Being a NASCAR fan really is one of the greatest things on Earth.
Unlike football or baseball, NASCAR fans only have to wait a brief period between October and February before their idols take to the track.
And unlike football or baseball, NASCAR chooses to start its season with the greatest race of the season, the pinnacle of all NASCAR drivers’ careers.
The Daytona 500.
With the gentle rumble of 43 glorious, pristine stock cars, hand crafted to be as fast, sleek, and aerodynamic as possible, coming into turn four, the NASCAR season begins.
Fans all over the country, and the world, stand together to cheer on their driver.
And this year, my driver will win.
For years, my driver has been referred to as the “bad boy” of NASCAR; the one who is never afraid to speak his mind. And with that, comes a lot of responsibility. Tony Stewart has been quoted as saying “confidence, not arrogance”—and this is true Tony style. If you can back it up, say what you want.
And so he does—and he does it well.
With this style, Tony has grown from a young, immature driver to a man, doing his job and doing it well and with class. Although I long for a fist fight with Jeff Gordon, or one more scene of Tony throwing his gloves at a passing car, I respect, and revere, the new-and-improved Tony.
And the new-and-improved Tony has every reason in the world to come out and win the Daytona 500. To prove to his critics, and to himself, that he is as great a driver as well all know he is. As a fan, I cried last year when Ryan Newman crossed the finish line, stealing (read: rightfully winning) Tony’s Daytona win from him.
But as a fan, I also respected the move Newman made. I’ve always heard the worst place you want to be going into the last lap of the Daytona 500 is in the lead. This bode true for Stewart last season.
And with that sour taste still in his mouth, Tony will win the Daytona 500.
Yes, I hear you. I hear you telling me I’m nuts, I’m biased and that I have lost my NASCAR loving mind. But please, hear me out.
We all know Tony Stewart is an independent man. He has always done his own thing, and to hell with the consequences. Whether it’s bump drafting in the turn or telling Goodyear their tires are terrible, Tony has always gotten into trouble for bumping heads with management.
Now, he is management. He has taken control, taken the lead, and now has no one telling him what to do other than himself.
My second point is simply the bowtie. Tony is out of a Toyota. Enough said. Tony can drive anything with tires and drive it well. He loves the Chevys. He seemed to appear betrayed last season by having to drive a Toyota.
This year, it’s his car. If he wants to bump draft Kyle Busch out of the way, it’s his car. If he wants to drive like a sissy, it’s his car.
Last, Ryan Newman. Newman is directly responsible, with assistance, for the aforementioned sour taste in Tony’s mouth. I think not only having Newman on his team is a great motivating factor for Tony, but I think they are going to be great teammates together. Daytona, and Talladega, are about teamwork.
Running solo doesn’t work at these two super-speedways. I think Tony and Ryan will be a winning combination. I think they will push each other harder, faster, longer, stronger, and I think the other 41 drivers had better watch out.
Tony will have some great competition this year with the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex, Jr. and others. But Tony’s greatest competition lies within. It always has along with his biggest motivator and critic.
With being on his own, free with no one to answer to, for the first time in his career, I think the NASCAR world is in for a treat, a resurrection to the sport of old, and it all starts with those 43 cars rumbling out of turn four, all hungry for the checkered flag of coveted Daytona.