Skip to content

NASCAR Nationwide Series 2013 Season Review

Dec 24, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT

5-hour ENERGY 200 Getty Images

On one hand, the NASCAR Nationwide Series served its purpose with young drivers like 2013 champion Austin Dillon and 21-year-old Kyle Larson doing well this past year and now preparing to move up to Sprint Cup in 2014.

But on the other hand, Sprint Cup regulars continued to dominate, with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch and Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski alone winning a combined 19 of 33 races as part of their teams’ battle for the owner’s championship. And one could argue that duel took some heat from Dillon’s tight race for the driver’s title with fellow NNS regular Sam Hornish Jr.

As a result, the season had a bit of the “same ol’, same ol’” feel even though the aforementioned Dillon, Larson and Hornish, along with others such as Regan Smith, A.J. Allmendinger and Ryan Blaney, did their best to keep things interesting.

Dillon’s championship came despite him not being able to win, making him the first NASCAR national series champion to earn a title without a victory. Nonetheless, he was able to make dogged consistency (13 Top-5s, 22 Top-10s, and just one DNF) work for him. Some can argue that it was unspectacular, but no one can say it wasn’t effective.

As for Hornish, he came up just three points shy of what would have been a breakthrough championship for him. The former IndyCar champion has impressed many people in his bid to maintain a place in stock car racing, and it’s been reported that he has options for next season. But a title could’ve made his off-season job hunting much easier.

Both drivers, however, found themselves at times having to conduct their championship runs almost in secret. That was because JGR’s No. 54 Toyota and Penske’s No. 22 Ford – the two teams involved in the aforementioned race for the owner’s title – were the class of the field in 2013.

The contrast was noticeable between the two sides. Busch won all 12 of the No. 54 team’s victories in 2013, while the No. 22 had four different drivers take it to Victory Lane: Keselowski (six wins), Joey Logano (three), Allmendinger (two), and Blaney (one).

In the end, the team effort won out. A sixth-place finish from Logano in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway was enough for the Penske No. 22 to win the owner’s battle by a single point over the JGR No. 54 and Busch, which finished third that day.

Meanwhile, Kyle Larson completed a solid first year of Nationwide racing to claim Rookie of the Year honors. Larson went winless, but notched 9 Top-5s and 17 Top-10s.

His ROTY award also marked a milestone for NASCAR’s sometimes-maligned “Drive for Diversity” program as Larson became the first of the program’s graduates to earn ROTY honors in a national series.

It was as good an ending to the year as Larson could’ve hoped for after how ugly it started for him – and many others.

In one of the most violent accidents in NNS history, last-lap contact between Smith and Keselowski coming to the checkered flag at Daytona triggered a horrendous crash that had Larson get airborne and then slam into the catch fence – the impact launching chunks of debris into the frontstretch grandstands.

More than 30 fans were injured, with many of them requiring hospitalization. Thankfully, all involved survived a situation that could’ve ended up much worse.

Other memorable moments included:

  • Allmendinger’s revival: Roger Penske gave him another chance and the ‘Dinger did well with it, earning two wins on the road courses at Road America and Mid-Ohio. Not long after, the former Champ Car star had his ticket back to Cup in hand with a full-time drive at JTG Daugherty.
  • BK1000: Winning a series’ 1,000th race is obviously a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing, so Keselowski should have fond memories whenever he sees his trophy from Richmond this past fall. Not that it didn’t come without controversy; runner-up Brian Scott maintained that Keselowski jumped the final restart with six laps to go. Replays appeared to back Scott’s argument, but NASCAR didn’t make a call on Keselowski.
  • Blaney’s upset: 19-year-old Ryan Blaney couldn’t have a celebratory shot of Kentucky bourbon following his first career NNS win in September at Kentucky Speedway. But we figure he didn’t mind that much. A string of late accidents kept setting up Blaney to lose the race on restarts, but the son of NASCAR/sprint car veteran Dave Blaney maintained his poise and was able to outlast Dillon in the final laps.
  • Could we speed this up?: A multi-car crash with 17 laps to go in the Homestead finale somehow led to a 12-lap caution period that saw numerous restarts called off as workers tried to clean up the mess. NASCAR’s refusal to throw the red flag was a surprise, and it didn’t help Hornish, who had only five laps to work with when the green flag did come out. Hornish finished eighth, four spots ahead of Dillon, but he was still three points shy of the NNS crown.

Latest Posts
  1. Ryan Blaney, James Buescher top Thursday’s Nationwide Series practice sessions at Richmond

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:06 PM EDT

    Ryan Blaney AP

    Ryan Blaney and James Buescher topped Thursday’s two practice sessions for Friday’s ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

  2. As NHRA closes in on 100 wins by female racers, it all started with one of the greatest, Shirley Muldowney

    Apr 24, 2014, 10:01 PM EDT

    Shirley Muldowney. (Photo courtesy: NHRA) Shirley Muldowney. (Photo courtesy: NHRA)

    The NHRA is just two wins away from recording 100 victories by female drivers in the sport’s all-time annals, which could happen in this weekend’s 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Royal Purple Raceway. And while all eyes this weekend will be on drivers such as Alexis DeJoria and Courtney Force (Funny Car), Brittany and Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) as potential candidates to set that significant milestone, it’s also time to reflect back on who started it all, the legendary Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney.

  3. Check out highlights of first day of Mecum Kansas City auction

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT

    012214_Mecum

    If you like vintage cars, collectors cars, muscle cars — pretty much anything that looks great and is on four wheels — you owe it to yourself to check out some of the fantastic rides that were up for sale Wednesday during the first day of the Mecum Kansas City auction.

  4. IndyCar: James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden are happy Space Campers (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Credit: INDYCAR on Instagram Credit: INDYCAR on Instagram

    The two IndyCar pilots have a blast at U.S. Space Camp before getting down to business this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park (Sun., 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra).

  5. Brad Keselowski: Changes overdue to Sprint Cup schedule; offers his ideas

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT

    Samuel Deeds 400 At The Brickyard Getty Images

    Brad Keselowski had a dream season in 2012, winning his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Now Keselowski wants a dream schedule on the Cup circuit – and some of his ideas make sense.

  6. Patrick Carpentier returns to race Quebec’s famed Circuit Trois-Rivieres for first time in nearly 20 years

    Apr 24, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

    Patrick Carpentier

    It has taken him nearly 20 years, but Patrick Carpentier is going back home to race. A veteran of several race series in his career including CART (5 wins), GP3R (2 wins), IndyCar and NASCAR, the Quebec, Canada native will return to the Circuit Trois-Rivieres street course for his first-ever FIA World Championship Rallycross race August 7-8.

  7. Ryan Blaney is directionally challenged in latest episode of Penske Files

    Apr 24, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT

    Kentucky 300 Getty Images

    Don’t ask Ryan Blaney for directions, period. That’s the message in the latest edition of the Penske Files, in which a Team Penske member asks Blaney for directions to the nearest Discount Tire outlet (Discount Tire is one of Blaney’s primary sponsors in the Nationwide Series this season).

  8. Richard Petty to return at Richmond, first race since wife Lynda’s death

    Apr 24, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT

    Richard Petty AP

    According to driver Aric Almirola, team owner Richard Petty is expected to attend Saturday’s NASCAR Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. It will be the first time that Petty has been at a racetrack since the death of his beloved wife Lynda on March 25.

  9. NASCAR VP: 2015 Sprint Cup engine package to be revealed before All-Star Race

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    GoBowling.com 400 Getty Images

    Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations, says that the process of finalizing the ’15 engine package is underway.

  10. Too much, too fast, too soon: The sad saga of Swan Racing

    Apr 24, 2014, 3:37 PM EDT

    Brandon Davis, majority owner of what is now the essentially defunct Swan Racing. (Photo courtesy Swan Racing) Brandon Davis, majority owner of what is now the essentially defunct Swan Racing. (Photo courtesy Swan Racing)

    Brandon Davis did all he could to keep Swan Racing afloat. But even a multi-millionaire oil and gas industrialist can only bleed so much money before deciding to throw a red flag on the operation. When anticipated funding and sponsorship failed to materialized, the two-team operation sank so fast that Davis had no other choice but to essentially go out of business.

  11. McLaren set to carry out aggressive series of upgrades

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China Getty Images

    Team racing director Eric Boullier says that upgrades to the MP4-29 have been planned out to the British Grand Prix in July.

  12. RLL seeks to conquer Barber’s flowing nature, and improve qualifying

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

    Rahal Getty Images

    Improved qualifying will likely yield greater results for RLL Racing at Barber this weekend.

  13. KV pair looks for results in Barber

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    BourdaisBarber1 Getty Images

    Sebastien Bourdais, Sebastian Saavedra seek their best weekends of the year at the Barber Motorsports Park event.

  14. Indy 500 car count update: Four more driver/car combos needed for 33

    Apr 24, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Indianapolis 500 Getty Images

    Dale Coyne’s team, plus a handful of others will need to assemble programs shortly to bring the Indianapolis 500 car count number up to 33, and perhaps beyond.

  15. Andretti Autosport seeks big rebound weekend at Barber

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    RHR-Barber Getty Images

    After Long Beach debacle, Andretti Autosport looks to right the ship, get second straight Barber win this weekend.

  16. Unfinished business for Newgarden at Barber

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    NewgyLB Getty Images

    Looking for a second straight fast, solid weekend, Josef Newgarden and the SFHR team seek an improvement on P9 in 2013 at Barber.

  17. IndyCar: Will high grip and high tempers equal high drama at Barber?

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Barber-Preview Getty Images

    Round 3 of the Verizon IndyCar Series could be a humdinger at Barber with high drama, high tempers possible after Long Beach.

  18. NASCAR Minute: Marcos Ambrose happy with 2014 start (VIDEO)

    Apr 23, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Cheez-It 355 - Practice Getty Images

    RPM’s Marcos Ambrose on his start to the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

  19. NHRA drag racing superstar John Force goes on vacation — at a dragstrip, of course

    Apr 23, 2014, 6:53 PM EDT

    AP Photo/John Force Racing, Elon Werner AP Photo/John Force Racing, Elon Werner

    John Force is your classic workaholic.

    Even when he’s on vacation and supposed to be resting and relaxing and taking things slow, the record-setting 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ never stops working. Force was on vacation with his family last weekend in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, a prelude to his upcoming 65th birthday on May 4.

  20. Swan Racing restructures, splits up two-car Sprint Cup operation

    Apr 23, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Food City 250 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Swan Racing has restructured its two-car Sprint Cup team, the organization announced Wednesday afternoon. Minority owner Anthony Marlowe has merged his ownership stake in the No. 26 Toyota driven by Sprint Cup rookie Cole Whitt with BK Racing, which now expands to a three-car operation. Meanwhile, the No. 30 team has been sold to John Cohen, owner of XxxTreme Motorsports.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

Ambrose happy with start of season
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. P. Kligerman (1323)
  2. C. Whitt (1213)
  3. B. Jones (1036)
  4. J. Boston (944)
  5. B. Myers (915)
  1. T. Hessert (914)
  2. A. Seuss (825)
  3. B. Loftin (822)
  4. J. Myers (815)
  5. L. Fleming (720)

Featured video

Lewis Hamilton thanks his 'angels'