Well, I survived my first non-NASCAR weekend of this off season. I hope everyone had lots of food, family, and football. The 2006 NASCAR season was definitely one that left everyone talking and going WTF. So here are some highlights from the 2006 season some good, some not so good.
1. Jimmie Johnson wins his first NEXTEL Cup Championship.
2. Kevin Harvick dominiates the Busch Series walking away with 9 wins and the Busch Championship.
3. Todd Bodine wins the Craftsman Truck Series in a Toyota Tundra.
4. Tony Stewart, 2005 Cup champion fails to make the Chase and finishes 11th. Tony wins 5 races, two of which are The Chase.
5. Denny Hamilin in his full cup season wins the Bud Shootout, sweeps Pocono, qualifies for The Chase, and finishes 3rd in the final standings. This is the highest a rookie has finished since his teammate finished 4th in his rookie season
6. Richard Childress Racing drivers Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton qualify for The Chase for the first time.
7. Kasey Kahne wins six races this year (sweeping Lowe’s) and makes his first Chase appearance.
8. Jimmie Johnson wins both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400.
9. Both Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. return to The Chase after missing the 2005 Chase.
10. Brian Vickers gets his first Cup win at Talladega.
11. Jeremy Mayfield is fired from Evernham Motorsports.
12. Toyota will begin fileding teams in the Cup Series.
13. Terry LaBonte raced his final race at Texas Motor Speedway.
14. Mark Martin ended his 19 year relationship with Roush Racing.
15. Ward Burton makes a return to Cup racing after a 2-year abscence.
16. Tony Stewart wins his first IROC Championship. In the process winning two of the four races (Texas, road race Daytona).
17. Chad Knaus is suspended for the first four races of the 2006 season.
18. Toyota finishes 1-6 in the Truck Series while eight Cup regulars finish in the top 10 in the Busch Series.
19. Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch 2005 Chasers fail to make the 2006 Chase.
20. ESPN and ABC will begin covering NASCAR beginnning 2007 taking over for NBC. Fox, FX, TNT, and Speed will still cover NASCAR events as well.
There are going to be some driver changes next year and some of which began in 2006.
1. Elliott Sadler leaves the #38 and takes over the #19.
2. David Gilliland takes over the #38 for Robert Yates Racing
3. Dale Jarrett leaves the #88 to drive for Michael Waltrip and Toyota beginning in 2007.
4. Brian Vickers leaves the #25 to drive for Red Bull Racing and Toyota. Casey Mears will begin his tenure with HMS in the #25
5. Juan Pablo Montoya takes over the #42 from Casey Mears.
6. Mark Martin will drive the #01 for Ginn Racing and will share part time duties with Regan Smith. Joe Nemechek will move over to the #13.
7. David Ragan will take over the #6 from Mark Martin.
8. Jeremy Mayfield will return to Cup racing in the #36 with Bill Davis Racing.
I know there have been lots of other things that have happened over the 2006 season. If this is any indication of the 2007 season, we are definitely in for a bumpy ride.