Sunday, January 3, 2010

What Was Good About NASCAR in 2009

Bloggers and fans often take a lot of flack for being too negative. We're quick to criticize the sport we love and the NASCAR powers-that-be don't always appreciate that our sometimes negative comments are usually well-intentioned.

It's human nature to be quick to criticize and slow to praise. And, in looking back on the 2009 NASCAR season, there was plenty that was praiseworthy. Maybe it was a long time coming, but here's my take on a few of the positive developments in 2009 :

Double file restarts "shootout style" - One of the better decisions made by NASCAR this year was establishing double-file restarts for the Cup and Nationwide series. The new rule has made for some exciting late-race green flags. And anything that adds more excitement to a Cup race is welcome indeed.

Driver safety - While there is definitely some tweaking that needs to be done at restrictor plate tracks, the Sprint Cup cars are safer now than ever before. The fact that Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman are walking around in their right minds is proof positive of that. Kudos to NASCAR for their commitment to safe cars and safe racing.

Cheap seats - The continued economic recession did mean one boon to fans in 2009 - cheaper admission to most of the tracks. And, fortunately for us, that low-cost trend is continuing in 2010. Backstretch tickets for the Daytona 500 begin at $55. Add in free parking and that's not such a bad deal for The Great American Race.

NASCAR gets more credit - In recent years, NASCAR has steadily been gaining traction in the widers sports world as a legitimate athletic endeavor. And Jimmie Johnson's historic four-in-a-row championship only added to NASCAR's cred and acceptance among more mainstream audiences. Johnson was named the 2009 Male Athlete of the Year by The Associated Press - the first time a NASCAR driver has won the award.

Hall of Fame Inductees - The inaugural inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame make a fine company indeed. Back in October, NASCAR announced the five members of the first HOF class - Richard Petty, Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Dale Earnhardt and Junior Johnson. Just thinking about what those five people have meant to the sport gives me chills. And I can't wait for the Hall to open to the public in May 2010.

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