Thursday, February 21, 2013

2013 NASCAR Predictions

By Jeffrey Boswell

* At the Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on April 7th, Jeff Gordon challenges mortal enemy Clint Bowyer not to a duel, but a duet, and the two take the stage for a rendition of Garth Brooks' 1991 dud "We Bury the Hatchet."

The following week at Texas, Bowyer and Gordon tangle, and Bowyer, true to his sponsor obligations, first opens up a 2-ounce 5-Hour Energy bottle, then opens a comparable-sized can of whoop ass. True to post-1979 NASCAR fist fights form, no punches are thrown, as Gordon is taken down by four Bowyer crewmen, two of which ask for Gordon's autograph.

* Juan Montoya's run of bad luck at Daytona continues, as he trips over his wife's hair dryer in the couple's RV parked in the Daytona infield, sparking an electrical fire that wipes out power and delays the start of the Daytona 500.

After a two-hour delay, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. emerges with the win after blowing by Kevin Harvick on the final turn. In a post-race media session, Earnhardt calls his win the "start of something big," a characterization that turns out to be correct, as Junior then embarks on the longest winless streak of his career.

* After Zac Brown and his band rock the Daytona infield prior to the February 24th race, NASCAR chief executive officer Brian France, reinforcing his reputation as a clueless leader, tells Brown that "I loved you in The Hangover." Brown, in turn, tells France, that his "language is offensive."

Later that year, Brown suggests to France that Zach Galifianakis serve as Grand Marshall at Indianapolis. France takes Browns' advice, and while at Indy, compliments Galifianakis on his concert at Daytona.

France taps Alabama native Evander Holyfield to serve as Grand Marshall at Talladega in October, where tells the former champ that he loved him in The Hangover, as well.

* Brad Keselowski wins at Bristol in March after leading 298 of 500 laps at the Bullring, passing Jimmie Johnson late for the win. Afterwards in Victory Lane, Keselowski knocks back a six-pack of Miller Lite, and sends Johnson a six-pack of his own with the message "This is the only 'six' you'll see this year."

Upon leaving the track, the defending champ is stopped by a police officer for erratic driving. Keselowski passes a battery of field sobriety tests, and immediately takes to Twitter, where he tweets 140 dashes, proving that he can Tweet and walk a straight line.

* After two years without a Sprint Cup championship, Jimmie Johnson rededicates himself to capturing the 2013 title. Not one to miss an endorsement opportunity, Lowe's, in conjunction with Kobalt Tools, introduces a new multi-task implement which hammers, screws, and strikes fear into opponents. The "Attitude Adjustment" retails for $19.95.

Crew chief Chad Knaus is the first to buy the tool, and finds it just as useful in doctoring chassis and rear wings, as well as grooming the head of a middle-aged balding man.

* Kyle Busch wins three of the season's first 10 races, including a win at Talladega on May 5th, and establishes himself as an early favorite for the 2013 Sprint Cup. The following week at Darlington, the bottom falls out, as the engine in Busch's No. 18 Toyota blows.

Busch finishes 20th or worse in his next 10 races, and his frustration culminates when he takes a swing at crew chief Dave Rogers at Pocono in August. Busch is suspended by the team, and M&M's yanks sponsorship. Brad Keselowski taunts Busch on Twitter, tweeting "That's like taking candy from a baby."

Busch starts the Chase For the Cup in tenth and finishes in sixth, 46 out of first.

* After blowing a fuse following a poor finish at Darlington, Kurt Busch hires a sports psychologist to help improve his attitude and demeanor. After several weeks in therapy, Busch notices a difference in his state of mind, while Furniture Row sees a spike in sales after introducing the "Kurt Busch Psychiatrist's Couch" product line.

Busch wins the Toyota/Save Mart 300 at Sonoma on June 23 and credits his psychiatrist, noting that "it's the first time someone's encouraged me to tell them how I really feel."

* Matt Kenseth wins at California on March 24, capturing his first win as a member of Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth thanks Deny Hamlin and Kyle Busch for being great teammates, and gives props to Carl Edwards, as well, calling him the best former teammate he could ask for.

Kenseth nabs three wins on the season, and finishes fourth in the Chase.

* In the FOX booth at Dover on a sweltering June 2nd Sunday, Larry McReynolds is overcome by heat exhaustion and vomits, forcing Darrell Waltrip into quick action to sidestep the mess. Later in the broadcast, Waltrip notes that it was the first time he's done the "Ickey Shuffle" since winning at Daytona in 1989.

* Jeremy Mayfield's rotten luck takes a turn for the better when, after a positive screen test, he lands a recurring role on AMC's "Breaking Bad" as a meth-running courier. Mayfield's character, "Jeremy Mayfield," is written out of the show after he is arrested, ironically, for "speeding" on the way to the set in June.

* In July, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un announces plans to field a NASCAR team in 2014. The team, bizarrely title "Yin and Pyong Yang Racing," never makes it past the planning stages, as Un loses interest and instead turns his attention to developing jet fuel with Michael Waltrip.

* In an interview on national television prior to the Texas 500 on April 13th, Danica Patrick identifies Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. as her "stiffest competition" for NASCAR's Rookie of the Year.

Later in the year, NASCAR's glamour couple deal with a pregnancy scare, and NASCAR rumor-mongers erroneously report that Patrick's pregnancy test can be viewed on the website ""

Patrick edges Stenhouse for the ROY award, posting six top-10 finishes to Stenhouse's four.

* Carl Edwards snaps an 81-race winless streak with a victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Edwards customary post-win back flip goes awry when he under-rotates and lands on his head, knocking himself unconscious.

NASCAR's new concussion testing procedures are put to the test, and Edwards fails, as, for the second straight year, quips, "I forgot what it's like to win."

Edwards recovers after sitting out a race, and wins again at Homestead in the season finale, but eschews a celebratory back flip for a simpler fist pump, which, unfortunately and accidentally, connects win the chin of Miss Sprint Cup, knocking her out cold.

Edwards finishes seventh in the Chase For the Cup.

* In an attempt to get into Brad Keselowski's head, Jimmie Johnson tries on the reigning champ and current points leader's helmet at a Keselowski promotional appearance at a Ford dealership in Lansing, Michigan in August. The ploy works, as an irate Keselowski later tries unsuccessfully to wreck Johnson at Michigan on August 18th, taking himself out of the race in the process.

Keselowski never recovers, and loses the points lead two weeks later at Atlanta. Johnson starts the Chase as the leader and clinches the Cup at Phoenix, wining his sixth championship.

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