I am really getting a bit tired of the ESPN / ABC broadcasts. I like Andy Petree, and Dr. Jerry Punch, but Rusty wears hard on my ears. If Dale Jarrett drives a reduced schedule next year, I'd much rather see him in the booth. The Busch races he did this year were outstanding, and all in all, I'd rather listen to him than Rusty Wallace. It's not that I don't like Rusty, but I think he was a better driver than broadcaster.
I think one of the things I'm going to enjoy the most at the beginning of 2008 is the return of Fox. I know, I know, some of you can't stand DW and Larry Mac, but I miss them. I think that what I enjoy about Fox the most is the atmosphere of fun that exudes from the broadcasts. All the folks on the Fox broadcasts seem to have fun, and for me, fun from the booth makes for a more enjoyable experience. For me, ESPN / ABC is a little too buttoned up, and there seems to be tension in the booths that does not make fans like me very comfortable sometimes. It's not easy to explain, but to me the ESPN guys make me feel more tense than I feel like I should sometimes.
As far as racing in 2008, the COT makes me nervous. I'm not sure that it's made the racing better, which seems to be Nascar's intention. I think the racing is more boring, with everyone fighting the cars more than the other drivers on the track. Maybe it will just be an adjustment period on the part of the drivers, but with the TV ratings down, Nascar has to be scratching their collective heads wondering what isn't right with this picture. Since the reign of Brian France, Nascar has made a lot of radical changes, not only changing the entire structure of the championship race, but changing the cars themselves. There has to be somewhat of a learning curve on the part of the drivers and the crew, and the better equipped teams will adapt better than those teams that aren't on top of the heap.
Hendrick Racing is a prime example. Not only did Hendrick win the first COT race at Bristol this year with Kyle Busch, They have by far excelled in winning in it since then. Other teams are still scrambling, trying to get a handle on the new car. Rick Hendrick's folks seem to be ahead of all of them. No wonder Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going to drive for Rick next year. Kyle Busch, on the other hand, will be driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, with a switch of manufacturers to Toyota to boot, so I can understand why Kyle is probably not Dale Jr.'s biggest fan these days.
I am looking forward to one aspect of the remainder of the 2007 season though. I'm wondering if Richard Childress will rue the day he agreed to a combined engine program with Dale Earnhardt Inc. Talladega was just about as bad as it could be, engine wise for both companies this past week. Martin Truex Jr, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, and Clint Bowyer are all in the Chase, and all had engine problems at Talladega. DEI has somehow gone from the king of plate programs to DNF's in nearly all of them lately. Oh how we all miss Dale Earnhardt. I doubt DEI would be such a mediocre shop if he were still alive.
The biggest early stories in 2008 will of course be the drivers that changed rides in the off season. That's a lot of stories, but none will be bigger than that of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Jr. finally will have the best equipment, and hopefully the best people surrounding him. Dale Jr. will have to step up and win races in 2008 and be a major contender for the championship, if he wants to shut up his detractors once and for all. A lot of people say the boy can't drive, but I say they're full of it. 17 wins, and 2 Busch championships don't just happen by accident.
The boy can drive. Maybe now he can just be the driver and do his job in equipment that is worthy of his skills.