Exciting year in racing ahead

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you probably already have heard by now that Danica Patrick will be the pole-sitter for Sunday’s Daytona 500—the biggest race of the season on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit.
Even if you aren’t a racing fan (and I already know that I’m well in the minority when it comes to those who have an interest in the sport), Patrick’s achievement is quite a big deal.
Never before in the 65-year history of NASCAR’s highest level has a women started a race in first place, and to do it in the biggest event of the year is something worth celebrating.
Granted, Danica is a bit of a dividing figure, with many supporters being a fan because of the fact that she’s racing against the guys. But others believe she is a product of media hype and only is getting a shot at the big time because of her good looks.
No matter what you may think of her, this accomplishment is worth celebrating—and also is a great way to kick off what should be an exciting year of racing all around the world.
While the Danica storyline is a huge one for mainstream sports fans as she begins her full-time career on the Sprint Cup tour, the 800-pound gorilla once again should provide a multitude of storylines.
One of the biggest is the new-look cars, which are going back to sort of similar to the factory models that one would find at their local Chevrolet, Ford, or Toyota dealerships, instead of the almost identical-looking machines that drivers raced over the last few years.
Personality-wise, the Sprint Cup series has a number of guys to keep an eye on, especially with defending champ Brad Keselowski being incredibly outspoken and not afraid to speak his mind on a variety of topics—even if that is against the mindset of the sanctioning body.
While many of the more well-known drivers, such as Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, aren’t getting any younger, there are a number of young drivers in the three NASCAR national series that actually are getting seat time and could have a shot at the big time if they are developed properly.
In the Sprint Cup series, two-time Nationwide Series champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (who probably is better known by some for being Danica Patrick’s boyfriend) will get a top-notch ride at Roush Racing while younger talents like Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney will have full-time seats in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.
While the NASCAR world again will see some exciting racing, there is other racing series to keep an eye on throughout North America.
If you like open-wheel racing, the Indy Car Series once again will provide tons excitement. And the NHRA drag racing season already is well underway, with their first event taking place in California this past weekend.
Plus, there always is local short-track racing to go and see every weekend in the summer, such as the Emo Speedway here.
Personally speaking, I’m looking forward to the Formula One season in Europe, which won’t get underway until March in Australia.
Year after year, the best drivers in the world continue to amaze me with just how crazy and unpredictable the events are, with Sebastian Vettel winning his third-straight title in dramatic fashion last season.
I find it hard to believe that they will top themselves after last season’s antics, but more often that not, the Formula One travelling circus does just that.
However, I’m sure that’s not what you, as a reader, want to know about right now. In fact, you probably want to know if I am picking Danica to win the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Honestly, it’s hard for me to see it. While her car is very fast, running quick in a pack of cars in a restrictor plate race is much harder than it is by yourself, especially when you have try and avoid the inevitable multi-car pileup.
Plus, many of the top drivers on the circuit have never won at Daytona before, so they will be driving like absolute crazy heads in order to win the biggest race of the year—and may leave Danica hanging out to dry in the final laps.
But if she does pull it off, it probably will go down as one of the most important events not only in racing history, but in the entire sporting landscape this year.