With the Super Bowl in the books, racing fans are ready to step up. The Bud Shootout is the first race of the NASCAR season while the NHRA gets started in Pomona, CA. There are many questions that still need to be answered. We have teams and drivers that are looking turn a fresh page for a new season.
Richard Petty Motorsports - I was the first one to say, “Don’t do it!” when it came to the Petty merger with GEM. At the time, and currently, I believe the jury is still out on mergers with non-racing companies. Once mergers happen, it’s tough to go back. That having been said, I believe we will see The King back in victory lane in 2009. That alone, would make the merger a positive move for NASCAR. Their driver line-up is solid with Kasey Kahne clearly the star. Elliott Sadler, a fan favorite, has underperformed for years but could change that by helping The King win again. A.J. Allmendinger was a great pick up after allowing Red Bull to cover his "break in" expenses, making him a worth while value. Reed Sorenson is the question mark on the team. Reed will drive the legendary 43 vacated by Bobby Labonte. Reed is a young driver with plenty of upside, but he has yet to live up to his pre-Cup career hype. The good news for everyone involved is that Reed is so young; he still has plenty of time to rise to the occasion.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing - Another merger for 2009. This will be very interesting to follow as two racing icons team up. DEI lacked leadership and direction and Chip Ganassi will fill that role. Chip is a true racer whose NASCAR career hasn’t gone the way many expected. Now that they will be running Chevys, we’ll get some answers. If Juan Montoya is going to break out and become weekly threat, it should happen this year. Martin Truex Jr. is the veteran on the team and is looking rebound from a tough 2008 season. Martin belongs at the Cup level and should challenge for the chase. Young driver, Aric Almirola appears to have the talent make some noise at the Cup series level. And finally, John Andretti has emerged as a fourth driver for EGR with a technical alliance in place with Front Row Motorsports. John has been tenacious the past several years trying to get back to the up series in a quality ride. The Front Row team ran well at times on their own, with EGR technology, Andretti could surprise some people.
The NHRA is back in action this weekend in Pomona, CA. The title sponsor is now Full Throttle making it the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. I’m not sure any sponsorship has sounded better. Coming off the most dominating season ever, Tony Schumacher and Alan Johnson are now on different teams with Johnson starting his own Al-Anabi Racing team. This reminds me of when Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham split up. Regardless of which team runs better in this first year apart both men have earned their spot in history already.
On another note,
Michael Phelps is an American Hero having represented our country in the Olympics by winning 8 Gold medals in communist China. He did this at a critical time in our history. I’m my mind the youthful indiscretion that has surfaced over the past few days doesn’t diminish him at all. He is still an American hero and should be treated that way. And yet, now we are hearing that he may be prosecuted for appearing in a picture. That would be insane! I hope America supports Michael Phelps. I do.