The time has come for some NASCAR racing! I cannot wait. It seems like forever since the checkered flag flew at Homestead to close out the 2012 season. I love this time of year. Everywhere I turn there is something about NASCAR on television. That was no different yesterday. I was channel surfing yesterday morning and came across the 1998 Daytona 500 on ESPN Classic. Because I needed NASCAR racing fix, I stopped and watched. I do not normally stop and watch previously run races, but how can a NASCAR fan not stop and watch this Daytona 500. For those who may not know, this was the one and only Daytona 500 that Dale Earnhardt Sr. ever won. Who knew in just three short years we would no longer see The Intimidator running his black #3 on the track? I still get chills when I see him take the checkered flag that day. He had won everything there was to win at Daytona, but the Daytona 500 was the one race that eluded him. But on that on that day back on February 15, he was not going to be denied. The only thing more special that day than Dale winning, was the admiration of the all guys on other teams. As Dale drove his car down pit road, everyone came out to congratulate him on his victory. It was something that has never been seen and probably won’t again. Respect…that’s what it was all about. Dale may have been labeled the Intimidator but he was one of the best around.
The Sprint Unlimited will be held tonight down in Daytona. I am pumped for this race to get started. I think it is going to be interesting to see how the race will turn out. The race is going to be very fan oriented. As mentioned before the fans have been able to choose the format of the race. The fans also get to choose what the teams must do on the mandatory pit stop after the first segment. Plus, the fans get to determine how many drivers, if any, will be eliminated at the end of segment two. Of course I think the interesting part is the fans who are attending the race will get to determine the starting grid for tonight’s race. They have three options (1)most career wins (2)2012 points and (3)poles won. I am hoping the racing will be fantastic and this fan driven race doesn’t turn out to be a bust. I think that is what I like about NASCAR. NASCAR as a whole understands they cannot have a sport without its fans. Yes, NASCAR does have high paid athletes and its share of problems, but all in all NASCAR likes to have their fans involved. NASCAR has the most loyal fan base around. Just ask anyone.
So…now back to the race. This will be the first drivers will have the chance to put the cars in race conditions. I am interested to see if the cars will be able to create that racing action we all love to see at Daytona. Will the drivers be able to bump draft? Will the cars respond better in pack driving or single file or heaven all help us two by two? I am just hoping for some great racing (and for that #14 to cross the finish line first). Of course we all know the drivers will probably take things easy throughout segments one and two. It is the third segment of 20 laps I would watch out for. Even though this isn’t a points race, drivers are competitors and well, frankly winning is everything. I want to see some last lap passes and a race to the finish. And did I mention it, I want that #14 to be the first one crossing the finish line at the checkers.
Coolest thing I saw yesterday during practice…there is a camera mounted inside the car on the passenger side. From the view of the camera, you can see what it is like when the car heads off into the 31 degree banking at Daytona. The camera stays put as the car heads off into these turns. It was wicked cool and to be frank made me a little queasy. I was also in awe of how much technology can take us into the whole experience of NASCAR. Granted I wasn’t pulling the amount of Gs the driver does when he or she enters the banking, but oh my–coolest thing ever!
Caution…climbing up on the soap box. An article coming from the Sporting News has riled me up just a little. Jimmie Johnson or 5-timer feels our newest champion Brad Keselowski needs to mature a little. Apparently Jimmie didn’t like how he handled himself after winning the championship. He took issue with the way Brad behaved on Sportscenter after the race. Blah, blah, blah. Here is my take on all of this (and remember this is my opinion and I am not a big fan of Jimmie). I like a driver who has a personality and isn’t afraid to show it to the fans. He does speak his mind and is a little brash at times, but hey why not? I am tired of these drivers who toe the line and say all the right things. Vanilla frankly is booorrriiinngg! Brad brings a young perspective to the sport. Isn’t that what it is all about these days? How are you going to grow your sport if you can’t bring in new fans, younger fans? Brad is fun! Yes, the champion does represent the sport and should act accordingly, but come on Jimmie, he just won his first NASCAR championship! Can’t the man have a little fun? And as I recall Jimmie, wasn’t there something about you and a golf cart a few years back?
One more little note…thanks to my hubby I will be able to watch tonight’s race after all. There was this little issue about DISH and the owner of our local Fox affiliate and well, FOX was blocked. This meant no racing for me. I could listen to it on Sirius NASCAR radio, but it just isn’t the same. My hubby purchased an antennae and tada…FOX television! That’s right kiddos, momma is VERY, VERY, HAPPY!!!!