Gas 'N' Go: Cup Title Predictions

Title Predictions

Do you agree with any of the editorial staff picks?

Untitled Document

The pits are open for the first time this season and the editorial staff answers this week’s featured question in "Gas ‘N’ Go.”

Who will win the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship?

MRN Staff Answer
Pete Pistone
Pete Pistone
Jimmie Johnson: Lost in much of the euphoria surrounding Brad Keselowski's first Sprint Cup Series championship for Penske Racing is one small fact. Without a rare mechanical issue in the Homestead season finale, Jimmie Johnson might well have won his sixth title in seven seasons. Johnson somehow survived blowing a tire and crunching the wall at Phoenix the week before to nearly steal the crown away from Keselowski. It was the same kind of resilience the '48' team has shown since Johnson began his incredible streak of five consecutive championships in 2006. And there's no reason to believe that determination won't again be front and center in 2013. Johnson and Chad Knaus remain one of, if not the best driver-crew chief combinations in the series. The resources of Hendrick Motorsports are still the gold standard of the sport. Toss in the desire to get back to the top of the mountain and it all adds up to Johnson hoisting the Cup again come November.
Pete Pistone
Tony Rizzuti
Denny Hamlin: After coming so close to a championship in 2010, it seems Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing team are the forgotten group in the title conversation. But all indications from inside the garage area say that Toyota is the manaufacturer that has an early advantage in the Gen-6 war. Its not like Hamlin has misplaced his winning playbook. He won five times in 2012, scoring three poles as well. But it was mechanical gremlins that cost Hamlin and all of JGR last season. I believe those failures have been corrected and given the new parts and pieces that make up the new car, at worst they are on an even keel with everyone else. What makes Hamlin so good is his drive to be the best. In the past that has hurt his championship chances, because he pushed too hard and couldn't relax. But after entering last year's chase as the top seed, only to falter, I believe this team now has the full experience to push through the tough times. And as a new father, Hamlin will learn there is more to life than just turning left- which may be precisely the outlook he needs to win it all. And when he does break through, look out. He has the team, talent and Toyota. All of which add up to a dynasty in the making.
Pete Pistone
John Singler
Joey Logano: After moving through the first three days of this year’s pre-season Media Tour last month, we finally arrived at a destination that spoke to me – Penske Racing.  Walk through the door and you can see, touch and feel championships.  From the murals on the walls to the trophies in the display case, it engulfs you.  And when you look beyond Brad Keselowski’s stirring title run from a year ago, I’ve concluded that it’ll be Joey Logano’s turn in 2013.  Logano is at the point in his career where he’ll most certainly benefit from the mentoring of team owner Roger Penske and the championship aura of his new teammate. Beneath that boyish smile of a 22-year-old is a little bit of pit bull.  We saw him rough up veteran Mark Martin last year at Pocono and drive straight into Victory Lane.  In Logano’s years at Joe Gibbs Racing, he never had a Sprint Cup champion as a teammate.  Being paired with Keselowski, I believe, will serve him very well in the months ahead.  And the confidence drawn from nine Nationwide Series victories last season will only make Logano tougher at crunch time on NASCAR’s biggest stage.  This will be fun to watch!
Jeff Wackerlin
Jeff Wackerlin
Kyle Busch: Although he only won once in 2012 at Richmond International Raceway, Busch had some bad luck and engine issues that took him out of the running for the championship. After missing the Chase, the No. 18 team went to work on items for 2013 and wound up putting together a solid string of finishes. Busch posted a 9.0 average finish in the 10 Chase races, which ranked second only behind champion Brad Keselowski. In fact, the next six drivers ranked were all championship-eligible drivers. After his last engine issue at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the team ran the TRD engine package they were developing for 2013 with the only issue being fuel mileage at Dover, a race he dominated. The performance in last year's Chase is just one of the reasons I'm looking for Kyle to take home the trophy in 2013. Busch also comes into the season fresh off signing a long-term contract extension to go along with returning to JGR to run 25 Nationwide races. He will also have a new teammate in Matt Kenseth and will be driving a new car. The last time the series rolled out a new car full-time, Busch scored career season bests in wins (8), top fives (17), top 10s (21) and average finish (12.5). Busch wasn't the biggest fan of the previous-generation car even after winning its first-ever race. Now, just think what he can do with a car he likes.

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