Friday, February 27, 2015

I Need a NASCAR Driver

Eenie, meenie, minie mo
Catch a driver by the toe
If he hollers, let him go
Eenie, meenie, minie mo. 

My Crew Chief told me to pick the very best one and...

My favourite driver is and will always be Jeff Burton.  There is nothing that will ever change that fact.  But he is no longer racing.  So how does one go about picking a new driver?  For some it's quite easy.  For others... not so much.  There are those fans who only cheer for drivers who drive a certain make of car.  There are some who are loyal to a particular racing organization.  There are some who favour a certain number or a family name.  Sometimes I wish it was an easy choice for me just like those fans.

During the entire 2014 season I was convinced that I didn't have a full time driver.  But that may not be entirely true.   In 2009, I decided that I should have a back up driver just in case something happened to my primary driver.  This way I would have a driver to cheer for during the race.  Since I had just taken notice of a certain Crew Chief, Chad Knaus of the Lowe's 48 team, it seemed only logical to go with his driver Jimmie Johnson as the back up driver.  I also may have noticed a brash young driver named Brad Keselowski.  But we'll get to him later.

So for a few years, it was 31/48 and life was good.  Then it all changed in 2013 when the news came out that Jeff Burton would not be racing in 2014 even though his contract wasn't up until after the end of the 2014 season. Sponsorship issues was the reason stated.  And Burton fans suddenly found themselves wondering what to do after Jeff stopped racing.  I guess it was harder to take since it was near the end of the season and it was the last thing expected.  Looking back it might have been easier to accept if the announcement came at the beginning of the season.  In this I envy Gordon fans... at least they have a full year to prepare themselves.

So I found myself lacking focus in 2014 for the NASCAR season.  Part of me wanted to keep watching but it just wasn't the same anymore.  Every time I saw the 31 car I would be reminded that Jeff Burton is no longer driving full time and I would tear up.  The only thing that kept me watching was two Crew Chiefs... Chad Knaus and Paul Wolfe.  But as I have said before, NASCAR is a driver-centric sport.  It's extremely hard to watch without a favourite driver.  So the choices were to pick a new driver or to stop watching.  Actually, not watching was really not a choice.  And now after thinking about it, I really don't have to pick another driver because... I already have a driver.  I just had to accept it as fact.  There was a reason I picked a back up driver all those years ago... and that reason has come to pass.  

The easy thing to do would be to move Jimmie to primary driver.  After all he was chosen as back up driver back in 2009.  Shouldn't it just be an automatic thing then that the back up takes over as primary once the primary no longer races.  One would think so but... this is where I throw a monkey wrench into the whole plan.  And that wrench's name would be Paul Wolfe.  Wait... what?!?  Yes, I said Paul Wolfe... the Crew Chief for Brad Keselowski.  How does he figure into this one?  Shouldn't this just be about the drivers?  It would make things much easier.  But then I wouldn't be honest with myself and that is a bit important.  Paul has managed to capture my attention in a relatively short time.  I barely noticed him in 2012.  And now I am listening to both Chad and Paul during the races.  So it's not only a decision based on drivers but also based on Crew Chiefs.

Now if I had to decide between Crew Chiefs... well, that makes things a bit more easy.  It's Chad Knaus that would come out on top.  He's the first Crew Chief I noticed so many years ago.  He is and will always be my favourite Crew Chief.  Paul Wolfe will just have to wait his turn... and so will his driver.  And that brings me to the final decision... Jimmie Johnson as primary driver with Brad Keselowski as back up driver.  It does not matter to me that they race for two different racing organizations.  Nor do I have a car manufacturer loyalty to take into consideration.  So the whole Chevy vs Ford isn't important.  I still really don't know how people decide on a car manufacturer loyalty.  But that is an issue for a different day.

Oh... and I may have noticed another driver.  That would be Kyle Larson.