After the 2009 season, what do you think of your favorite driver? If he happened to be Jimmie Johnson, you probably couldn’t hope for a better season for 2010, except to wonder if JJ can keep the streak up for a fifth season. If you happen to be a Jeff Gordon fan, what do you think about his chances of one upping his teammate and winning the fifth championship he’s been trying to win since 2001?
What about Mark Martin, the man who’s come so close but never been able to seal the deal? What about Kyle Busch, the man who starts so strong, but finishes out of the running?
What about Dale Earnhardt Jr, the man who keeps falling short of the media’s expectations? Will this be the year that Junior wins some races and seriously contends for that first Sprint Cup championship?
What do you think about the state of NASCAR in general? Has Jimmie Johnson’s four consecutive championships turned fans off from the sport? Has NASCAR become too predictable? Can Brian France, Mike Helton and company find ways to put more posteriors in seats in 2010? Can the TV networks recover from ratings losses experienced in 2009? What do you think? After all, your opinion is every bit, if not more valid than mine. I’d love to hear from you!
I’m having mixed feelings about what has been probably been the hottest off season topic in NASCAR, and that, of course, is the addition of the feisty lady of IRL into NASCAR’s ranks, namely in Nationwide and ARCA for 2010. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about Danica Patrick.
Personally, I like Danica Patrick. Of course, I’m a relatively healthy male in my mid 40’s, who appreciates not only a nice looking lady, but even more a woman who has the intestinal fortitude to drive some of the toughest rides around. I think that Danica will be good for NASCAR, and personally, I’m hoping she sticks around for the long run. I’d love to see Danica Patrick in Cup, eventually, because whether or not she succeeds as a stock car driver, she will have an impact on the sport. Danica will keep the media and the fans buzzing, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m hoping that Danica will take some of the heat off the never ending media blitz that seems to constantly surround her Nationwide team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. I believe that Dale Jr. might be able to concentrate on his own job as a driver more if someone else was getting all the interviews for a change.
In this never ending experiment called television broadcasting of NASCAR events, what big changes, if any, will we see in 2010? We already know of one big change at ESPN, with Dr. Jerry Punch being replaced as the play by play man in the booth by Ralph Sheheen, and for me, that’s a very positive move. Jerry Punch’s abilities to develop stories and interviews in the garage and on pit road are legendary, and I feel that Jerry Punch will be much better utilized in that role than he has been in the booth. Ralph, Dale Jarrett, and Andy Petree will be a strong team that will hopefully be able to convey the magic that is a NASCAR race to the viewers.
More than anything else, I hope 2010 is a safe year, not only for the drivers, but also the crews, the officials, and especially the fans. Race weekends can be and should be celebrations, and I hope all of you who are reading this will attend at least one racing event this season, or at least have an opportunity to do so. Going to a racing event weekend does not mean that fans have to get falling down drunk though. Unfortunately, that is one of the stereotypes that often make the highlight reel on racing weekends, and I know you all know what I’m talking about. A fan at Infineon jumps a fence and asks Matt Kenseth for an autograph under a red flag condition on the track. A fan is escorted out of Talladega for throwing beer cans over the fence. You get my drift. Have fun, folks, but don’t do anything that’s going to embarrass your grandchildren when they’re watching ESPN 50 years from now!
The 2010 season is nearly upon us, and personally, I can’t wait! I say that every year, but I’m really needing that dose of high octane, heart pounding moment when the engines fire up, and the cars go around the track.