to race in NASCAR again, because there is nothing I love more than a good comeback story.
3. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is back on the map
In 2010 Jamie McMurray won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same year, an accomplishment tackled by few. In the same year, his teammate Juan Pablo Montoya scored his second Sprint Cup Win, making him the first foreign-born driver to have multiple wins in NASCAR Sprint Cup history.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing was riding high and was one of the top competitive teams in the sport. Since then, the team has metaphorically fallen off of the map. Neither driver won a race in the 2012 season and finished 21st and 22nd in point’s standings, respectively.
The team will be switching from Earnhardt Childress Racing engines to Hendrick Motorsports. Bass Pro Shops, who sponsored McMurray in the past, will be taking their business to Stewart Haas Racing for the 2013 season. McMurray is expected to have McDonalds on his ride, with Montoya sticking with Target as primary sponsor.
My third wish for the 2013 season is to see EGR put themselves back on the map and become the competitive team they once were. Both McMurray and Montoya have the skill and talent to win races, but we will have to wait and see if these changes will make a difference in performance.
4. 2013 rookie class stirs up competition
Two of the most popular drivers in NASCAR will be competing for the Rookie of the Year honors in 2013: Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Patrick, who just completed her first full season in the NASCAR Nationwide series, will compete in the Cup series full-time with Stewart-Haas Racing and crew chief Tony Gibson.
Stenhouse has taken the Nationwide Series by storm, winning back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012. He will take his talents to the Cup series full-time with Roush Fenway Racing in the No. 17 Best Buy Ford.
My fourth wish for the 2013 season is for the rookie of the year honors to be a fight to the finish. Typically rookie of the year is not something that is mentioned often during the season because the battle isn’t worth mentioning. However, with two of NASCAR’s shining stars fighting for the honor, it is sure to be one to talk about.
5. Fresh face wins the championship once again
Last season was one of the best championship battles NASCAR has seen in years. The best part about it was seeing a fresh face hoisting up the trophy at season’s end.
I’m not saying that past championships like Jimmie Johnson’s five-time feat or Tony Stewart’s return to the crown in 2011 was boring, but there are many talented drivers in this sport who are long overdue for a championship; drivers like Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, and Greg Biffle.
My fifth and final wish for the 2013 season is to see another first time champion in Homestead Miami for the 2013 season finale.
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