Preseason Thunder is just a few days away, the moment when Daytona International Speedway opens its doors to the teams of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series for the first time in 2011. After a pause for the holidays and a respite from a year that ended in Jimmie Johnson winning yet another cup, it’s also time for us, the fans, to return. But, do we want to?
Thirty days ago, I had my doubts. The silence that reigned in the house on Sundays was golden. I wallowed in sleeping late, enjoying other programming besides racing and watched the snow fall from the skies. However, over the past week or so, I have been experiencing that annual itch. Something was amiss in my life.
I donned my new sweatshirt from NASCAR.com, sorted the pictures from last year’s races, unearthed the lug nuts I picked up on pit road… yep, it was all coming back to me. Just one thing was missing. And then we switched on the tube sometime during the week and there they were in brilliant yellow, blue, red, black, green and every shade in between. The sound filled the house. Engines hummed and a familiar voice rumbled through the laps.
It was the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte from the midst of the 2010 Chase. The walls were yellow and the cars were… well, beautiful. For a few minutes, it didn’t matter who led the race or who would win, as that was a preordained decision. There was just the enjoyment of the moment. Memories of side-by-side battles, blown tires, detonated motors, savvy calls from the pit box and unbelievable moves of driving three-wide through the corner swept through me.
My husband and I swapped quips about who wears firesuits, shell games with crew chiefs and the upcoming rookie class. Yes! We’ll actually have one… er… rookie. Chatted about all the times we had wandering around tracks last year, which ones we want to go to this season, and even the upcoming opportunity to take our own Impala back up to NHMS for a spin.
Yeah, I had seriously wondered if my love of stock car racing had been beaten into submission during the 2010 season, but now I knew better. It had simply gone into hibernation after a year of overindulgence. I love racing; the grease, anger, rubber, elation, sheetmetal and all the stress that goes with this sport. I’ve been away from it for a little too long.
Times change and so do the details surrounding racing, but there are a few things that remain true as the years go by. There will be a winner, a whole field of losers, hope, loss and millions of fans who take it all in, one lap at a time. Whether it’s sitting in the grandstands or perched on the stool in your very own garage, we all are waiting for that magical moment to return.
Drivers, it’s time. Start your engines!
Nothing will ever sound as sweet as the rumble of 43 race engines roaring to life. Enjoy the Preseason Thunder. Before we know it, Speedweeks will be here, as they were last year, the year before and as long as I can remember. Join me in cheering for the start of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. It’s time for us NASCAR fans to stand up and make a whole lot of noise!
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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.
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