Fresh Start


I was never happier to turn a calendar page than I was on Sunday.

On a personal note, January was maybe the longest month of my life, with my father's illness and passing.

But it was no picnic professionally either.

January was 31 days of writing or talking about NASCAR doom and gloom.

I know it started in mid-November after the 2008 season hadn't really ended and continued through the holidays and December.

But what is always the longest month for those of us who have to deal with the harsh realities of winter seemed to go on forever with depressing economic and financial news coming at a fever pitch.

While those problems still obviously exist and will certainly continue to play a part in our daily lives and in the world of NASCAR, thankfully we can at least know that in less than a week there will be actual race cars on track to turn our attention to - finally.

Going to Daytona is always a rebirth for anyone connected to racing, whether you're a driver, crew member, journalist or fan.

And this year in particular, "Speedweeks" will have a sense of beginnings for many in the sport with a lot of new faces in new places.

The story lines heading to Daytona are nearly endless, a writer/reporter's dream and in turn, hopefully, heaven for fans starving for news that doesn't involve a balance sheet or shrinking 401k.

The race to just get into this year's 51st running of "The Great American Race" alone will be fascinating.

At least 15 dreamers will attempt to make it into the biggest race of the year as the list of independent teams and drivers continues to grow.

The spirit of NASCAR's beginnings is embodied by each one of these underdogs and those who believe the sport has wandered too far from its roots need only to follow how this story plays out to feel reconnected to days gone by.

But that's only one bit of drama that will play out over the course of the next two weeks. Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kasey Kahne, Richard Petty, Chip Ganassi, David Stremme and of course Jimmie Johnson are just a few of the names that comprise the cast of this intriguing little mini-series will all be following closely.

I'm sure the "E" word will be lurking around the shadows of the entire season. But isn't it nice to be able to put it in the backseat for a while.

It's been driving us crazy for too long.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2009

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