Sunday, January 12, 2014

Come On, February!

                                                           


Okay, I watched Daytona testing off and on for hours. Most of the cars confined themselves to single car runs so it was pretty boring unless you were just so desperate to see racecars on the track after the long off-season, that you'd watch anything. I was happy to hear the voices of the old familiar Fox crew. It felt a little like coming home.

Judging by the Sprint Cup stats, Richard Childress Racing is coming out of the box hitting all cylinders. Hard to say for sure though since there was very little drafting and different teams may have had different agendas. Still I was happy to see Jimmie and Danica up there near the front. And it was fun to see both Rusty Wallace and Bill Elliott behind the wheel again. 

In Nationwide, it was Junior Motorsports that dominated the top three spots in speed with Chase Elliott taking the lead. Again, as with RCR in Sprint Cup, we'll see if that holds up when actual racing starts. 

It seems that this year might be an especially interesting one. Granted, I came to NASCAR late in life but, at least in my time, I don't remember a year with quite so many shake-ups - new teams, new owners, new drivers, new crew chiefs, new rules, a little tweaking of the cars. And NASCAR has indicated that there will be a different way of qualifying, at least in the Truck and Nationwide series. We don't know yet if that will also include Cup.

So, there will be a lot of suspense in 2014. A great rookie field in all series, the first in a while for Cup. How ready to compete will Tony Stewart be? How will the fiery personalities of the whole SHR group meld? Will Steve LeTarte leaving Hendrick for a television slot in 2015 be a motivator for the 88 bunch? When will we find out who Junior's new crew chief will be? If Ron Malec (the 48's car chief) ever wants to make the jump to crew chief, this would seem the perfect opportunity. Will Brian Vickers remain healthy? We now know that NAPA is back in NASCAR. Hopefully, their pairing with Junior Motorsports, Hendrick and Chase Elliott will be a satisfying one for all concerned. Will Matt Kenseth suffer from the Coming-In-Second-in-the-Championship blues? Will Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing rebound from the hangover of the Richmond fiasco? 

We have a few more weeks to slog through before the cars come to the track for actual racing. All I can say is: come on February!