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2013 Preview: Back on Track

Here we are once again. 36 races on the horizon. A clean slate for NASCAR drivers. Brad Keselowski may have earned the Sprint Cup trophy last year, but all that will get him this year is a better parking spot for his hauler in the garage. Fans are without a doubt revving their engines to see cars hit the track once again, and soon enough, they'll get their wish with the Daytona 500 going green on Sunday. To get you ready for the season, here are some of the top story lines to watch out for with Team Lowe's Racing.

New Cars

This year, a fresh set of cars, including the Chevrolet SS, take the track in NASCAR. These are intended to look more like the cars you can buy off the showroom floor from your local dealer, but their impact is much more far reaching than that. Drivers, crew chiefs, and engineers had been fine tuning their set-ups of the former cars ever since the "Car of Tomorrow" was released. They'll now have to test new set-ups, put the cars through extensive testing, and constantly be on their toes in an effort to stay ahead of the competition. That's where it's helpful to have Chad Knaus, one of the best in the business.

Drivers will also have to adjust. Take Daytona for example, where drivers were beginning to get the hang of two-car and multi-car bump-drafting. Now, bumpers of different models don't match up nearly as well as they did last year, making bump-drafting a risky endeavor. One only has to look at the multi-car accidents in Daytona Testing and the Sprint Unlimited to see its impact. Jimmie Johnson, however, is one of the best at his craft, and will without a doubt be eager to learn and master the ins and outs of his new SS.

Performance at Superspeedways

In what was an remarkably consistent 2012 season, there were four glaring finishes for Jimmie Johnson: each superspeedway race. Averaging a finishing position of 33rd, Johnson had a nack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In 2013, Johnson will look to get off to a much stronger start this week in Daytona, and will also be sure to mark Talladega in his calendar in November, which will likely be another critical race down the stretch as he seeks his sixth Championship.

The Quest For Six

That brings us to the storyline that has existed for a longer period of time than Team Lowe's Racing would have liked: Jimmie Johnson's quest for his sixth Sprint Cup Championship. After coming painfully close in 2012, Johnson will be hungrier than ever to regain the top spot in NASCAR. Although the Chase is a long way away, nothing beats setting yourself up for a spot in the Chase early in the season, and that journey starts this weekend.

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1
#24
Jeff Gordon
872
2
#88
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
-21
3
#2
Matt Kenseth
-78
6
#48
Jimmie Johnson
-106
Atlanta
Started: 16th
Finished: 4th
Richmond
Saturday, September 6th
7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
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