I look forward to the NASCAR season. I’ve been a fan of automobile racing, or any racing really, since I was a young boy. My mom used to take my siblings and I to San Jose Speedway to watch NASCAR Super Modifieds every Saturday night. It was a 1/4 mile paved oval, and a fun way to grow up. We did this until the mid 70s when they closed the track and moved it to the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds where they raced on dirt. Ã‚Â We also used to go to the drag races at Fremont Drag Strip in Fremont, CA. The NHRA was still racing there, and they held a national event called the Northern Nationals. My mom would make chicken and macaroni, or potato salad and buy us kids a pit pass. We would run around all day going from the tower side to the pits and back. Having a ball, eating, and running around. They would also hold different events like rocket drags, and wheelie drags. Oh the days as the memories come flying back.
NASCAR wasn’t always so accessible as it is now. You had one or two races on TV a year back in the old days. You had the “Great American Race” the Daytona 500 televised and maybe Bristol, but that was about it. Now every race is on TV. Not only that, but if you have Sprint cell phone service you can hear crews talk to their drivers and other things to enhance your viewing experience.
So what to look for this year in NASCAR’s top series? I’m watching a few things.
1. Will Kyle Larson be as good as advertised? He is taking over for Juan Pablo Montoya in the Target #42 car. He’s a young man who has 1 plus seasons under his belt on pavement/asphalt, in NASCAR’s lower series, but is one of the hottest drivers coming into this season. He’s won in midgets, wingless sprint cars, and winged sprint cars. I’ve met him a few times and he is one of the nicest, humble young men to wheel a race car. I’m looking forward to watching his career continue to progress as I have the last couple of years.
2. Will Danika Patrick not crash for more than one or two consecutive races? I watched most races last year, and wondered how every time I saw her race she was involved in an accident. How does she have a ride in NASCAR’s top series? Since 1998 when she started racing upper echelon cars she has 1 win, and 6 poles. Ã‚Â She hasn’t been as successful as people think. Ã‚Â She is obviously a media machine for the sport. She isn’t competitive, even though she drives for a top well funded team in Steward-Haas Racing. Tony Stewart “Smoke” is a smart guy and arguably the best driver in NASCARs top series, so eventually he’ll get tired of her act and move on. I also believe she’llÃ‚Â have a hard time finding another ride once Smoke is done with her.
Even Richard Petty “The King” questioned her ability when he said Ã‚Â “Everyone else would have to stay home for her to win.”
3. Will Steve Latarte leaving after the season effect NASCAR’s most popular driver? Steve Latarte is leaving Dale Earnhardt Jr. after the season and going to the booth. Latart has been good for Jr as his crew chief. He’s become competitive again after going through a couple of bad seasons without him. Will Jr go back to his old ways and not be competitive in 2015, or even worse, let the expected departure of Latarte effect 2014? I personally think it’s a non issue and actually don’t quite understand all the chatter about the move, but I do understand the concern by Jr Nation.
My favorite race is the Daytona 500. Maybe it’s because as a young man the only race they showed on TV was the Daytona 500 or maybe it’s the speed. The close racing, bumper to bumper, side by side, the expectation of the “big one” the crash that takes out 10-20 cars. Could be I was a big Dale Earnhardt ‘The Intimidator’ fan, and finally watched him win his first Daytona 500 some 12 years ago after 20 tries, and winning so often at Daytona.
So those are my top 3 that I’m looking forward to for the moment. Let’s get ready as next week is the Dual at Daytona, and speed week begins.