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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What Have We Learned From 2013?

Close the book.  Another year in the history of NASCAR has come to a close.  All of the preparation of the garage for the new Gen 6, the plate races, the summer stretch, and the Chase - over.  No more "Five Time", Jimmie Johnson now has 6 in his attempt for the most cups.

With everything over and written down, just what have we learned this season?  What bits of wisdom has 2013 imparted to us to clarify what is coming in 2014 and beyond?

First, we have re-learned that Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are nowhere near finished dominating the sport.  It is utterly amazing how much their combination is made for the Sprint Cup setup and would not work without one of the two.  Johnson has a 1 win to every 6.6 race ratio in Sprint Cup, an unbelievable fact when placed beside his 1 win to 93 race ratio in the Nationwide Series.

Many people say that the 48's success lies solely with Chad Knaus or is only because of Hendrick money.  Those people should think about the 3 races Johnson drove in Hendrick cars without Knaus with an average finish of 31st.  They should also consider that in 35 Sprint Cup races without Jimmie Johnson, Knaus has zero wins, zero top 5's, and only 1 top 10 with an average finish of 24th.

No, Knaus, Johnson, and Hendrick make a mixture precision, determination and, yes, money, that will be successful as long as the three are combined.  Will there be a 7th championship?  Probably.  Will they continue forever?  Nothing lasts forever, but for now there is no end in sight, so get used to it.

Second, we learned that the fall from dominance and competitiveness is a steep one.  Last year we had a young and exciting new champion who looked like he would carry his success forward with a new make, but Brad Keselowski's change from Dodge to Ford proved anything but successful.  Penske Racing did not change crews, kept the same crew chief, the same driver, and merely changed engines and decals.  Still, the blue deuce ended up 14th at the end of the season and was not able to compete in the Chase to defend their championship.

Yes, Keselowski still had a win, and yes he led laps, but after the trouble began in mid spring after a penalty for questionable parts sidelined his crew chief, they could not rebound.  They began the season with 4 straight top 5's, then had a 10 race run in the spring that saw them outside the top 20 for 6 races and aggravation became disappointment when his new teammate made the Chase and he did not.

Finally, we learned that the more things change the more they stay the same.  NASCAR has spent years and dollars changing the image of the sport from the "if you ain't cheatin, you ain't tryin", brawling blue collar sport of the 50's, 60's and 70's.  Yet what did we get this year?  "Is your arm starting to hurt?....Itch it..."  And, "Good job man, hopefully we'll get something out of that."  For any readers who don't get the reference, these were radio transmissions from the Richmond race where drivers, crews, and owners reportedly conspired to affect the points so particular drivers could make the Chase.

With these three things in mind, an outlook on 2014 would have to conclude that Johnson will be strong, Keselowski will be looking to make a point, and NASCAR drivers and owners will continue to do anything they think they can get away with to win.  All three of these probabilities should make for another great season.

How many days until Daytona?


NASCARJeff said...

I learned that Danica Patrick is a marketing tool and has no talent as a race care driver.
That for some reason we care who she is dating and that Darrell Watrip will keep making excuses for her till the sun goes down.

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