Skip to content

The Year in Motors, Part 2: NASCAR and NHRA

Dec 31, 2013, 6:10 PM EDT

Camping World RV Sales 301 Getty Images

As the off-season has gone by, MotorSportsTalk has produced multiple season reviews in various racing categories. Today marks the second part of our Year in Motors, and with that, here’s a quick rundown of the NASCAR and NHRA seasons.

NASCAR Sprint Cup

A competitive and sometimes controversial season ended with Jimmie Johnson returning to the top of the Sprint Cup Series. The Hendrick Motorsports driver claimed his sixth Cup championship with a ninth-place finish in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, enabling him to defeat title rival Matt Kenseth by 19 points after their exciting battle throughout the post-season Chase.

The Chase was nearly overshadowed by scandal that took place during the final regular season race of the year in September at Richmond International Raceway. In a bid to help Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. make the Chase, Clint Bowyer intentionally spun out in the final laps at RIR and Brian Vickers went to the pits after the race went back to green.

NASCAR ultimately decided MWR had attempted to manipulate the race and came down hard with penalties that knocked Truex out of the post-season. They then opted to add Jeff Gordon, one of the drivers affected by the Richmond incident, into the Chase as a 13th competitor. Eventually, MWR sponsor NAPA decided to leave the sport, which forced the team to relegate their third car to part-time status and caused Truex to find another ride at Furniture Row Racing.

This year was also notable for the debut of the Generation 6 cars, which were designed to improve racing especially on the intermediate tracks. However, while noticeably quicker than their predecessors, many races in 2013 still came down to track position. After a pair of tests at Charlotte this fall, NASCAR has produced a new aero package for the Gen 6 that’s slated to debut this coming March at Phoenix, the first race after the Daytona 500.

NASCAR Nationwide

Austin Dillon and Sam Hornish Jr. took their fight for the championship all the way to the finish at Homestead, but Dillon ultimately won out by a scant margin of three points over the former Indianapolis 500 winner. The triumph served as a prelude to grandfather/car owner Richard Childress’ announcement that Dillon would bring the iconic No. 3 back to Sprint Cup next season for Richard Childress Racing. As for Hornish, he is currently a free agent at this time.

The NNS also had a spirited race for the owner’s championship between Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 54 team and Penske Racing’s No. 22 team. Kyle Busch won 12 races for the No. 54, but Penske’s quartet of Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, A.J. Allmendinger and Ryan Blaney combined for 12 wins of their own – and it was Logano’s sixth-place finish at Homestead that enabled the Penske camp to win that particular title by one point.

Kyle Larson claimed Rookie of the Year honors after starting his NNS campaign with a devastating crash in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway; Larson was sent flying into the catch fence moments after contact was made by Regan Smith and Brad Keselowski while the field scrambled to the checkered flag. Debris from the incident injured more than 30 fans.

NASCAR Camping World Truck

Matt Crafton rode the consistency wave all the way to the CWTS driver’s championship, earning one win and 19 Top-10 finishes across 22 starts. He came up short, however, of giving his ThorSport Racing team the series’ owner’s title after taking late damage at Homestead. That opened the door for Kyle Busch Motorsports to take the owner’s crown after Busch won the race; KBM earned the championship on a tie-breaker with its No. 51 Truck winning seven times in 2013 compared to Crafton’s lone win for the Thorsport No. 88.

Also making a major impact was a bumper crop of young talent. There were five first-time winners in 2013, with Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace Jr., Jeb Burton, Chase Elliott and Eric Jones all earning their inaugural series wins. And there were other memorable episodes too, from the post-race brouhaha at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to the first-ever “Mudsummer Classic” on the dirt at Eldora Speedway.

NHRA

The face of the NHRA returned to championship glory in 2013, as John Force claimed his 16th career Funny Car class championship. Also adding another title to their respective mantles were Jeg Coughlin Jr. in Pro Stock (his fifth PS title) and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle (his second PSM title). The lone first-time champion was Shawn Langdon, who broke through in Top Fuel after a season that saw him win the NHRA’s signature gathering, the U.S. Nationals.

And in case you missed our first part of the Year in Motors, here’s that as well.

Latest Posts
  1. Miles: After “two-sided pancake” Fontana race, IndyCar may crack down against stakeholder comments

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:59 PM EDT

    will power fontana 2015 getty Getty Images

    Could penalties be coming to drivers who speak out about IndyCar’s on-track product? Mark Miles flips some pancakes on the possibility.

  2. IndyCar issues penalties and fines following MAVTV 500 at Fontana

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:03 PM EDT

    California Speedway Getty Images

    Will Power fined, put on probation after shoving safety official during Saturday’s race.

  3. BREAKING NEWS — NHRA: Tom Compton retires as president, Peter Clifford named successor

    Jul 1, 2015, 2:42 PM EDT

    tom compton retires from nhra -- getty Getty Images

    In a surprise move, the NHRA announced Wednesday that president Tom Compton has retired after 15 years as the sanctioning body’s chief executive officer

  4. Pikes Peak International Hill Climb results under review

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT

    RHYS MILLEN RHYS MILLEN

    The provisional winner of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is Rhys Millen.

  5. Ed Carpenter: driver criticism of IndyCar ‘confusing for fans’

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    The CFH Racing co-owner says IndyCar will never grow if “we’re tearing it apart from the inside out.”

  6. Hawksworth: “I wouldn’t say it was crazy; it was exciting”

    Jul 1, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT

    HawkTMS Getty Images

    One of A.J. Foyt’s young drivers makes some wiser points beyond his years about Saturday’s race in Fontana.

  7. Royal Purple, Manpower to Horsepower program to be featured in Red Bull GRC this week

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:01 PM EDT

    Photo: Manpower to Horsepower Photo: Manpower to Horsepower

    Feature on Manpower to Horsepower to air during Red Bull GRC show this Sunday on NBC.

  8. F1 and classic machinery at Goodwood, 2015, in photos

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT

    McLaren Formula One driver and 2009 World champion Jenson Button prepares to drive the ex Ayrton Senna McLaren MP4. Photo; Getty Images Getty Images

    A selection of images from the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

  9. Red Bull GRC: SH Rallycross premieres patriotic HAUS livery for MCAS

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Photo: SH Rallycross Photo: SH Rallycross

    SH Rallycross’ HAUS livery for Red Bull GRC this weekend screams red, white and blue.

  10. Graham Rahal’s Fontana win was long overdue, and a long time coming

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT

    RahalWinGroup Getty Images

    Given how well they’ve run this year, it was really only a matter of time until Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing won a race.

  11. Report: Filippi, Brabham set for IndyCar oval tests

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Josef Newgarden, Luca Filippi AP

    Luca Filippi and Matthew Brabham set for oval tests this Wednesday at Iowa Speedway.

  12. Young drivers star in mixed, primarily wet conditions at Watkins Glen

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    BurkettWG Getty Images

    This weekend’s miserable conditions at Watkins Glen offered a lot of young drivers a chance to shine.

  13. Report: Roger Penske intends to keep his ‘four aces’ in IndyCar

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:29 PM EDT

    roger penske 2015 getty Getty Images

    The 2015 season is the first time Roger Penske has captained four teams on the IndyCar circuit. And it appears it will be full steam ahead with four teams going forward.

  14. Mario Andretti gets Jay Leno up to speed — and then some

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:53 PM EDT

    jay leno mario andretti getty 2015 Getty Images

    Comedian and former late-night talk show host Jay Leno has spent his career making millions laugh. But recently, the joke was on Leno, so to speak – but in a good way.

  15. Racing legend Parnelli Jones featured in upcoming Indy 500 film

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:24 PM EDT

    parnelli jones Getty Images

    If you’re a big fan of the Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, put this on your bucket list for next year.

  16. NHRA: Antron Brown looks to make Top Fuel fireworks this weekend

    Jun 29, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

    Antron Brown Getty Images

    With five races coming up in the next six weeks, Top Fuel driver Antron Brown knows how crucial this stretch of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season will be.

  17. Pippa Mann revels in career-best IndyCar finish at Fontana

    Jun 29, 2015, 5:47 PM EDT

    Pippa Mann earned a career-best 13th-place finish in Saturday's MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway. Getty Images

    Finishing 13th in her Dale Coyne Racing Honda, Pippa Mann enjoyed the best showing of her IndyCar career in Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.

  18. After tough recent outings, Jack Hawksworth relishes 10th-place showing at Fontana

    Jun 29, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT

    jack hawksworth 2015 Fontana getty Getty Images

    Jack Hawksworth enjoyed one of his better runs of 2015 in Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.

  19. MAVTV 500: Despite being nerve-racking to crazy, drivers glad safety won out

    Jun 29, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT

    briscoe crash fontana 2015 getty Getty Images

    Although it’s been two days since the MAV TV 500, a number of IndyCar drivers are not going to soon forget one of the wildest races the series has seen in a long time.