With 2009 quickly approaching, we as NASCAR fans always enter each season with the same old questions.
Will my driver find victory lane? Can he contend for the championship? Make the chase? These questions always find their ways of unfolding themselves throughout the season, and 2009 will be no different.
In 2007, Jeff Gordon was as dominant as any driver in the series, but there was one problem. The guy he shared shop space with was just a little bit better. After a six-victory, 30-top-10 campaign in 2007, Jeff came up just shy of the championship to teammate Jimmie Johnson.
In 2008, Gordon had a very sub-par season, never making it to victory lane, for the first time since 1993. Will Jeff Gordon be able to rediscover that magic of 2007, or will 2009 just be a rerun of a dismal 2008?
The economy has delivered NASCAR a huge blow and has caused several teams, large or small, to layoff employees, and even several organizations to merge with one another. The addition of Richard Petty Motorsports, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Stewart Hass Racing, add a whole different dimention to our sport. Will the merged teams be as competitive as ever right out of the gate in 2009, or can we expect to see the three-man show of Johnson, Edwards, and Busch at the front?
David Ragan showed huge promise throughout 2008, and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to improve in 2009. He narrowly missed out on the chase last season, and even had a few shots at reaching victory lane. Can 2009 finally be the welcoming party Ragan has waited for?
Tony Stewart left Joe Gibbs Racing after 2008 to fulfill his goal of owning a major Sprint Cup organization, but with the goal comes the hardship of building a Sprint Cup Series doormat into an instant winner. We always look at athletes for the "what have you done for me lately?" Stewart took on a huge task and already has accomplished a lot, but all of that will go unnoticed if his teams don't hit victory lane. Can Stewart continue to win on the top level after starting from scratch?
Let's face it, Juan Pablo is the most aggressive driver we've seen in recent memory, but his problem is he doesn't know when to quit. He'll continously run over guys and think it's okay, but when it happens to him he thinks the guy should be suspended. I agree that David Gilliland should have been out for the season after his intentional wreck at Texas (ironic he wrecked JPM). Probation just doesn't stop those actions, if the drivers saw NASCAR suspend a guy for intentional wrecks, that all would stop. Will NASCAR fix this problem, or continue to let the guy off with a slap on the wrist?
Let's face it. Jimmie Johnson is on one heck of a run in NASCAR, and I haven't seen anyone consistently show enough promise to knock him off of his championship perch. Sure Kyle Busch dominated the regular season, and Edwards tried to bonzai for a victory, but Johnson was silently consistent until it mattered, during the chase. He yet again sparkled with tremendous finishes, and hoisted his third straight Sprint Cup title. Will somebody stand up to Johnson and take the title he's had a firm grip on since 2006?
Mark Martin said "This is the happiest I've ever been." Pretty straight forward. He's as ready as ever to get behind the wheel of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 car in 2009 because he knows he has plenty of chances to reach victory lane with a top notch organization. With the pressure of being a piece of the NASCAR powerhouse, can Martin deliver?
In 2006 and 2007, I went to Indianapolis for the Allstate 400, and it was fantastic. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it in 2008, and I was disappointed. Until I watched the race. Every 10 laps NASCAR threw safety cautions because anything past that was a huge risk or a car diving into the corner, blowing a tire, and knocking the fence down. Goodyear said that their compound couldn't stick to the track which led to a lack of rubber in the racing groove. Has Goodyear rectified their problem, or are we looking forward to half of this race in 2009 being run at 60 mph?
Kyle Busch refereed to Carl Edwards as Mr. Ed. That comment was after Edwards pulled the classic bump and run late in last fall's Sharpie 500 and took the victory. Busch has that reputation like JPM of being willing to dish the hit but not willing to take one. How many shots to the rear bumper can Busch take before he cries foul to Mike Helton?
Okay, I only had nine legitimate questions, this is a filler. We all know that this will be as exciting as any Speedweeks in recent memory. Between the Bud Shootout, the Duel 150's, and the three races throughout the weekend, Daytona always leaves us with a fantastic bang to the beginning of the season. Which drivers will add their names as winners at Daytona International Speedway?