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Sprint Cup 2013 preview

Next generation

The Sprint Cup drivers say they like the look of the new Gen-6 car, and they praised it early in testing as a replacement for the boxy model once known as the "Car of Tomorrow." Defending series champion Brad Keselowski admits the reputation of the series, which started looking like a parade in the field-equalizing former "Car of Tomorrow," depends on the new car's performance and appeal. • "I did not like the way the COT car looked, and I think most of the garage would say that," Keselowski said. "It does matter. It matters because that is the image we portray. I wear a fire suit with a helmet and a full seat around me. You can't see me. What you are seeing is this car going around the racetrack and the sponsors and the car construction, styling, et cetera. So that is what you see as a fan or as an ambassador of the sport. • "Yeah, absolutely it matters."

NFL zone

Joe Gibbs is going to have some company in the NASCAR garage when it comes to NFL street cred.

Former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski has joined Swan Racing as a minority owner. Romanowski will be a partner with founder Brandon Davis, who has enlisted two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip to make another run at a victory in "The Great American Race" on Sunday.

David Stremme will then take over for Waltrip, driving the No. 30 Toyota the following week at Phoenix and for the rest of the season.

Romanowski, 46, has a resume as a true-grit kind of player, competing for 16 seasons for San Francisco, Philadelphia, Denver and Oakland. He played in five Super Bowls and was selected to two Pro Bowls.

"I am thrilled to jump into the NASCAR world as a part owner and as a sponsor," Romanowski said in a statement. "Brandon has a vision for how to build a championship contender, and I'm eager to be part of it."

Radio silence

In a technical bulletin issued on Jan. 30, NASCAR officials made some more changes to what is and is not allowed in regard to in-car communications.

The changes include:

• In-car communications will be permitted only between team members of the same car number. Translation: A spotter for, say Kevin Harvick, cannot communicate with his Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton.

•Direct vehicle-to-vehicle communications will not be permitted. Translation: Drivers cannot communicate with each other directly, even if they are teammates.

In January 2012, NASCAR altered its radio policy to prohibit drivers from communicating with other drivers during the race. The communication was used primarily at Daytona and Talladega when two-car drafting tandems became commonplace.

Silly season comings and goings

Driver 2012 car/team 2013 car/team

Matt Kenseth No. 17 Roush Fenway Ford No. 20 Joe Gibbs Toyota

Joey Logano No. 20 Joe Gibbs Toyota No. 22 Penske Racing Ford

David Reutimann No. 10 Tommy Baldwin Chevy No. 83 BK Racing Toyota

Ricky Stenhouse Nationwide series No. 17 Roush Fenway Ford

J.J. Yeley Various teams No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Chevy

Busch nears all-time wins record

Kyle Busch, left, needs only two wins in any of NASCAR's top three series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and trucks) to pass David Pearson for second all-time in combined wins (all but one of Pearson's 106 victories were in the top series, then known as Winston Cup).

3

Wins Tony Stewart needs to hit 50; he'd be the 13th Sprint Cup driver to do so

10

Danica Patrick's car number, and the number of wins the No. 10 has earned in Sprint Cup history (six by Ricky Rudd)

14

Stewart's car number, and the number of his consecutive seasons with at least one Cup win, the longest active streak

Information from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Orlando Sentinel, racing-reference.info and jayski.com was used in this report, which was compiled from Times wires.

Sprint Cup 2013 preview 02/20/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 8:05pm]
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