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NASCAR's week of "excitement" in January will feature plenty of optimistic drivers and crew chiefs and even team owners.

The annual NASCAR Media Tour, hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, will feature several race teams meeting with the media to preview the 2013 season this week. Some will have big announcements to make, others will just have their obligatory driver interview sessions.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of several NASCAR stars who will meet the media this week. (AP Photo)

Everyone has a chance to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Everyone has a chance to win races and have a better year in 2013 than they did in 2012.

Here are 10 things to watch for and questions that actually might be answered this week.

1. How is the world of Danica?

After a year during which she struggled on the racetrack, was slightly unsure of her status in future Super Bowl commercials and also began going through a divorce, 2012 was a roller coaster year for Danica Patrick.

And yet she seemed pretty happy, enjoying life in the NASCAR world and confident that this is where she is supposed to be racing.

She will face questions this week about how she will put 2012 behind her and about her approach to 2013, her first full-time Cup season.

It is in these settings that Patrick typically shines. She is used to answering probing questions. She will be asked about whether she's ready to go Cup racing and how in the world she is going to compete in Cup when she struggled to finish in the top-10 in Nationwide races.

She will be asked about her status as a female driver and what being a woman has meant to her career.

She likely won't get flustered and likely won't drop any big bombshells. But it's the world of Danica, and her crossover and international appeal - news of her divorce was covered in London newspapers - will have people hanging on her every word.

2. How is the Harvick-RCR relationship?

With Kevin Harvick expected to move to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, two questions remain:

When is he going to officially announce the move?

When will he and Richard Childress butt heads and have a big shouting match?

Harvick swears that he has learned from the past and will conduct himself professionally. The proof will start with the media tour.

Harvick and all the RCR teams struggled in 2012. The real test will be whether Harvick can keep from getting frustrated and whether he can handle adversity without he and Childress pointing fingers and claiming the other is giving up.

3. How will Kurt Busch fare in his first big appearance with his new team?

Kurt Busch will make his first major media appearance since his first week at Furniture Row Racing last year. His problems with the media are well documented, but don't expect anything too outlandish from Busch.

In the typically relaxed setting of these sessions, Busch typically is at ease and quite personable.

This season is critical to his career. With some rides opening up for 2014, Busch can parlay this into a ride with an elite team if he runs well and stays out of trouble. Or if he feels comfortable with Furniture Row and makes the team a Chase contender, they might reward him with a big contract and he will have found a new home.

4. Will Earnhardt Jr. be fully sponsored in 2013?

Dale Earnhardt Jr still has about a dozen races left to be sponsored in 2013 as the National Guard will sponsor 20 races and Pepsi (through Diet Mt. Dew and Amp) will sponsor five.

While there is no threat that Earnhardt won't run if sponsorship isn't found, it obviously would be startling for him to have a plain white car or one with team owner Rick Hendrick's "hendrickcars.com" aboard for some races.

It's not that Earnhardt can't get sponsorship. It's that sponsorship has always come at a high price for Earnhardt. So don't be alarmed if no sponsor is announced. It will be just another sign that no matter the popularity of an athlete, the dollars just aren't what they used to be in this sport.

5. What will Kyle Busch's schedule look like?

Busch is expected to announce he has signed a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing.

But JGR also will announce its Nationwide Series plans and how many races he could run in that series as well as his plans for his own Nationwide and Truck Series teams.

Busch cut back on his Nationwide and truck races last year and had one of his worst seasons.

His failure to make the Chase in 2012 will be a topic, and he talked about how running fewer races didn't seem to help him.

He'll get to talk happily about his 2013 schedule and how he will be back in a more comfortable pace of races rather than just worrying about his Cup car on a weekend. And he won't have to worry about questions on his future at JGR, which is now secure.

6. What will new champion Brad Keselowski have to say?

Give 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski a microphone and you never know what's going to happen.

He will have stock answers for whether he can repeat as champion but at the media tour, he will be asked his opinion on several topics.

The typically engaging Keselowski will have at least 30 minutes of having to toe the line between offering his honest, outspoken opinions and NASCAR's view of what could be denigrating to the sport.

Here's hoping that maybe he'll have some of his sponsor's product (Miller Lite) before his one-on-one interviews commence.

7. Will Dillon race the No. 3 in Cup?

Austin Dillon is driving the No. 33 car at Daytona, but couldn't that easily turn into a 3 for some of his other Cup races? Probably not. If Childress is going to bring back Dale Earnhardt's famous number, he'd like to do it for the full season.

Dillon will run the full Nationwide schedule again while running select Cup races before moving to Sprint Cup full-time in 2014.

But Childress no doubt will be asked about the No. 3. And whatever his answer, it will be news. Expect him to say that he's leaning toward bringing it back, like he has the last few times he has been asked about it.

That's what he said last November and it's doubtful anything this winter has changed his mind.

8. What about the future of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing?

The team is expected to announce additional sponsorship for the organization, including a deal for Jamie McMurray.

It also could detail plans for development driver Kyle Larson, who is considered one of the top young prospects. The 2012 K&N Pro Series East champion, who battled for the lead for several laps at the Chili Bowl last week, could run a full Nationwide season in 2013.

A year ago, team owner Chip Ganassi said his team had a "pathetic" 2011. He can't be much happier this year and if there is a team with its back is against the wall, this would be it.

9. What is the format for the Sprint Unlimited?

Sprint will announce the format for the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona Monday and it is expected to include fans voting on such things as whether there will be pit stops and whether drivers should be eliminated throughout the race.

The race will be 75 laps but apparently a 75-lap race isn't enough for the preseason exhibition event.

Will the field be inverted at some point? Will there be a final segment like the Sprint All-Star Race?

Sprint already has ruffled the feathers of some by turning the name of what was known as the Budweiser Shootout into something totally marketing oriented - it is trying to promote that it offers unlimited phone plans.

This is a slippery slope. Sprint might view this as a marketing platform but fans don't want too many gimmicks, especially ones that make the race look too much like the all-star race.

10. Will NASCAR announce Eldora format?

In recent years, NASCAR has used the media tour to announce its new points system and its diversity drivers.

It already has announced its diversity drivers for this year and is happy with its points system.

Expect NASCAR to continue the promotion of its 2013 Cup car, which it has dubbed the "Gen-6" in hopes that it sounds better than the "car of tomorrow" or COT.

Some of the talk at the NASCAR stop will center on television negotiations and the status of TNT and ESPN for 2015 and beyond. Is NBC a player and trying to get part of the NASCAR deal?

NASCAR also might answer questions about the dirt-track truck race at Eldora as far as the format. Without a pit road and an expected field of 30 instead of 36, NASCAR needs to get the news out on how it plans to conduct the dirt event.

January 21, 2013  01:34 PM ET

Danica: This is her year to sink or swim....wait and see on that one.

Harvick & RCR: I think we might get some entertaining situations with those two, especially if Harvick does not do well again this year.

Kurt Busch: I never worry about him. He always seems to land on his feet somehow.

Jr & sponsoship: Jr will be fine no matter what. Sponsor deals are always "in the works" for the top notch drivers, so he will get something to fill the gaps.

Brad K really has the pressure on him now.......but I expect him to end up in the top 5 again, but not expecting him to take it this year.......but he will be close.

January 21, 2013  01:39 PM ET

Kyle B : he will probably go back to racing as many races in all series as he can......that seems to add to his Cup results.

Dillon, RCR, #3: I expect to see that happen in 2014. And I am ok with that.....Jr having that number would destroy him....he wants his own legacy, and not one handed down by his amazing dad.

EGR: they keep bailing themselves out, then struggle, then bail out again....I think the HMS engines will give them an excellent chance to finish better this year......if that does not happen, they should pack it in.

Sprint Unlimited & Eldora: have tp wait and see what they announce.....will watch them regardless of any changes.

This is a good blog........Lots to think about........Thx.

 
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