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Fan’s View: 2012 NASCAR Preview – ‘The Little Guys’
The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season proved to be an impressive year for a number of smaller teams, from Trevor Bayne's win at the Daytona 500 with Wood Brothers Racing to Regan Smith's Southern 500 win for Furniture Row Racing to Dave Blaney's third-place finish at Talladega in October for Tommy Baldwin Racing. Where do these teams stand in 2012?
Wood Brothers Racing - Bayne returns for another part-time schedule in 2012 with Motorcraft and Quick Lane sponsorship on the #21 for a dozen races. The winner of the team's fifth Daytona 500, Bayne had a rocky season following his dream win at Daytona, from bad luck to a bug bite (he was treated for Lyme Disease), but returned to victory lane at Texas in the Nationwide Series in November. Bayne will also run a part-time schedule in the Nationwide Series for Roush Fenway Racing.
Furniture Row Racing - Smith returns to Furniture Row Racing after a breakout year in 2011. Smith has continuously improved each season he has run full-time in the Cup Series, and in 2011 earned the first top 10, first top five and first win of his career, ending the season with five top 10s and 26th-place in points. That first win came at Darlington Raceway in the historic Southern 500, as Smith held off Carl Edwards for the win.
Tommy Baldwin Racing - the team with the most upheaval in the off-season was that of Baldwin, as the team entered an agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing to guarantee Danica Patrick a spot in the 2012 Daytona 500. The agreement included the use of the #36 car's points from 2011, meaning that Blaney will have to race his way into the Daytona 500. Blaney has a new crew chief for 2012, as veteran crew chief Ryan Pemberton joins the crew. In the 10 races Patrick isn't running, David Reutimann will be behind the wheel of the #10. Baldwin also added a part-time Nationwide Series team to his ventures, with Blaney's son Ryan in the #36 for six races; Ryan Truex will race the car in the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona, while Modified racer Bobby Santos will race at Daytona in July.
Paula is a long-time NASCAR fan who also covers the sport at Skirts & Scuffs and Examiner.com.
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