NASCAR: Five Sprint Cup Series drivers to watch this season

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With two races already completed, here’s a quick look at five drivers to watch in the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season.

Jimmie Johnson

It wouldn’t be wise to count out the five-time champion. He’s looking for his “six-pack,” and his Daytona 500 victory was a good start to getting it. Johnson had a shot a victory lane last weekend in Phoenix as well, finishing second. He’s currently the leader in points, and a smart early-season pick for the championship.

Brad Keselowski

The defending Sprint Cup champion is off to a strong start, with back-to-back fourth place finishes in the first two races of the season. The Penske Racing organization switched from Dodge to Ford this season, a move Roger Penske said he did to keep his teams competitive. So far, Keselowski seems to be fairing alright.

Kevin Harvick

After finishing in the top 10 of the final standings the last three seasons, Harvick is in his last season with Richard Childress Racing. He has driven all 12 seasons of his career for RCR, but will move to Stewart-Haas Racing next season. Will he finally be able to win a championship at RCR in his last season?

Danica Patrick

Before the season, Patrick caused a media frenzy after announcing she is dating fellow driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. She then proceeded to win the pole at Daytona, and made history with her eighth-place finish. But she blew a right-front tire in Phoenix and finished 39th. Expectations are high for the former Indy driver in her rookie season, and the hype is here to stay.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR’s 10-time most popular driver went through a detox diet in the offseason to slim down and make his firesuits fit a little better. Maybe it helped, as he finished second at Daytona and fifth at Phoenix, a strong start for a driver still looking for his first championship.

Last year’s Kobalt Tools 400 champion, Tony Stewart, will look to defend his title at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 10. Television coverage will begin at 1:30 p.m. on FOX.