Monday, March 16, 2009

First four races, five drivers to watch so far in the 2009 NASCAR Cup Series season

As I (a NASCAR fan, blogger, writer) sits here the Monday after this past weekend’s NASCAR off weekend where I spent most of Sunday writing articles for RaceDriven.com and watching DVD’s, you know, Cars, Smokey and the Bandit, the Italian Job, and of course Jeff Dunham, I’ve learned several different things over the course of the past four weeks in NASCAR.

After a very boring and long off season, it was perfect to kick off the 2009 NASCAR Cup Series season with seeing the green flag wave at Daytona and hearing those famous words “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity, Let’s go racin’ boys”, now we are four races in or four weeks into the season, I’m still excited, but what happened over the past four weeks in NASCAR? What five drivers to watch starting this coming weekend at Bristol, Martinsville and beyond?

First what a group of races we have had so far in 2009, we started the 2009 season off with none other than the 51st Daytona 500, a race that I describe in three parts “First Keith Urban, second rain, third NASCAR declares Matt Kenseth the winner of the 2009 Daytona 500.” not including “The Big One” on lap 124 which was both Brian Vickers and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fault, but three questions came out after the 500, one, Did NASCAR make the right call in NOT handing a penalty to either or Both Brian Vickers and Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Yes, there was no penalty needed here, it was not intentional.

Two, Did NASCAR make the right calling the race early? Yes, but and I mean but, starting the Daytona 500 at 3:20PM or 3:40PM is ridiculous, what happened to 1:30pm?

Second and third combined, “What a difference: California Speedway to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Cup Series racing.” You can say that again, the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway was boring and where were the fans? This brings up last year’s discussion “Should the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana be converted into a high-banked, restrictor-plate track?” Staying with the California Speedway for a moment, one event that I look forward to hearing about every year is Shell’s Eco-marathon Americas, the 2009 event is set to take place in Fontana, California on April 15 – 18 at Auto Club Speedway (California Speedway), so in honor of the students from Mater Dei High School of Evansville, IN, the school was featured on the deck lid of Kevin Harvick’s #29 Shell-Pennzoil RCR Chevrolet Impala SS.


(Photo Credit: Edelman PR)

Last year I wrote: In a world were more and more people are trying to achieve better fuel economy, its always cool to see that it is possible to achieve very high numbers in fuel economy especially in this case where the 2007 winner, California Polytechnic State University, they achieved nearly 2,000 miles per gallon (1,902.7 gallons) and won the Shell Eco-marathon Americas challenge that year.

This sure does gives the rest of hope that are cars are more capable of better fuel economy then just 18-20 mpg like the family Jeep gets. (Read More…)

Like the article title says, what a difference between California and Las Vegas, and it was because at the next cup race, the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that was won by Kyle Busch, the racing was good and the track had a near sellout crowd, but it’s still a tossup on the second Cup date to me.

Fourth, the Atlanta race can simply be summed up by saying “History told us that the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta would be exciting, but where were the fans?” And “NASCAR Atlanta race debate continues: Gas Man suspended for four races and 94,400 at Atlanta race on Sunday.” Interesting seeing Kurt Busch dominate and go to victory lane, more so, I agreed with suspending the gas man four races and I think Atlanta is going to lose one cup date, but not to Kentucky. Personally, that market is too saturated with races and doesn’t need one and we don’t need another cookie cutter 1.5 mile speedway added to the schedule, ho about Iowa or Montreal, another short track or road course would be a plus on the schedule.

That about does it for the first four races of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, however who are the five drivers to watch from here on out?

Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart (Smoke, really?, because he is an owner/driver in 2009) are surprises in the first four races, no Jeff Gordon is not a surprise period, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t as bad as some thought, he is rebounding and climbing up in points, but Dale Jr. and his crew chief Tony Eury Jr. need to find that sweet spot to this COT to win races. Mark Martin is on the bubble of the top 35 in owner’s points going into Bristol next week, Bristol is the five race cut off, the last race the 2008 Top 35 Owner’s Points is used before going over to the 2009 (current) Top 35 Owner’s Points and he is one of many drivers in danger of being on the outside looking in.

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