It has be said that a grown man who cheers for the likes of Kasey Kahne is more like a middle aged woman! I am far from that so I decided to take this time as the first of the Gatorade Duels get underway.
Growing up I wasn’t really much of a NASCAR fan even living here in Charlotte just a stones throw away from the track. I did go to a World 600 (what is now the Coca-Cola 600) when I was 11 back in 1978 when Darrell Waltrip won the first of his five 600 wins. No I’m not a DW fan. After that I never really followed NASCAR all that much. Sure I knew who the popular drivers were and I did like Alan Kulwicki back in the early 90’s. He has been missed in NASCAR, he was a great driver and a great Champion (92). I was also a Rusty Wallace fan! There was Dale Sr and Bill Elliot and the Allisons, the Labonte brothers, Jeff Gordon, and all the others since then.
Well when I got out of the Navy in 97 and moved back to Charlotte and married my high school sweetheart and when Dale Sr died in the Daytona 500 in 2001 I started to really get into NASCAR and tried to pick a driver I could get behind and follow.
It took a couple of years but I had decided on one, the Number 1, Martin truex, Jr. Why? Because I wanted to pick someone that came up new from the then Busch Series and follow them into the Sprint Cup Series. Martin is a two time champ of the Busch Series from 04 and 05. I was getting into fishing and loved going to Bass Pro Shops so it was a great fit for me.
Then I bought a Dodge. Ok its just a Neon, but it is still my Dodge. I went headfirst into Dodge, their history, racing, all that stuff. And at the same time I dragged my daughter Savannah into my obsessive love of Dodge. I wanted her to have a driver she could root for too and she has a friend who is a Kasey Kahne fan so we also started rooting for him. My willingness and desire (sometimes going overboard) to give Savannah what she wants, I have unkowningly become a true Kasey fan as well.
Am I saying that I am turning my back on Kasey or Martin? Not at all. Could I be tagged a fair weather fan? Maybe. Martin didn’t have a good year in 08 and I wasn’t a fan of DEI after Dale Jr left so the Number 1 Bass Pro Shops car got kind of put on the back burner. This year could be a good year for Martin. I’m still no fan of the new EGR but I think Martin’s team has better equipment and a better attitude this year and you will be hearing a lot from him in 09.
You will hear a lot from the Number 9 as well. The new Richard Petty Motorsports is going to be in it every race. I really believe they will be a contender in each race this year and Kasey will make The Chase if not one of the other drivers from that team. Reed Sorenson and Elliot Sadler are going to elevate their games this year. Mark my words.
Oh yeah, one more drive that I like to follow is Bobby Labonte, the 2000 Champion. Although he is driving in a Ford this year and was spurned (imho) by Petty Enterprises, I will be keeping my eye on him this year as well.
So for being a middle aged woman or a Kasey Kahne fan or bouncing back and forth….guilty (ok maybe not-guilty on the middle aged woman thing!) but all I know is that it is NASCAR season and I will be watching every single race from green to checkered. I love this sport! I love the excitement! I love the fans!
Let’s go racing folks!