If you live in Chicago, you got probably a lot of snow today, and if you live in Tennessee, you have been dealing with violent storms, and my prayers go out to all of you that have had a rough time with the weather this week. At last count, 55 dead in the tornadoes that swept the Southeast this week. My prayers for the people involved in all this terrible business.
But I'm so happy that February is finally here, that I'm beside myself with excitement. It is now very early Thursday morning here in South Carolina, and I'm going to get to see live Cup racing on Saturday night, Lord willing.
The Bud Shootout at Daytona is one of my favorite races of the year, because even though it's a non-points race, we actually get to see them running to the checkers for the first time. For a fan like me, it's the end of an excruciating long period of inactivity, at least racing wise.
The off season has been anything but boring, as usual to the average Nascar fan. Drivers chanced teams, teams changed manufacturers, and crew personnel changed on probably virtually every team out there. Some owners and drivers are raring to go, confident in their belief that they will go all the way this year. Others wonder how they will keep their heads above water at all. Many teams are still searching endlessly for sponsors, and praying that they can meet the payroll the week after the Daytona 500. Such is racing, and always has been.
I'm not much of one for making predictions, and at this point it would be foolish to make a prediction about who the eventual champion might be. I will hazard one guess though: The winner will be on a well financed team.
I worry about some of the small teams in Nascar. In a way, much has never changed. They used to call the drivers that drive for lower tier teams "stokers". I haven't heard that word lately. A stroker was a guy that ran races, as many as he could afford to, but knew he never had a real chance of winning. If he got a top 10 finish, he was pretty happy. For instance, back in the 1970's there was an owner/driver out there who not only drove the race car, but he also built it, fixed it when he crashed it, and drove the pickup truck that hauled it to the track every weekend. He wasn't the only guy in that situation. Most of these guys either hooked up with teams with more money and resources, or they quit. This one didn't really fit that bill. He eventually hooked up with a hot driver, and got out of the car and just became an owner. He now has one of the better operations in Nascar. Yeah, you guessed it. I'm speaking no other than Richard Childress, and when he stepped out the car, and Dale Earnhardt got in it, the rest is history, as they say.
I wonder about people like John Carter. Who is John Carter, you ask? John Carter owns a garbage disposal business in Toccoa, Georgia. He is also the part owner of a Sprint Cup racing team. In 2005, his driver, Kevin Lepage finished 9th in the Daytona 500. Kevin was obviously a stroker in that race, no one probably expected him to finish the race, much less place in the top 10. $307,138 dollars was awarded that year for his efforts. This year, John Carter will attempt another Daytona 500 entry, with Eric McClure as the driver. I'm pulling for him to make the race, because I'd love to see a long shot get a chance again.
Most of all, I'm just ready for the beginning of Speed Weeks again. I'm just ready to shake off the winter doldrums and hear the sound of the engines, smell the exhaust of hi-octane racing fuel, and basically just get it all rolling again!