The 2012 season literally just ended with Brad Keselowski and his Miller Lite Dodge team celebrating as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions. However, it is never too early to look into the future and make predictions for what’s going to happen in 2013 and that is exactly what I am going to do, at least for the first 26 races of next season.
Race: Budweiser Shootout Track: Daytona Predicted Winner: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – The two times NASCAR brought new cars into the Cup and Nationwide Series, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won those races. Based on that, I predict he wins another Shootout crown
Race 1: Daytona 500 – Daytona – Brad Keselowski – I think 2013 will be a hangover year for Keselowski and the 2 crew. However I do think they will start the year off with a huge win in the series’ biggest race of all.
Race 2: Subway Fresh Fit 500 – Phoenix – Kasey Kahne – This will be the guy to beat next year.
Race 3: Kobalt Tools 400 – Las Vegas – Jimmie Johnson – This past season I feel was the end of Jimmie’s reign. I feel like he will fall into the mode of Jeff Gordon where he’ll always be a contender but never get another title in his career.
Race 4: Food City 500 – Bristol – Kyle Busch – 2013 will be a bounce back season for the younger of the two Busch brothers but I don’t see him ever winning up to 10 Cup races in a year either.
Race 5: Auto Club 400 – California – Kasey Kahne – First repeat winner of 2013.
Race 6: Martinsville 500 – Martinsville – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Junior has run so well at Martinsville the past 10 seasons. I think he’s due for a victory here.
Race 7: Texas 500 – Texas – Matt Kenseth – Kenseth will start off slow in his new ride but will gradually be more comfortable and more competitive.
Race 8: STP 400 – Kansas – Denny Hamlin – Back-to-back wins for Joe Gibbs Racing but I see 2013 as a down year for Hamlin, similar to how 2012 was for Kyle Busch
Race 9: Capital City 400 – Richmond – Kyle Busch – Busch and the 11 crew just have this track dialed in.
Race 10: Aaron’s 499 – Talladega – Matt Kenseth – Kenseth usually finds himself in the right place at the right time in these races and I think he’ll be in the right place in this one.
Race 11: Bojangles’ Southern 400 – Darlington – Martin Truex, Jr. – Truex breaks a near five year drought to win his first race since Dover in 2008.
Sprint All-Star Race – Charlotte – Carl Edwards – Edwards surprises everyone to take the All-Star race victory.
Race 12: Coca-Cola 600 – Charlotte – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – In another bit of a surprise, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wins what might be the biggest race of his career in front of his hometown crowd in Charlotte.
Race 13: FedEx 400 – Dover – Jimmie Johnson – Win #2 for Johnson.
Race 14: Pocono 400 – Pocono – Kasey Kahne – Win #3 for Kahne.
Race 15: Quicken Loans 400 – Michigan – Matt Kenseth – Win #3 for Kenseth.
Race 16: Toyota/Save Mart 350 – Sonoma – Marcos Ambrose – An easy choice but I think that he will really be dialed in for Sears Point.
Race 17: Quaker State 400 – Kentucky – Kyle Busch – Win #2 for Busch.
Race 18: Coke Zero 400 – Daytona – Jeff Gordon – I think Gordon will be sneaky, finishing in the top 5/10 most of the year.
Race 19: Lenox Industrial Tools 301 – New Hampshire – Brad Keselowski – Keselowski snaps out of his slump to begin a summer stretch of good finishes.
Race 20: Brickyard 400 – Indianapolis – Kasey Kahne – I see this has being a win in dominating fashion.
Race 21: Pennsylvania 400 – Pocono – Carl Edwards – I can’t see this guy not winning a points race in all of 2013.
Race 22: Finger Lakes 355 – Watkins Glen – Kurt Busch – I think this guy and his team will surprise a lot of people in 2013.
Race 23: Pure Michigan 400 – Michigan – Greg Biffle – Outside of this win, I think 2013 will be a rough year for Biffle and his team
Race 24: IRWIN Tools Night Race – Bristol – Clint Bowyer – I think he finally exacts his revenge on Jeff Gordon on the last lap of this race to take the win.
Race 25: AdvoCare 500 – Atlanta – Kasey Kahne – Kahne and his HMS team will make a big statement leading up to the Chase.
Race 26: Federated Auto Parts 400 – Richmond – Kasey Kahne – Winning two races in a row and six going into the Chase will make the 5 team the odds on favorite for the 2012 crown.
My prediction for the top 12 Chase contenders in no particular order:
Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr., Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart with the wild card spots going to Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch.