Saturday, February 09, 2008

One down

Thirty-seven (including the All-Star race) to go.  The NASCAR 2008 Winston/Nextel/Sprint Cup season has begun and the Bud Shootout is in the books - answering the age-old question: "Would the move away from DEI help or hurt Dale Jr.?"

The answer:  Help.  Big-time.  Junior dominated the Shootout in his new Hendrick car, and won pretty handily, leading over 2/3 of the overall laps.  Last year, between the turmoil at DEI and the mysterious tendency of his engines to blow out, Junior still nearly made the Chase (the playoffs, for those of you accustomed to more conventional sports).  With good equipment (finally), you should see him return to his traditional place: dominant on plate tracks, strong on short tracks, good on the cookie-cutters.  He should make the Chase easily, and be competitive in the title hunt.

Which is good news for ratings - a Junior near the front equals eyeballs when you're talking about the most popular driver in American motorsports.  Now, if only IRL and Champ Car would merge I might give a crap about open-wheel racing as well.  Especially in hi-def.