IN THE DRAFT: Going green on a great NASCAR year

Feb. 20, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Okay? It's almost here, Daytona and the beginning of what should be a spectacular 2013 Sprint Cup season!

I have felt a bit more excitement during this offseason than I have in the past. Well, I did. Let's face it, the Sprint Unlimited kind of burst my bubble a little. And with Danica starting from the pole, can you say conspiracy? Let's take a look.

Yes, I am ready for this season. The Gen6 car has stirred a new interest and I find myself wanting to watch the Daytona 500 from start to finish. Heck, I have found myself watching The Speed Channel and reading the Jayski website trying to get all the information out there and stay abreast of all the changes.

At Acceleration2013 last week in Charlotte, I looked the cars over from top to bottom and it was refreshing to recognized one make from another. They looked more like factory vehicles than they have in years. No more cookie cutter cars and no more trying to determine who is driving what. The changes are a welcome sight. I love the driver's names on the top of the windshield. That will surely help an old man's eyes.

One thing I am really looking forward to is no more guaranteed starting spots. With the exception of Daytona this week, qualifying now means something. Qualifying now has a purpose. It has taken too long for this change to take place.

I, along with 75 percent (that's three out of four in case Larry McReynolds reads this) of my readers, have said the teams need a reason to be ready to race when they get to the track. They need to be prepared to go as fast as possible when they unload at the track. Don't depend on being in the race just because you show up. This system was in place for their predecessors and it is time for them to know what they went through. It is time we get back to the root of racing.

Speaking of qualifying, Danica Patrick won the first pole for a female in Sprint Cup ever! Great! She was the fastest in practice! Awesome! With the exception of Phil Mickleson a few weeks ago, how many professional golfers have won the tournament after opening with the lowest round? Phil shooting a 60 did not guarantee him a victory. He still had three rounds to play and the same can be said for Danica. Let's see where she is at lap 50, lap 100, lap 150 and the finish. I hope she does well but I have my doubts. After all of the interviews and all of her time answering questions about her record-setting lap, I don't know if she can handle the pressure.

Now, I hope my excitement is not wasted. I suffered a bit of a letdown during the Sprint Unlimited Saturday night. All everyone wanted to talk about was the big wreck that was going to happen and how it would determine the outcome.

Well. it happened but it was driver error that caused it. And I say driver error because Tony Stewart never admitted it.

As they set up for the final segment I still had some nervous energy and I was on the edge of my seat, but that surely died out when no one could pass Kevin Harvick. They tried but he was given such a big push from Greg Biffle that he was able to block any challengers and he coasted to the win.

So now I am perplexed. I have no idea what to expect Sunday. Right now, the only great thing is we are hosting our friends again as we watch the Daytona 500. The food and friendship will be fantastic even if the race is not! I sure hope I'm wrong!

NASCAR is ready for Danica Patrick to be the next star and a win would go along way to making this the best year ever in racing. They want to promote her and the sport to a whole new set of fans. In fact, they could be conspiring right now to do so. I can't believe I am using "conspiracy" and we haven't watched the first lap. See you after Daytona!