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…
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…
Hello everybody and welcome to NASCAR Fan’s View, the new home of what you previously knew as, “Just A Fan’s View”. We are excited to be here and are looking forward to the 2010 NASCAR racing season. If you are new to us, you can check out our old address at:
Yeah, I know I’m jumping the gun a little bit and everything isn’t quite ready for “prime-time”, but, I just couldn’t wait to get settled into our new site and get ready for the new NASCAR season. I am excited about some of the new things we are going to be doing over the coming weeks and I hope you will be too. We are going to expand our talking points to include the Trucks and Nationwide series as well as the Cup. We also want you to be more involved and hope you will at least leave us your comments in the box below every post. Not only that but we intend to have a call-in number so you can leave us your verbal comments about whatever trips your trigger every week and some will be worked into the weekly blogcast. (Now, don’t get to bent out of shape; we won’t air vulgar, obscene or outrageous critical comments. I believe in self control and if you can’t say it without all the bad language, you might as well keep it to yourself ’cause no one else is going to hear it, at least not through us.) Anyway, we hope you will like the plans we have for this year and that you will be involved along with us with your opinions and comments.