Ranking the 5 Most Surprising Results from 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season
This NASCAR season has been one where the outcome of several races has been a surprise.
Sure, we aren't shocked when Jimmie Johnson wins another race, but did anyone truly expect drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya to run as well as they have been this year?
Or for a former champion like Tony Stewart to struggle throughout the season, only to eventually win at a track that he considers one of his worst?
The Gen-6 car has shaken things up for drivers this year, and where teams would usually find themselves struggling in the older models, if they are given a chance at the end of a race, anyone can win.
Here are the five most surprising results from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
5. Juan Pablo Montoya Almost Wins a Race
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One major testament to the new Gen-6 car is how it’s giving all types of drivers a chance to win races.
Besides running into a jet dryer at Daytona last year, the only thing Montoya was really known for was his ability on a road course.
This season, though, he's emerged as a solid driver, and is having a better season than he was last year. He was a major factor at the Dover race and almost won the event when Jimmie Johnson got a little too anxious during a restart.
Montoya wouldn't win, but he's at least become a bigger factor this year, thanks in part to the new technology of the Gen-6 car.
Juan Pablo's second-place finish came as a surprise, especially for a driver who seems to struggle outside road course racing.
4. Until Tony Stewart Steals It
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In all fairness, Tony didn't really steal a win at the end of the Dover race this season. It was a combination of luck and being at the right place at the right time.
Still, after the horrible season Smoke has had, it was a surprise to see him get the victory, especially on a track he never seems to run well on.
With Jimmie Johnson getting black flagged during the final laps of the race and only Juan Pablo Montoya in his way, Smoke powered through and inched his was closer into the Chase.
If he can manage another win or two, he just might make the postseason.
His win at Dover, though, came as a surprise and proves that fans should never count out Stewart.
3. Matt Kenseth Dominates Early
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Matt Kenseth winning three races so far this season might not seem like a big deal, but after making a major change to a brand new racing team, three wins already this season is a huge accomplishment.
Kenseth not only switched over to a new racing team, he's also driving for a different manufacturer.
We've seen drivers make a big change like Kenseth has and fail to have to same success.
The 20 team has even overcome early adversity after almost being stripped of a win when the car failed a post-race inspection.
One win would have been enough of a surprise, but three wins later and still looking strong, Kenseth and the 20 team have surprised NASCAR this season.
2. Danica Patrick Finishes in 8th at Daytona
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Danica Patrick entered the 2013 Sprint Cup season with her share of fans and arguably even more people wanting to see her fail.
Instead she managed to capture the pole and ran up front for the entire race.
She even managed to finish in eighth, her most impressive run of the entire season.
While Danica hasn't been nearly as impressive this season as she was during the Daytona 500, her eighth-place finish was enough to silence the Danica doubters for at least the first week of the regular season, and it came as a big surprise to see the rookie driver run so well.
1. David Ragan Wins Talladega
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The biggest surprising result this season, and probably the one that speaks the best of the Gen-6 car, is David Ragan's victory at Talladega.
Ragan and his teammate David Gilliland were able to make a big push toward the front during the Aaron's 499 when a late-race caution came out.
While both drivers were in the right place at the right time, the Gen-6 car has clearly helped the smaller teams compete against the bigger ones in NASCAR, especially when they are given the chance.
One of the best parts about a sport like NASCAR is when an underdog can compete against the bigger companies, and at Talladega, fans saw two Davids topple several NASCAR Goliaths, and David Ragan surprised NASCAR with his underdog victory.