Well, we've got it down to the last weekend without some kind of NASCAR. Get this damn Super Bowl over with and then next Saturday, MONSTER Cup cars on the track in the Clash, the following week are the Duels and then Daytona - YES!
I'd like to start this by giving mega-congratulations to Jeff Gordon. Seeing one of our own superstars achieve another huge accomplishment in different series is wonderful. Jeff, you are awesome!
So, here we are, our final weekend when we have to just sit and wonder rather than watch. After this, the things we are curious about will start to come clear.
Junior - Will he be back at 100 percent, raring to go? From what he's said in interviews, the answer to that is definitely yes. From his performance in testing this week, that's another big yes.
It's a given that I will always root for Jimmie first but if I could pick a scenario for 2017, it would be for Junior to finally win that elusive championship to put a satisfying cap on his career.
Kyle Larson - I know as a Hendrick fan, I should root for Chase but Kyle is my favorite young driver. Not that I don't like Chase too and I think there are plenty of wins and championships in his future but Chase had all the breaks whereas Kyle had to fight his way up to the Cup series so I have a soft spot for him.
Danica - Not a good sign when your primary sponsor has to be sued to try to get the money they promised to pay to sponsor you. Not that its Danica's fault but it doesn't help her right now. She's not in a very secure place. She's kind of stalled out the last couple of years. Her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., hasn't performed much better but he didn't come in with all the hype so the expectations for her were a lot higher. As my Dad used to say, I think it's "nut-cuttin'" time for her.
Kasey - Maybe the same as Danica. This team is a puzzle. They have an excellent driver and an excellent crew chief and an excellent support system behind them so why haven't they been able to put it together? Of course, if anyone knew, they would fix it but they may not have much time left to get their ducks in a row.
JGR - Will Gibbs weather all their changes and come out as strong as ever? How will Suarez do jumping into the deep end of the pond? Hopefully, he won't suffer the same kind of growing pains that Joey Logano did in his first years in Cup.
SHR - Ditto for Stewart-Haas. Change of manufacturer, Tony gone as a driver, Problems with Danica's sponsorship. New team with Clint Bowyer. It's a lot to overcome but maybe they'll be fine. Kevin and Kurt will still be there for stability.
The Kids - What about the others besides Suarez? Erik Jones will be running for Furniture Row. He's got a good role model there in Martin Truex, Jr. That should help. Will this be a breakout year for Ryan Blaney. He's certainly shown plenty of potential even if he hasn't won yet. And naturally, there's Chase and Buescher and probably more I'm forgetting. I haven't got all the new relationships firm in my mind yet. Rookie of the Year will come down to Suarez and Jones.
And all the drivers have to adapt to a new point system and a new aerodynamic package, with less testing time this year. And they have to remember to thank Monster Energy rather than Sprint. I'm having a hard time with that myself. I keep typing Sprint instead of Monster because it's been Sprint since I first became a NASCAR fan.
No matter what it is called and no matter how many changes are made to cars and to points, as far as I'm concerned, it's basically my same old NASCAR and I'm ready to get this show on the road!
Good article,Vicky.Plenty of changes in the teams and the sport itself.Curious to see how it'll unfold although I can say I didn't like the new race format...
My least favorite aspect of the championship as it has been configured recently is the elimination part. I don't like seeing it come down to the last race. Rather see all the drivers duke it out for the last 10. But Brian France didn't ask my opinion...so! Ha!ha!