Monday, February 9, 2009

Return of the blog

Welcome back to 'Jonesin' for Speed' for another season (I hope) of racing commentary and news from the local tracks. It’s been a difficult off-season for all of us, and NASCAR has not been immune from the economic smack down we’re enduring. Nothing is more evident of that than qualifying Sunday afternoon for the Daytona 500. How many cars either had bunk sponsors on their hoods or no decals at all? Window World and BluFrog are now replacing the likes of Kodak and Alltel. Even Roger Penske's No. 12 car doesn't have a sponsor, which probably should be a hint to the Captain that David Stremme shouldn't have a ride. These second-tier sponsors might work for this Sunday’s 500, but NASCAR will be lucky for 43 cars to even show up at California the following week.

Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout offered an in-depth, if not bizarre, look at what will happen in the Daytona 500. It seemed ridiculous to have 28 cars in a supposed All-Star event, but maybe NASCAR was throwing a bone to the struggling car manufacturers. Regardless, I was dumbfounded to see drivers like A.J. Allmendinger and Scott Speed racing. Where was 2008 Daytona 500 champ Ryan Newman? But if we learned one thing, it’s that these cars will be hopping all over the track. Jeff Gordon said in an interview that he wondered whether the viewers could see the cars bouncing around and nearly into each other. Note to Jeff: We could see them moving around all the way from the blimp camera. Here’s hoping the 500 field doesn’t get whittled down to 10 cars by Lap 175 … if the economic meltdown doesn’t do it before then.

During this week, we'll take a look at the top stories of 2009 and react to the Gatorade Duel races on Thursday. Speedweek is here, and not a moment too soon.

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