It’s Almost Daytona
I bid you welcome gentle readers, as January slowly slips by and will soon give way to February, also knows as “Daytona Month” to most of us. After all, nothing else of importance occurs in our shortest month of the year, does it? Your scribe is happy to have taken a bit of time off to unwind and get ready for the 2020 season. I was within inches of announcing that Race Fans Forever would not return for the new racing season, but old habits and old loves pulled me back into the swing, just in time.
So… let’s take a look at what’s coming in the next couple of weeks. 2020 will treat us to what purports to be a fast and furious battle for Rookie of the Year. Contestants include Christopher Bell, (#95 – Leavine Family Racing Toyota) Cole Custer, (#41 – Stewart-Haas Racing Mustang), John Hunter Nemechek (#38 – Front Row Motorsports Mustang) and Tyler Redick. (#8 – Richard Childress Racing Camaro) There may be others as well, but probably not truly competitive with those 4 well-known names even before their rookie year in Cup. Definitely a battle worth watching. I kind of miss when ROTY was seen as a big deal. Anyone else?
As always, we’ll see some movement of drivers to new teams and three drivers will not be returning, those being Paul Menard and David Ragan who will enter planned retirement and Matt Tifft, who is taking time off to deal with a health problem that manifests in seizures. Prayers for Matt are already being said here.
Drivers moving from place to place include Chris Buescher (From JTG Daugherty Racing to Roush-Fenway Racing) and Ricky Stenhouse (Roush-Fenway to Daugherty) in what amounts to a driver swap. Matt DiBenedetto moves from Leavine Family Racing to the #21 Wood Brothers Mustang. Joey Gase will move from MBM Racing to Rick Ware Racing. Daniel Hemric, released by RCR plans a part-time Xfinity schedule with JR Motorsports and Daniel Suarez, released by SHR “seems” to be destined to move to Gaunt Brothers Racing, and this was signed into reality almost as I was typing it as a “maybe.”
There will of course, be others that will include a name or two we’ve not yet heard. First two or three weeks of any season are always an adventure. #00 - Starcom Racing (Derrike Cope) says their full-time driver will be Quin Houff. Team says they will honor their commitment to Landon Cassill. I’ll just leave that one alone! #15 Premium Motorsports says Brennan Poole will drive their Chevy for the full year. I do hope that means Ross Chastain has found something better. Yes, Chastain will be in the #77 Spire Motorsports Camaro!
It seems they’re doing strange things with the “stages” this year. At many tracks, stage 2 is being lengthened to serve no purpose I understand. It just turns distances into a mish-mosh of numbers. One thing I do like is that while all that is going on, we’ll return to having a race declared “Official” at the actual half-way point, which always made sense to me. Arbitrary points at someone’s discretion are really pointless. The following chart comes from Bob Pockrass, though I don’t know where he finds the time to create something like this little nightmare.
I’m told we’ll see some races shortened in the coming year, but I’ve seen absolutely nothing about any price reductions for the lesser product. Same old song; different verse! Teases about coming changes continue, but with a softer edge than originally offered. Anyone else get the feeling that there won’t be nearly the amount of change that we were first led to believe? However, between NASCAR and SMI, the tracks are no longer traded on the open market, so all the little secrets will remain exactly that… secrets… from us, the paying public. Apparently, it’s no longer desirable to let us know how much money is made or lost, even though we’re the ones spending it.
Daytona is quietly waiting just around the corner and gets closer by the minute. As the field shapes up, it looks as though there will be 43 or possibly 44 cars entered. 7 of those do not have charters and will need to race their way into the 500. Car numbers of the seven include 16,49, 54,62, 66, 96 and a sketchy looking entry with only a driver… no car# and no owner listed. Don’t fret. It either runs or it doesn’t and won’t be competitive even if it does.
That’s about all I have for you today gentle readers, so it must be time for our Classic Country Closeout! This week I’ve chosen a beautiful collection of songs sung by the soft voice of Don Williams. I’m not sure Don is truly “Classic”, but he surely does sing one heck of a fine song. Please enjoy:
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!