The 2012 racing seasons saw an amazing comeback, a return to roots, the next generation, and the end of a great rivalry.
I start with the comeback. I know I was not the only person who was giving Fernando Alonso the trophy for the 2012 Formula One World Championship after Hungary. What we saw was one of the greatest championship comebacks in F1 history orchestrated by the young German Sebastian Vettel. This driver proved he's one of the best on the grid in a season where McLaren had the fastest car on the grid, but had no driver higher than 4th in the points. Accept Vettel as the real deal and F1 will become much more enjoyable.
This season, however, made me lose all respect for Ferrari. The constant whining from Fernando Alonso and Luca di Montezemelo painted the picture of self-entitled cry-babies who believe that it's their right to win every race on the calendar and to cry foul every time they lose. Shut up! Titles should be won in the pits in silence and on the track in silence. If you need to whine that much, you don't deserve to be in racing. When you're getting destroyed next season by Sergio Perez, then I want to hear you whining about how stupid you were.
2013 F1 Predictions
Champion: Sebastian Vettel
Monaco: Fernando Alonso
Mercedes: 0 wins, 5 >= #podiums
In the IZOD IndyCar Series we saw the first American champion since Sam Hornish, Jr. back in 2006. I have already written about Ryan Hunter-Reay, so go to the September blog archive to read it there. This year was more about healing for the fans and drivers. After the announcement that Danica Patrick was leaving IndyCar, I decided that because I hate her so much I would like the driver that took her place at Andretti Autosport. I had gone out on a limb and had predicted Dan Wheldon to win the Indy 500, the first time I had rooted for a driver as a favorite in 6 years of watching. That made it all the sweeter and going into the Las Vegas race I rooting for my driver-soon-to-be for next year. That didn't happen. Instead, I switched to Wheldon's replacement, James Hinchcliffe. I had been following him closely since 2009, so I knew what he could do. Now he's most popular driver with 10% of the vote. This season also saw the peak and end of the Randy Bernard error, the most idiotic move ever. With IndyCar the most popular series in the world and the competition being at its all-time best, how could IMS fire Randy Bernard besides the horrible reality of Tony George regaining some power? Regardless, I love the DW12 in spite of its hideousness. It produced the best car in the world, and it's faster than NASCAR. Good enough for me. It will be interesting because I have a feeling Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden will come full circle.
2013 IndyCar Predictions
Champion: Simon Pagenaud
Indianapolis 500: J. R. Hildebrand
Pocono 400: Josef Newgarden
MAVTV 500: Ed Carpenter
NASCAR saw the birth of the next generation. We are seeing Johnson, Gordon, Stewart, Kenseth, and Busch give up their spots as the champions in favor of Keselowski, Buescher's, Dillon's, Elliot, Blaney, and others. Until then, Brad Keselowski is the champion, and I believe he will play the part well. Unlike Johnson, Keselowski has dynamic personality, but he will still provide the hilarious commercials that Johnson does. Are you ready for the future?
2013 NASCAR Predictions
Champion: Matt Kenseth
Daytona 500: Jimmie Johnson
Aaron's 499: Michael Waltrip (should have won this fall)
Southern 500: Jeff Gordon
Coca-Cola 600: Kasey Kahne
Coke Zero 400: Tony Stewart
Brickyard 400: Jeff Gordon
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.: at least 4 top-5s
We saw the end of the Daytona-Sebring rivalry. With the 2014 unification of ALMS and Grand-Am, we should see the unison of the class structure. For the first time in 15 years, Daytona, Sebring, and Le Mans will all share the same cars (I hope). Ideally, I see all the classes of both series being kept with the GT classes being unified. Since Le Mans will have LMP1, LMP2, GT, and GT3, the GTC class should be kept. I hope the unified series should have LMP1, LMP2, DP, LMPC, GT, GTX, and GTC. The four prototypes should combine for about 30 cars, and the three touring car classes should have about 30 as well. Such fields have been maintained in Grand-Am regularly for a decade now. Here's a toast to the undiscovered country.
I met an old man a few weeks ago. He was fun to talk to. For two hours, I talked to that man about old time NASCAR because I found out he had been following NASCAR for over 60 years. In fact, he was at the race Marvin Burke won! According to the man, when asked, he said the most talented driver of today was Kyle Busch, and that the most talented drivers he ever saw were Fireball Roberts, Junior Johnson, and Fred Lorenzen. He also agreed that Jim Paschal is underappreciated despite being one of the great short track racers ever. He was at this event at his daughter's farm. He likes to be there because his daughter has light therapy demonstrations, and he introduced his daughter to it. The farm was his originally, and she capitalized on it. This fellow is such a NASCAR fan, he owns Marvin Panch's 1961 Daytona 500 winning car!
Oh, wait, he is Marvin Panch! The man is sharp as ever and remembers what car owners and what cars he drove what years and even told of how he wound up with a column shift instead of a stick shift. In 1966, Ford commissioned the Wood Brothers to build two GT 40s to run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Panch was supposed to drive one of the cars. He decided he'd rather run the World 600 and arranged for a ride with the Petty's. He got it approved by Ford themselves after calling Detroit. As we all know, Panch won that race. He also got fired by Ford. Panch said: "I called Detroit and said, 'You said I could run the race,' and they said, 'Yeah, but you weren't supposed to win!'" As we all know Marvin Panch ran his last NASCAR Grand National race later that year with a top ten finish at the National 500 in the Petty Enterprises #42. It was an incredible day.
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