Nascar 2009: Looking Back At Last Season – Part 2

Rusty NormanA Quick Review and Thoughts On the 2009 Nascar Season
Part 2
The 2009 NASCAR season wasn’t without it’s feel good moments and surprises. There were many throughout the year. What follows are some of the high points of the season from this Fan’s View…
No one expected the Roush teams to perform as poorly as they did in 2009, especially since Carl Edwards looked so strong at the end of the 2008 Season. With the way the 2009 season began, it did look as though the Roush teams were going to the ones to beat, led by Matt Kenseth and the 17 team, with wins at Daytona and Fontana, but their fortunes quickly turned after Fontana and all the Roush teams struggled quite a bit during most of the rest of the season.
Shortly after that, all eyes turned toward Kyle Bush and his chances for taking the Sprint Cup. He did prove to be a strong contender for part of the year but he also faded by the end of the season. Overall, he had a great season in Nationwide and Trucks, but did struggle a bit in Cup.
Probably one of the biggest surprises for the year was the performance of the Stewart/Haas teams. I really don’t think anyone expected them to perform as well as they did, but it just goes to show you never know what’s going to happen in NASCAR. After the middle of the year, it looked like Tony Stewart was going to walk away with his third Cup title (and do it in his first year as an Owner/Driver.) As it turned out, they stumbled a bit in The Chase and never quite recovered enough to get back in the hunt for the Title. An interesting side note about the Stewart/Haas teams is that both of their cars were in The Chase in this first year with Tony as Owner/Driver. I don’t think anyone expected that.
The next biggest surprise to me was Mark Martin’s strong year. I don’t think even he expected to finish the year the way he did, especially with the way the year started for him and his #5 team. Even though they were performing well in the early races, it seemed something always managed to reach out and bite them and the result being them finishing in the middle to the rear of the pack. By the time they reached Phoenix, it all began to fall together for him and crew chief, Allan Gustafson. As it turned out, they won a total of four races and finished 2nd in The Chase behind now 4 time (in a row) Cup Champion, Jimmy Johnson.
Dale Earnhardt Jr’s struggles continued all through the 2009 season and I’m sure it wasn’t a year he wants to look back on for any length of time. Whatever could go wrong seemed to as he missed being in the Chase once again. Even the crew chief change during the year didn’t make much difference to the way his year was going. It appeared to be one of those years that comes along now and again for everyone in racing; even when you do everything right, something always manages to go wrong.
Except for Dale Jr’s #88 team, Hendrick Motor Sports had an outstanding year. If you count the Stewart/Haas teams (running Hendrick equipment) and three of the Hendrick teams themselves, Rick Hendrick had five cars in the Chase. Of those five, his 48, 5 and 24 teams finished 1-2-3 in the Chase for the 2009 season. That is an amazing feat considering how tight the competition is in NASCAR these days. They definitely were a step ahead of the rest for most of the year.
Michael Waltrip Racing had some bright points in 2009 and it looks as though his organization has turned the corner and is going to be more competitive than in the recent past. David Reutimann even pulled off a victory for MWR in a rain shortened race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. To quote several racers, including owner Michael Waltrip on the way it ended, “A wins a win. All that matters is being in the right place at the right time.”
Another bright spot of the year was Marcos Ambrose. Although I know there are some that aren’t all that fond of him, he definitely gained a lot of fans and supporters with the way he performed for most of the year. Now don’t get me wrong, he didn’t have a stellar year but he did have a very good year. He proved he can race with the best in the world and he does it with a smile on his face and his upbeat outlook causes eruptions of laughter just about anywhere he goes. We’ll talk more about him in the coming weeks and months I am sure.
As I said earlier, all in all, this fan thinks the 2009 season for NASCAR was a much better year than anyone expected it to be. There was a lot more good going on than bad and even though the media types kept on trying their best to run it down, NASCAR came out on top once again, (just like they always seem to do.) They instituted some changes that made for more excitement for the fans and the drivers didn’t disappoint either. In many ways, I think NASCAR 2009 was one of the best seasons yet… but that’s just this fan’s view…
See ya next time… Rusty
© February 5, 2010 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and