With the 2009 NASCAR season on the horizon, many fans are asking, “What does 2009 have in store for NASCAR?”
With the current economic state, the numerous team mergers, and the up-and-coming young talent, the latest season of NASCAR could be one of the most interesting in recent memory.
So here is a list of some surprises and predictions that I see happening in 2009:
This prediction is not much of a stretch, but the ageless James Harvey Hylton, whether he makes the Daytona 500 field or not, will have a lot of fun in the Gatorade Duels, and in the 500 if he qualifies.
When he attempted to qualify in 2007, he didn’t care that he missed the field, he was just out there racing for all the senior citizens, showing that being old is just a state of mind.
Now with a full season under the drivers' belts in the new car, I see racing being more competitive.
Teams know how the car will react on the different tracks, they can build on their setups for their drivers and have their cars handling and driving even better.
How about Red Bull Racing? With the sponsor owning the team, they haven’t had to chase sponsors and money and have been able to focus on building their team.
I see Brian Vickers finally breaking into victory lane with RBR. As for Scott Speed?
I see him in contention for possibly a win or two, but he will have a decent season with some top 5’s and top 10’s.
How about this: A Michael Waltrip Racing driver will win this year. David Reutimann found something at the end of 2008 and was running really well.
MWR has been getting stronger every week and could take a win or two in ’09.
I don’t see the DEI/Ganassi merger helping either party.
Both teams have been struggling that past few seasons, and combining two struggling organizations can cause a lot more problems.
David Ragan turned a lot of heads in ’08, and I see him having a breakout season in ’09. He’ll definitely get to victory lane, and may even contend to make the chase.
He’s got a new sponsor and a lot of confidence. He’ll do well, as long as they don’t make him race the truck.
Matt Kenseth will win in ’09…a lot! With crew chief Drew Blickensderfer coming aboard, the No. 17 team will be in championship form.
Blickensderfer has worked with Kenseth before in the Nationwide series and had Carl Edwards and the No. 60 Nationwide team running up front every weekend in ‘08. He’ll be a good fit for Kenseth and the No. 17 team.
Joey Logano is a flop. Yes, that’s right; I’m calling the “greatest thing since sliced bread” a flop.
In his three cup races in 2008, racing with Hall of Fame Racing and Joe Gibbs, he didn’t finish better than 32nd.
Granted, it was only three races, and in ’09 he’s getting a championship caliber team complete with Greg Zipadelli.
I just don’t see him having a tremendous season like everyone expects. After all, he is a rookie.
I like using this sequence of words in the same sentence: Mark Martin: NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. Has a certain ring to it.
He’s back full time in 2009, and for Hendrick Motorsports and the #5 team. This is his best, and last, chance to win a Cup championship, and I think this could be the year for him.
He’s well-rested after his part-time seasons and he’s hungry for some wins. If there’s anyone who deserves a championship, it’s Mark Martin.
Finally, my No. 1 prediction for 2009: The revival of Yates Racing. Both David Gilliland and Travis Kvapil were in the top-35 in points last year, and now Yates has some monetary support with Paul Menard coming aboard.
In addition to this, as well as the new Ford FR9 engine, they now have the satellite operation of Hall of Fame Racing, who recently signed 2000 Cup champion Bobby Labonte.
The only problem I foresee is Gilliland and Kvapil making the first five races, seeing how Yates gave their points to Menard and Labonte.
In addition, Kvapil only has sponsorship for five races, and after that, Yates may pull the plug on his team.
But look at how well Kvapil was running in 2008: he had 4 top-10s and won a pole. Those numbers may not seem that great, but he ran a lot better than where he finished in most races.
Will all this happen in 2009? We’ll just have to wait and see. The Daytona 500 is right around the corner, and it’s going to be one hell of a season!