December 7, 2009 | 11:57 A.M. EST
There is no such thing as the winter doldrums in the racing world. Although we're two weeks removed from the end of the NASCAR season, things have definitely not slowed down much in the way of off track news and planning for 2010:
I'd call NASCAR's first venture to Las Vegas for the end-of-the-season Sprint Cup Awards Banquet ceremonies a huge success. Drivers seemed more relaxed, fans were brought into the mix and overall the report card for the week in Vegas has high marks. The actual banquet ceremony on Friday was better but things could still be done to make that a much more enjoyable experience, especially for fans watching the telecast at home. The first driver speech didn't commence until well after 11 p.m. on the east coast and things didn't wrap up until; nearly 1 a.m. I'd also like to see the drivers ditch those teleprompters and move away from those canned PR speeches to be more off the cuff. But overall I'm looking forward to being part of things next year in Vegas after a successful year one.
Those who think Kyle Busch is doing the wrong thing by starting a truck series team and that his focus will be taken away from the big prize of a Sprint Cup Series championship are dead wrong. The guy is a racer and someone who thrives on being active pretty much all the time, as evident by his Snowball Derby win Sunday. Busch is building what should be a formidable truck series effort, purchasing the old XPress Motorsports organization and bringing in Rick Ren to head up the entire operation. That's good news for the truck series and I think will help keep Busch fueled to be successful on all levels in 2010.
Good to see veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe wind up with the newly-merged Richard Petty Motorsports operations, where he'll takeover crew chief duties for Paul Menard, who comes into the fold as part of the merger with Yates Racing. It appeared Labbe was let go from TRG Motorsports last week in the press material that was sent out but in reality he informed the team he had a new opportunity. However it came about Labbe will hopefully get the 98 team headed in the right direction and the foundation for TRG's No. 71 ride with Bobby Labonte is in place for the new crew chief to come in and take that effort to the next level.
Danica Patrick's NASCAR announcement is (stop me if you've heard this before) speculated to come this week with a limited Nationwide Series schedule coming in 2010 with JR Motorsports. The big PRI trade show takes place in Orlando this weekend and in addition to Patrick's news, look for some other interesting announcements to come out of the show particularly in the short track arena.