Only 19 more days till the Daytona 500!!

With sport's shortest off season nearing its end I can already begin to feel the excitement of the upcoming Daytona 500 and the beginning of NASCAR's top tier series which will now be called the "Sprint Cup." It's amazing how often sponsors' names change over short periods of time and this is perhaps most noticeable when it comes to stadiums and arenas. The difficult part for us fans is what to do with all of our merchandise (particularly clothing) bearing the now old sponsor's name and our urge to acquire the new merchandise. Hmmm…marketing genius!

February 9th will feature the annual Budweiser Shootout which includes a field of pole winning drivers from last season as well as past winners of the event and just eight days later the actual season will get started with one of racings' most sought after titles, the Daytona 500. What makes this season even more special for me though is the debut of Dale Earnhardt Jr. with his new Hendrick Motorsports team!! Last season was amazing being able to cheer for my 2 favorite drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson as they battled for the Nextel Cup in dominating fashion and with Dale Jr. joining the Rick Hendrick family, this season will be filled with even more excitement. The only problem being that I'll want them all to win each week! 😛

I have no doubt that Dale Jr. would have made the Chase last season had it not been for so many DNF's caused mainly due to engine failures and he suffered a record number of them in incredible disappointing fashion…many times while competing for a possible win. With Hendrick's reliable equipment and his engine woes now behind him I'm really looking forward to seeing Dale Jr. return to victory lane and compete for the championship this season. I've read so much about how great it is to be a part of the Hendrick family and I'm so happy that Dale Jr. chose to race here! With so much experience among Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Jr. I'm sure they're going to work together so well and unlike the atmosphere at some other teams, Hendrick Motorsports is truly like a family where everyone helps each other and aims to accomplish what's best for the organization as a whole. Casey Mears is also coming off his best season yet and he has so much potential to succeed as well! With the departure of the extremely talented Kyle Busch and the addition of the sports' most popular driver…all eyes will be on Dale Jr. this season to see how he performs in his new outfit as well as Kyle Busch's success at his new home at Joe Gibbs Racing. I have little doubt that the two drivers will be compared all season long but with that I also have no doubt that Dale Jr. will have a great season this year! Hmmm…I'm thinking dream team!! But let's not compare Hendrick Motorsports to the New York Yankees…not for a second! The New York Yankees are now and for some time have been built on free agency and large contracts enticing players but Hendrick Motorsports found a large part of its success in "home grown" talent with Jeff Gordon and the later addition of Jimmie Johnson who was actually mentored and recruited by Gordon who saw the true potential in him. Dale Jr. now brings his undeniable talent to the trio and now I officially have 3 favorite drivers whom to cheer for each race day! 🙂 As part of my late Christmas present my brother has given me my first official Dale Jr. merchandise which includes his 2008 calendar and a frost mug! :)…and to commemorate Jimmie Johnson's 2007 Nextel Cup Championship… 

…my brother also gave me this beautiful display case! 🙂 Jimmie Johnson's back to back Championships marks the first time the feat has been accomplished since team mate Jeff Gordon last accomplished it in 97' and 98'.

The COT will run full time this season and if last season was any indication, Hendrick Motorsports' dream team should be having a dream of a season!! 🙂

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About MorningBerryz

Lover and free spirit who's interests in Japanese culture and the like are insatiable. I am of pure Japanese/Okinawan descent, love my cats, sleep and am a bit naughty at times :).
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16 Responses to Only 19 more days till the Daytona 500!!

  1. 8gurl says:

    I'm getting excited too! Everyone is definitely going to be holding their breath waiting to see how Jr performs.
    That's some very kewl Jr stuff you have there. I'll be getting me some too very soon.
    Did you notice that behind all of the media blitz over Jr and Hendrick that they quietly changed the Busch Series to the Nationwide Series?

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  2. Mikey says:

    You are really something! You are really knowledgeable about NASCAR! I haven't watched a lot in the last few years, but now I want to! All the technology they use I think is a key to their success in keeping fans interested. I was reading in Hotrod Magazine a few months ago about how NASCAR developed over the years by shrewd marketing and deals with advertisers to go up market. I love Formula 1 racing, but it's so hard to see now without an expensive Cable plan! :(You will need another wing in your Museum it looks like! :)I noticed that my hamburger from Rally's was the Official Burger of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series! Yeehaw!!

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  3. I have such a confident feeling about his upcoming season and I just know that he'll do well! He's such a talented driver and all he needed was equipment that would hold up all race long for him. Now the season's only 18 days away! 🙂 Some of Dale Jr.'s shirts are so hard to find!! Every thing's sold out it seems whenever I check! I'd really love to get one his diecasts too! :)It's going to take me awhile to get used to calling it the Nationwide Series…it sounds so strange after all these years it being called the Busch Series. I only learned about this title sponsor change recently and I hope that the support for the series is as good as it's been in the past. NASCAR has enjoyed long tenures when it comes to title sponsorship so hopefully these will last for a long time to come. Ah my jackets now seem outdated!

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  4. 8gurl says:

    I'm so happy that Dale Jr's stuff is sold out although I have GOT to get me something soon. I've been wearing my old black and red stuff and I'm going to right up until the day, but what will I wear then?
    It's going to be interesting to see the difference in the color of the fans in the stands. I think it will be very noticeable (the lack of red). I know that Kasey has his own fans, but I still think the overall color of the stands is going to change from red to green/black/blue/white?
    Don't forget the Shootout is a week from this Saturday!

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  5. 8gurl says:

    I found a few things here that are supposed to ship on 2/15.

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  6. Haha some of my friends "used" to think that I was really strange liking NASCAR as they can't understand how I can watch cars going in circles making left turns for 3 to 5 hours….sometimes longer if there's a lot of cautions or a rain delay. 😛 But from the first day that I saw Jeff Gordon I had to watch! He's so talented and such a great person too on and off of the track! I love everything everything about the sport…from the track formations, the look of the cars, the technicality of their setups, the wide array of personalities, how fast they go!!, and you really learn about how cars work in the process although I have to admit I won't ever try to fix my own car ever!! I'm too afraid that I'll do something wrong! 😛 Ah you had an official burger?!!

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  7. Mikey says:

    I think it's good that women are into a lot of different things these days. A lot are taking up shooting for instance (at targets, not people). ^^Anything going 200 miles an hour wheel to wheel has a LOT of dramatic appeal. And the drivers are a lot more accessible than in many other sports. Good ol' Boys, in the best sense. Plus, then you can collect all their stuff too! ;)Linda Linda Linda! was pretty good. 4 stars (out of 5)

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  8. Thank you so much for the link!! I've never visited Raceline Direct and I'm already looking at some merchandise that I want! I think I favor his Amp gear more but I wish his entire car were green. I'm still wearing my now "old" Nextel Cup outfits. 😛 Ah you're so right!!…the sea of red will change to green, white, black, & blue! 🙂 I'm also hoping that Dale Jr.'s fans will embrace Jeff Gordon more now that they're team mates. I know that it's a lot to ask for as some fans really dislike or even dare I say "hate" him. 😦 Maybe when they see Dale Jr. & Jeff Gordon associating with one another at the track it'll make a nice impression and perhaps change opinions and reactions. Hahah I know that I'm dreaming all of this but if just a few fans change I'd be really happy. 🙂 The Budweiser Shootout is such a great way to get ready for the upcoming season and it's at Daytona!! We'll also get a little preview of how the COT's draft together on this great track! When the Daytona 500 arrives I'm hoping to see the #'s 24, 48, 88, & 5 all lined up together!! I'm thinking that Dale Jr. will be leading the charge this year!

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  9. 8gurl says:

    I think the 'Gordon Hating' era is on it's way out.
    I would be THRILLED beyond words to see Jr leading at Daytona in his new ride and if he could actually win…OMG! What a way to start the season and his new job at Hendrick!

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  10. I was so lucky to meet Jimmie Johnson in Las Vegas 2 years ago! We had just returned from shopping and before heading back up to the room I asked my manager if he would accompany me to the sports betting area so that I could place a bet on Jimmie Johnson for Sunday's race. After placing the bet (he had 7-1 odds) we were just leaving and my manager pulled me back and said 'that's Jimmie Johnson sitting there!' It was such a good thing that I didn't go up to the room first as I still had my shopping bags with me and a new Jimmie Johnson shirt that I had just purchased….he was sooooo nice to sign for me! It was amazing, my manager's father in law carries a Sharpie with him everywhere he goes and I'm so in debt for that! If only I had owned a camera back then I would've loved to have asked him to take a photograph with me. He's so much taller and it would've been such a funny sight! I can't stress enough how nice Jimmie Johnson is!!! I was a nervous wreck and my hand was noticeably shaking when I showed him the bet I had just placed on him….I wished him good luck in the next day's race and he shook my shaking hand. 😛 We were staying at the Wynn and I later heard that Jeff Gordon was there too…but I missed him! If I had met Jeff Gordon I think that I would've turned to muuuush! I have an autographed Jeff Gordon photo but to have gotten one in person would have been my ultimate dream! The middle of Las Vegas Motorspeedway was totally rebuilt last year and the track was rebanked to 20 degrees making it much faster. The infield area is now so unique and incredible! You can now buy a pass that lets you go under the track and into the middle into the "Neon Garage." You can actually watch the race teams work on their cars and get up really close to them! I had a camera this year so I took a lot of photos of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson with their cars! Jimmie Johnson even waved to us! 🙂 It's best to visit the "Neon Garage" during their "Happy Hour" or qualifying runs as then you really get to see how they adjust the cars right in front of you….of course through glass windows. Come race day just don't sit too close to the track as it will obscure your vision of the back stretch..and it's really really loud! Not even a loud t.v. can recreate the sounds you hear at the track! I love the colors of the cars and they look so dynamic in person. Hahah I hope you haven't fallen asleep yet listening to me go on and on. Some of my friends sometimes watch highlights and they can't understand how I can be there for hours watching a race. I can't imagine not watching it! I'm happy to hear that "Linda Linda Linda" was an enjoyable movie! 🙂 I ended up watching "1 liter of tears" last night instead of a movie…puffy puffy eyes and I'm only half way through so far.

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  11. Those are such sweet words to hear!! 😀 I know that Talladega may be out of the question but maybe elsewhere Jeff may be embraced more by fans! I'd love to see that happen so much! Hendrick's COT program was incredible last season so I'm really thinking that Dale Jr. now driving dependable equipment will definitely find his way to the front….ah he loves this track!! 🙂

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  12. Mikey says:

    No, I could never get tired of hearing you talking about things that excite you, like NASCAR obviously does! My Dad had a friend that raced Formula Ford cars (look like F1 cars, 2.0 liter English Ford Cortina engines). Anyway,we went to quite a few races and got to help with maintenance (mostly cleaning!) and such. As a reward, we got to go the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, NY with pit passes. It was AWESOME to get go in the pits and see (and hear) the cars close up during qualifying! You know, that is part of the appeal of NASCAR, how friendly everyone is, isn't it? Country Music is the same way. They sometimes make fun of "Southern hospitality" but it really does exist. Next time, just go up to everyone and say (in your best Southern accent) "Howdy!, how ya'll doin'?" by the end, you'll be like family with them. You just see… 🙂

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  13. That sounds like an amazing experience and don't get me started on NASCAR…you'll never hear the end of it! 😛 I love road courses and the Cup Series visits 2 of them each season…Watkins Glen and Infineon Raceway in Sonoma California. It's nearly impossible to set up a stock car to handle well in both left and right turns so these tracks present such a great challenge to drivers and race teams alike! The cream of the crop really rises too at these events..haha I'm probably too biased though!! 😛 Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Robby Gordon are the best road course drivers in the Cup Series right now but every season the "road course" specialist try to sneak a win away from the series' regulars and a lot of them are open wheel drivers. Me trying a Southern accent!…ah I would fail miserably. 🙂

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  14. Mikey says:

    My 1/2 Korean niece can speak "southern" with the best of them! She was raised around Dallas, Tx. If you lived there, you would pick it up quickly. Or watch The Dukes of Hazzard over and over again! :)It's gotta' be weird for them to turn "the wrong way"! Like us driving in England!! Man, I'd love to see the Watkins Glen area of NY again. It's called the Finger Lakes region. Very beautiful, especially in the fall when the Grand Prix was run… I remember this restaurant we stopped at that had this cream dispenser that was shaped like a cow. The milk came out of the udders (of course!) ^^Time, in New England
    Took me away
    To long rocky beaches
    –and you, by the bay
    We started a story Whose end must now wait
    And, tell me
    When will our eyes meet
    When can I touch you
    When will this strong yearning end
    I named my bestest dog ever Mandy…

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  15. With only 2 of the 36 races requiring race teams to set their cars up to handle both left and right turns it can be quite a challenge for them! The COT is supposed to help ease production costs but in the past with the older cars teams would build different cars, some specifically for road courses, super speedways, intermediate tracks, and short tracks. Haha I have a pitcher that's shaped like a cow and the milk would pour out of its mouth but since I can't use it it's now become decorative. Watkins Glen has a great road course and the Cup Series visits there kind of late in the season and it's always a race to look forward to because it's so different from the other tracks. Hmm…but the main reason that I love road courses so much is because Jeff Gordon is so great on them!

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  16. Mikey says:

    That is kinda' weird, having so many different classes of vehicles, but I guess for marketing reasons (and the viewer's sanity) they want to keep it under name the same name. Whew! When I think NASCAR, I think the super speedways, that's for sure! I was watching some for the many NASCAR related videos on Youtube today, and with all the tribute videos out, I was thinking that you should do one featuring J-pop! ^^ Can you imagine if the Japanese took to NASCAR like they have baseball?? In Southern California, Japanese import cars "rice burners" are really popular. (think The Fast and the Furious) (I love that song from it called Justify My Love!) Anyway, the Japanese have a lot of racing (like drifting) already, so are they ready for super speedway action? (picturing Dinty as race announcer "color" analyst) :)We have (almost) matching cows! :)I used to live in Vallejo, CA (as a Navy brat) where Gordon was born, and I have been to PIR (Phoenix International Raceway) I used to live in Phoenix – a track he won at recently. Road courses are the bomb! I've walked most of the Watkins Glen track (and many others) taking pictures, but I gave most of them to the Formula Ford racer I told you about previously…. 😦 I only have a few from those days). I was the HS photographer and all. Spent many nights in the dark room. I love that digital makes all that obsolete – yet……….

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