Jumping from one successful team to another is always a major decision and rarely anything but a risk. While opportunity could certainly exist at the end of the rainbow, misfortune could also lurk around the corner, rearing its ugly head at all possible occasions and causing one to wish they had stayed put.<div style=\"float:right; width:275px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"> <img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/15530.jpg\" width=\"275\" height=\"184\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">Matt Kenseth has been looking pretty racy in his new ride. Is that typical when a driver switches?</p></div> Three races into the 2013 season, I think Matt Kenseth is already fairly proud of his decision to shake things up. After a career spent at Roush Fenway Racing, ranging over a decade the 2003 NASCAR champion left the organization that gave him his first shot in favor of Joe Gibbs Racing and its No. 20 Toyota. The move wasn't exactly frowned upon, but it did cause discussion within the NASCAR ranks. After all, Kenseth wasn't struggling at Roush; in fact, his final season in the No. 17 Ford produced three wins and a seventh in the final point standings. Not a bad year. Turns out the 41-year-old is proving he has the foresight to make some fairly nice decisions. Along with last weekend's win at Las Vegas, Kenseth placed seventh at Phoenix and led 86 laps at Daytona before retiring with engine failure. It's as though a fire has been lit under this veteran, one that could threaten to smoke the rest of the competition in 2013. It's rare to see a competitor win another championship so many years after his last, but he's off to a good start. If Kenseth wants to score that title, though recent history actually isn't on his side. Since 2000, the highest points finish for a driver in a brand new ride is second, and that was literally only just accomplished – Clint Bowyer took the runner-up spot in 2012 after moving to Michael Waltrip Racing from Richard Childress Racing. In fact, the recent trend is much the opposite. Before Bowyer, ringing in one's new ride with some championship style results wasn't exactly too common. Kasey Kahne's debut season with Hendrick Motorsports saw him fourth last season, and Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman broke in the new organization with sixth- and ninth-place finishes in 2009, respectively while Mark Martin ran runner-up with Hendrick Motorsports. Kyle Busch scored 10th by 2008's end in his new Joe Gibbs Racing ride. But none of those drivers (even Martin, who ran light years behind Jimmie Johnson that year) were true contenders for the big title when it counted. The last person to finish with NASCAR's championship hardware, in their first season with a new team was Darrell Waltrip, driving for Junior Johnson in 1981. Actually, if there's anyone's season Kenseth wants his 2013 to follow, it might be Busch when he came over to Gibbs. Despite a modest showing in the points, he won eight races, finished in the top five 17 times and earned 21 top-10s. Let's go with the wins and accolades of Busch over the consistency and subsequent points finish of Bowyer. At the very least, chances are Kenseth – and Joey Logano, the other high profile defector in 2013 – will slightly improve on his 2012 season, which if you'll recall wasn't that bad to begin with. One of the only marked cases of a major step down in results after joining a new team is Kurt Busch, whose 2006 campaign with Penske Racing is one he'd probably soon forget – a win, seven top-fives and 12 top-10s after 3-9-18 in those stat categories the previous year while driving for Roush Fenway Racing. The same rings true for Jamie McMurray, who replaced Busch at Roush that year. He only managed three top-fives and seven top-10s, placing a lousy 25th in the overall standings. That's a major drop from his 12th the year before with Ganassi. A first year in the new digs is mostly thought of as a trial period, or an intro. You're not expected to go HAM on the season, but there's the expectation of major results in subsequent years. If anything, drivers want to see something better than what they had with the old organization, if they left on their own accord. Most guys haven't had a tough time besting prior results, and Matt Kenseth looks to be accomplishing more of the same, if the first three races are any indication. Heck, I'm more interested in seeing what Joey Logano can do in the No. 22 for Penske. While not a huge factor in 2012, he at least won a race. Now? No good results of which to speak of. Well, he _is_ with Penske, and if you'll recall Kurt Busch's \"meh\" results during his debut in the No. 2 a few paragraphs ago… maybe there's a trend? *Connect with Kevin!* <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/surfwax83\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6502.jpg\"></a><a href=\"http://facebook.com/surfwaxamerica\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6501.jpg\"></a><br> \"Contact Kevin Rutherford\":http://www.frontstretch.com/contact/37802/
Since last season ended, Ashley and I have had a very busy offseason. We started out spending Thanksgiving in Illinois with our families which was quite a gathering, especially with Ashley's family. It was a nice opportunity to relax for a little while. With the racing schedule as busy as it is, we only get to go home a couple of times a year so getting to spend time with our family during the offseason is extra special. <div style=\"float:left; width:275px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/13273.jpg\" width=\"275\" height=\"413\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">Justin Allgaier's smiling these days about much more than leading the Nationwide Series points. He and wife Ashley are expecting their first child sometime this summer.</p></div> We then jumped on a plane and went on a mission trip to Monterrey, Mexico. We got to go to some orphanages and give to some children who don't have near the blessings that we have here in the United States. It was with a group from Back2Back ministries which includes Gil and Ford Martin and Jeff Green. We didn't get to spend as much time down there as we normally have, but it was still a great time for the couple of days that we were down there with all of the kids at the different orphanages that we visited. It was especially enjoyable getting to see Magali, a young girl that Ashley and I sponsor down there. We came back to the states and headed back to Illinois to spend Christmas with our families. It was the best Christmas ever because we were able to tell our parents that we are expecting our first baby. I know we waited until last week to break the news to everyone else but we wanted to make sure that we were past the first tri-mester before we announced it to the world. We don't know what we're going to have yet but we will find out in a couple of weeks so we'll be sure and include that in the next edition of the diary. It was very hard to not tell anyone over the last couple of months, especially for someone who likes to talk as much as I do. After Christmas, we headed to Tulsa to run the Chili Bowl. It was the first time that I had run at the Chili Bowl in six years. It was the first time I'd been in an open-wheel car, besides a modified, since I'd been in the Chili Bowl last time. We ran pretty well. We finished eighth in our preliminary night with only three cylinders. We ran the B-main and started near the front but unfortunately the night ended early, along with our chance to make the A-main. What a great accomplishment though to run with the best midget drivers in the world and be up front in the B-main before crashing out. It was still a great run and I hope we'll get a chance to run a couple more races this season to be ready when the 2014 Chili Bowl comes around. After the Chili Bowl, we did a bunch of traveling. We made a couple of show appearances with Brandt at San Diego and Orlando. They are such a great sponsor and I love getting the chance to do things with them, for both their customers and their employees. Ashley and I also went on a K-Love Christian Radio Cruise to Cozumel. We got to spend a little time in Cozumel at an orphanage. It always touches my heart to be able to bring a little happiness to the children down in some of the less fortunate areas of the world. It is really neat to see how something as simple as some silly bands can bring so much joy to a kid. Once we wrapped up getting most of the rest of our preseason work done, we headed to Daytona. We not only ran at the big track, but we raced the Modified every night at Volusia. We ended up third in points in the DIRTCar Nationals, which was pretty impressive considering we crashed the first night there during hot laps and moved the front clip two inches to the left. I can only imagine how good we'd have done if we'd had the car straight. Then we raced the Nationwide race and had a good run. I was pushing Brian Scott to the line at the end when they told me they were wrecking in front of us. Unfortunately, on the last lap, you have to push for all you can so I stayed in the gas and we drove into it. My hood popped up almost immediately after my spotter told me they were wrecking so I didn't really see anything. I'm just really glad to know that all of the fans that were injured are doing better. We ended up seventh so, all things considered, we can't complain. We headed on to Phoenix and had a great run with the Brandt Chevrolet, coming home in third place. As a result, we're tied for first in the points. I hope we can stay there all season. I think I've got a great team and we're ready to make a run at the championship. We are getting ready for Vegas having a bunch of fun with a lot of the employees of Brandt. We had a party Thursday night and we'll do another one on Friday night. This is the biggest thing we do outside of Chicago for the Brandt employees every year. \"RUTHERFORD: WHY 2013 COULD BE ALLGAIER'S YEAR\":http://www.frontstretch.com/krutherford/42526/ I'm also running a go-kart for fun up at the Mooresville Motorplex, along with my good friend Michael McDowell, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and a lot of other drivers. I'm hoping to get a kart together this year to run at Millbridge Speedway too. We have a ton of fun running there on Wednesday nights. That's about all I have for now. I look forward to seeing the fans at the track and catching up with you next month in my next addition of the diary. *Connect with Mike!* <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/mneffshorttrack\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6502.jpg\"></a><br> \"Contact Mike Neff\":http://www.frontstretch.com/contact/14354/
You can't make 2013 without a three and a one. Of course, a three and a one make a 31, the number of Justin Allgaier's car in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. I know this is cheesy, but bear with me. Though an established competitor in the series since 2009, the man formerly (maybe still?) known as Little Gator has rarely been in the conversation for weekly victories, let alone a championship. That all may change this season. Two races in, Allgaier is tied for the points lead with Sam Hornish Jr., having scored a seventh-place finish in the season-opening DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona and following it up with a third at Phoenix last weekend. Of course, he was rarely in contention for the victory – but who really was aside from Kyle Busch at Phoenix, and Daytona is a bit of a crapshoot anyway. <div style=\"float:right; width:275px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/14541.jpg\" width=\"275\" height=\"184\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">31 is 13 backward so is 2013 the year Justin Allgaier has a breakout season?</p></div> This year, I think, could be Little Gator's year. Entering his third season with Turner Scott Motorsports, Allgaier has actually become the senior presence at an organization that includes series rookies Kyle Larson and Nelson Piquet Jr. running full-time. That's not to say he'll beat Larson and Piquet each week, but one has to wonder if the majority of the team's eggs will be put in the No. 31's basket this season – that is, until Larson inevitably starts winning soundly and becomes a constant threat the whole season. Turner Scott has always been a strong organization, able to contend for wins most weeks. It's tough to say just yet what the added investment of Harry Scott will entail in terms of performance, but it may pay great dividends for Allgaier's team especially. Plus, like Allgaier himself, the team has had a few seasons in the series to grow and to simply get better. Seeing them as championship contenders at this point just seems like a no-brainer. It's Allgaier's fifth full season, too. With the exception of the new tracks the circuit visits in 2013, he's been to all speedways, some more than others. Barring major issues with the cars themselves, weekly top-10 finishes seem within grasp. That also gives him an edge over Larson at his own team; the rookie hasn't seen quite a few of the tracks and simply doesn't have the veteran status Allgaier has at this point. That's right – it's weird to say, but Justin Allgaier is basically a Nationwide veteran at this point. But mainly, I see consistency. Throughout his career, Allgaier has been a fairly surefire bet for the top 10. That's a great skill to have, because even if he might lose to Kyle Busch or whatever other Cup driver decides to mingle with the lower series that week, he's still likely to finish near the front. All he has to do is push himself even harder. Though the consistency's been great, we need to see just a little bit more. While his average finish generally hovers around 11, Elliott Sadler produced an average finish of 7.6 in 2012. That's about where Allgaier needs to be – a four-position increase. Can he do it? Absolutely. But a few things need to happen, too. First: as mentioned, that consistency. He needs to be closer to the top five more often while maintaining his lack of poor finishes from crashes, equipment failure and the like. Second: BEAT JOE GIBBS RACING. That's a tall order, so let's just take Kyle Busch out of the equation and focus on Brian Vickers and Elliott Sadler. So far, he's doing good on that; Sadler has a best finish of fifth, and Vickers hasn't even cracked the top 15, though that's due in part to bad luck. Still, he has to keep beating them, and that will be no small feat. Third: quite simply, win some more races. Capitalize on the events sans Cup guys. Show you belong at the top of the points standings. I'm convinced he can do it. He's off to a great start, and given his new position as his team's main guy, as well as the experience gleaned from a handful of years in the series, this could be Justin Allgaier's year. *Connect with Kevin!* <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/surfwax83\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6502.jpg\"></a><a href=\"http://facebook.com/surfwaxamerica\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6501.jpg\"></a><br> \"Contact Kevin Rutherford\":http://www.frontstretch.com/contact/37802/
@keselowski (Brad Keselowski): #MultiTasker : And he is still tweeting @keselowski pic.twitter.com/nVrAa5MDHfâ @Just_AP (Ashley Parlett): Here's why I think whatever Jeremy said should NOT be released: 1) we do NOT need anyone personally offended 2) hes a good kid and the.. @Just_AP: ..loss of everything he has worked for is enough 3) every hypocritical asshole will land blast him and forget that they too.. @Just_AP: ..have made an inappropriate statement at some point. The people who patrol these things have taken action. Now focus on something else @Just_AP: And for everyone saying they have the RIGHT to know. You are wrong, sit down. #lynchmob @Just_AP: Furthermore. I don't blame NASCAR for policing such things. It sucks, its ridiculous but its their sandbox & they have sponsors to answer to @DGodfatherMoody (Dave Moody): So you're angry at the reporter, but not Clements? Interesting @DonRohr SOMEONE ratted him out vs being adult and discuss it with him @KristineC48 (Kristine Curley): I'm so glad @JimmieJohnson is enjoying mocking me & the fact that I fell UP an escalator. Me and my new bruises & broken phone- not so much @MichaelAnnett: I think I could set up a fruit stand on the side of the road with all these Edible Arrangements I've received. #chocolatedippedstrawberries @NASCARBowles (Tom Bowles): Me to @Beth_Frntstrtch 2nite: \"@MRNRadio did a Harlem Shake video? Why can't we?\" Silence. Then..\"I don't know about all that.\" Haha #NASCAR @JohnnySauter: My son just ran 50 laps around our house and then stopped and told me that he has to take a break because @Matt_Crafton put him in the wall. @StacyStenhouse: Love waking up to this precious face! http://instagr.am/p/WcEc1HKg8-/ @Mother_Function: Nice q-run for @kevinharvick today. Must have brought out his \"Big Guns\" http://twitpic.com/c7w5kp @55MarkMartin: Thanks @rchilders55 @aaronssports @toyotaracing cool starting 1st Sun. http://yfrog.com/oborttej http://yfrog.com/hswfqybbj http://yfrog.com/obc43dej @KyleBusch: What an awesome day, great 2 get @MonsterEnergy to VL. This burn out was 4 all u fans! Thanks 4 the support. pic.twitter.com/96NtlvFspK @KyleBusch: Great way to cool down after a win w ice cold @MonsterEnergy!! All jacked up for today ready to do it again!! http://twitpic.com/c8eekc @KurtBusch: Don't get in any moving vehicle w/ my mom. She was involved in a crash in the tunnel b4 the end of the race. A little banged up @SamanthaBusch: Dear @NASCAR this sandwich bag floating on the track looks VERY dangerous! Quick throw a caution, Pretty please ;) pic.twitter.com/Nz341tAxad @roushfenway (Roush Fenway Racing): A #Backflip into Victory Lane #CarlEdwards #rfrdriven http://tmblr.co/ZT-1vsfSV6eU @KurtBusch: Thx again for all the nice comments about mom. She's here at the track & in great spirits. She was touched by all the concern @landoncassill: We didn't expect to run the full race this week but we did! Car isn't too bad, when we get some sponsors to make a full effort we'll be good @DavidRagan: Well you have days like today….I wish I could have missed the wreck….. Again we will move on to Vegas. It was a good race 4 us last year @StenhouseJr: Long day fly to Texas this mornin. And jus landed back in Phoenix waitin on my chauffeur @DanicaPatrick well not waitin she's waitin on me @scottspeed: We laid it down!! Missed half of practice!! No matter.. So proud of everyone, made real good decisions on setup!! Love out q'ing huge teams @DavidStremme: I'm sorry to all the Dave Blaney fans. I had brakes issues and it was totally my fault that he got wrecked. Week was not the way we wanted @travispastrana: Never know what to expect when I walk into a nascar race… pic.twitter.com/60WKCmHKCg â@JimmieJohnson: What a start to the season for @LowesRacing. I'm so proud of@TeamHendrick, the hard work and endless hours of work is paying off. #6pack @Brendan62 (Brendan Gaughan): Definition of happiness: Climbing into bed w @Taterztotz and my son with the baby in the crib next to us. I missed my babies! @DeLanaHarvick: Don't go ninjin nobody that don't need ninjin! RT @KevinHarvick Stay away from this guy… He's dangerous!!! pic.twitter.com/0XvaH0Et7B @DakodaArmstrong: Well got 2 speeding tickets within 12 months so have to do a 4 hour driver defense test now #awesome #goodtime @11mommalou (Mary Lou Hamlin): Had a BEAUTIFUL drive 2day to Utah! 1st time in State.Look what's across the street of hotel! Zion Nat'l Park 2morrowpic.twitter.com/PgDOQVPkZS @David_Starr_81: Baby Vance Starr! #fb pic.twitter.com/eILfWNO1rV @kennywallace: Kenny Wallace \"Harlem Shake\" St.Louis Style! http://youtu.be/JFeqtqw1bjE \" @keselowski (Brad Keselowski): I have a strange un-diagnosed phobia that makes me want to uncontrollably cry on tax day. @J_Allgaier (Justin Allgaier): Well, I mean how else would you describe a dog? Haha. Sign @starbucks this am http://instagr.am/p/WUd46aIRQm/ @AndyLally: Martin is on the pole today, get it,,, on…the…pole… Oh, wait,,that's not funny this week? #Good #ThatGotOldQuick @ReedSorenson7: So thankful to get an opportunity to drive the 43 while @MichaelAnnett recovers. Very exciting and can't wait to get started this weekend @MichaelAnnett: Really excited for my buddy @ReedSorenson7 getting behind the wheel of my #43 car. He'll bring home the finishes we need. @Elliott_Sadler: Glad to see Reed get tabbed to fill in for Annett… He deserves this opportunity.. Good luck to him…. As well as Mike on speedy recovery @JennaFryer: Just attempted to fix the washing machine with google, YouTube and an 8 year old. #MacGruber @JennaFryer: Awaiting the results of attempt 3 to fix washing machine. We are down 3 beach towels, a roll of paper towels and borrowed the frying pan. @pkligerman (Parker Kligerman): @JennaFryer honestly. I resort to the BIG HAMMER option in situations like that. After that it won't be a question if it works or not! @JennaFryer: @pkligerman That's next. I also have a power drill and some bits. @JennaFryer: P.S. the frying pan was what the 8 year old raced to grab to collect the water because the hose was so low to the ground.
The crop of young talent in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series is deeper than it has been in years. After many years of Cup guys running the show, more teams are taking chances on rookie drivers to lead them on the path to victory — or, at least, some good finishes here and there.
In 2013, three of those drivers — Alex Bowman of RAB Racing, Kyle Larson of Turner Scott Motorsports and Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Parker Kligerman — lead the charge with full-time efforts and established organizations. Count on at least one, if not more of them making it to Victory Lane by season’s end. That’s how good this group is.
In June, Joey Logano scored his first pole of the season at the tricky Pocono Raceway. By weekend’s end, he was still atop the leaderboard, having won his first Cup Series race since 2009.
For the first time in 2012, the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series will make the necessary right turns that constitute racing at the sport’s road courses this weekend at Sonoma and Road America, respectively.
Although it’s not as prevalent as it once was, there is often talk at such races of drivers called “road course ringers.” These racers are often hired for their prowess on specific tracks, making them sought-after commodities for teams that desperately need good runs at the road courses, especially if a team’s usual driver is unspectacular at road racing and isn’t in the midst of a championship battle, or if the team is teetering near the edge of the coveted top 35 in car owner points.