The 2012 Nascar season started with great optimism in the garages after a thrilling 2011 Chase and a TV ratings increase for the first time since 2005. Yet, for each step forward, the sport seemed to take a step back last year. The season’s first and biggest race, the Daytona 500, was rained out and pushed back to Monday night. Then the old problems cropped up during the year: sponsorship departures, dwindling attendance and another drop in TV ratings. But now three races into 2013, the optimism is back thanks to a new car, a rich TV contract and a jolt from a Sprint Cup rookie. This time, Nascar might keep the momentum going.