Big Changes Ahead

Looking ahead to Friday, November 16, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be qualifying the red Budweiser No. 8 Chevrolet for the final time.

He will be preparing for his final race with Dale Earnhardt Inc.

He will be looking to win NASCAR’s final Budweiser Pole Award.

It will be the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.

Also, the last ride for the “car of today.”

All coming on the eve of NASCAR’s farewell Busch Series event.

NASCAR fans certainly face a winter of transition after the checkered flag waves November 18 following the Ford 400 at Homestead.

But, just think of all the “firsts” we will celebrate at Daytona in February.

Following the example of Dale Jr., he’ll debut the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet Car of Tomorrow (in either Amp’d/Mountain Dew or National Guard colors), getting ready to win the Coors Lite Pole Award for the opening race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Season.

We’ll likely see him race in the Daytona 300, the debut race for NASCAR’s No. 2 division (without Busch, it’s currently not only sponsorless, but nameless).

We also expect to see a host of open wheel and sports car stars attempting to make their mark in stock cars, including Sam Hornish Jr., Dario Franchitti, Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier, Colin Braun, Andy Lally, Scott Speed, etc.

While it might be a bit confusing at first (what’s Dale Jr. doing in the No. 9? Sorry, that’s Kasey Kahne; or, what's Mark Martin doing in the No. 8 - or is that Arik Armirola?), the transition should be rather seamless. If fans arrive grumbling about all the changes, they’ll leave marveling about another great finish.

At least stability continues to reign in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, which has been virtually unchanged since its debut in 1995. Hopefully, you’ve also forgotten the “halftime” break that division used in its formative years.

One huge question remains for Daytona:

Will fans wear their new No. 88 Amp’d/Mt. Dew jackets to the Bud Shootout (for last year’s Coors Lite pole winners) and the No. 88 National Guard attire to the 50th Daytona 500, or visa versa?

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2007

Photos

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  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
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  • Remembering Steve Byrnes
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  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
  • Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
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  • From the Archives: Bristol

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