|NASCAR provides a clean slate with each race.|
As January passes silently away, February looms in the horizon brilliantly. It is a month filled with the promise of newness, the optimism of beginnings, and the understanding that there is once again a clean slate. Yesteryear is over and Tony Stewart, though he is the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, has his points lowered to zero like all the rest of his competitors.
Daytona, the so-called Super Bowl of NASCAR, is the first points race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Over the off-season much happened behind the scenes that teams are hoping and praying make them viable contenders for the Cup. Personnel changes, sponsorship deals, and personal news all contribute to the clean slate.
At the beginning of the 2011 season it was nearly inconceivable that Jimmie Johnson wouldn’t pull off his sixth consecutive championship. At the beginning of the 2011 Chase it was nearly inconceivable that Tony Stewart would be able to win the Cup.
Now, with a clean slate, there is no telling if Carl Edwards will be able to finally bring home the championship, if Kyle Busch will have the stamina and wherewithal to behave and perform in the Chase to vie for the Cup, or if Stewart-Haas Racing will take its place among the top-tier teams and claim a second consecutive championship.
With the announcement that Kevin and DeLana Harvick are expecting their first child, the slate is clean and perhaps will provide a definitive incentive for Kevin Harvick to achieve his first championship.
As Trevor Bayne showed the world, a clean slate provides ample opportunity to change destiny and the course of history. This could very well happen for Danica Patrick, Juan Pablo Montoya or Marcos Ambrose.
Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Kurt Busch all have a shot at greatness this season. In fact, the entire field does. A clean slate does that, it levels the playing field even if just for a moment.
The clean slate may produce a fifth championship for Jeff Gordon.
As the cars line up on Sunday, February 26th in Daytona, nobody knows who will win.
And that’s what I love about the entire NASCAR Sprint Cup Season as well as all of NASCAR’s premiere series – Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. The clean slate occurs with each race.
Of course NASCAR culminates with a champion whose performance throughout the entire season determines his (or her) winning. But, I really do enjoy watching each race as a one-off. The clean slate effect lasts the entire season that way.
My hopes are that Dale Earnhardt Junior can see this season as a clean slate. He has finally gotten through the first decade without his father. Junior now has a fantastic crew chief in Steve Letarte, a fresh focus, and a fan base that is unparalleled in the sport; it is time for him to shed the hardships of the past and get on with his future.
As I am a fan of every driver out on the track, it is always enormously exciting for me to see a new season play out. Having a clean slate each February is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.
Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.