So the banquet has been held. Checks handed out. Trophies given. Awards given. Kudos given. Drivers retired.
And now the off-season begins and Silly Season continues.
So what’s new? Brian France announced Martin Truex, Jr. and quickly left the stage, not even offering a handshake. He did much the same for Dale Earnhardt, Jr, NASCAR’s most popular driver who is retiring from the sport.
Thankfully, we got to hear from Truex about what Dale Jr. has meant to him. We sure didn’t hear from King Brian about what Earnhardt has meant to the sport.
Talk about awkward.
So there will be new pit stop rules in 2018. There will now be a common lug nut gun. There will also be one fewer over-the-wall crew member for pit stops. This is all supposedly to help keep costs down and for added safety on pit road by removing about 40 people. I never knew that those 40 people were causing a problem, but I applaud NASCAR for thinking of safety measures. Teams will adapt and you can be sure that teams are already hard at work on the choreography of the reduced team. I also expect to see a few more pit road penalties regarding crews over the wall too soon, loose lug nuts, loose tires, etc. until they get the bugs worked out of the system.
Chevrolet will be turning to the Camaro for 2018 Cup. The SS never caught on with the car buying public and the Monte Carlo is gone. The Impala would have been another good choice, but the Camaro is the defacto street rod for Chevrolet with the Corvette saved for sport car racing.
Bud Moore passed away and HOF driver Jack Ingram was injured in a car accident.
Jimmie Johnson said it is time to buckle down in the off-season. So that means more time in the shop and away from family for the 7-time champ. While 3 wins and a 10th place finish for the year would rank high on many teams lists, it is not the case with the 48 crew. Johnson will surely make the playoffs in 2018 and hearing that he is redoubling his efforts to compete for a title surely can’t be good news for his competitors.
Speaking of his competitors, there are still a number of drivers without a seat in 2018, most notably Kurt Busch. While everyone expects him to return to Stewart-Haas Racing, it will be under a new financial arrangement. As Earnhardt pointed out so well late in the season, the economics of NASCAR are coming home to roost. The sport can only take falling attendance so long. The next TV deal will probably not be as rich and NASCAR has yet to find a way to make significant income on social media events or Internet viewing. With falling rating, NASCAR hasn’t been able to quantify how the 2nd screen is bringing in sufficient viewers so they can sell that to sponsors. Personally, I don’t think a lot of people are watching a race on their mobile device. If you are, I want to hear from you!
So how are you spending the off-season and what are you looking for the most in the 2018 season? Sound off!