NASCAR Sprint Cup: Following the Driver Musical Chairs Heading into 2013
The start of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is little over a month away. Part of the excitement of seeing the cars on the racetrack for the first time at Daytona is seeing which drivers have new rides for the new season.
The offseason in NASCAR is often referred to as “NASCAR’s Silly Season” because of the numerous changes that take place between teams. This Silly Season has been slow, but that does not mean there will not be some big-name drivers in new cars for 2013.
Here is a list of the drivers who will be driving for a new team in 2013…
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2012 Team: No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
2013 Team: No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
The biggest change in NASCAR’s driver musical chairs happened when Matt Kenseth left his seat in the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford and moved to his new seat in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
It will take some time for fans to get used to Kenseth in the No. 20 car.
Kenseth will be sponsored by Home Depot and Dollar General. Jason Ratcliff was the crew chief for Joey Logano in the No. 20 car for the 2012 season. He will remain as the crew chief for the team again this season.
Kenseth's move from Roush Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing will be one to watch. Kenseth seemed to be running on cruise control at Roush Fenway Racing. A new team could be what Kenseth needs to get him back to competing for championships.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
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2012 Team: Full-time Nationwide Series (Champion)
2013 Team: No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
When Matt Kenseth left the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, it opened one of the most desired seats in NASCAR. Jack Roush decided to fill the seat with two-time defending Nationwide Series Champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stenhouse will be sponsored by Best Buy, Fifth Third Bank and Zest during the 2013 season. His crew chief will be Scott Graves. Graves was the crew chief for Stenhouse when he drove the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in four races during the 2012 season.
Stenhouse should have no problem winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2013.
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2012 Team: No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
2013 Team: No. 22 Penske Racing Ford
When Matt Kenseth took over the seat in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, it left Joey Logano looking for a new home in 2013. He found one in the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford.
Logano will be sponsored by Shell-Pennzoil and California Auto Club in 2013. His crew chief will be Todd Gordon. Gordon served as the crew chief for the No. 22 car for the 2012 season.
The opportunity to drive the No. 22 car could be what Logano needs to get him into his first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He will be teamed with defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Brad Keselowski. The two will form a dynamic duo that the rest of the series will have to compete with in 2013.
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2012 Team: No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevy
2013 Team: No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy
Kurt Busch is trying to restore his career. In 2012 Busch drove 30 races in the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevy. In October he took over for Regan Smith in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy. Busch will continue to drive the No. 78 car in 2013.
Busch will be sponsored by Furniture Row, Farm America and Farm Bureau of the Heartland. Todd Berrier was Busch’s crew chief when he took over the No. 78 car last season. He will once again work with Busch as his crew chief in 2013.
This is an important season for Busch. He has the talent to be one of the best drivers in the sport. He is now teamed with one of the most underrated teams in the sport.
Busch could bring Furniture Row Racing its first spot in the Chase, or he could let his temper blow up the team. Time will tell how Busch’s career progresses.
Regan Smith / AJ Allmendinger
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2013 Team: No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevy
When Kurt Busch left the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevy, a new seat was opened up. James Finch announced that Regan Smith would drive the No. 51 car in the Daytona 500, and AJ Allmendinger would drive the following week at Phoenix. It is still uncertain who will drive the car after the Phoenix race, but the obvious choice would be for Phoenix Racing to stick with either Smith or Allmendinger for the rest of the season.
The No. 51 car for Phoenix Racing is still looking for sponsorship for the 2013 season. The team was able to run most of the 2012 races without a primary sponsor. Final plans for the team should be revealed as the 2013 season begins.
Other Possible Driver Changes
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The Silly Season is not over yet. Other less notable seats have yet to be filled. Here are some other driver changes that could take place for the 2013 season.
Sam Hornish Jr.: No. 12 Penske Racing Ford (Limited Schedule)
Josh Wise: No. 26 Front Row Motorsports Ford
J.J. Yeley: No. 37 Max Q Motorsports Chevy
David Reutimann: No. 23 BK Racing Toyota
Landon Cassill: No. 83 BK Racing Toyota
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