It is Thanksgiving in the United States today. Everyone is or will be gathered around their respective dinner tables saying thanks to the troops, friends, and family but what are NASCAR and their teams saying thanks for?
Joe Gibbs Racing
They have Joey Logano to be thankful for. Nicknamed "Sliced Bread" by his friends, this kid is the next big thing to come into NASCAR. Logano will be shooting for top 20's early on, but do not be shocked to see the No. 20 Home Depot Camry in its usual place at the front before too long.
They have Chad Knaus and full-time primary sponsors for all four cars to be thankful for. Firstly, Knaus is the straw that stirs the drink for NASCAR's three-time champion.
Not to take anything away from Jimmie Johnson, but there is a reason Chad is the first crew chief to win three championships in a row.
Secondly, having a primary sponsor in this economic climate is great, but having all four cars fully funded for 2009 is impressive.
Mike Mittler. Mittler is the man who first gave Carl Edwards a shot in NASCAR truck. Edwards was out of work and hanging around race shops looking for a ride when he gave Mittler his card.
Mittler gave him a call purely to do some testing and went up with his driver, Tony Roper, to see him. Roper was killed shortly thereafter as we all know in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway.
After failed races with another driver, Mittler called Carl, and the rest is history. Without Mittler, Roush would not have their superstar and Edwards would still be slinging dirt in Missouri.
Richard Childress Racing
Austin Dillon. Richard Childress' grandson, is a fantastic shoe and an upcoming star. When you can be thankful for the future of your business and family at the same time it is special.
Richard Childress can be proud of his grandson and rest easy knowing his company is in good hands now and into the future.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
The two former entities can be thankful for each other. Both operations were looking at the possibility of shutting down without one another, so they can be thankful for partnering up with one another.
Stewart Haas Racing
Stewart Haas Racing (SHR) can be thankful for a clean-shaven Tony Stewart. Tony started the season looking like Grizzly Adams, and not a race car dirver who is trying to represent his sponsors well.
With Tony no longer looking like he just survived six weeks in the Alaskan wilderness, SHR announced the addition of new sponsors (Office Depot, Old Spice, Army) and new additions to his organization. Plus, he looks like a sponsorable driver now.
Hall of Fame Racing
Hall of Fame Racing can be thankful for the support they have received over the past few years from Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). The help from one of the best organizations in the sport doesn't hurt.
JGR even loaned them Joey Logano for a few races to try and get them into the top 35 and keep their sponsor.
Red Bull Racing
Scott Speed. The newest hothead to enter the sport will bring Red Bull the exposure they desire. Handsome, well spoken and with a temper, Scott Speed will bring the new blood needed into NASCAR.
If he can drive like he says he can, they will also be a contender before too long.
Michael Waltrip Racing
Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) is thankful for Toyota. The two-year-old team has received the full, unwavering support from Toyota, even though they have yet to get the kind of results on the track that merit such support. MWR is really thankful for Toyota and the support they have given.
Bill Davis Racing
Tommy Baldwin. One of the last few employees left at the Bill Davis Racing (BDR) Sprint Cup shop has shown the willingness to stick it out, even though the sponsorless team is not even certain if they will be racing next year at the Sprint Cup level.
Baldwin is one of the most respected guys in the Cup and truck garage and could find employment elsewhere, but chose to stick it out at BDR hoping for better days ahead.
Penske Racing can be thankful for longtime sponsor, Miller Lite. Miller Lite has been with Penske for a long time and is used to winning.
Since Rusty Wallace has left the team, they have won one race which was rain-shortened and won on pit strategy and luck.
It is a wonder that the Miller Lite sponsorship has lasted over the last few seasons, as they have been so used to winning and running at the front.
Wood Brothers Motorsports
Wood Brothers can be thankful for Bill Elliott and his 1988 NASCAR championship. Without Bill, the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford would have found it hard to make races and stay in the hunt for the top 35 in owners points, guaranteeing a spot in the race.
Kasey Kahne will be the saving grace of Gillette Racing. Kasey was the person who snagged the Bud sponsorship, not the race team.
Budweiser wanted the perfect face for their product and chose Kasey, and for that, Gillette has Kasey to be thankful for.
Furniture Row Racing
Furniture Row Racing can be thankful for the beautiful Denver scenery. Unfortunately, with the announcement of a reduced schedule for 2009 and the release of Joe Nemecheck, there is very little to thankful for in the Denver-based race shop.
Both teams raced last year without a full-time primary sponsor for all of the 2008 season. Many races, especially at the beginning of the season, saw the cars show up white, with no businesses on either car.
Along comes Paul Menard with his father's money. Now Yates has a car fully sponsored for 2009 and the race team, thanks to the Menards, is on much more stable footing.
NASCAR is thankful for the fans. In a year where the economy hit just about everyone hard, the fans never quit on the series.
Yes, there were more empty seats than before but, being 90 percent full every weekend, not to mention selling out numerous events, the fans still came and supported their beloved sport.
NASCAR has to thank the fans because without them there are no sponsors, no teams and there is no NASCAR.
The sport had a rough year with the economy going in the dumper and teams having to build fleets of new cars because the "Car of Tomorrow" became the "Car of Today" and was run full-time in 2008.
What 2009 will bring for NASCAR and the teams is unknown, but the fans will come, they showed that this year, and just like every other professional sport, that is the most important thing.