With a little over a week till the green flag drops on the 2010 NASCAR season, Rusty has emerged from his winter slumber to pontificate on the goings on and what's in store for the coming year. I've also emerged to shovel the nearly 2 feet of snow on the back deck! Tonight we'll get our first taste of racing this year with the preseason Bud Shootout. Even though the rumblings of NASCAR don't make national headlines, there are big changes already in store for stock car enthusiasts this year. So, without further adieu, let's begin to fill your heads with the ramblings of a true wanna-be redneck.
One of the biggest changes for this coming year is the addition of a pretty face. After having a bit of a mediocre career in IRL (let's be honest, she's only had 1 win in 5 seasons), racing's #1 sex symbol is coming to stock car. Danica's now going to really show what she's got behind the wheel of JR Motorsports #7 Chevrolet, owned by none other than Dale Earnhardt Jr. In her first year in NASCAR, Danica's only going to be running 13 races in the Nationwide series, but she'll be sure to turn the heads of a few beered up infield hooligans . . . including yours truly.
But, speaking of Junior . . . mark my words, Dale Jr will go winless again in 2010. Until NASCAR shortens the race or goes back to the old system, NASCAR's most popular driver is going to continue to struggle 'closing the deal'. Coffee and trophies go to closers, sorry June bug. Junior's got the talent and equipment, but for whatever reason, he's not found his groove or been able to keep up with the changes to the sport. A few years back in a different points system with the older car, I think he could have really been a perennial championship contender. Regardless, the stands will still be filled with more 88 fans at Daytona and Talladega this year than anything.
Chad Knaus gets jealous of Jimmie's new found fame and the 48 team finally shows they are human.
Over the last four years, Chad, Jimmie, and the 48 team have been heads above the rest of the competition. Watching the other 42 drivers try to compete against the 48 was like watching an arthritic one legged dog try to win a butt kicking contest. You rooted for that old mutt, but you just knew it wasn't going to happen. Well, this year the one legged dog's going to win. It took four years, but I think Jimmie's hit his peak. Even people outside of NASCAR are recognizing the soften spoken clean cut guy from California.
JJ wins AP's Man of the Year. This means he's only got one way to go, down. He won't slip far and he'll finish in the Top 5 in points, but no 5-peat for Jimmie.
That ugly wing stuck on the back of an otherwise sweet looking race car is going the way of the dodo.
Since going to the COT, fans and drivers alike have fussed about the tricked out looking rear wing on the back of the new race car. It's made the cars more squirrelly and thus, according to some people, made for less passing. So, the big boys up in the tower listened. NASCAR is working with a few teams next month to test a spoiler similar to the one used on the old car. The goal is to get a little more downforce on the cars and hopefully make for better racing. Rusty thinks this is a great idea, but we'll have to wait and see how it transpires.
Unlike previous years, I'm not going to be making any wild predictions on who's going to win the title. I think there are several strong contenders, including Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart. Carl's been close several times, and if it wasn't for the 48 team would have at least 1 title already if not two. Since I'm thinking the 48 isn't going to win it this year, I could easily see the 99 taking the crown. Don't count out Tony though. Stewart had an amazing year last year with his upstart race team. Many people thought he would struggle including yours truly, but he proved us all wrong. If he can avoid a sophomore slump of sorts, he should be at the front and challenging for his third career championship come November.
Last year was a good year, but this year's going to be great (as long as you aren't a Junior fan). So, stock the fridge, get some bean dip, and let's get ready for another season of the world's best stock car racing series.