By Patrick Rall
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point leader Matt Kenseth announced
late last month that come 2013, he will no longer be driving the #17 Ford for
Roush Racing. Instead, he will be with a
different team that he has not yet disclosed although he has stated that the
deal for 2013 is inked. Kenseth has also
stated that he is not yet ready to announce his new team for 2013…but could he
be the driver piloting the new Dodge Charger in the 2013 Sprint Cup Series?
Matt Kenseth is one of the top drivers in NASCAR today and
it shows in his current season championship lead over Dale Earnhardt Jr. It was a shock to everyone when Kenseth
announced that he had a new team lined up for 2013 and while rumors suggest
that he will be driving a crappy Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, it is still
unknown what kind of car the possible champ will be driving at the 2013 Daytona
500. However, having debuted the sexy
new Dodge Charger stock car earlier this year, you would think that there is at
least one major Dodge team planning to run that new car in 2013.
The problem is that Team Penske, the only team currently
running the Sprint Cup with a Dodge, is headed over to race Ford’s next year
which would leave Dodge without a serious contender. There are guys like Robbie Gordon who show up
to a race here and there with a Dodge race car but let’s be honest – Gordon has
less chance of winning than Danica Patrick – so Dodge fans can’t be expected to
put their faith in Gordon.
This might seem farfetched but what if Matt Kenseth has held
off from announcing his new team because that new team will be utilizing the
Dodge Charger as opposed to whatever they are running this season?
Say that a given team owner has worked out a deal with Dodge
to run Chargers next year in the Sprint Cup but they do not want their current
manufacturer to learn about it midseason.
Say that the same team has also worked out a deal with Matt Kenseth to
drive the new Dodge Charger in 2013 but Kenseth announcing his plans for next
season may unearth this car owner’s intention to run a Dodge in 2013 – which the
owner does not want.
Could Joe Gibbs be jumping to Dodge from Toyota? Probably not as his #11, #18 and #20 Toyota
Camrys have been pretty strong this year with current standings of 5th,
13th and 16th, respectively. However, with plenty of teams looking to get
a leg up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the Dodge Charger driven by Brad
Keselowski running very strong this year – hopefully Dodge has attracted a
strong car owner for 2013. With any
luck, that new car/team owner will bring along a championship driver like Matt
Kenseth so that Dodge fans are no longer forced to put their trust in the likes
of Robbie Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears or Kasey Kahne.
Image courtesy of Ford Motor Company