By admin | January 11, 2010
By Richard Allen
The end of every year causes people to look back and reflect on what has been. Likewise, the beginning of each new year causes people to look ahead and ponder what might be.
So, once again I will attempt to look into what has proven to be a somewhat clouded crystal ball and make some guesses as to what may lay ahead in the coming NASCAR season.
Let us start at the beginning. The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s most coveted race. Any driver with a sense of history wants to win this race and thus place his name beside the all time greats who have already claimed the prize.
Perhaps no current driver in NASCAR has a greater sense of history than does Tony Stewart. Because of that, he has been tormented by his inability to win this most prized event. 2010 will finally be the year in which he ends that torment.
Stewart is not usually known for putting his best foot forward early in the season but this year will break that trend as well. This, however, may not necessarily bode well for the rest of his year. Remember, the last two Daytona 500 winners, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth, have failed to make the Chase for the Championship.
Once the Daytona 500 is past drivers and teams then begin to focus on winning the Sprint Cup championship. So, that prize will be the subject of my next prediction.
At the start of the 2009 Chase for the Championship a friend of mine asked me who I thought would win. My answer was a simple one. Until somebody actually beats Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team, why predict anyone else?
The famous professional wrestler Ric Flair used to proclaim that, “If you want to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man!” As far as predicting a winner of the 2010 Sprint Cup championship I see no reason to go against the sagacity of such a wise philosopher as Mr. Flair.
Jimmie Johnson will win his fifth consecutive title in 2010.
Now, with a Daytona 500 winner and a Sprint Cup champion declared, who will win the most races in 2010? Certainly, the afore mentioned Stewart and Johnson would be excellent choices for this distinction, but I am going in another direction.
In 2009 Kyle Busch suffered through a ‘disappointing’ season. It was disappointing in the sense that he failed to qualify for the Chase for the Championship. Still in that ‘disappointing’ season he managed four Sprint Cup wins. This year, with a new crew chief I believe Busch will return to his race dominating ways. Granted, his go for broke style sometimes leads to failures, but it also makes him a winner on occasions when he perhaps he should not have been.
With that said, I believe Busch will visit victory lane as many as six or more times this season and will thus win the most races of any competitor.
On another note, I believe race attendance and television ratings will see slight increases in 2010. I think two factors will contribute to this. First, NASCAR is going to revert to earlier start times which I believe will benefit both of the above mentioned issues. And perhaps more significantly, comparisons this year will be up against some very weak numbers that were put up last year, so there is hardly anywhere to go but up. However, as I said, I believe that up-tick will be but a slight one.
There you have it. Those are my predictions for the 2010 NASCAR season. Feel free to make your own and compare against mine. Based on past results, I predict you will do very well if you try.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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