Archive for category Denny Hamlin

Predicting NASCAR Chase Drivers In 2013

After the exciting 2012 season that saw young Brad Keselowski holding off five time champion Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer to win his first Sprint Cup Championship. Seemingly out of nowhere, Brad went from a young driver of the future to the champion of the sport. Seeing this youth movement could result in even younger drivers winning NASCAR’s biggest prize.

2013 will also bring Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer together again after Jeff wrecked Clint’s season away in Phoenix, causing members of Clint’s team finding Jeff and putting the smack down on him on national television. Seeing how these two drivers will move around each other this season will be very interesting.

As with any Sprint Cup Season, there are always several driver changes. Matt Kenseth moving from Roush to Joe Gibbs racing no. 20 car and moving Joey Logano from the 20 to Penske racing and the no 22 car. Kurt Busch and Regan Smith swap rides with Busch moving to the 78 and Smith moving to the 51. Also NASCAR’s newest couple Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. both moving up from the Nationwide series to compete for the Rookie of the Year award this year.

Just Missed The Chase- Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Paul Menard.

12.- Matt Kenseth, 20 Home Depot/Dollar General Toyota- Joe Gibbs Racing

The defending Daytona 500 champion moves from the only team he has raced for in the Spring Cup Series to Joe Gibbs racing and the 20 car. It will be different for Matt not seeing the cat in the hat on his pit box each race helping him. This will be a transition year for Matt and the 20 team so seeing them struggle this year will not be that much of a surprise.

11.- Kevin Harvick, 29 Budweiser Chevy- Richard Childress Racing

Announcing last year that 2013 will be Harvick’s last year with Childress Racing, he will be moving to Stewart/HAAS Racing in 2014. Now Harvick and the 29 team will have to avoid the always dreaded lame duck season when all members of the team know they won’t be working together for much longer. The 29 team will make the chase but never find their footing in it and end Harvick’s run at Richard Childress Racing.

10.- Greg Biffle, 16 3M Ford- Roush Fenway Racing

Now the senior member at Roush Racing, Biffle is now the “leader” for the drivers. Greg found success last year in the regular season but just couldn’t have it transition into the Chase resulting in a fifth place finish. Greg will make the chase again this year but without the success he had last year in the regular season.

9.- Kasey Kahne, 5 Farmers Insurance Chevy- Hendrick Motorsports

Kahne’s first year at Hendrick Motorsports started off slow but picked up late to help Kasey finish 4th in 2012. Kahne will look to continue the success in 2013 and should be competitive all year however his struggles in the chase this year will hurt his hunt for the cup.

8.- Carl Edwards, 99 Fastenal Ford- Roush Fenway Racing

Well my pick for the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship didn’t have the season anyone thought he would. Missing the chase completely and going winless, Carl looks to have a bounce back year after the nightmare season that 2012 was. Carl will backflip a few times this year and return to the chase in 2013.

7.- Tony Stewart, 14 Bass Pro Shop/Mobil 1 Chevy- Stewart/HAAS Racing

Tony’s title defense last season didn’t match his expectations but the three time champ is still always one of the best out on the track. From the owner side of Stewart’s job has gotten a little more exciting and complicated with the addition of Danica Patrick to his team. The driver/owner will look to win his second Sprint Cup trophy as a owner driver in 2013 but will fall just short this year.

6.- Jimmie Johnson, 48 Lowe’s Chevy- Hendrick Motorsports

This must be strange for the five time champion, not winning a Sprint Cup trophy in two years. After failing to be in real contention for the trophy in 2011, last year Johnson had a chance in the last week of the season before trouble found him and he fell to third in the season standings. Johnson will fall even further away from the title this year.

5.- Kyle Busch, 18 M&M’s Toyota- Joe Gibbs Racing

Kyle has been on his best behavior since his Truck Series incident in 2011 and after missing the chase in 2012, Kyle will be focused to make a run at the trophy in 2013. In the 10 chase races last year, Kyle scored the second highest amount of points in the chase of any driver, only trailing eventual champ Brad Keselowski. Kyle will return to the chase and compete for the cup.

4.- Dale Earnhardt Jr., 88 National Guard/ Diet Mountain Dew Chevy- Hendrick Motorsports

NASCAR’s most popular driver finally returned to victory lane in 2012 and was a real threat for the Sprint Cup until Dale suffered a concussion in the chase, making him sit out two races and just about ending his season. Dale will look to keep the momentum he built up before the concussion going in 2013 and will fight for the Cup this year.

3.- Brad Keselowski, 2 Miller Light Ford- Penske Racing

Wow, what a year Brad had last year. Coming out of nowhere to win a Sprint Cup Championship last year, Brad solidified himself as one of if not the young face of NASCAR. People thought Brad could and possibly would win a championship one day, just not this fast. Now Brad has the difficult task of repeating that feat as the defending champion and he will put up a fight for it but come up just short.

Brad Keselowski

2.- Clint Bowyer, 15 Five Hour Energy Toyota- Michael Waltrip Racing

Clint had himself a fantastic 2012 season and was in great contention for the championship in his first season with Michael Waltrip Racing. That is until the Phoenix race when Jeff Gordon intentionally wrecked him, taking him out of contention for the trophy and causing the two teams to fight in the garage. This season Clint will try to look past all of the drama of last seasons finish and try to capture this years title. He will get close but will not be able to take home the trophy.

1.- Denny Hamlin, 11 FedEx Toyota- Joe Gibbs Racing

My pick for the 2013 Sprint Cup Championship is Denny Hamlin. Denny had a bit of a disappointing 2012 campaign but still finished sixth in the standings. Denny, who just had his first child this year, looks more focused and ready to finally get the trophy that has eluded him for years. Denny has been very close to the trophy in the past falling just short to Jimmie Johnson in 2010. Denny, learning from his mistakes in the past will finally reach the top and win his first Sprint Cup Championship in 2013.

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Predicting NASCAR Chase Drivers In 2012

Coming off one of the best years in NASCAR history, the 2012 season will have a lot to live up to. The historic chase run by Tony Stewart and fighting Carl Edwards for the Sprint Cup championship and Stewart winning his first championship as a owner. The drama and conflict between Kyle Busch vs Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch vs Ron Hornaday, Kyle Busch vs Richard Childress, Kurt Busch vs Dr. Jerry Punch. Seems to have a common theme there.

With the addition of the Chase to the Championship, it has made every year since much more exciting adding the additional pressure for every driver to make it to NASCAR’s version of the playoffs and then the usual struggle of winning a championship.

With all of the driver changes this year like Kurt Busch being replaced by AJ Allmendinger at Penske, Kasey Kahne joining Hendrick, and Clint Bowyer leaving Childress and joining Michael Waltrip Racing, this year will be another exciting year.

Just Missed The Chase- Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano.

12.- Greg Biffle, 16 3M Ford Roush Fenway Racing

With Roush now dropping to a three car team, there will be more pressure on each of the remaining cars. Coming off a disappointing 2011 campaign going winless and not making the Chase, Greg will change both of those problems by winning at least one race and just squeaking in to the playoffs. I expect him to struggle when the Chase begins and he will fade away rather quickly. Usually a couple drivers do each year.

11.- Matt Kenseth, 17 Valvoline/Best Buy Ford Roush Fenway Racing

Coming off his best statistical year since 2006 it will be tough for Kenseth to repeat the success.  Matt won three races and finished fourth in the Chase. Matt basically forced NASCAR into creating a playoff system after his 2003 title only winning one race in the process. 2012 could be Kenseth’s last year with Roush as his contract is up after the season. Just like his teammate Biffle, Kenseth will fade in the Chase and finish near the bottom of the standings.

10.- Dale Earnhardt Jr., 88 National Guard/ Diet Mountain Dew Chevy Hendrick Motorsports

After having absolutely embarrassing years in 2009 and in 2010, NASCAR’s most popular driver had a comeback year in 2011 nearly breaking his winless streak that now stretches over three years and making the Chase finishing 7th. With the addition of Kasey Kahne at Hendrick, Dale now becomes the 4th best driver in their stable and now even if it seemed impossible, there is more pressure on him. He will win at least one race this year im calling it. Being competetive in the Chase? Not just yet.

9.- Kasey Kahne, 5 Farmers Insurance Chevy Hendrick Motorsports

Kasey was put in a odd position last year. Driving for a dying race team with Red Bull Racing and only racing with a one year contract and signing up for this ride two years ago, Kasey knew what his future held so going into the 2011 year and with all of the awkwardness that existed, Kasey one a race and almost made the Chase. Imagine what he could do now with a great team and fantastic equipment. Give this group a year and Kasey will be competing for the championship, but this year making the Chase and winning a couple races will do just fine.

8.- Kyle Busch, 18 M&M’s Toyota Joe Gibbs Racing

After all of the drama last season, everyone hopes that Kyle has learned to grow up and actually control his temper. Obviously his race team and his sponsors are losing their patients with him and he needs to change for good. He has talent but that can only get you so far. I think he is learning to control his temper but still will continue his Chase struggles and finish in the middle of the pack.

7.- Tony Stewart, 14 Office Depot/ Mobil 1 Chevy Stewart Haas Racing

What a year Tony had last year. After barely making the Chase, Tony went on a crazy run leading to his 3rd Championship and winning his first as a owner/driver. He will have a lot to live up to. Adding defending his championship on top of owning his team and now managing Danica Patrick’s start in NASCAR, this will be a difficult year for Tony. But if anyone could do it Tony can. But he wont this year.

6.- Brad Keselowski, 2 Miller Light Dodge Penske Racing

What a year Brad had as well. Surprising everyone, Brad won 3 races last year and made the chase finishing 5th. Now he takes over as the no 1 driver at Penske as Kurt Busch was let go after his tirade about Dr. Jerry Punch after the season ending Homestead race. Some people think that Brad will regress after a breakout year but he will win races and compete in the chase.

5.- Jimmie Johnson, 48 Lowe’s Chevy Hendrick Racing

Well the run had to end at some point. 2011 just didn’t have the same feeling for Jimmie Johnson as the last five years did, those obviously ending in championships for the 48 team. Now Jimmie will have to do something he hasn’t had to do for years. Not defending the Sprint Cup Championship and having to take it from Tony Stewart. He will have the same group that he had last year and knowing that team they will finish near the top of the standings this year and win several races.

4.- Jeff Gordon, 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevy Hendrick Racing

Its surprising to think that it has been 11 years since Jeff last one a Spring Cup Championship but he has taken a back seat to his teammates dominance over the past 6 years now. But now with a chink in the armor of Jimmie Johnson shown last year, Jeff can use this year as a start to a late career run at another title. Jeff faded last year finishing ninth in the standings struggling in the Chase. He will stay competitive in this Chase and get close to his fifth title.

3.- Kevin Harvick, 29 Budweiser Chevy Richard Childress Racing

Harvick’s year is already off to a fantastic start with the announcement that he will be a father. It can become even greater if it ends with a championship. Happy Harvick has a habit of sticking around in a race quietly and showing up at the end finding ways to win races. Just see his Daytona 500 race win. Harvick is usually a lock for a few wins every year and after finishing third last year in the Chase, tying his previous best, Kevin should be motivated to make a strong run for his first Sprint Cup Championship in 2012.

2.- Denny Hamlin, 11 FedEx Toyota Joe Gibbs Racing

After having a championship slip through his fingers in 2010, Denny Hamlin faltered in 2011. Struggling all throughout the 2011 season managing only one win after winning a career high eight races in 2010, Denny finished ninth in the Chase. Now with Darian Grubb coming over from Stewart Haas after winning a title in 2011 with Tony Stewart to replace Mike Ford as Crew Chief, Denny has a championship winning leader who can push that team over the top. Denny will return to his winning ways and stay competitive all year, falling just short of a title.

1.- Carl Edwards, 99 Fastenal Ford Roush Fenway Racing

After losing to Tony Stewart via a tiebreaker in one of the greatest seasons and finishes in NASCAR history, Carl will have to avoid the second place curse that happens to the second place finishers the next season. Denny Hamlin suffered from it last year, just like Carl did in 2009. Carl put up consistant numbers all year and almost won the championship despite only winning one race in the beginning of the year at Las Vegas. If Carl can put up another consistant year and add a few more wins in during the season, Carl can obtain his first title. He has been a bridesmaid long enough. So my pick for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship is Carl Edwards. Expect a season ending flip.

by: Andrew Isaac

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