NASCAR

Five NASCAR Drivers With A Chance To Win 2013 Sprint Cup

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Jimmie Johnson Looks For His Sixth Championship

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Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012 NASCAR season gave Jimmie Johnson a chance to win his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship, but at the season’s end that chance slipped away due to mechanical problems.

After finishing third in the point standings Johnson looks to continue his success on the track in 2013, with hopes of capturing his sixth Sprint Cup title.

In 2012 Johnson won the most poles with four front row starts at Kentucky, Chicagoland, Martinsville, and Texas. Two of his front row starts from the pole went on to become wins, at Martinsville and Texas. Johnson also finished tied with Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin with the most wins of the season. He made his way to victory lane at Darlington, Dover, and Indianapolis along with Martinsville and Texas.

Johnson also captured 18 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes.

At the end of the 2012 finale Johnson ended the season third in the point standings despite competing for the championship with Keselowski. His performance in 2012 improvement much from his performance is 2011. By finishing in third Johnson isn't expected to have a slow season since he didn't finish in second by one point, eliminating the second place syndrome.

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Denny Hamlin Remains A Championship Contender

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Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series turned out to be one of Denny Hamlin’s most competitive seasons along with the 2010 season, but fell short of capturing his first championship.

In 2012 Hamlin made his way back into the chase after starting off the season with changes on his team, one of those being a new crew chief. Getting paired with the 2011 winning crew chief in Darian Grubb, Hamlin got back into contender shape by tying with Jimmie Johnson and champion Brad Keselowski for the most wins of the season.

The 2012 season also featured redemption for Hamlin as his first win of the season would come in the second race of the year, at a track where his 2010 championship hopes were lost. The win at Phoenix would be a boost for Hamlin as he would continue to win at Kansas, Bristol, Atlanta, and New Hampshire.

Hamlin would go on to finish sixth in the point standings after starting the chase with the points lead. He would capture three pole wins, 14 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes.

From 2011 to 2012 Hamlin improved dramatically from suffering from the second place syndrome and having a troublesome 2011 season, to winning at tracks he had not won before in 2012. From a successful 2012 season Hamlin will be one of the names in contention in 2013.

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Kyle Busch Will Rebound In 2013

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Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season was not so kind to Kyle Busch as it would be his less stellar year.

The 2012 season featured many mishaps and tough luck for Busch after starting off on a winning night. Prior to the season opening race, the Daytona 500, Busch was the winner of the 2012 Budweiser Shootout after saving his car from wrecks throughout the race. Once the season began Busch didn’t seem like the usual competitor from previous years as he would go on to deal with several mechanical failures throughout the season. Busch did keep himself in contention for the chase until trouble at the fall Richmond race would keep him out.

One good sign of the sign that Busch was still the same competitive driver, he would go on to win two poles, securing his spot in the 2013 shootout. Busch’s only win of the season came in the first Richmond race of the season.

Busch did dominate in several races in the last part of the season. He led for the most laps at Fontana in the early half of the season followed by Kentucky, Watkins Glen, Dover, Phoenix, and Homestead.

Busch would finish 13th in the point standings but his dominance in the final races of the season are a sign of what is expected of Busch in 2013. Busch will be looking to rebound from 2012 and can be expected to be the competitive driver he has always been.

The 2012 season was the first time that Busch failed to qualify into the chase with Joe Gibbs Racing, but with the results of this season it will be the motivation he will need to find success in the new year.

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Carl Edwards Will Be Back In 2013

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Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE

Following his success in the 2011 season and failing short to win the championship that season, Carl Edwards is looking for another shot to compete for a championship.

Despite finishing tied for the lead in 2011 Edwards missed out on his opportunity to become champion when Tony Stewart won by a tiebreaker. The 2012 season proved to be fatal for Edwards as he would become victim to the second place syndrome. In the 2012 season Edwards would only capture three top-five finishes and 13 top-10 finishes. He would average a 15.6 finish, and finish 15th in the point standings.

It was the second time of his career that Edwards became the victim of the second place syndrome after finishing in second in the 2008 season. It wasn’t the first time Edwards would suffer the following season after his championship run but he would go on to recover the following year.

Despite the slow and winless 2012 season, Edwards is expected to return to the championship contender he was before. After his less than stellar 2009 season, Edwards would go on to the chase in 2010 and win several races. He finished fourth in 2012 before competing for the tying for first in the points in 2011.

The upcoming 2013 season will give Edwards a fresh start and plenty of motivation to go back to victory lane, something he hasn't done since the 2011 Las Vegas race.

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Kasey Kahne Has Found Success

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Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

After getting off to a rough start in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Kasey Kahne was able to recover and qualify into the chase with a new team.

Starting off the season with a new team was something that would take Kahne a bit of time to get used to but after getting off to a rough start thing soon picked up for Kahne. In the season’s longest race, Kahne would make his first of two visits to victory lane at Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600. The win would soon help him qualify into his first chase with Hendrick Motorsports.

In his first season with Hendrick Motorsports Kahne became a championship contender following his win at Charlotte and New Hampshire. He also tied up with his teammate Johnson for the most poles in the season with four.

Kahne would go onto finish fourth in the point standing with 12 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. His average finish in 2012 would range outside of the top ten with 13.1.

Kahne improved his statistics in 2012 compared to his performance in 2011 in his one-year deal with Red Bull Racing. He adjusted to his move to Hendrick and will be a competitor in 2013.

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

As the days get closer to the beginning of a brand new year and to the Daytona 500, many drivers come to mind as contenders for the Cup title in 2013.

NASCAR may be in it’s off season after crowning a new champion in Brad Keselowski after an unforgettable 2012 season but there where several drivers who made themselves get noticed as a championship contender. There were also drivers who are known as a championship contender but failed to qualify into the 2012 chase.  As some drivers prepare to continue to race well other racers prepare to pick up the slack from the previous season.

Heading into the 2013 season many drivers will be considered to be contenders for the championship but five drivers will have the best chance to win the 2013 Sprint Cup Series championship. The drivers with the best chance to contend for the championship next season are Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, and Kyle Busch.

Although some of the five drivers did not qualify into the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but they came close a couple of times to contend for a win. For Busch and Edwards, they will have the motivation to improve and compete for a win.

In the 2013 season Johnson, Hamlin, and Kahne will be looking towards continuing the success from 2012 and try to keep themselves in contention for the championship.

The championship was within Johnson’s hands at the 2012 finale until mechanical failure. For Hamlin his championship chances were taken away after mechanic failure at a track he has past success at. Meanwhile Kahne he maintained himself within contention into the final races.

The 2013 season will be a fresh start for all of the drivers but Johnson, Hamlin, Edwards, Kahne, and Busch will hope to be in championship contention next season.