Can you believe it? The start of the 2012 NASCAR season is almost here! It seems as if it was only yesterday when Tony Stewart edged Carl Edwards for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in Homestead to cap off one of the most exciting title chases in NASCAR history.  

Now, it’s almost time to get the season going again, and if you are anything like us, it’s a very exciting time! There is a feeling of high energy and optimism in the air as everyone looks toward the start of the schedule with great anticipation of what they hope to see happen between now and November.

With each season also comes the arrival of questions for most every team in the NASCAR garage.  

What exactly will happen this season? Well, we’ve picked the brain of Atlanta Motor Speedway President and General Manager Ed Clark, a veteran of the motorsports industry.

Here are five fearless predictions from the AMS President for the 2012 season!

Wins in 2012 will matter even more than they did last season

“Wins mattered a lot in 2011, but they will matter even more in 2012. Consistency was the norm for so long but the whole paradigm has changed to where you have got to run for the win. Because wins are going to mean so much and based on last year’s results, you’ve got to run for the win instead of just a decent finish. It’s more and more become the norm and that’s something that’s going to be a huge interest to fans because that’s what they wanted to see all along.”

Dodge will contend for its first Sprint Cup Championship in several years with Brad Keselowski

“You are going to see a Dodge as a contender for the Sprint Cup Championship right to the very end with Brad Keselowski. Keselowski is going to have a multiple win season again. I think he’s got the stuff to be a two-time or three-time champion. He is destined for a big-time year. I think to do what he did in his second year was remarkable. Dale Earnhardt was a rookie in 1979 and won the championship in his second year. Good drivers don’t take long to get to the top.”

Speaking of championships, Carl Edwards will finally claim his first Sprint Cup title in 2012

“Carl Edwards is already one of the most determined guys to ever drive a car in NASCAR.  You know he’s thinking about the end to 2011 every waking moment. He won’t forget what happened last year and he won’t let that happen again. You don’t want to be in his way because he’s going to the front.”

As a top-ranked Googled athlete, Danica Patrick will bring a new wave of media interest to the sport

“Aside from bringing new media attention to NASCAR, Danica Patrick is going to have some competitive runs. She’s going to surprise a lot of people with some good runs. She’s going to be in good equipment and she’s going to be working with good people, including Tony Stewart and crew chief Greg Zipadelli.”

Michael Waltrip Racing will win multiple races

“Michael Waltrip Racing has every opportunity, with the new driver and crew lineups, to win races and compete at the front of the field on a regular basis. Many people may be questioning Clint Bowyer’s decision to move to the No. 15 car, but he could be a dark-horse Chase contender.”