Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Ramble - Daytona Edition

Racing is back!!! So far the 2010 NASCAR season has had a few surprises. The biggest of which was that something as inauspicious as a pothole interrupted the sport’s biggest event not just once, but twice. Then a car that hadn’t even lead a lap all race long pushed to the front and managed to stay there. Jamie McMurray had a strong car and has shown promise at restrictor plate tracks, but he is not who I expected to pull into Victory Lane at the end of the day.

However good or bad your driver’s day was at Daytona, I doubt there is a fan out there that wasn’t glad to see cars on the track again. When the off-season starts, it is kind of nice to have the break from racing. But by the time January rolls around, I’m ready for the cars to fire up again.

With the Daytona 500 now over though, the real 2010 season is getting ready to begin. In the grand scheme of the 36 race schedule, the true racing will begin at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. That track typifies what the competitors will face this year. And while none of these ovals are exactly alike, how well the teams run this weekend will give us an idea of what the season has in store for them.

Last year we saw teams struggle the minute they left Daytona and spend all season trying to find out where they had gone wrong. So now we are getting ready to find out which organizations will face an uphill battle in the 2010 season. Or will there be any teams that start out the year on the wrong foot?

Roush Fenway is confident that they have improved their program, and even brought six additional engineers into their fold. RPM is likewise confident that their chassis knowledge combined with the horsepower of Roush-Yates engines will be the key to success. And the Childress teams showed at the end of 2009 that they already had their ship turning in the right direction.

So which teams are going to falter? Hendrick? Doubtful. Gibbs? Pretty unlikely. Stewart-Haas? I don’t think so. Penske? Ganassi? Michael Waltrip Racing? Red Bull Racing? It truly could be anybody, and we will find out over the next five or six races just who it is. Of course my hope is that none of them will struggle. Wouldn’t it be great to see one of the most competitive fields in recent history?

I think this year could be the one where we see some true parity in the sport of NASCAR again. I think Hendrick, SHR, and Gibbs will certainly be in Victory Lane at some point, but I think that Childress, RPM, Ganassi, Penske, Roush, MWR, and Red Bull all have equally good shots at taking the checkered flag on any given race day. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, but wouldn’t it be wonderful?

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