Jan 11, 2013; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Edwards (99) and Brad Keselowski (2) lead the field through turn four during Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Around the Track: Previewing the 2013 Sprint Cup Series Season

Welcome to what we call “Around the Track” here at Beyond the Flag! When we go Around the Track we’re simply going to share opinion and answer questions as a staff, group or maybe just two of us!

Q: Which driver will be the dark horse in 2013?

Bryant: Kurt Busch. He had a solid finish to 2012 with Furniture Row Racing and I truly believe Richard Childress helped him land that job for a reason. Childress is helping FRR with engines and supplies, and I think Childress would like to eventually make room for Busch at RCR when the time works out for that. Unlike Phoenix Racing, FRR has money and equipment. Kurt is a wheelman and can drive anything you put him behind the wheel of! So as long as he stays out of trouble, I think Kurt is going to put up some solid numbers and get his new team put on the map.

Jordan: Kurt Busch. He finished with three top tens at the end of 2012. If the Kurt Busch and his new team, Furniture Row Racing, can find that type of chemistry with only 6 races together, then competitors may need to watch out. FRR’s alliance with Richard Chrildress Racing will only help Kurt Busch’s performance in 2013.

Q: Who will make the Chase for the Sprint Cup?

Bryant: [Via Points] Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, and Brad Keselowski [Via Wildcard] Kurt Busch, Joey Logano

Jordan: Top 10: Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wildcards: Kyle Busch and Joey Logano

Q: Who shockingly doesn’t make the Chase for the Sprint Cup?

Bryant: Matt Kenseth. I expect to see growing pains for Kenseth and his new team at least in this first season.

Jordan: No shocker there. The long season separates the men from the boys.

Q: Who will shockingly make the Chase for the Sprint Cup?

Bryant: Marcos Ambrose will get in and get in via points. He will get another road course victory, but I also predict some strong oval finishes that could include his first oval win. Ambrose has talent and is getting better each year in NASCAR.

Jordan: Joey Logano will gain valuable knowledge from Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano’s wants/needs to prove he is a top notch driver.

Q: Who will win the Rookie of the Year?

Bryant: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Based on opinion and statistics from the Nationwide Series, Stenhouse is the obvious choice. Danica hasn’t proven much on the Sprint Cup Series side of things yet…

Jordan: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Is there even a question. Danica Patrick will be Stenhouse’s only competition and Patrick’s stats are no way as impressive as Stenhouse. And, like many, I believe she is moving up to the Cup series a year too soon.

Q: Will the G6 car give the fans what they’ve been looking for since the introduction of the COT?

Bryant: No, it’s the same chassis with a different body. I don’t expect to see much difference in the racing between last year and this year.

Jordan: Yes, the Gen6 car was created to produce better racing on the track. Driver’s feedback so far make’s you believe that is the case. Driver’s can now pull up to the back of someone and pass! Not to mention, tandem drafting will no longer be an issue after watching testing at Daytona.

Q: Will Dodge announced their return for next season this year and which team will switch over to them?

Bryant: I say Dodge will be back for 2014, but I don’t think it will be with Richard Childress Racing. Too much Chevy history for a team to just leave. Unless Dodge has some money to fork over. I think we may see Michael Andretti finally make the change over into NASCAR!

Jordan: Dodge will not be back in 2014. Despite the rumor with Richard Childress Racing, I can’t imagine RCR cars without the bow-tie. There is to much history there. And I can’t imagine Dodge will find a team to the caliber they are looking for as they start looking to get back in the sport.

Tags: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

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