NASCAR’s most popular driver won the season opener. A veteran driver with championship potential has overcome some potholes in his path to secure a pair of wins, almost ensuring his spot in the Chase. A former champion finds redemption with his new team by ending a long victory drought. Among a bumper crop of fresh faces are two phenoms who have captured the imagination of the racing public: one is a California kid with a sparkling background as an open wheeler, and the other, the son of a beloved NASCAR legend from Dawsonville, Georgia.
Things aren’t perfect by any means. The young season has been subject to the whims of the weather. More than a few fans remain disenchanted with the quality of the media coverage, the mystery debris cautions, and a variety of other frustrations. That’s not to mention embarrassing incidents like the accidental firing up of caution lights, and a maddening capacity for tire failure in one race.
There’s plenty of reason to believe the action will only heat up with the rise of the summer temperatures just around the corner. Four notable former champions remain winless, but that condition is sure to not last long when you’re talking about names like Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson. Speaking of winning, how long do you suppose it will be before rookie Kyle Larson finds victory lane? When was the last time a rookie stormed the scene with this kind of ability? Denny Hamlin comes to mind, and if you think about it, that’s been a while.
There are some good tracks coming up on the schedule: Richmond (my personal favorite), Talladega, Sonoma (which has offered some intriguing racing in recent years), and before you know it, we’ll be celebrating our nation’s birthday under the lights of Daytona. Even in places where the racing hasn’t been the most exciting, there’s been improved racing- Texas comes to mind- so who knows what we’ll see at Loudon, Dover or Michigan?
Can you name an odds on favorite to win it all just yet? The usual suspects will be up front, but who saw Joey Logano coming? Penske teammate Brad Keselowski is back on point, Junior is running up front darn near every week, if this isn’t his year, don’t rule Harvick to iron out all the wrinkles. That doesn’t even get into names like Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, or Denny Hamlin. After some of the struggles they’ve had early on, what kind of story might we have on our hands if Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart or Greg Biffle put it together.
Cue the Sinatra, “the best is yet to come.” With all that remains, who knows? We might get a story we haven’t thought up yet.