JR wins Daytona

It’s a Hollywood ending for the season’s beginnings at Daytona International Speedway. Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. wheeled a wicked piece to victory lane at the Daytona 500. Fans endured a Daytona record six-hour rain delay, but there isn’t a member of Junior Nation yet who hasn’t said it wasn’t worth the wait.

You can’t win a championship in February, but you can do some things that will sure cause to lose one. For a racer who has endured crew chief changes, team changes, near misses and more misfortune than Charlie Brown, this sets the tone for a season unlike any Earnhardt has had since the last time he won the Great American race.

Earnhardt, Letarte and the 88 team imposed their will on this race. Junior fought off numerous challenges- including the likes of Greg Biffle, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin. Having a swift ride kept the 39-year old in front of the mayhem, the kind that has often collected Dale in years past.

Earnhardt and his fans have endured their lion’s share of grief. The problem with being the son of a legend, and having an insanely large fan following is you will have automatic detractors. Anyone living a public life will tell you that you don’t have to work that hard to have haters. When you combine that with the struggles Earnhardt has had, pretty much since Pops Eury left the pit box, it can really wear on you. A solid 2013 was nice, but fans and critics alike still place a premium on the win column. The win on this day puts a big time check mark in a big time box for the new season.

Lil E’s win puts the bow on a generally good race. The night time temperatures and clean race track set the stage for some spirited racing. Unfortunately, the racing in cramped quarters created its share of of mash ups, but we were spared long stretches of single file freight trains and the dreaded two-car tangos.

Not only is this a win for the Earnhardt camp, it’s a win for NASCAR. This will awaken the casual fan from their slumber, and for the hardcore faithful, those Junior fans who are the motorsports equivalent of Chicago Cub fans, it creates a hopeful atmosphere to start 2014.

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Happy New Year Faithful Reader and Fellow Fan! I hope this posting finds you ready and excited to face a prosperous and happy 2014!

I know it’s been pretty quiet here lately. After the re-launch of Bump Drafts back at the end of May, we had been going great guns and then suddenly slowed in the late Fall. Allow me to explain: I’ve forgotten how time consuming my play-by-play gig kept. The good news is that the Cascade Christian Challengers football team won the Oregon AAA championship. Just one week later, basketball season started with four preseason tournaments, keeping the writer busy, not to mention all that comes with the fulltime job as a TV/radio sports reporter and news writer. With all that being said, Bump Drafts isn’t going anywhere, and as many of you know, I am also writing twice a week over at All Left Turns, which also revived after a short quiet spell.

With that out of the way, my friends, I ask the question: what is the one thing in NASCAR you would like to see happen if nothing else comes to pass concerning your dreams, wishes and desires? Feel free to be specific.

For me, beyond the general wish of consistently good racing, I think this fan’s wish is to see NASCAR wunderkind Kyle Larson earn multiple wins and take the series by storm. NASCAR needs an infusion of new blood. Not just new blood, but relevant new blood. From here, this writer sees a need for a young fresh face to come along and carry the touch, and bring the sport to a new generation. In this humble opinion, Larson just might be that guy.

Other wishes on the list include multiple wins for Dale Earnhardt Jr. It’s too much of a stretch to call him an underdog, but would be nice to see the loyalty of his huge fan base rewarded and for the haters to get off his back.

As strange as it sounds, I am also rooting for Jimmie Johnson to win his seventh championship. To be honest, I’ve never been a real Johnson, for no other reason than he wins all the time. This time though, Johnson is on the verge of history. He’s quality racer and a quality guy, and it’s time to make room at the top.

A partner to that wish is my wish that Johnson gets raced hard for it. It would be cool to see the likes of Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Dale Jr., Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski offer up a spirited challenge to make it the most interesting chase ever.

I am also wishing for success for Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing. I love the underdog, and to that end, I love FRR. Truex is also somewhat of an underdog after what went down at Michael Waltrip Racing, all of it (in my opinion) beyond his control.

It would also be fun to see Stewart-Haas Racing, with their new lineup, shake things up a little bit, well actually, a lot in 2014. a return to the track by Tony Stewart will be welcomed, and it will be intriguing to watch how Smoke, Happy, The Outlaw and Danica all co-exist.

That’s what’s on my mind this morning, how about you? I always look forward to hearing from you.

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NBC is rolling out its broadcast team for 2015, and so far, the lineup is solid. Speaking as one who works in the business (on a MUCH smaller scale), Rick Allen is a pro and Jeff Burton has a ton of promise as a color analyst.

Now the question is who will be the third voice in the booth, or will there be a third member of the on-air team? Tradition had held that the third announcer would be a former crew chief, to offer a strategic and technical perspective. Larry McReynolds- former chief for the likes of Dale Earnhardt and Davey Allison- has held down the post for FOX, while Andy Petree (Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant) has performed in that capacity for ESPN.

Not EVERY network has followed suit. Remember Benny Parsons and Buddy Baker? TNT has gone with Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Kyle Petty.

What should NBC do? Is a third even needed? Those are interesting questions.

Personally, I don’t care, just as long as the combination works. My biggest issue with our current lineup of broadcasters is the absence of another perspective. McReynolds has been referred to as “DW’s talking parrot,” Petree and Dale Jarrett have sounded so much alike that I often have a difficult time discerning who is speaking. Dallenbach and Petty don’t offer enough contrast between each other, and frankly, it just doesn’t seem like the pair have grown any in their years together.

A new perspective is needed. I read where one fan suggested former Martin Truex crew chief Robert “Booty” Barker. There’s an interesting idea. Could Petree play well off of Allen and Burton? It’s possible. It doesn’t have to be another crew chief, opening the door for any number of other personalities. One thought that immediately comes to mind is Ricky Craven, who in my opinion has been great in the broadcast booth when given the opportunity.

The beauty of this is NBC has plenty of time to get it right. They need to do it right. So far, network executives are saying all the right things. Now they need to follow through. What NASCAR needs right now is one LESS problem. In recent years, TV coverage has been a part of the problem. NBC can help change that by learning the lessons of their predecessors.

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