Well, it’s over. No more races for the year. We’ve got a new champion named Brad, rediscovered the bad guy in Jeff and welcomed MWR into the upper ranks of Cup goodness. Dale Jr. proved his mortality, Danica proved… what we always suspected, and a host of capable young drivers signed up for the future of our sport. Kyle refrained from appearing too much like an ass, deciding that following his big brother’s example was not the best idea. The ‘Dinger was counted out, JPM put his demolition training to dramatic effect and Tony asked to put a new twist on ‘Dega.
It’s been… a year. There have been some classic races, poignant moments and many afternoons of sleep-inducing parades. Now it is all over. The echo of the engines in the garage area hasn’t even calmed, and I’m already wondering what the hell I’m going to do with all this extra time for the next few months.
Saturday afternoons I will surf the channels seeking a NASCAR listing, only to be disappointed. On Sundays, there will not be a deadline on the grocery shopping, lest I miss the drop of the green flag. And Mondays… Mondays there will not be frenetic typing, more deadlines and hunting for the errant comma. My life will be calm and quiet and just a little empty.
There will be time to neaten the closets, dust off the diecasts and catch up with the rest of humanity – rumor has it there’s a segment of the population who don’t even watch racing. My cats may have a harder time finding a warm lap on the couch for a few months.
But even as I pen these final words of the NASCAR season, I do so with the eager knowledge that only 96 days remain before we start it all over again. What is there to look forward to, you ask?
We’ll actually have a Rookie of the Year class in 2013, headed by the two-time Nationwide champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Clint Bowyer will make a run for the top spot next November, proving once and for all there’s more to that No. 15 than many have thought for too long.
There should be a mountain of new Brad Keselowski ads, which should be interesting as up to now there’s been almost none. Jimmie Johnson and Chad will come out of their bunker with a new set of battle plans while the rest of the field calls their local psychic to divine what those might be. The cars are supposed to look a little different… we’ll have to see how true that might be.
What I’ve seen so far hasn’t really impressed. Junior, Harvick, Stewart, Ambrose, Newman and the rest of the usual suspects will all line up for the start of the season with friends and family at their sides.
There will have been some minor shuffling of lockers while we waited for everyone to return to Florida. Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano will find themselves with new teammates and have to decide if is was really a great idea after all.
In the chat rooms, some perennial questions will be raised by those hungry for news of NASCAR in the offseason: Will Mark Martin ever really retire? Can Jeff Burton regain his long lost Top Dog status? How will Denny Hamlin manage to self-detonate this year? Who will NASCAR dub as the first successful female racer in its ranks?
But ultimately, the air guns’ whirr will fill the air. The engines will rev and the stink of gasoline and oil will mix with the warm Florida air to summon memories of days when. There will be tailgating, t-shirts, smiles and anticipation. Race day will return.
For as many times as we’ve watched the year turn over, leaving the frustration of a season’s disappointments behind, there has always been and always will be the joy of welcoming the new. A new year, new day and a chance to make fresh memories filled with everything we have always wanted: the roar of fast cars coming to the green, driving off into the corner and coming out the other side three-wide.
All this glory is only 96 days away, a little over three months. Time enough to reconnect with your life, loves and to realize without racing, our world is a little less special.
As a final note: Thank you to everybody who takes the time to read these ramblings of mine. Your comments are always welcome, whether you think I’ve messed up or not. Without another fan to talk to, this column would be nonexistent. Thanks again and I will see you all in 2013.
About the author
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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