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CUP: Five Facing Challenges

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Every new Sprint Cup season finds some drivers and teams in new situations. Drivers hop from one shop to another, crew chiefs move for bigger things and better money, team owners swap sponsors and trade one car for another.

It can be a dizzying carousel.

Five drivers find themselves in challenging situations this year because of changes of one sort or another:

1. BRAD KESELOWSKI – The champ? Challenged? Yes. Most expect Penske Racing’s switch from Dodge to Ford to go smoothly, but it won’t be as simple as exchanging one jacket for another. When the technical stuff gets tight, there could be some growing pains.

2. MATT KENSETH – For virtually all of his career, Kenseth has known only the ways and means of Roush Fenway Racing. Now he makes a 90-degree turn to Joe Gibbs Racing, where the culture differs and where Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are established figures.

3. KEVIN HARVICK – Harvick will work from the same address this year but under quite different circumstances. He’ll be in a lame-duck year at Richard Childress Racing, and that concept carries all manner of potential pitfalls. It could go smoothly. It could be a train wreck. The early months should tell all.

4. JOEY LOGANO – “Sliced Bread” hasn’t met his promise, but he’s still very young. He’ll be expected to take a leap forward this year with the move to Penske Racing.

5. KURT BUSCH – Ah, it seems that Busch is always in a position of challenge. This year will be no different. He looked good in a short run with Furniture Row Racing at the end of last season. Now begins the long haul for one of racing’s most volatile drivers.

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.