5 NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers Who Can't Possibly Repeat Their 2012 Performances

Michael Guadalupe@The_GuadaFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2012

5 NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers Who Can't Possibly Repeat Their 2012 Performances

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    In 2012, NASCAR saw some drivers have great seasons while others struggled.  As the 2013 season starts gearing up, though, several drivers won’t have the same seasons that they did in 2012.

    Whether they will drastically improve from the bad luck which plagued them last year or will struggle to live up to the same level at which they delivered, some drivers can’t possibly repeat the years they had in 2012.

    Drivers like Carl Edwards, who struggled the entire season last year.  He failed to win a single race and just couldn't find his rhythm.

    In 2013, though, Edwards is getting a new crew chief who might be the spark he needs to get back on track next season.  Last year was one of the worst seasons for Edwards, and there is no possible way such a good driver will repeat his poor performance in 2013.

    Then there are drivers like Denny Hamlin, who had a fantastic regular season but still managed to choke when The Chase came down to the last few races.  With no momentum behind him, it's impossible to see Hamlin recovering in 2013 and having a better year than he did last season.

    Here are five Sprint Cup drivers who can't possibly repeat their 2012 performances.

5. Denny Hamlin

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    Denny Hamlin had a great year in 2012 and was in the running for the championship throughout most of The Chase.

    Unfortunately, though, Hamlin ran into some bad luck at Martinsville, a track where he typically dominates, and was knocked out of the championship running.

    Instead of trying to finish the season strong, Hamlin failed to do anything in the last races of The Chase.

    Even with a new crew chief in Darian Grubb, who helped Tony Stewart win a championship in 2011, Denny still couldn't get the job done in 2012.

    Sure, he won five races last season, but Hamlin is a choke artist who can’t hold it together long enough to win a championship.

    Whether it's just him personally or a case of extremely bad luck, Hamlin always stumbles.

    He's heading into the 2013 season with no momentum from last season behind him, and while he did run well, there is no way he is going to repeat his 2012 performance in 2013.

4. Jeff Gordon

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    Jeff Gordon barely made The Chase in 2012.

    There is no way he is going to struggle as much in 2013, though.

    Last year, a big part of Gordon's struggles were simply due to bad luck.  A lot of engine problems ruined multiple races for Jeff, and there is no way the same bad luck is going to befall him next year.

    Jeff is one of the top drivers in the sport, and when given decent equipment, he has delivered.  When he needed to make The Chase, for example, it came down to the last race of the regular season at Richmond.

    Gordon ended up a lap down but was able to drive through the field and finish the race in second, getting him into The Chase.

    He also showed his ability to overcome a difficult situation when he decided to wreck Clint Bowyer at Phoenix and then came back the next week to win the final race of the season at Homestead.

    Jeff has momentum running into 2013, and with NASCAR getting ready to start a new car next year, Gordon won't run into the same engine problems which kept him back in 2012.

    With momentum from 2012, and the fact that he's one of the top drivers in the sport, there is no way Gordon will repeat his poor 2012 performance.

3. Carl Edwards

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    Carl Edwards had a horrible 2012 season.

    He failed to win a single race, had to watch his crew chief Bob Osborne resign due to illness, and failed to make The Chase.

    Let's not forget that Edwards finished second in the standings during the 2011 season and almost won the championship.

    He had a rough 2012 season, but with the offseason underway, Edwards and the 99 team will regroup, and Carl will have a better year in 2013.

    At the very least, he can't possibly stumble as badly as he did last year.

    One big reason for Edwards' success in 2013 could be his new crew chief, Jimmy Fennig.

    "He is old school in a number of ways but it seems like he does a very good job of getting the most out of all his people," Edwards said over at AOL.com.

    "That is the model crew chief right now. A guy who doesn't know everything but is a guy that can get everything and the best out of the people around them."

    Fennig has had success with Matt Kenseth over the years, and now with Kenseth leaving for Joe Gibbs Racing, Fennig could be the spark Edwards and the 99 team need to get back in championship form.

    Carl Edwards will have a much better season in 2013—and can't possibly repeat the horrible season he had in 2012.

2. Joey Logano

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    Joey Logano cannot have the same season he had last year—or the years before that.

    Since he is no longer with Joe Gibbs Racing, Logano gets a fresh start in 2013.  Now racing for Penske, Logano needs to break out this upcoming season, something which he has struggled to do for years now.

    Logano needs to have a better season in 2013—he can't possibly repeat his 2012 year. 

    If he does, though, will it be time to stop wondering when Logano will break out?  Since he debuted in the Sprint Cup series, it seems like NASCAR fans have been waiting for Logano to become a top driver, but if he never does, will it be time to give up on him?

    Regardless, 2013 will be the best chance for Joey to show he can compete in the Sprint Cup series.

    Now that he is part of Penske Racing, Logano has a new start with teammate Brad Keselowski, who might be able to help Logano reach the next level.

    "They respect me coming right into it," Logano said over at ESPN.com. "You talk to Roger, he says, 'I don't see you and Brad being any different, you're starting from the same level and you go from there.' That's huge."

    Logano needs to finally break out in 2013.  With a new team and a fresh start, he has no excuse not to improve over last year.  Being teamed up with the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion will hopefully help him in 2013, but Logano still needs to step up and deliver next season.

1. Kyle Busch

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    Kyle Busch is one of the best drivers in NASCAR.

    Unfortunately, though, Busch usually lets his attitude get in the way of his driving ability.

    We saw it back in 2011 in the Camping World Truck series when Kyle intentionally wrecked Ron Hornaday Jr.

    In 2012, Busch didn't put anyone into the wall out of anger, but he let his mouth and his attitude still get in the way of his driving abilities.  He decided to blame Toyota Racing Development for his problems during the 2012 season, a rant that drew the attention of the president of TRD.

    Busch would, of course, apologize for it, but his rant was just another example of how he can't seem to go a season without complaining about something.

    He also failed to make The Chase last season, something he can't let happen again in 2013.  It's bad enough that Busch has a major attitude problem, but if he fails to make The Chase again, what reason would Joe Gibbs Racing have in keeping him as a driver?

    Bush is a better driver than his 2012 season would lead people to believe.

    Eventually, Kyle is going to need to grow up a bit and let his driving do the talking instead of running his mouth and storming off when he fails to run well during a race.

    After a poor season last year, in which Busch only managed to win one race, he needs to perform at a higher level in 2013.

    Expect Busch to get back into The Chase scene next year.


    Michael Guadalupe is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.  Follow him on Twitter @The_Guada.