Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Onward and Upward in 2017!

                                                  Image result for the future

Some people don't like the present and dread the future. They yearn for things to be the way they used to be. Personally, I think they see the past through rose-colored glasses. There is no fantasy America where every family was like Father Knows Best. And the Golden Era of NASCAR (whenever you think that was), was no more golden than it is now.

I think NASCAR does its best to please its fans, its owners and its sponsors but, of course, it is impossible to please everyone. A fan has only two options, really. They can love the sport as it is or they can go find something they like better. Staying doesn't preclude bitching, that's is our constitutional right as fans. But the nonsense we read after practically every race about leaving NASCAR forever. Well, either put up or shut up and don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

We were talking about this subject on NASCAR Nation this week. The very things I like (the Chase), others hated. The very things I don't like (the elimination part of the Chase) others thought were exciting. The group of us who were talking agreed on almost nothing, so there you go.

Of course, some things never change. Mr. Hendrick at the front table of the banquet is a sight we're used to seeing. Junior being the Most Popular Driver is another. But some things do inevitably change. Not following two of our greats, Jeff and Smoke, on the track is one big change.

So, what will the future bring to NASCAR in 2017? Well, we know the Sprint Cup Series will now be the Monster (Energy Drink) series. I don't drink any energy drink but I might have to buy a Monster now and then, even if I just pour it down the sink. The company has thrown in with NASCAR in a big way and that is thanks in no small part to Kyle Busch. They've gone from sponsoring a single Xfinity car to becoming the premiere series sponsor. That suggests they have great faith in the sport and what it will do for their brand.

It will be interesting to see what the new championship trophy will look like. Jimmie has to win his 8th championship now just so he can say he's won trophies under two different sponsors.

We know that Jack Roush will only field two cars in 2017. And didn't we all sort of see this coming? Roush fell on hard times a few years ago and just hasn't been able to pull themselves out of their slump. Sad to see. We know it's not for lack of trying on Jack's part. Biffle will be gone from the team. I don't know if he will land a spot or not. I've heard rumors but nothing for sure.

He might find a team to take him on for a few more years but face it, the future is beginning to look more and more like it will belong to the kids - Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman - they are already competitive in Cup and I expect them all to win races next year. And there are several more coming up through the ranks of the Truck Series and Xfinity. I won't try to name them all because I don't want to leave anyone out but any older driver who isn't looking over his shoulder, isn't facing reality.

Another rumor I've heard is that Dodge may be coming back to NASCAR and oh, I so hope they do. Their cars are beautiful and it would be great to have three American manufacturer's in the sport again.

 It will be curious to see Clint Bowyer at Stewart-Haas in 2017. He sort of fell off the radar screen in 2016, which shows you how important it is to be part of a competitive team. He will be with one of the powerhouses next year. They made a seamless transition when Tony came on board and won championships early on. It will be fun to see if they can do the same when they give up Hendricks' engines and chassis and switch to Ford.

There hasn't been as much Silly Season talk as there is some years....just minor changes around the edges. Most drivers and crew chiefs seem to be staying put although we may have some surprises in store.