Ladies and Gentleman of Daytona Beach, the carnival has officially left town. The Daytona 500, the Budweiser Duel, the Sprint Unlimited, the Battle of the Beach, Danicamania, and the Junior Nation have packed up and headed west.
We’ve all seen the promotional trailer, the hardcore fan and the lookie loo alike. Now it’s time for a real honest-to-goodness look at what the NASCAR season holds in store.
You can hear the new fan now, “You mean that’s not how NASCAR really is week is?” For a number of hardcore fans, the answer to that question is, “Lord, I hope not.” Yours truly is just glad we had no rain, no pot holes, no jet dryer incidents, and thank God, no repeats of Saturday’s harrowing last lap accident.
By now, we know the Gen 6 car has effectively ended the two car tango. There’s one step in the right direction. Bump drafting in the corners isn’t a particularly smart idea either. For better or for worse, plate track racing is now a different ballgame.
This week, the plates come off. While Phoenix International Raceway is more like a large short track than an intermediate, we’ll better gets questions answered regarding the actual racing in the new car. There’s no question the new car looks better, but the real issue of the hour is how the thing races. Many are hoping the Daytona 500 is no harbinger, or the sizzle on the steak will rapidly dissipate.
One can only hope something different this Sunday. The second race of the season, whether it was in California or Arizona, has often produced a different result; unfortunately, in the days of Auto Club it was often worse (that’s a painful admission for this Fontana native).
The good news is Phoenix has produced a variety of winners, and Arizona has proven to be a battleground state for NASCAR’s finest. Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, and well, you know who. Where doesn’t he win?
A good race in Phoenix will go a long ways toward boosting the shaken confidence of NASCAR fans, who suffered through seasons of that dreaded cracker tin on wheels known as the Car of Tomorrow. Let’s just hope it’s not another case of the drivers liking something the fans don’t.
I may not be from Missouri, but you’re still going to have to show me NASCAR. Daytona’s test provided a barely passing grade. Hopefully, this really is a case of what happens in Daytona stays in Daytona.
Jim McCoy is a TV and radio sports reporter and play-by-play announcer who resides in scenic southern Oregon with his family. Among his many sports passions is following NASCAR with its passionate fans who love to talk the sport.
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