You’re going to need them…
2009 is rolling forward, the pace car is about to exit and the green flag is about to wave on the Daytona 500. We’ve already seen the ROLEX 24 roar over Daytona, now it is time for the Stock Cars to take their turn at the high bank opening of the NASCAR season. There are, however, a few notes we should all review before we sit down with the pizza and a few cold ones. There are some changes that will confuse the casual observer.
Not only will many of the cars sport new colors, as in the #24 DuPont Chevy carrying black on the rear panel instead of the blue, but a bunch of the numbers will sport different names over the window nets. This is, by no means, to be a complete list but a “primer” to get you started.
Starting close to home, the brothers from Stuart (Woods Brothers) are currently set on a partial schedule as sponsors are hard to come by and when you find one you have to distract them as they sign the contracts. Motorcraft is on board and we can assume Bill Elliott will be inside.
Petty Enterprises has merged with Gillett Evernham Racing to form Richard Petty Motorsports. That means two things. First, the “Petty” name has new life jolted back into it after struggling on Richard’s momentum for quite some time. Yes, the Petty family has endured tragedy and hardship beyond the point where weaker bonds would be shattered.
This merger rebuilds the Petty engine form the outside in. Elliott Sadler (#19) and Kasey Kahne (#9) will now be team mates with Reed Sorenson in the #43 Air Force Dodge and AJ Allmendinger in the #44.
Dale Earnhardt Inc. plans to use driver Aric Almirola full time this year after splitting time in the #8 last year with Mark Martin. Not only that, but DEI and Ganassi are forming up a four team cooperative with Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex, Jr., Almirola and a mystery person in the #41. They should have it figured out by Daytona, you would think. After all, there are drivers out there looking for seat time.
If Almirola is in the #8 full time, where does that leave Mark Martin? What if I told you Martin is set to join the Hendrick Motorsports stable and take over duties in the #5 Chevy? Well, that’s what I’m telling you. Martin wil share garage space with Johnson, Gordon and Earnhardt, Jr.
Yes, that means Casey Mears gets shuffled in the deck and comes away dealt into the hand of Richard Childress Racing joining Harvick, Burton and Bowyer. It looks like we’ll see Mears in the #07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet.
TRG Motorsports is coming into NASCAR Sprint Cup contention and putting Mike Wallace in the new #71 trying to qualify for Daytona. TRG has had some luck with the Trucks, which is now the “Camping World” Series, by the way. TRG is also known for sports car racing coming away with a Porsche win in the GT class of the ROLEX 24 which just ran at Daytona.
Stewart fans will be happy to see him back in a Chevrolet. Will Tony cut the #20 any slack for old time sake…? Don’t count on it. Granted, Tony may just be walking across the lot to “Office” Depot, but he won’t think twice about mixing red with orange if thats what it takes to win.
Ryan Newman comes to Daytona as the defending 2008 winner, but does so without the Alltel Dodge. (Or is it Verizon now…?) Newman takes charge of the #39 US Army Chevrolet as Stewart’s team mate. Newman in a new ride, US Army sporting a new number, blue is black, orange is red…
Yeah – we’re going to need to study up a bit.
Rousch-Fenway runs in 2009 with Biffle, Kenseth, Ragan and McMurray. Waltrip is hanging around. Penske Racing is still in it to win it. Gibbs may have lost Tony, but Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin will roll with the rookie Logano.
Don’t even try to get all the Camping World (formerly Craftsman) Trucks and Nationwide Series drivers and changes figured out just yet. The deck is probably still being shuffled to a degree. Just watch and pick up what you can. Its all racin’ and its all good.
What does it all mean for 2009? It means we need some knew hats and some new shirts and our hands on the qualifying and entry list for the Sprint Cup Daytona 500 so we can figure out just who the hell we’re supposed to be yelling at and cheering for. It means a lot of us may be watching the first few races like we’re in a game of CLUE. Mark Martin did it in the Chevy with Kellogg’s…. or was it Allmendinger in the Dodge with the rope? Dammit – Give me the list again…