Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Paula Thompson chooses the champs for 2013

NASCAR’s 2013 season is right around the corner, and it’s time for my fellow Skirts and Scuffs contributors and I to make our championship picks. Last year we saw youth take over NASCAR, as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won his second-straight Nationwide Series title and James Buescher and Brad Keselowski took home their first titles in the Camping World Truck Series and Sprint Cup Series respectively. Will the youth movement continue into 2013? To me, it looks like the veterans will make a comeback in two of the three series.

Is this the year Busch gives Gibbs a title?
Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR/Geoff Burke
Sprint Cup Series champ – Kyle Busch – The powers that be at Joe Gibbs Racing learned a valuable lesson in 2012: let the kid race. Naysayers believed Busch would do better to focus on the Cup Series and cut back in Nationwide and the Truck Series – then Busch missed the Chase cut by three points, thanks in part to some mechanical issues mid-season. Busch’s extracurricular schedule picked up during the Chase, and he looked like the “Rowdy” of old. In 2013, he’ll be back running in the Nationwide Series for JGR and the Truck Series race for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports team. Let the man run – and watch him run away with the title.
Will Sadler break through now that Stenhouse Jr. has moved on?
Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR: Rainier Ehrhardt

Nationwide Series champ – Elliott Sadler – I’ve picked Sadler for the past two seasons, and I’m going to pick him again. Sadler is moving from Richard Childress Racing to the powerful JGR Nationwide Series stable, which won nine times in 2012; nine of the 10 drivers in JGR Nationwide Series Toyotas had top 10 finishes in 2012. I’m calling 2013 the year JGR doubles up on titles.
Will Coutler get his first title with KBM?
Credit: Paula Thompson/Skirts & Scuffs

Camping World Truck Series champ – Joey Coulter – We know KBM Toyotas can be competitive and win in the Truck Series no matter who is behind the wheel, and we know Coulter can be competitive and win in the Truck Series – this year, the combination of the two could very well lead to a championship. Eight drivers ran for KBM in 2012, and all came home with at least one top 10 finish. Coulter is backed up by veteran crew chief Harold Holly, whom he has worked with for the past four seasons, so there is a built-in comfort level already. Coulter is a talented driver who will benefit from the youthful enthusiasm from a team like KBM.

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