Some opinions and thoughts of mine going into the 2010 season. I will probably have more next week unless some big news story comes up...
- This is a do or die year for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
I would of thought originally that his first year at Hendrick would of been a do or die year, but this is the year. If he can't even be competitive, and make the chase, he will eventually be looked at like a Kyle Petty. Someone who has talent, but something had just happened that he didn't realize his full potential or just some odd reason where he was held back. Yes, Rick Hendrick has historically had that "Red Headed Stepchild Car", as I always liked to call it, but having a super-lineup of him, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson, you would think that there would be no room for that type of car.
- NASCAR's "unleashing" of the drivers will be fun to see
Yes, around this time last year, NASCAR said that it was time for the drivers to express themselves more, and don't be afraid to speak out, but hardly anyone did, or if they did, NASCAR seemed to reneged in on their deal to let the drivers express themselves more. Yes, things are different now, NASCAR is losing fans, losing sponsorships, and needs something, anything to get attention. I hope Brian France and Mike Helton realize that, yes, some sponsors might want a clean driver, but most sponsors dont mind if their driver has a little fire to them, and willing to start something with another driver if necessary.
- Drive for 5
My championship prediction for 2010, is Jimmie Johnson wins his 5th in a row. Yes, I realize that Jimmie has to eventually be knocked off, but right now, no one, that I can see, is either willing to challenge him, or can get enough of a challenge against him. Right now, if I am a team owner of a car that could compete against Jimmie, I tell my driver to compete, and if I see any quit, there will be hell to pay. Jimmies run of 4 in a row is amazing, but it would be more so if it didn't seem if some of these drivers would just feel resigned to the thought of "The 48 won another championship, lets run for runner up".
- Red Bull will surprise even more
We saw it last year with Brian Vickers getting the 83 into the chase. I feel, unless the slump Vickers was in during the chase extends into this season, the team should only do better. Vickers had the talent, everybody should know that, its just when you are stuck in Hendrick's "Red Headed Stepchild Car", it just hurts any driver, be it Ken Schrader, Ricky Craven, Dale Jr. (?) or anybody else. Scott Speed when he was racing the few ACRA and Truck races he entered in last season, seemed to get the hang of driving full bodied race cars after training all his life for open wheelers, and I think with having a full year of experience in the Cup Series, should, as long as he can qualify, be able to become at least a decent driver. That team also has the money, so if there is problems, unless I am reading it wrong, it could be fixed, or tried to be fixed.
- Changes to the COT
I think its nice that NASCAR is finally looking into changes to the COT. Now whether it will lead to better racing, who knows. I am of the opinion that NASCAR needs to change its points system rather than its cars to help bring about more competitive racing, but if this is what is needed, lets see if it works, and go from there. Another thing that to this day somewhat bugs me. I know it has baffled me some that people had complained of identical cars. Has anybody ever forgotten about Chevys and Fords weekly b****fests that they were being slighted, and the continuous adjustments of the cars that forced teams to pretty much rebuild cars. Imagine being a team huring for money today and being forced to work under those conditions. I think, unless something shocking happens, that NASCAR will have pretty much identical cars for the rest of time. It might be helpful if the teams are given a little more leeway on the cars, but I think, for the sake of small teams, and sparing everyone of weekly complaints, that identical cars is the way to go.
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