The NASCAR Sprint Cup season will set sail this week with the first testing sessions of 2012 in Daytona.
Though it will not make for the most exciting television (they will be broadcast on the SPEED channel), this is the first official opportunity for teams, new and seasoned, to make the necessary adjustments to win both the Daytona 500 and, ultimately, the 2012 Sprint Cup title.
Similar to years prior, one wrinkle will be on the minds of all racing teams: tandem drafting.
The wrinkle is nothing new to any participants from last year: In 2011, testing sessions were focused on a newly paved track and a completely new approach to the points-style racing.
That is all old news.
The new monster on the market this year is how the teams will to adapt to NASCAR's attempts to restrict the tandem drafting that has plagued superspeedway racing for the past several races.
Despite NASCAR mandating a change in the size of the radiator and the placement of the rear bumper to curtail the two-car symphony, do not be fooled: Drivers will still be playing the market to find a solid partner.
Although the viewer will not see the cars looking like flying insects trying to mate while flying in a circle for the entire event, the drafting style will ensue in a truncated fashion...
Thus the practice sessions will most likely resemble those of 2011.
However, as in any NASCAR season, the personnel have changed to such an extent that great interest should be taken on how new partners and teammates will be able to work together.
A.J. Allmendinger and Brad Keselowski will probably attempt drafting together for the first time in their lives. 'Dinger has little, if any, experience driving a Dodge automobile.
After his release from Penske Dodge, Kurt Busch will be without a solid team partner for the first time in a few years.
Consequently, he will also need to syncopate quickly with Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. if he is to prove his full worth to the organization.
In a sense, the season is about to kick off.
Here comes the prelude to the Daytona 500, take one.