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NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule 2013: Highlighting the Top Races of Next Season

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 22:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, prepares to drive during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2012 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 25, 2012

NASCAR's 2012 season hasn't concluded yet, but it's never too early to take a look at what next year brings.

Jimmie Johnson is currently leading the 2012 Sprint Cup standings upon the release of the 2013 schedule. If he wins the title, it will be his sixth championship in seven years.

Here's a look at the must-see events for 2013.

 

Daytona 500: Feb. 24, Fox

Predicting who will win the Daytona 500 is always a chore. In the last nine years, only one driver (Matt Kenseth) has won the Daytona 500 twice.

Kenseth, the reigning champion, finished with a time of 3:36:02 from the No. 4 post in 2012. Carl Edwards had won the pole in qualifying, but ultimately ended up finishing in eighth place. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second, barely missing the second Daytona 500 title of his career.

The victory in 2012 saw Kenseth become one of only nine drivers to have ever won the Daytona 500 at least twice.

 

Talladega 500: Oct. 20, Fox

The Earnhardts won five Talladega 500 championships from 1999-2004. 

Since then, only Clint Bowyer has been a repeating champion and he just so happens to have won Talladega in 2010 and 2011.

Bowyer clocked in at a time of 3:29:14 in 2011, edging then-teammate Jeff Burton down the stretch. Apparently, there wasn't any bad blood between the two after the race, although it did mark an odd final season for Bowyer under Richard Childress Racing (he joined Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012).

 

Homestead: Nov. 17, ESPN

And, of course, we have Homestead Miami-Speedway, the site of the conclusion to the Sprint Cup Series.

Jimmie Johnson won a record five straight Sprint Cup championships before Tony Stewart shocked him in 2011. It seemed only fitting that the man who won the Sprint Cup before Johnson's run (2005) was the man who ultimately put an end to it.

As of Sept. 25, Johnson is leading the Sprint Cup standings in 2012, one point ahead of Brad Keselowski, while Stewart is in fourth place.

 

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