Better safe than sorry. That may have been the mindset of voters in the annual preseason NASCARMedia.com poll that tapped five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson as the favorite to win the 2013 title.
Despite a two-year championship drought – an eternity for the El Cajon, Calif. native – Johnson has qualified for the “postseason” Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in each of its nine seasons. His 22 Chase wins are more than any other driver.
So, as they say, you have to be in it to win it.
Johnson, who will start his 400th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Sunday’s Daytona 500 (1 p.m. on FOX, FOX Deportes, MRN Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio), finished third last season behind champion Brad Keselowski and runner-up Clint Bowyer.
Possibly the biggest surprise of this year’s media poll: The voters came out in full force for Kyle Busch.
Busch tallied the second-highest vote total, a somewhat surprising number considering he enters 2013 coming off a 2012 season he has called the worst of his career. Busch opened the season with a flourish, winning his Duel at Daytona race on Thursday.
Rounding out the top 12: defending champion Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne.
Media members were also tasked with predicting the final top five for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
With two-time NASCAR Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. moving to a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup ride, the 2013 championship is wide open. But, voters feel that Austin Dillon can duplicate the feat he accomplished in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: follow up a Sunoco Rookie of the Year title with a series championship.
Voters picked Dillon to win this year’s NASCAR Nationwide championship, with Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers, Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith rounding out the top five.
In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series poll, voters are predicting history. Never in the series’ 18-year history has a driver won back-to-back titles, but voters think the drought will end. They picked James Buescher to repeat in 2013, with Ty Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Timothy Peters and Johnny Sauter rounding out the top five.