NASCAR's Most Controversial Drivers in the Sprint Cup Series for 2013

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2012

NASCAR's Most Controversial Drivers in the Sprint Cup Series for 2013

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    Each season of NASCAR racing in the premier series brings its own set of controversial moments. Those moments are made possible by the actions taken by certain drivers who make brazen moves during or perhaps after a race.

    The level of competition increases every year as teams amp up their performance. The 2013 season will see a major change that will affect every team, and that is the new G6 car that replaces the COT.

    We will have drivers in their final year with a team as well as some who will make their debut performance with a new team.

    For a variety of reasons there is always a select group of drivers who race every race like it is their last one. Sometimes those hard-charging drivers consistently find themselves amidst controversy.

    The upcoming season will also see a group of drivers who are willing to hang it all out if it means winning a race because they see their shots at winning a championship winding down.

    This slideshow will highlight drivers that may be newsworthy in the 2013 season because of some type of controversial racing incident. See if you agree.

Clint Bowyer

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    Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 15 5-hour Energy Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, may be NASCAR's newest bad boy.

    Bowyer was runner-up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title in 2012, but only by one point over Jimmie Johnson.

    This is a driver who can be a pretty easy-going personality, but behind the wheel of a race car he is somewhat old-school with his driving style that is a bit reminiscent of the "Intimidator."

    He drives hard, and Bowyer has proven he won't hesitate to make daring moves or do some bumping and banging with other drivers.

    Bowyer isn't likely to suffer from the "runner-up syndrome" that has given so many drivers miserable years following the season finale with a second-place finish in points.

    Look for the driver of the No. 15 to be tough in the upcoming season as he goes for the championship. There is little doubt that Bowyer won't make some headlines because of controversial actions.

Kevin Harvick

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    Kevin Harvick has been involved in his share of controversy over the years with the No. 29 Chevrolet out of Richard Childress Racing.

    Harvick announced his departure from RCR at the end of the upcoming season which makes him a lame duck driver. The driver of the Budweiser car won only one time and finished eighth in the points this year.

    Things seem to have gotten off track at RCR with all three teams underperforming in 2012. Every effort is being made to get the operation back on track for 2013.

    Harvick has nothing to lose, and certainly would like to race his way to a championship before he leaves RCR, where he began racing in the Cup series during 2001.

    This is a highly competitive driver who will likely rebound with more wins under the guidance of his crew chief Gil Martin. Look for him to do what it takes to make his way to the front next season.

    He will be driving for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 with his sponsors Budweiser and Jimmy John's making the move with him.

Carl Edwards

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    Carl Edwards went from running for the series title in 2011, and finishing second in points, to being winless in 2012 with a 15th place finish in the standings.

    Edwards was supposed to be the superstar of Roush Fenway Racing as the driver of the No. 99 Ford, but his teammates far outshined him in 2012.

    His crew chief Bob Osborne stepped away from that position, and Chad Norris was brought in last July, but the team just could not find any mojo.

    With the departure of his teammate Matt Kenseth, his crew chief Jimmy Fennig will move over to the No. 99 team in 2013. Fennig is a veteran crew chief who should pull the team together.

    Edwards is one of the higher paid drivers in the series, and if for no other reason than to assuage his ego, he will be pulling out the stops to gain position on the track and garner wins.

    It would not be surprising to see this driver involved in some dirty deeds if he feels it necessary. He has gotten off lightly with NASCAR after causing some serious incidents, so it may be time to test them again.

Kurt Busch

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    Kurt Busch expected his stint at Phoenix Racing in 2012 to be fun, but it didn't turn out to be as much fun as he hoped. He did have some strong runs during quite a few races, but results don't reflect it.

    Busch replaced Regan Smith with Furniture Row Racing for the last six races of the season. As the driver of the No. 78 Chevrolet, he finished in the top 10 at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.

    Furniture Row Racing is looking to this championship caliber driver to take the team to a new level with Todd Berrier as his crew chief.

    The organization receives support from Richard Childress racing where Berrier had worked since 1997.

    Busch continued to have his controversial encounters in 2012, but he seems to be getting more of a realization of what triggers his emotional reactions.

    This driver is a hard racer, and winning is the only finish that really counts. Busch wants to move up to a top-tier team which could perhaps be RCR in the future. Of course, he could do well with Furniture Row.

    If this Busch brother has a fast car, he may be an intimidating sight in the mirror of the driver in front of him. He could easily be a force to deal with at any given race as he contends for wins.

    Controversy and Busch go together, so it will be interesting to see what form it takes in 2013.

Jeff Gordon

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    Jeff Gordon has four Cup titles, but his last one was in 2001. The driver of the No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports has 87 career wins in the series which makes him third all-time.

    Gordon, 41, knows his years to win a coveted fifth title are running out. The fire still burns as hot as ever for this driver with his level of competitiveness.

    Gordon has been known as a clean driver for most of his career, and his driving style was smooth. The past two seasons have shown him to be more aggressive with his racing.

    Though he is a very respected and popular driver, he didn't hesitate to take Clint Bowyer out after being tested by him at Phoenix during the Chase. Bowyer was a contender for the championship.

    Look for Gordon to take more chances and be more brazen with his moves on the racetrack. He will be out to win races and contend for the championship.

    Hopefully all the mishaps and bad luck of the 2012 season are out of the way.

    Despite the fact he is a driver for the prestigious Hendrick Motorsports, he may be the one out of the four drivers there who is the most dangerous. Gordon just might be the bad boy of the HMS group in 2013.