Opinion: Not A Bad Feeling

The sun came up Monday morning, albeit an hour later because of Daylight Savings Time.

But Old Sol's appearance must have still come as surprise to some longtime NASCAR "fans."

You know who I'm talking about, the doomsayers who predicted the world as we know it would end the moment a Toyota rolled into victory lane in a Cup Series races.

Well Kyle Busch turned that trick in Atlanta on Sunday and we somehow seemed to avoid the apocalypse.

A Camry victory no doubt sent many of these tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter watching folks scurrying for safer ground.

Unfortunately I have some bad news for them.

It's going to happen again, a lot in 2008 and beyond.

In case you haven't noticed, Toyota is very good this year, a far cry from the disaster of 2007 when Michael Waltrip Racing was its bellwether team.

The moment Joe Gibbs Racing joined the fold, the tide turned almost immediately.

JGR's proven engine development program, its R&D capabilities and overall winning atmosphere put Toyota in a different league than its Cup Series toe dipping foray in its debut season.

Once testing began this winter and the Toyota brigade displayed horsepower that even Waltrip's rocket fuel couldn't find the previous season, we all knew it was just a matter of time before a Camry took a Cup Series checkered flag.

And I think it's not a bad thing for the sport by any means.

Competition is what racing is all about and now that Toyota has shown it’s a player, the other manufacturers will have to step it up.

As for a "foreign" manufacturer potentially dominating the sport turning off fans, I don't see it happening.

Domination by any make isn't appealing. How good was it for NASCAR to have Chevrolet run roughshod over the sport for the last decade or so or to have Hendrick Motorsports win half the races a year ago?

If a manufacturer becomes the dominant make in Cup racing, it doesn't matter where the parts and pieces come from. And never mind that the ones on Busch's Atlanta winning car and most of the Toyota street vehicles in this country are made here in the USA.

Fans want to see a broad base of makes be competitive and Chevy, Ford and Dodge will be challenged to stay on pace with Toyota.

Fans seem to be interested in something during the early part of the year based on television ratings which have jumped up dramatically.

I've also heard from readers who wondered where the fans were at Atlanta on Sunday and why the mass exodus the second the race ended.

Well Atlanta never sells out, especially in the spring. As for the rush to the gates, I think it's probably more of who won the race rather than what kind of car he was driving.

Despite his obvious talent and unbelievable hot streak to start the season, Kyle Busch will never win the "Most Popular Driver" award.

Toyota doing well in NASCAR is not going to hurt the sport.

Boring races and bad competition will.

We're only four races into 2008 and so far, things are not nearly as bad as they were a year ago on either front.

And the sport isn't being completely dominated by one team or manufacturer.

Chevy hasn't won a race, Ford has one two and Dodge and yes Toyota have both found victory lane.

Hey look, I see the sun shining again.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2008

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