Column: Race fans, start your engines

Published 4:39 pm Friday, February 18, 2005

By Staff
It's that time of year again NASCAR fans. It's what you've been waiting for and talking about for three months now. The Great American Race! The king of all races! The biggest race of the year!
It's Daytona time baby! The start of a new year in racing.
Dale Jarrett grabbed the pole position for the Daytona 500 last weekend with a lap time of 188.3 miles an hour. Jarrett is a three-time Daytona 500 winner and is now a three-time polesitter. Guess third time is a charm!
Jimmie Johnson grabbed the second place spot after winning the Budweiser Shootout last Saturday night. Johnson aced past teammate and car owner Jeff Gordon and knocked him off of front row honors.
Gordon finished third, Kevin Harvick finished fourth and Joe Nemechek placed fifth.
Dale Earnhardt Inc., the team that has dominated the Speed Weeks activities since 2001, showed poorly last weekend. DEI's best effort came from part-timer Martin Truex Jr., who was the 31st fastest out of the 57 cars that attempted to qualify Sunday.
Earnhardt Jr., said that team DEI just doesn't have the horsepower this year that they have enjoyed in the past. Is this a sign of a bad year to come for DEI? Lets hope not!
Thursday proved to be a much better day for DEI though. Once they got into racing mode, it was business as usual for Earnhardt Jr. who is starting fifth and Michael Waltrip who will be in third.
Tony Stewart grabbed the win at the second 150-miler, but only after he dodged a crash that took out many of the top contenders. Kevin Harvick is to blame for the pile up and has already started the year off on the wrong foot with many drivers. Jimmie Johnson, Joe Nemechek Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin were all involved in the wreck. All of them claim that Harvick drives like an idiot and Nemechek threw a water bottle at him as he emerged from the infield care center. Johnson and Harvick don't have a good past as it is and it all came to a head Thursday.
NASCAR made it clear that they have had enough and warned the two that if they didn't resolve their differences, they could watch the races from the stands
What a way to start off the season!
While everyone else is gearing up for another exciting year of racing, Mark Martin is preparing for his last. He announced late last season that 2005 would be his last in the Nextel Cup series. Oh no! Does this mean no more Viagra car? What car will everyone pick on now? Oh wait, nevermind! Sorry Gordon. He is always picked on so that is nothing new.
I have been going to MIS for the past three years and feel so bad for Gordon because he gets booed everywhere he goes, especially at MIS. Last year I thought I would cheer for him when he was introduced because I felt bad for him. Bad idea! Everyone around me looked at me like "what are you doing?" It wasn't like I wanted him to win, I just felt bad for him. Guess I won't be doing that again.
I know a lot of people, like myself, are wondering what is up with the new point system? From my understanding this is how it works:
NASCAR has established a new method for determining the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series championship, and has reallocated its annual point fund to provide more awards for more drivers in the series. For the first time in 15 years, a traditional NASCAR championship points system will replace the Competition Performance Index (CPI), which ranked the drivers by a statistical index and was used to determine the series champion each year from 1990-2004.
Beginning in 2005, drivers in each track's top NASCAR class will be awarded championship points at each race. The driver with the highest total - based on their best 16 finishes of the season - will win a championship in one of NASCAR's four newly-designated divisions: Division I, Division II, Division III and Division IV. Each division includes a group of randomly-assigned tracks and is not based on geography or types of cars. Point fund awards will be distributed equally to all four divisions. The divisional champion with the highest point total overall will be crowned as the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national champion.
Yeah ok so what was wrong with the old one? It's like they're playing a video or board game if you ask me. Everyone knows change isn't always good. Take DEI for example! So we'll have so see how this little system plays out.
This should be a pretty fun and interesting year though. I'm excited to see what 2005 brings in racing. Who will be on top? Who will do the worst? Who will have the most points at the end of the year? What will be the highlight of this season?
Fasten your seat belts and enjoy another year of NASCAR racing to find out!
Resources: The Indy Star,,, DTN News Journal