Hot Laps Winter Edition
January 10, 2010 | 1:06 P.M. EST
As most of the country remains locked in Old Man Winter's icy grip, there is good news on the horizon.
For one the days are actually getting longer now that we've hurtled past early January. Hey I know that means only a minute or two a week of additional daylight but I'll take it.
Secondly for race fans the sound of actual cars on track is getting closer. In fact we heard some of that joyful noise this past weekend with Rolex Grand Am testing at Daytona. This week brings the annual Chili Bowl in Tulsa and in just a matter of days we'll have the Toyota All-Star Showdown in Irwindale and the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona to feast our eyes upon.
In the meantime there's been plenty to keep up with in the last several days: Lots of speculation that NASCAR will announce some significant rules changes during the annual Media Tour week in Charlotte beginning January 18th. Speculation is that the Sprint Cup car's rear wing will be ditched in favor of a more traditional spoiler and that there also could be some tweaking with the front splitter. Also look for the removal of the no passing below the yellow line rule at Daytona and Talladega and the return of bump drafting through the corners at both those tracks. Overall on paper it appears all those moves will ramp up the competition in 2010.
The game of musical chairs in the Cup garage is a lot slower these days due to the economy and the lack of open seats. But uncomfirmed reports have Aric Almirola in the Phoenix Racing No. 09 for James Finch next year. And over on the Nationwide side look for Brendan Gaughan to return to Rusty Wallace's operation. And finally the truck series will see the return of Richard Childress Racing as the team fields a full-time entry for young Austin Dillon, which will carry the famous black No. 3 paint scheme for the effort.
Some fans are up in arms about Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader taking part in the Budweiser Shootout and doing so in full-fledged current Cup entries. Elliott will reportedly pilot the Roush Fenway Racing UPS Ford which is piloted by David Ragan while Schrader slips behind the wheel of Team red Bull's No. 82 Toyota for Scott Speed. Neither Ragan or Speed qualified for the race under the new eligibility criteria so why shouldn't the teams take advantage of having veterans like Elliott and Schrader take their mounts to the track? I'm not big on what the Shootout has evolved into and wish we had the old pole winner formula back in play but we don't. So with these new rules in place and being this is an exhibition event, why not just sit back and enjoy the fact we'll have 28 Sprint Cup machines racing at Daytona on a February Saturday night?
We also have some fans upset about ESPN's 3-D effort which will see the World Wide Leader launch a three-dimensional sports network sometime in the near future. Just like the announcement of the new Showtime NASCAR show a few weeks ago, there's a legion of fans who find it necessary to complain about things even before they are launched. I find some of the comments aimed toward the 3-D idea laughable. Calm down everyone, let's see how it all works before we get our undies in a bundle already. To me watching a NASCAR race in 3-D from the comfort of my living room sounds pretty cool.
Auto racing reporter extraordinaire (and Twitter fiend) Nate Ryan of USA Today sits in for The Bagman with me on Monday's edition of "The Morning Drive" from 7-11 AM ET on Sirius NASCAR Radio. Bags is back from vacation on Tuesday.
Also can anyone tell me what a Courant is? Thanks.