Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Rookie Stripe: 5 Reasons to be a NASCAR Fan in 2019

Photo credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
By Logan Kureczka

The 2018 series is in its closing hours as the clock ticks toward Homestead Miami, where a new NASCAR champion will be crowned. But when February rolls around all engines will be go as a fresh 2019 season of competition comes to life at racing’s most elite level.

Even if you’re still learning the ropes of NASCAR, you’re still a fan. Racing, and NASCAR in particular, isn’t the easiest sport to understand, but that’s what makes it exciting, right? Rules can change from year to year as can drivers, teams and crew. Its evolving, malleable format means that no two seasons or races ever look the same.

As we head into the 2019 season, here are five reasons to be a NASCAR fan now more than ever.

1. The Playoffs. Despite the Daytona 500 being the biggest race in NASCAR, anyone who doesn’t follow the NASCAR playoffs is missing out on the gripping stage-based race format implemented by NASCAR several years ago. The format was changed to increase aggressive racing strategy and making racing more exciting, and many fans will tell you that it’s done just that. Check out the Rookie’s Guide to Playoff Points.

2. Drivers are changing teams.
A fun element of NASCAR is that just like other professional sports, NASCAR drivers can change teams, pairing fresh drivers, crew chiefs and pit crew who have never worked together before. After the 2018 season, Kurt Busch is expected to move to Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 1 car. Rumor has it that Martin Truex Jr. will move to Joe Gibbs racing after Furniture Row Motorsports closes, and word on the track is that Daniel Suarez is trying to make a move to the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 car. Ryan Newman is expected to head to Roush Fenway Racing as the driver of the No. 6 car next year, and Ryan Preece takes over AJ Allmendinger’s ride in the No. 47 car for JTG Daugherty Racing.

3. NASCAR drivers are more accessible than many professional athletes. Many NASCAR drivers come from strong racing roots and grew up racing in small karting or dirt track races. They’re used to being in close proximity to fans, and many of them make themselves available to fans through autograph sessions, Q&As, or even at the track. Sometimes they might pick you out of the audience for a selfie.
Photo credit: LJ Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
4. Young, talented, hungry drivers need fans. While some have decried the glory days of NASCAR to be long gone with the loss of talent like Dale Jr., Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, new talent like Chase Elliott, William Byron and Daniel Suarez are hot on their heels on their way to being racing stars. Many of NASCAR’s newer drivers have huge raw talent, and with fan backing they’ll skyrocket to fame. (How to pick your favorite driver.)

5. NASCAR has become more athletic. If you’re a sports fan all-around, NASCAR now boasts some of the top athletic talent in professional sports. Many teams recruit pit crew from college and pro sports including football, and train them just like pro athletes, even hosting combines like those put on by by the NFL. And even though they are driving for hours on end, drivers know the importance of being conditioned. Many run, bike, do yoga and even surf to stay in shape.

Photo credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
For more check out Jayski’s unofficial team charts for the upcoming 2019 season.

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