Are you ready for some racing?

Happy New Year, everyone.

We are just a couple of weeks away from the Rolex 24 at Daytona and just a few more weeks away from the Daytona 500. Can you stand it?

Here I sit in -30 degree temps and I am thinking about racing at Daytona.

As I have been writing the past few weeks, there are a lot of teams that really have to put up or shut up this year. Who can keep Johnson from another title? Will Dale Jr. follow up with another good year or fall from grace as past patterns might suggest? Can Joe Gibbs Racing finally break through with a title? Will the Ford teams show up with some power this year? Will Martin Truex, Jr. do as well as KuBu? What will all the egos fit together at Stewart Hass Racing? And will Stewart even race at Daytona?

Lots of drama to unfold in the coming year, that is for sure.

In case you missed it this week, some interesting news came out. Jeremy Mayfield finally got his day in court and was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of stolen goods. His sentence was stayed and he was given 18 months probation. He and Shana lost their home in November 2012 and the home was recently burned as part of firefighter training. The buyers of the property did not want the home so it was torched.

I wonder if, in hindsight, Jeremy wishes he had gone through the NASCAR substance program and saved himself a lot of heartache. If he really weren’t a meth user, it would have been a breeze to go through the program and come out the other side intact. He might still be driving right now, albeit in trucks or something. As it is, he won’t be involved in NASCAR at all.

Speaking of the NASCAR substance program, Todd Parrott has been reinstated after completing his program. Parrott had been crew chief for Petty Motorsports driver Aric Amirola. Parrott has never revealed the substance he took, but has vowed to return once his program was complete. Let’s hope the best for him.

Sam Hornish, Jr. will drive for Joe Gibbs racing for 7 races in Nationwide. He will share the seat with Kyle Busch. Hornish was caught in a weird place at the end of last year. Penske wants him to move to Cup, but had no sponsor. The same goes for the Penske Nationwide ride – sponsor issues. That leaves Sam looking for a ride with few quality open seats around.

Chase Elliott will compete in Nationwide with JR Motorsports driving for NAPA. After leaving MWR in the wake of the Cup disaster at Richmond last year, NAPA puled out of Cup racing and MWR. NAPA felt they had lost a lot of credibility with its customer base and was gun shy about getting back into a sport it had been associated with for a long time, but a sport that gave the company an undeserved black eye.

Elliott has a lot of legacy in the sport due to his dad, Bill Elliott. Chase has kept his nose clean, the Earnhardt family runs a good organization and if anyone understands the commitment a sponsor makes to a team and a sport – it is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Miller. As a bonus, NAPA gets back into the sport at a much lower cost than at the Cup level. If things go well, it would not surprise me to see NAPA follow Chase into his eventual Cup career. But a lot has to go well. Cup racing needs to stay clean and NAPA needs to feel that its investment in Chase has been worthwhile. Otherwise they may stay with JR Motorsports and save a lot of money helping to develop talent in Nationwide.

And there is nothing wrong with that. Nationwide could use a dose of big name sponsors to inject some life, interest and financial support into the series.

Welcome back race fans!

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