The upcoming 2013 Sprint Cup season promises to run the gamut from excitement to disappointment, with the possibility of a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
And it's the latter that winds up being perhaps the most tantalizing prospect of all, when so-called wild cards seem to sometimes come out of nowhere to achieve some significant accomplishments.
The most recent example of a true wild card-turned-outstanding achiever is Brad Keselowski, who came out of virtually nowhere to win the 2012 Sprint Cup championship.
The true test of whether Keselowski's title was that of a wild card or not will be further determined in 2013 and how he ultimately finishes. It will prove to a degree whether last season's championship was a fluke or not.
Another name that some might put on the wild-card list is Danica Patrick. On one hand, she may be considered by some as the ultimate wild card in her first full season in the Cup series.
But given some of the struggles she endured last season in both her part-time stint in the Cup circuit and her full-time run in the Nationwide Series, we only see a moderate measure of improvement this season—but not enough to be considered a true wild card.
Of course, she could surprise us—but it's more likely that the following quintet of drivers have a better chance of being true wild cards this season: