As we gather with our families during this holiday season to unwrap our presents under the tree, NASCAR fans across the country can't help but peer ahead to the coming 2010 campaign and predict what events will unfold. And through that anticipation comes a list of requirements that must occur for the 2010 Sprint Cup season to be a success. Let's take a short look at them...
1) The Return of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Yes you may color me a fan of Junior, so naturally I would want Driver 88 to return to the success he found during the middle years of this (past) decade. But just like the New York Yankees and Tiger Woods, the sport is just better when its most marketable and most polarizing star is on top.
If NASCAR is to return to the outstanding national success it found several years ago, Junior doesn't need to just be winning races but contending for championships.
2) Show Some Color, Jimmie!
Everyone realizes the amazing success that Johnson has achieved on track, but off the track the four-time champion has found little achievement. Likewise, Johnson will never be the first to deliver a biting remark after a wreck, a la Tony Stewart or Kevin Harvick. NASCAR needs its stars to be colorful and controversial, and these are two things Johnson is not. J
ohnson reminds me a little bit of Peyton Manning at first appearance. We all saw Manning knock them dead on Saturday Night Live and is now producing hilarious commercials. I see no reason why Johnson can't follow that path.
3) Shake Up The Chase!
Johnson's success may be attributed to the fact that the Chase, for the most part, features the same schedule of tracks year after year. The Lowe's crew, headed by Chad Knauss, has obviously found the winning formula to those races, and with the same schedule set for next year, I see no reason why Johnson and crew won't win again.
Wouldn't it be cool for NASCAR to have a lottery to determine the Chase races and order? Yes, weather and other practical problems would arise, but still, if there was a way to orchestrate such a thing, perhaps Chase parity would be greater.
4) Shake Up The Tracks!
In the same vein, NASCAR has slowed its progress in adding newer tracks to the schedule. Often, tracks which would lose races, like Darlington, would see cookie-cutter two-mile ovals like Fontana pick up a second race.
In fact, too many of these tracks pollute NASCAR (Fontana, Las Vegas, Michigan, Kansas, Chicagoland, etc.). NASCAR should alternate tracks used every year to include different types of tracks in different parts of the country (Milwaukee and St. Louis for example). If NASCAR truly desires to be a national sport, it should showcase itself to all parts of the country in different campaigns.
A marketable female race car driver with talent and the opportunity to drive for a marketable driver in the Nationwide series...well that seems to good to be true at its base.
But let's throw caution to the wind and bump Danica up to the Sprint Cup Series. Imagine the television ratings when Danica gets the green flag at Daytona. It may indeed happen in 2011, but what the heck, let's do it in 2010.
Remember my friends, this is a WISH list. Yes, it may not be practical for NASCAR to rotate certain tracks every year, and yes Danica needs some experience in stock cars before rising to the premiere series, but I don't believe NASCAR is that far away from regaining some of its past glory from the middle of the 2000s.