Dallas Motorsports: Richard Petty Motorsports

Talent shift yields early competitive balance

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
11:49
AM CT
Brad Keselowski's win at Bristol on Sunday marked the fourth different winner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' four races this season. He also gave Dodge its first victory of 2012, which means all four manufacturers represented in the series have already earned a win. And there's still 32 races to go.

[+] EnlargeBrad Keselowski
John Harrelson/Getty Images/NASCARBrad Keselowski's win in Bristol on Sunday gave the four Sprint Cup manufacturers a victory in as many races this season.
Chevrolet dominated the 2011 season, winning half of the 36-race schedule. Ford came in second with seven victories, followed by Toyota (six) and Dodge (five). I have a feeling the competition will be spread a little more evenly this season due to the shuffling of talent during the offseason and some new developments among the four manufacturers.

Clint Bowyer, a winner from last season, recently made the transition from Chevrolet to Toyota with Michael Waltrip Racing. Mark Martin is another former Chevrolet driver racing for MWR this season. We've already seen great success with this team and with the newly formed alliance between Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota Racing Development. I think Toyota will be stepping up its program all around.

Ford had a tough year in 2011, but it has been a strong force this season with two of its drivers in the top five in points. Greg Biffle is leading the point standings and has three top fives. Matt Kenseth, who won the Daytona 500, is third.

The recent news with Penske Racing moving to Ford in 2013 left uncertainty for Dodge, but with its new Charger debuting in the Sprint Cup Series next season the organization has received a lot of interest in its NASCAR program. One prospect is Richard Petty Motorsports, which is in its last contract year with Ford. Petty and Dodge have a history together, and the team is looking into renewing that relationship.

And then we have Chevy -- the powerhouse of the sport that has earned the most manufacturers' championships since NASCAR's inception and is currently on a spree of consecutive Sprint Cup championships. Chevrolet has earned a star driver with Kasey Kahne competing for Hendrick Motorsports this year and we've seen early success with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who I believe will be in Victory Lane soon.

All of this is great for the sport. The amount of competitiveness increases the level of excitement among fans and sponsors, and keeps them engaged from week to week.

Hang on NASCAR nation, because it's shaping up to be a sensational year.

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