With the new Generation-6 car, teams across the board are discovering new to race these cars. But the new car is not the only change this season. There are a few new drivers in the Sprint Cup series, a few drivers who changed teams, and a few drivers who are looking to make a comeback. Below I have listed a few drivers who I think are ones to watch in 2013.
Kyle Busch: After barely missing out on the Chase in 2012, look for the youngest Busch brother to make a run for the Championship as soon as the season starts. Kyle Busch has made the Chase before, his first time being 2006 in just his second year as a Cup driver. Although Kyle hasn't won a Cup Championship, he has won the Nationwide Series Championship in 2009 so this driver knows how to win. He broke the record of most wins in a season with 21 in 2008 then beat his own record in 2010 with 24 wins across all three major series including a three-race sweep at Bristol. At just 27 years old, Kyle still has many years of racing left in him.
Matt Kenseth: After leaving Roush Fenway Racing #17 for Joe Gibbs Racing #20, the defending Daytona 500 Champion is starting over: new number, new sponsor, new team, and new car. Kenseth spent 13 years with Roush Fenway Racingand won the 2003 Cup Championship. Kenseth debuted in the #20 in early December at a Charlotte test and was in Daytona this past week for the winter test and was one of the fastest cars on the track. Look for him to make a dead run for the Cup as the newest member of the JGR family. Danica Patrick: One of racing's most recognizable faces and the lone woman in NASCARs highest tier, look for all eyes to be on Danica Patrick as she makes the move to full time Cup in 2013. Patrick was consistently in the top 10 in testing this last week at Daytona and even leading most of the final practice. With Tony Gibson and his crew by her side, look for her to be a factor in plate tracks and road courses. Finishing 10th in point standings last season in Nationwide Series, she joins Stewart-Haas Racing as Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman's newist, and smallest, teammate. Danica Patrick may be a girl, but she can drive.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr: The reigning two-time Nationwide Series Champion is making the jump to Sprint Cup this season in the #17 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. After proving that he can win races in the Nationwide Series, Joe Gibbs offered him the 17 after Matt Kenseth moved to Roush-Fenway Racing. Stenhouse has been in 6 Cup races with his best finish being 12th at Dover this last year. Stenhouse and good friend Danica Patrick will both be racing for the title of Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year. Look for Stenhouse to be a factor in many Cup races this season because this 25 year old has a lot of talent.
Jimmie Johnson: After 5 straight Championship wins, 5-time has now lost two in a row. Jimmie Johnson is known as one of the best racers on the track and he won't back down this season as he fights for a 6th Cup. Johnson said in an interview early in the season that he wants 8 Championships; he wants to be known as the greatest driver there is. With Hendrick Motorsports and teammates like Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kasey Kahne behind him, Johnson is well on his way to accomplishing that dream. After a tight battle for the Cup in 2012, Johnson has to be biting at the bit to get back out there and do what he does best: win.
No doubt there are more than five drivers to watch in 2013, including Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and reining Champion Brad Keselowski. With a new car, Dodge out of the picture, tandem drafting problems and a few new rules, 2013 will be a season of excitement and drama and one you definitely do not want to miss.
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