With the running of the first NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Series race — the Sept. 15 Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. — behind us, maybe we can put the controversial circus of who’s in the Chase and who’s not behind us and focus on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. I’ll admit that my predictions when it came to guessing who’d be in was a little off, but then again, who would’ve predicted that there’d be an extra Chaser? In all fairness, I did think I was just choosing a 12-driver field. Granted, I was a little off based on the 12-man field immediately following Richmond, but maybe I can claim that I didn’t expect all that so-called “manipulation” of the race results in the first race of the regular season.
Oh well, it is what it is and now it’s time to move on with this thing we call the Chase for the Sprint Cup. So now I guess it’s time I go about the business of trying to predict this year’s champion. I have to admit, my choice is going to seem pretty obvious and I’m not going out on much of a limb, here. Heck, I guess you could say I’m still on the ground holding on to the truck. Anyway, here it is. I’m predicting that Matt Kenseth is going to be the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
You know, the guy is the winningest driver, so far, this year. He’s also the points leader and began the Chase at Chicagoland last weekend in the best way one could possibly kick off the Chase. He not only won the race, he also racked up maximum points by leading the most laps. I guess you could say he’s pulling away. Okay, so maybe it’s a little too early to make that kind of a statement.
Also, a recent trend is in my favor with my pick of Kenseth. The last two years, the winner at Chicagoland went on to win the Cup. Again, Kenseth won at Chicagoland. Two years may not be long enough a time to call that a trend, but I’m going with it nonetheless.
I’m okay with making a rather obvious choice. After all, wasn’t most of the NASCAR media picking Jimmie Johnson pretty much every year after he won his first few Sprint Cups during his five-year reign at the top. So this is nothing new. And look at it this way, I’m not picking Johnson even though he’s been hoisting the champion’s trophy at the end of five of the last seven seasons. And consider this — the only other two champions the last seven years aren’t in the Chase. So I guess I could look at it that way and convince myself I’m not taking the easy way out and going with the obvious.
Anyway, there it is. I’ve picked Kenseth. I predict he’ll be the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
*** See photo gallery above of the three varying Chase lineup group photos***
What are your thoughts? Predictions? Let us know on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily. We’re also on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner