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Black-eyed peas, greens & lots of changes in NASCAR
What was your New Year’s Day meal? Traditionally speaking, it should have consisted of black-eyed peas, turnip greens or cabbage and cornbread.
At least that’s considered the official good luck meal around these parts on Jan. 1. Black-eyed peas bring prosperity, turnip greens and cabbage are green, so that means you’ll have good fortune and enough money. And cornbread… well…um, I can’t remember.
To tell you the truth, I don’t do black-eyed peas or any kind of greens. Maybe that’s why I’ve never won the lottery. Well, that and the fact that I don’t actually ever buy a ticket.
But I digress… we’re talking about kicking off another new year. Don’t know about you guys but I can’t believe it’s 2013. Seems just like yesterday that it was the 90s and Dale Earnhardt was winning races and championships, and that young upstart Jeff Gordon was giving him all he could handle.
In 2013 the sport continues to evolve, bringing lots of changes -- starting with the new car. Gone is the COT (car of tomorrow) that not a lot of people liked. In its place is a car that looks a lot like the cars of yesteryear – the ones that looked a great deal like something any of us could drive.
And qualifying is getting a makeover too. This year, the best 36 cars based on qualifying speed will make the field. The next six positions will be determined by owner’s points and the 43rd spot belongs to a past champion (unless there isn’t one in the field and then it goes to the next driver in owner’s points). Oh, and the qualifying order will no longer be determined by practice speeds; instead NASCAR will go with a random draw.
In the past, owner’s points determined the provisional positions for the first five races of the season while in 2013, owner’s points will be used for only the first three races. That means the Food City 500 on March 17, which is the fourth race of the year, will be the first where the owner’s point’s from 2012 won’t matter.
Also, teams get to test again. Each team organization gets four tests at different tracks. I know a lot of people who are very happy about that!
Of course, there are driver changes. One that will take a little getting used to for Matt Kenseth fans is seeing him in a Toyota after spending his entire career driving a Ford. And he’s no longer with Roush Fenway but with Joe Gibbs and his teammates are Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin and not The Biff and Carl Edwards.
Speaking of Roush Fenway, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., the two-time Nationwide Series champ, moves into Cup, taking Kenseth’s slot. Joey Logano, who Kenseth replaced at Gibbs, is now with Penske Racing and is 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski’s teammate.
And then there’s Furniture Row Racing, which has employed Regan Smith the last few years. They opted to give 2004 champion Kurt Busch a shot, putting him their car at the end of the 2012 season and for 2013. Smith, by the way, is going to work for Dale Earnhardt Jr., driving a full slate of Nationwide Series races in ’13.
One more thing: Dodge, which Keselowski drove to the title, is out. Yep, they finally won a championship and in 2013 they’re out. Only Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota will manufacture vehicles for the Sprint Cup series.
There you have it: lots and lots of changes. It will definitely make for an interesting year with lots of fans keeping an eye out to see just how the changes pan out.
One thing that won’t change? Just four races into the season, Bristol Motor Speedway once again welcomes the greatest fans in sports. The first short track Cup race of the season, the Food City 500, is March 17 with the Nationwide Series hitting the track March 16.
BTW, the Food City 500 is on St. Patrick’s Day this year and there are plenty of fun, extracurricular activities, like a Charlie Daniels Band pre-race concert, planned. It’s gonna be a big party – but then it’s always a party at BMS!
And we’ve still got THE Night race in August – the IRWIN Tools Night Race on Aug. 24. And I don’t have to tell you how spectacular that weekend is – it’s the best in the sport – especially when you consider you’ve got the UNOH 200 Camping World Truck race and the Food City 250 Nationwide event. All under the lights! Ain’t nothing like it.
So, while the sport itself will see several modifications in 2013, not much is changing at Bristol. And that’s a good thing! It’s still going to be the most amazing atmosphere anywhere to see a race, we’re still going to have the biggest family reunion on the planet with all of our extraordinary fans, the racing will be hard, physical and entertaining and the drivers… well, everybody but the winner will likely be unhappy when the races end.
Can’t wait to see all of you here in… well, heck, just under 80 days. We’ll be racin’ in Bristol before you know it!
Hope you enjoyed those black-eyed peas and greens! And may you all enjoy a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!