Nascar 2009: Looking Back at Last Season – Part 1


Rusty NormanA Quick Review and Thoughts On the 2009 Nascar Season
Part 1
Before we move into the 2010 NASCAR season, I’d like to take a quick review of the 2009 season. Although I know there will be those that disagree with me, overall, I think the 2009 NASCAR season went much better than many expected and it was a very good year for NASCAR. They once again proved they can weather the storms we all face in one way or another. That’s the reason I think a quick review of the 2009 season IS in order.
Thinking back, the season started off with a lot hesitation on the part of many people  about just how good the racing would be and whether or not there would be enough cars to fill the 43 car field every race weekend.
As we know now, every race was filled with 43 cars and the economic situation caused a new wrinkle to appear in the way some of those teams that made the Cup races week in and week out competed. That new wrinkle was a thing called start-and-park. It was a way for teams with less money to be better able to compete regularly and still keep their expenses down.
Of course that particular wrinkle was met with mixed emotions by fans and others and was the subject of conversation over many weeks. I guess that’s the price that must be paid. With the purses paying so well for a car to make the race and finish 43rd, it is no wonder that some of those “poorer” teams would try and minimize their expenses while maximizing their take for making at least one lap. That meant they were saving money on tires, fuel and engines. Although the grumbles continued, no-one could blame them for what they did, and it was fairly predictable especially by the end of the season who was going to be dropping out after running a few laps.
In this fan’s opinion, one of the best things NASCAR did to improve the racing in 2009 was institute the double-file restart, “Shootout Style”– (Geez, I hate that phrase) – and it really did make for more interesting racing. Personally, I was ecstatic to see it be put into practice and never understood why it took them so long to do it. It certainly did add a new dimension to the races, especially restarts near the end of a race. More than once, it had more than a minimal effect on the outcome of the race.
The Super-speedways of Daytona and Talledega continued to have their share of complaints from the fans, drivers and crews. In an attempt to keep everyone up on the racing surface of the track, (as opposed to far down on the aprons), NASCAR kept the yellow line rule intact along with some “refinements” that didn’t make life any simpler for anyone involved. The fans are split almost down the middle on liking rule, especially when their driver seems to benefit from it more than the others do. From this fan’s view, the drivers particularly don’t like it unless they benefit from it; (for example, Brad Keselowski likes it but, Carl Edwards doesn’t like it or restrictor plate races much at all.)
One of the “refinements” was particularly noticeable at Talledega and drew a lot of complaints from many of the drivers. I’m sure you remember the change in the “bump-drafting” rules, especially later in the year’s competition. It seemed to this fan, NASCAR wanted to stop, or at least, slow down the ability of two cars hooking up and pulling away from the rest of the pack. It was pretty obvious, when the right two cars hooked up, it was “Katie bar the door” for the rest of the competition. The right match-up allowed those two cars to gain upwards of at least 4 – 5 miles per hour on the other competition. On a Super-speedway with restrictor plates, that amount of speed over the rest made it possible for them to come from way back in the pack and even pass the leaders in short order. (Of course there were drawbacks once they got out front, too.)
Well, that’s enough on the subject of some of the technical side of NASCAR for 2009. In Part 2, we’ll review some of the high points and surprises on the people side of NASCAR 2009…
See ya next time… Rusty
© February 3, 2010 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and