Looking back on 2013, NASCAR had quite the year. From storylines galore to scandals that challenged the sports credibility, NASCAR never stayed quiet. Going into the year, there were many more questions than answers. Fans wondered what was to come due to all the ‘newness’ the sport was expecting which included the Gen 6 and drivers in new rides. Whatever went into this season, it made for one exciting year. The lesson learned throughout 2013 was to expect the unexpected because the year in NASCAR featured truly unexpected events.
Three themes of 2013 stand out prominently. Shocking storylines left fans speechless as unimaginable events took place. Passion oozed out of the sport more than ever as tempers ran high and never-before-seen measures were taken. The tale of dominance was told as some drivers couldn’t be beaten. Combine these three themes and the true tale of 2013 comes together.
Major storylines didn’t let the season get going before they started up. The first weekend of track action featured history being made when Danica Patrick became the first woman to win a pole in the Sprint Cup Series. This feat turned into a national headline as all eyes were on the two D’s to start of the season, Daytona and Danica.
Following the story of Patrick’s accomplishment came a devastating end to the Nationwide Series’ opening race. Coming to the checkers, an unimaginable wreck took place which destroyed just about every car along with injuring the heart of NASCAR, which are the fans. When Kyle Larson’s car tore through the catch fence, debris scattered throughout the grandstands. Many fans were injured, but luckily, there were no fatalities. This wreck turned the next day’s Daytona 500 from exciting to nerve-wracking as no one wanted a repeat performance of the Nationwide Series race.
To the dislike of NASCAR, the defining moment of 2013 came at Richmond International Raceway with Michael Waltrip Racing’s actions. One of the closest battles ever to get into the Chase led MWR to take drastic measures to ensure Martin Truex Jr. was a part of the Chase field. Initially, their plan worked out, but following the race, suspicions ran high and what they did became extremely evident. Cheating has never been tolerated in NASCAR and the same can be said by the steps NASCAR took following the incident. Handing out the biggest penalty the sport has ever seen doesn’t come from a small ordeal. This national news headline quickly became one of the biggest stories in NASCAR history.
The ordeal stretched out into the following week with the Chase field being altered on numerous occasions. NASCAR displayed their power by making such drastic adjustments to ensure a clean playing field was in order. Rarely is a sports’ credibility at stake, but NASCAR’s clearly was through this situation and its aftermath.
Another major part of the 2013 came in terms of the passion displayed throughout the sport. This year was one where drivers were not afraid to defend what they felt was right. Passion ran deeper than ever in the veins of everyone involved in the sport. Through heated exchanges and the effort put forth by so many, the level dedication rose in 2013.
The battle between Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin brought about passion in a different sense. Neither driver was going to admit fault in what they did, showing just how passionate each was about racing.
Tony Stewart mixed into the passion increase as well. He was not going to let anybody push him around, so he pushed back after the race in Fontana. When Joey Logano made an attempt to block Stewart on the restart, Stewart was not going to let that behavior fly. This prompted Stewart to show Logano a piece of his mind following the race.
Stewart may have missed a majority of the season, but saying he was the most passionate driver in 2013 wouldn’t be wrong. The Fontana incident showed him standing up for what he thought was right and when he broke his leg while racing Sprint Cars, his passion for racing can be seen. Passion and Tony Stewart go hand in hand and 2013 showed not only his passion, but the entire sport’s.
To finish off the story of 2013 comes dominance. The year featured dominance on a different level. Jimmie Johnson had a remarkable year and was able to claim his sixth title through the level of greatness he displayed.
If Johnson was not winning the race, he was up front competing for the victory. If he had a bad week, he was determined to make the next one much better. If he had a bad month, like August, he came back and was stronger than ever in following one.
With August being so tough for Johnson, many thought he would suffer from a lack of momentum heading into the Chase. The opposite occurred for the No.48 team as they were better than ever in the final ten races. The pure dominance Johnson displayed allowed him to celebrate in championship glory. Through being so good this year, many realized how much Johnson deserved the title. He worked for it and earned everything he won this year.
NASCAR had a complete season in 2013. Just about every area of the sport was covered and each had some sort of event that involved it. In years past, not all of what this season had could be found. It is rare to see such a mix of big storylines, passion, and greatness tie into one season. 2013 was different though. Saying NASCAR lacked action in the past year cannot be true. Action could be found in each and every race. It even came up off the track on numerous occasions.
A year ago, no one expected what was coming. A year later, many reminisce on 2013 with a smile. NASCAR had a phenomenal year. The bar is set high for 2014, but if it features half of the action from 2013; it undoubtedly will be another great year.
By Jason Schultz