To paraphrase Charles Dickens, mid-January for race fans is both the best of times and the worst of times. It's the best of times because now that the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is over, we know stock cars will soon be heading to the track. It's the worst of times because each passing day seems longer than the previous day as we anxiously anticipate our first sign of spring, engines firing at the World Center of Racing. As I watch the snow fall around me on this cold, east Tennessee day, I think of the season to come, what's transpired in the months since Joey Logano celebrated his championship at Homestead, and thought I would share.
I'm excited to see what happens with the driver changes at Joe Gibbs Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing. Martin Truex, Jr. and Cole Pearn have shown they can consistently compete for wins on a weekly basis. How will that play out now that they're with Gibbs? Will they be able to come out of the gate as weekly contenders now that they're with a new team? Yes, they were running Gibbs cars with Furniture Row Racing. Yes they were using a Gibbs pit crew before. Now they're under one roof with a lot of new personnel around them. There's an old adage that there can only be one rooster in the hen house. Obviously Kyle Busch isn't taking a back seat to anyone. Gibbs already has an issue with determining what it's going to take to get Denny Hamlin back to being competitive. Where will Truex fall in that pecking order? It will be interesting to watch as it plays out.
I know everything seems optimistic in January when hopes are high but I can't help but really believe Kurt Busch's move to Ganassi will be a winning move for all involved. He showed he can still win last August at Bristol. You never know how much credence can be put into rumors but if it's true that he wasn't wanted at Stewart-Haas, then it was time to move on. Pairing him with Kyle Larson seems to have so much potential for both, I can't help but think both teams will benefit. Larson has shown he can run up front, he just needs to learn how to close the deal for race wins. Kurt Busch knows how to do that. This move should reenergize Busch, give Larson some championship guidance and help both Ganassi teams in the process. I expect to see great things from that camp in 2019.
Daniel Suarez, of course, moves from Gibbs to Stewart-Haas, where he replaces Busch. A lot of people have been down on Suarez lately. I won't speculate why. I do, however, recall another young driver who broke into the Cup Series with Gibbs with much fanfare. He underachieved in the eyes of many and after four seasons and two wins, moved on to Penske Racing. Now with 19 wins for that organization, he being Joey Logano, is now the defending series champion. I'm not predicting Suarez will become a champion in 2019 but I do predict he will win. Stewart-Haas was head and shoulders above all teams in 2018 with all four of their drivers earning wins. I'm not sure there can be a better scene for a young driver to move into than that one.
Off the track, there's been a lot of movement on the media side and unfortunately, not all of it was good. As ESPN continues shedding itself of credible reporters and analysts, they let Bob Pockrass and Ricky Craven go. Their loss was FOX's gain as both will be a part of that network's coverage. Although there is a lot of criticism directed at FOX for the way they cover NASCAR (a lot of it deserved), the addition of these two veteran, credible professionals will be nothing but a positive for FOX and for viewers.
Finally and sadly, yesterday brought us the demise of Jayski. In today's hyper-sensitive social media world where there's always someone ready to criticize someone else's efforts, I never heard anyone say a bad thing about Jayski. Drivers, team members, media members and fans alike all turned to Jayski for years to find industry rumors, news, information and links to stories from other NASCAR related media and websites, including this one. As an amateur writer, I vividly remember thinking I had "made it" the first time one of my Race Fans Forever articles was linked on the Jayski site. They gave a lot of exposure to countless websites and viewpoints. It's an understatement to say they will be universally missed. Although the circumstances are different, it sure felt a lot like the day we got the news that NASCAR Scene was ceasing publication.
That's how I see things on this cold, snowy day as we sit between two seasons. One just ended yet seems so far away and the other is right before us yet in a way, seems equally distant. So as I anticipate what's to come and what storylines will be created, I'll also look back on the greatness we've already enjoyed and go listen to this week's The Scene Vault Podcast where they're having a reunion of former Winston Cup Scene staffers. Racing is like life; it's amazing how quickly what we await becomes memories we cherish.