The 2013 Daytona 500 marked the unveiling of NASCAR’s “Gen-6” car. After a busy off season of planning and testing, NASCAR’s obvious desire to improve the racing in general with the new car was initially supposed to focus on intermediate tracks. This was an effort to address the discontent of fans regarding their perceived lack of competition at 1.5 and 2 mile tracks.
Thus far, results have been positive as the racing has been extremely competitive and exciting. With nearly a quarter of the season behind them, teams and fans alike have expressed satisfaction in the product that NASCAR is giving them.
What’s interesting is the fact that 5 of the first 7 races have been run on different track styles and configurations, from ½ mile ovals, to 2.5 mile super speedways.
The first quarter of the season has been dominated by the teams owned by Rick Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing teams. Each team has won 3 out of the first 7 events.
Jimmy Johnson followed up his 2013 Daytona 500 victory with a win in Martinsville, VA and Kasey Kane secured the other Hendrick win in Bristol, VA. For JGR, it’s been Kyle Busch Leading the team’s 2013 effort as he earned victories in California and Texas.
Heading into Phoenix, very little information was available in terms of performance on a 1 mile track, as most of the preseason preparation was geared towards the 2.5 mile Daytona Speedway.
Carl Edwards, driving the #99 Ford for Jack Rousch, held off strong challenges by Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway. The victory by Edwards was the 20th in his career, but first it was his first in the last 70 races. Fans had waited nearly two years to witness his signature celebratory back flip.
The following weekend in Las Vegas, it was Matt Kenseth’s turn to end a winless streak as the 41 year old driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota owned by Joe Gibbs celebrated his birthday in victory lane. Kenseth showed signs of youthfulness as he held off Kasey Kahne in the closing laps to win the Kobalt Tools 400 on Sunday before another huge crowd of more than 140,000 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This was his third win at the 1.5-mile oval and his first with his new race team.
The final leg of the west coast start to the season took place at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. It was Kyle Busch’s weekend to step up and dominate. He led the most laps and won the Nationwide Series race on Saturday, then followed that up with a Sprint Cup win on Sunday. It was a fortuitous win as he benefitted from the ongoing feud between former teammates Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. The heated rivalry between those two drivers manifested itself into a last lap wreck that allowed Busch to secure his first win of the 2013 season.
Print copies of CORE 360 Magazine can be obtained by visiting the CORE 360 Magcloud website