|The Definitive Top Ten Stories for 2020
|NASCAR is at the Quarter Post
|Let's Be Real!
|The season's top seven high notes
The Definitive Top Ten Stories for 2020
#1. The last laps for Jimmie: How well will the final season go for this soon to be Hall of Famer? If Jimmie can find his way back to victory lane and make the playoffs this year, it will be considered a success. When the green flag drops on the 2020 Daytona 500 it will have been 988 days since his last win. I don't think anyone wants to see that number hit a thousand.
#2. The Rise of Matty D: Can this be the year that Matt DiBenedetto breaks though with a win? He has a chance to secure his first win and the Wood Brothers their 100th, that could be a special day in a lot of ways.
#3. Doubling down on Pocono: This year Pocono will make history by running Cup races on back-to-back days, to be honest, it almost felt like they had been doing this all along. I like this bold move and it could be a sign of things to come. Here's hoping the folks in Pocono are blessed with good weather and full grandstands.
#4. Twist and turns at the Brickyard: Didn't take long for Roger Penske to put his stamp on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the famed track will now run the Xfinity Race on the road course. Nice move trying to breathe life back into the NASCAR weekend at IMS.
#5. Rookies abound: The so called big three of the Xfinity series have now all graduated to the Cup garage setting up a potentially great rookie battle. Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell have all landed in quality rides and have a shot at making a big splash. If anyone of these three could make the playoffs that would be cause for celebration.
#6. There is no free in free agency: Several top tier drivers are in the final year of their current contracts. Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Kyle Larson are among those that will have an extra incentive to preform well. This could prompt a season long silly season! The auditions to replace Jimmie Johnson at HMS have already started.
#7. The schedule shuffle: Daytona will now host the last race of the regular season, this could be wild. I love the idea of dangling one last playoff spot in front of these drivers at a wildcard location like Daytona. Then Darlington will host the start to the playoffs, that offers high drama and added pressure. Hopefully the new short track package will make the racing for the finale at Phoenix better than last year. I've got a feeling that by that time NASCAR will have dealt effectively with that issue.
#8. Joe Gibbs Dominance: Last season the cars of Joe Gibbs Racing won 19 of 36 races, and put three of the four teams in the Championship race, that's not leaving much for anyone else. Can they replicate that type of success or will the defection of Cole Pearn from the 19 team create a crack in their armor? Still thinking the road to the championship runs through Joe Gibbs Racing.
#9. Straighten up your bow-tie: Last year Chevrolet won just seven races and they haven't claimed the manufacturers championship since 2015, this represents a big drop-off for the once dominant nameplate. In 2020 the Camaro has new look and for Chevy fans they are hoping this paves the way for more victories and a chance for Chase Elliott to claim his first title.
#10. The Mike and Jeff show: FOX has decided to go with a two person booth for their Cup broadcast this year, now that Darrell Waltrip has retired from television. Mike Joy is the platinum standard of NASCAR broadcasters and Jeff Gordon has a great grasp of the current drivers and cars. These developments are important because for millions this how they consume their racing. I think viewers eyes and ears will be well serviced.