“The Fly” Reviews the Teams, and Predicts the 2013 Sprint Cup Champion
Hey, there, this is “the Fly”.
You’ve probably heard a lot about being a “fly on the wall” somewhere or another.
Well, that’s usually me.
I have a toolbelt full of various electronic and mechanical gadgets that help me get into places no one else can get into, plus rocket propulsion and GPS to get from place to place quickly.
“The Fly” image is courtesy of Lori Munro / www.War-Wagon.com
I know I haven’t been around much over the last few years. It’s not that I wasn’t around (see last year’s Martinsville wreck with Mr. Bowyer as an example), but I haven’t been writing much.
If you would like to read some of my past adventures, including why Michael Waltrip was caught with rocket fuel residue at Daytona a few years back, click here. Michael and I have some “history“, I suppose. He still doesn’t speak to me.
2013 brings a bunch of driver, crew, and team changes, plus the challenges of a brand new Sprint Cup race car.
Who do you think is going to be hot in 2013, and who do you think is going to do a wall job? Really? You’re kidding, right?
Well, here’s my predictions and opinions for most of the full-time 2013 Sprint Cup teams. You’ll find out you were wrong. Ha-ha.
For the #1 team of Jamie McMurray, I would expect more of the same “generalness” (is that a word?) as in 2012. They will be running Hendrick engines this season. Jamie has shown flashes of brilliance, but just hasn’t gotten the consistency yet.
For our 2012 Sprint Cup champion, Brad Keselowski and the #2 team, a switch to Ford may cause the usual “year-after-a-championship slump” to be a little more severe than otherwise. Other than Jimmie Johnson, not too many others have secured more than one championship in a row in recent years. Perhaps Brad and crew chief Paul Wolfe can prove me wrong.
Kasey Kahne gets a different crew chief with Kenny Francis for 2013, although they’ve worked together before. The #5 team came on a bit toward the end of 2012. I would expect this to continue, and Kahne may have a break-out year in 2013 with Francis.
Sprint Cup’s resident Aussie, Marcos Ambrose, seems to keep slowly gathering momentum with more NASCAR experience. Drew Blickensderfer is still relatively new as his crew chief, but look for more strong runs from Ambrose in 2013.
Danica Patrick makes her full-time debut in Sprint Cup racing for Stewart-Haas in 2013. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see her as more than a mediocre stock car driver, especially based on her history so far. Well, a mediocre driver who is cuter and probably smells better most of the time than other drivers. Yeah, I’m male.
Denny Hamlin and the #11 team have been on the cusp of good things for several seasons. After strongly contending in 2011, and a rough 2012, the team returns intact for 2013. I will even go out on a limb and predict Denny as the 2013 Sprint Cup champion, if I was asked. You didn’t ask? Too bad.
I don’t foresee any flashes of brilliance from the #13 team and Casey Mears in 2013.
The #14 team and Tony Stewart had a very unsatisfying 2012. The 3-time champion is not going to just lay down, but starting the 3rd team for Danica will take some of Tony’s attention and energy.
Clint Bowyer had an exciting 2012. Who knew he could run like that? Must have been the 5-Hour Energy drinks! Clint squeaked out a 2nd place points 2012 finish, just edging out Jimmie Johnson. Crew chief Brian Pattie returns for another season, and I would expect the #15 team to pick up right where they left off. I see them contending for the title.
Greg Biffle had a very lackluster 2012, overall. I just don’t see anything there to indicate that 2013 is going to be much different. Sorry, Biff fans.
It’s a new start for the #17 team with a brand new Sprint Cup driver, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Former #99 engineer Scott Graves steps up as the #17 crew chief. It will be weird not seeing Kenseth in the #17. We’ll just have to wait and see how they do.
Kyle Busch has supposedly renewed his deal with Joe Gibbs Racing for the long term. Dave Rogers returns as crew chief for the #18 car. If Kyle can find the balance between acting psycho and being a race car driver, he should be a contender again. That’s a big “if”, pardner.
2003 champ Matt Kenseth steps into the #20 car for Joe Gibbs in 2013. Jason Ratcliff returns as the crew chief. I think there’s going to be some adjustments for all concerned for part of the season as everyone gets used to each other, then watch out!
The 22 team has been in turmoil since A J Allmendinger was “dinged” for drug use in 2012. Joey Logano slides into this seat for 2013. He was known as a “phenom” when he started, and really hasn’t lived up to that so far in Sprint Cup. Hopefully he and crew chief Todd Gordon will make some noise this season.
I can think of nothing to say about the #23 team. No offense to wheel man Travis Kvapil.
Do you think Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer exchanged Christmas cards? I’d imagine not, although I read they both ended up on a yacht together on New Year’s, neither one aware of the other’s presense. I’m not sure what to say about Gordon. It just seems like he hasn’t had the fire he had earlier in his career. “The Kid” has now become the one of the “elder statesmen”. Although family agrees with him, it appears to take the edge off for most drivers. A strongish 2012 should continue in 2013 for the #24 team.
The #26 team is supposed to be full time with Josh Wise as the driver for 2013. Funding will keep this team in the lower section of the finishing order.
For 2013, Paul Menard returns to the #27 car with crew chief Slugger Labbe. I know Menard has fans. I guess I just don’t see that he’s anything really special, apart from his dad’s sponsorship money that keeps him in the sport.
According to rumors, 2013 may be a lame duck season for Kevin Harvick. He’s rumored to be going to work for Tony Stewart in 2014, taking all his major sponsors with him. For this reason, I suspect he will struggle somewhat this season.
Now this “new” #30 team is a puzzlement to me. Brandon Davis bought the team in mid-2012. There’s lots of big names there, including Steve Hmiel as comp director and Tony Eury, Jr. as the crew chief. David Stremme returns as the driver. With all that knowledge and experience, and what looks like under-the-table Toyota support via Michael Waltrip Racing (Mikey is driving the car in the 2013 Daytona 500), we can hope for some good things from them. But first year teams don’t usually get it all together right off.
I like Jeff Burton. I really do. But he’s not done anything notable in several years. A new #31 crew chief in Luke Lambert may inject some energy here. May.
32 33 34 36 38 … these are not the teams you’re looking for. Move along. Move along.
Ryan Newman and Matt Borland are back together for the #39 team in 2013. Hopefully a way will be found in the long term to keep Ryan at SHR. They want him and he wants to stay.
If Juan Pablo can watch out for jet dryers, he will have a better year than 2012. Juan Pablo and the #42 team were mostly a non-event in 2012. New Hendrick engines may help some in 2013.
Aric Amirola returns to the #43 car in 2013, with championship crew chief Todd Parrott. Amirola was up front regularly during 2012, but just couldn’t close the deal. Something always seemed to happen to take him out of contention. Look for a victory from the Petty #43 this season.
I would like to see Bobby Labonte in a better-funded team. He’s a much better driver than his #47 team allows him to show. Expect more of the same for 2013 as was shown in 2012.
Jimmie. Chad. Contenders. I would be deeply surprised if they aren’t. Champs? Perhaps. I often wonder if Jeff regrets hiring Jimmie?
The #51 team is always a contender on superspeedways, no matter who is driving. Looks like Regan Smith and A J Allmendinger will be spliting this ride in 2013. Both are capable, but lack of funding hurts this team. I feel for Regan, who seemed to be on the cusp of great things in Cup with the #78 team.
It seemed like whoever was driving the #55 each week was doing a heck of a job. It was near the front a good portion of the times I watched, anyway. Ageless Mark Martin will do most of the races, and Brian Vickers will do about 9. Mikey will do the others. These guys will win a race or two this year.
I’ve always been kind of “meh” about Martin Truex, Jr. And I’m not sure exactly why. He’s a competent driver. He just seems to lack that … whatever it is. Look for him to run well this season, and maybe pick up a win.
I’m really not sure what Barney Visser was thinking when he let Regan Smith go to pick up Kurt Busch. Maybe he just WANTED to spend more money fixing race cars and spend more time in press conferences defending his driver. The team was steadily growing and improving with Smith, and (IMHO) did a head-on into a brick wall with the driver switch. Can you tell I’m not a Kurt Busch fan? I apologize to the one or two of you who are.
83 87 … move along. Sorry, Landon and Joe.
The 88 team… I’m sort of old school, I guess, since I still feel like that number belongs to ’99 champ Dale Jarrett (and Jaws before him). Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains the most popular driver in Sprint Cup, and probably always will be. Almost like the anticipation of his dad winning Daytona, his loyal fans anticipate a Junior championship. He would be a sentimental favorite in most fans’ eyes. Will 2013 be the year? It depends a lot on how well Dale adapts to the new car. He historically stuggled with the previous chassis.
Carl Edwards returns to the #99 in 2013 after a mostly non-existant 2012 season. Veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig takes over from Chad Norris. Will Carl flip in 2013? A pretty strong maybe.
That was a lot of reading. What do YOU think? Leave your (tasteful, polite) comments in the comment section below. You can tell me I’m full of horse manure… just do it tastefully, considering the more genteel of our readers.