The season hasn’t even started yet and people are already making predictions as to who is going to take home the coveted Sprint Cup Series Championship title. With the new Gen-6 car, Dodge out of the picture and even multiple drivers changing teams, it is really anybody’s guess. I took to twitter to see who fans thought would come out as top dog, and some answers surprised me.
Jimmie Johnson: Ok, so this name was expected. Bringing home 5 championships with Crew Chief Chad Knaus, it’s no secret that Jimmie Johnson can win. Driving the No. 48 KOBALT/Lowe’s Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson and Knaus did what no other team has done before, and will probably never do again, win five consecutive Sprint Cup Championships (2006-2010). After an off year in 2010, where they finished 6th in points, Johnson was one of the favorites to win in 2012 and was well on his way to achieving that before and oil line problem sent him to the garage during the season finale. With this new car and Hendrick power behind him, look for Johnson and Knaus to come out of the gate strong in 2013. As one fan pointed out,” his team is fast and on their A-game with the new cars. They have great (Hendrick) equipment and are hungry for their 6-Pack.”
Matt Kenseth: This is one driver whose name surprised me. Moving from the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Kenseth has a lot of new to get used to. With multiple Cup wins under his belt, Kenseth has never won the Championship. One fan believes that with his new team and the new car, Kenseth could easily come out on top. Can this new transition period for Kenseth provide him with the confidence and skill he needs to win? I guess we will have to see.
Kasey Kahne: The newest member to the Hendrick Motorsports team had a very strong season in 2012. With two wins last season, one of them being the Coca-Cola 600, and an appearance in the Chase, Kahne’s name has been thrown out as a possible 2013 Championship contender for months. Kahne has the ability and determination to win and Hendrick teammates to learn from which makes him a force to be reckoned with in 2013.
Kyle Busch: After barely missing the Chase in 2012, the youngest Busch brother will be on a quest NOT to repeat 2012. Bad luck seemed to follow him wherever he went last season with multiple engine and battery problems and trips to the garage. One fan tweeted that “after a disappointing 2012 I can't see the 18 team struggling again this year with setup problems and engines troubles, Kyle will be more determined than ever to taste cup series glory.” I think we will be seeing the M&Ms Toyota and its driver in victory lane much more in 2013 and possibly hoisting up that Cup at Homestead-Miami.
Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr: Rounding out the other half of the Hendrick Motorsports lineup is Gordon and Earnhardt Jr. With both drivers crawling out of a bit of a slump from previous years, they both made an appearance in the Chase in 2012. Earnhardt Jr. broke a 4 year long winless streak at Michigan and Gordon won at both Pocono and Homestead to finish out the year. Earnhardt Jr. looked like a Championship contender for 2012 until a concussion parked him for two of the ten Chase races. Gordon, with 4 Championships under his belt, and Earnhardt Jr. both know how to race hard and win so could one of these two iconic drivers be at the top in 2013?
After sifting through many responses in my mentions tab, I was shocked that I didn’t have one response that included defending Champion Brad Keselowski. Now, I don’t know if the No. 2 fans just didn’t see my multiple tweets or if they really don’t think Keselowski can make it two in a row. Either way, I’m not sure you should count him out in 2013. Do you agree with my predictions or do you think I completely missed it? No one really knows for sure and if 2013 is anything like 2012, we are in for one heck of a ride.