NASCAR Recap: Next To Last Off Week

Daytona 500

Can Valentine’s Day get here already?

It’s not like I have plans for a swanky dinner or big show; it’s that we’ve waited nearly three months for actual racing that is now less than two weeks away.

With a wait that reminds me of my time as a 5-year old before Christmas, here’s a look at winners and losers from the next to last off week of this NASCAR season.

Win: NASCAR

Several published reports suggest NASCAR will soon announce a new charter plan that should afford teams more financial stability. I’m not an economist, but anything that gives teams the opportunity to compete is good; anything that allows more teams the chance to compete is even better. Best of all, a move like this might afford teams to select drivers based on ability at the track, not the ability to obtain sponsors. For a sport needing more competition, this seems like a great way to start the 2016 Sprint Cup season.

Lose: Chip Ganassi

Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan weren’t able to repeat at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The loss won’t impact anyone’s Sprint Cup season, but it’s always cool to see Sprint Cup drivers do well in special races like this.

As a side, it would also be a loss for Kurt Busch or another Sprint Cup driver to not to run in the Indi 500 Memorial Day weekend. Busch showed he belonged with IRL’s best drivers when he ran a few years ago, and the more people trying the double, the better. Tony Stewart should totally do this in his retirement tour.

Draw: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The first 2016 Silly Season article about Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s future went live last week. The good news is many people suggested Stenhouse Jr. could obtain a better opportunity than what he has at Roush Fenway Racing, though Stenhouse Jr. said he had zero interest in moving.

The bad news is Stenhouse Jr.’s numbers declined in his three Cup seasons, going from 19th to 25th in the Sprint Cup standings. Roush Fenway Racing laid down the gauntlet, saying past results aren’t acceptable. There’s also a host of new brains in the room to try and improve the team’s bottom line.

Here’s the question; other than Chris Buescher, where is the obvious switch? It’s not like Trevor Bayne had a tremendous 2015 either. I put Aric Almirola in the Chase before any Roush Fenway driver in last week’s predictions blitz; if it holds true, it will be curious to see how or if Jack Roush reacts.

Daytona is less than three weeks away. Enjoy the countdown to NASCAR’s return, and insert a random catchphrase here.