Fact: NASCAR drivers are insane.
Fact: NASCAR drivers have more courage than most other athletes.
Fact: NASCAR drivers are the most charitable athletes.
Fact: not every NASCAR driver succeeds in the sport they all love and cherish. However, each time the checkered flag waves at the season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, there are always a few drivers that have a break out season, stunning the entire NASCAR nation.
It’s unthinkable about how quickly a driver can go from running in the back of the pack, to winning one of the largest races on the NASCAR schedule. Just look at Paul Menard. Menard was probably the most shocking winner that the Sprint Cup Series has had over the past two seasons. Yeah, even more shocking than Trevor Bayne winning the 2011 Daytona 500 or Regan Smith winning at Darlington. He never won a race in NASCAR’s top tier series before and to do it, he held off Jeff Gordon at his home track in Indianapolis, can the story get any better?
In 2012, the breakout drivers weren’t so much drivers that won races, but drivers that were able to race in the top sector of the pack on a weekly basis. Patience is a part of this sport more than any other factor which was shown last season for sure. Martin Truex Jr. wasn’t able to break his winless streak in 2012, but he was able to rack up a career high 19 top-10′s as well as being as high as second in the point standings for the first time in his career which was a breakout performance in of itself.
2013 should be similar to 2012 when it comes to breakout performances. However, it’s expected that some names that not many people have thought about before, will end up being in contention more often than not, especially with the playing field being evened out with the “Generation 6″ body.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.