WDBJ7 has a crew headed to Charlotte this week for the NASCAR Media Tour. Here’s some storylines that we’ll be following this week.

Austin Dillon

Just how good can he be? The 2013 Nationwide Series champion is moving up to the Sprint Cup series in 2014. And he’s doing so in big-time fashion. Dillon, 23, will drive the No. 3 car for his grandfather, Richard Childress Racing. The No. 3 car, of course, has not run since the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001. Dillon will certainly garner a lot of attention.

Chase changes

The Charlotte Observer reported earlier this month that major changes could be coming to the Chase. Click here to read the story: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/01/17/4620805/nascar-to-overhaul-points-chase.html#.UuXj1RAo7IU

I wouldn’t be surprised if the changes were officially announced this week.

The reported changes include expanding the Chase field from 12 to 16 drivers, and having elimination rounds after the third, sixth, and ninth races of the Chase, ending with a winner-take-all race at Miami. According to the report, a win in the first 26 races would all but ensure a spot in the chase.

Stay tuned.

Jimmie Johnson

If the Chase changes come to fruition, how will they affect Johnson’s pursuit for a seventh championship? The defending champ is also looking to win a second consecutive Daytona 500. Whether changes are made to the Chase or not, Johnson is still the favorite to win this year’s title.

Tony Stewart

Will he be able to race in time for Daytona? That’s a huge question after he suffered a broken leg in a sprint car accident last year. Mark Martin took Stewart’s place during testing earlier this month at NASCAR Preseason Thunder.

If that weren’t an interesting enough headline for Stewart-Haas, Kevin Harvick replaces Ryan Newman and 2004 champ Kurt Busch joins the team as its fourth member.

And then there is Danica Patrick. She’ll be back with the same crew chief, Tony Gibson. Is this the year Danica makes the next step?

Danica (No. 10) is also the only Stewart-Haas driver without the number four on the side of the car (Stewart-14; Harvick-4; Busch-41).

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

It’s hard to mention Danica without mentioning her boyfriend. Stenhouse was named the 2013 NASCAR Rookie of the Year after a 19th-place finish in the standings. Stenhouse looks to avoid a sophomore slump.

Kyle Larson

Right now, he may be best known for that violent wreck last year at Daytona. But along with Dillon, the Chip Ganassi driver is a top contender for this year’s rookie of the year award.

Trevor Bayne

In November, Bayne announced that he has multiple sclerosis. The Wood Brothers driver will be asked plenty of questions this about how he will be able to cope with the disease and the rigors of the NASCAR schedule.

Kurt Busch

In an ESPN story reported earlier this month, Busch said he’d have a pretty good indication by the end of the month whether or not he’d drive in the Indy 500. Will he announce a decision this week?


Familiar faces, new places