Thursday, February 21, 2013

TMC's 2013 Turrible Prognostications

The 2013 race season is upon us. When this blog was launched, banktruck and I originally thought we'd use it as a forum to discuss and debate contemporary racing. By blog entry #2, I was pretty well bored by that approach. Instead, I've focused far more on posts about racing history ... and Schaefer. Both are extremely fun.

But occasionally, I try to recognize I should live in the here and now when it comes to racing. With that said, here are my predictions for the season. With any luck and by swinging for the fences, I may miss 100% of my picks.

Daytona 500 winner: Matt Kenseth will join the elite company of The King, Cale Yarborough and Sterling Marlin as a back-to-back winner. Kenseth's win will be unique in that he has changed teams and car makes from 2012 to this year. He has made some questionable moves so far in this year's Speedweeks. But he is enough of a cerebral driver that he'll have it figured out by Sunday. 

'Premier Series' Champion: Throughout the recent ceremonies for the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees, all presenters were required - or certainly at least heavily coached - to refer to NASCAR's Grand National / Winston Cup / Nextel Cup / Sprint Cup series as "NASCAR's premier series". With that apparently being the new norm, I'm calling Kasey Kahne as the next premier series champ.
In no particular order, others who will join him in the 10 race Chase For the Championship but will fall short of sitting at the head table at the annual banquet will be...
  1. Smoke
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Carl ESPNwards
  4. Bad Brad Keselowski
  5. Jeff Gordon
  6. Rowdy Busch
  7. Possum Biffle
  8. Matt Kenseth
  9. Clint Bowyer
  10. Flyin Ryan 
  11. Denny Hamlin
Outhouse to Penthouse: He is arguably the top dawg at Roush Fenway Racing - especially since Kenseth has moved to a new team. So it may be a stretch to say Carl Edwards has been in the outhouse. But he hasn't won in almost 2 full seasons. Now he is paired with crew chief Jimmy Fennig, and I expect Edwards to visit victory lane on more than one occasion in 2013 and easily make the Chase.

Cellar Dweller: He can change teams. He can date a positive person who seems to genuinely care for him. He can bring a camera posse to record his charitable acts. He can act as if he is an outlaw on Speed Channel. But when the season ends, Kurt Busch will again find he continues to pay penance for his hot-headed behavior at Roush and Penske. No wins and lots of struggles loom for the 78 Furniture Row team. 

Rookie of The Year: Is Joe Millikan still eligible? What about Delma Cowart? No? OK, I suppose I'll agree with GaPettyFan and hitch my wagon to Ricky Stenhouse. Danica will get all the pub, but her beau (for now) will get the ROTY award.

Other random predictions

Will They Win?:
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. - Yes. A fuel-mileage, rain-shortened race at Michigan will be just what Junebug needs to keep the Big Mo going for the 88 team.  Seriously though - with Steve Letarte in his corner, Junior has no excuses not to win multiple races in 2013. None. Zero. I say he wins... um, uh... two. 
  • Aric Almirola: No. If AA's early Speedweeks runs are any indication of how the 2013 season will unfold for the 43 team, the larger question may be whether Aric is still employed by the team at the end of the year rather than if he has won a race.
  • Joey Logano: If aiding Brad Keselowski with testing, drafting, relaying information to the team, etc. that helps the Blue Deuce win races, then Yes. If he has to take the checkers himself, then my prediction is No.
  • Paul Menard: Last seen in the plumbing section of his father's home improvement stores.
  • Kevin Harvick: He should win a couple of times - but they'll come in the first half of the season. Harvick's eyes will turn to 2014 to prepare for his multi-year deal with Stewart-Haas Racing, and Richard Childress Racing will turn its focus to preparing for a 2014 rookie run with Austin Dillon.
  • Marcos Ambrose: Yes, the Aussie will pick up two wins - one on a roadie as expected with a second at somewhere such as Phoenix or Loudon for his first Cup oval win.
  • Ryan Newman: Without a win, Newman will need a new deal for 2014 and beyond. Any chance he takes over the 43?
  • Mark Martin: Gosh darn it. He will be still just so proud to drive the Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. And gosh darn it, we'll likely hate the fact he'll go yet another season without one more win.
Danica to finish in Top 20 in points: No, but Stewart-Haas may buy Paul Menard's points from Richard Childress Racing in the hopes it'll be enough to get her some sort of table at the season-ending Vegas banquet.

Will the 3 return to Cup racing in 2014 (but be announced in 2013)?: Yes, Richard Childress Racing will announce the return of the 3 Chevy in 2014 with grandson Austin Dillon as its driver. Bonus prediction: banktruck will tear his clothes and release a blood-curdling howl upon hearing the news. 


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