By admin | January 28, 2013
By Richard Allen
Throughout the month of January, I will be running a series on the 12 drivers I am predicting to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup during the 2013 NASCAR season. The first eleven articles will be placed in no particular order but the final piece written in the series will be on the driver I am selecting as the favorite to win this year’s championship. Half of these pieces will be placed on my own RacingWithRich.com site and half will be placed on BleacherReport.com. Please consider following along on both websites and adding your own thoughts in the “comments” sections below each piece.
The 2012 season did not go as well as Tony Stewart would have liked. But then again, when you’re a three-time Sprint Cup champion, there is only one final outcome that can be considered satisfactory.
Three victories along with 12 top-five and 16 top-10 results are certainly admirable numbers for any competitor. However, after getting off to a somewhat uncharacteristically quick start by scoring three wins in the first 18 races, Stewart did not win again after his July 4th weekend triumph in Daytona. As a matter of fact, only seven top-10 finishes came over the course of the final 18 races on the Sprint Cup schedule for the Stewart-Haas Racing #14 car.
Stewart scored five finishes outside the top-20 during the season’s second half, which obviously hurt his chances to add a fourth Sprint Cup trophy to his collection.
“I think the high point is probably winning at Las Vegas, winning at a track we hadn’t won before was definitely a high point,” Stewart said at the end of last season. “A lot of places that we were so good at last year in the Chase, not being good this time and this year around was a little disappointing.
“It was disappointing because I was hoping for a lot more,” he continued. “It’s not because we didn’t win but we were a lot better team than a ninth place in the championship.”
Having ended the season on a bit of a sour note and considering that Stewart has many irons in the fire with his driving, owning a multi-car Sprint Cup team, owning multiple dirt tracks and any number of other responsibilities, it would seem easy to pick against this driver going into the season. However, it seems as if ‘Smoke’ tends to excel when the odds are most stacked against him.
For an example of how Stewart seems to defy the odds, one only needs to look back to the 2011 season when he limped into the Chase then roared to his third championship during the ten race playoff.
Tony Stewart will make the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff in 2013. But, he is not my pick to win the big trophy.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. Follow along with his Chase for the Sprint Cup series by clicking on the driver of your choice Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.
Good at picking race winners? Follow @RacingWithRich on Twitter and then Click here to find out how you could win $25 by correctly predicting the winner of the Daytona 500.
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