Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Moving on

There will come a time when Tony Stewart retires. Whether it is after the 2009 season or the 2013 season, we don't know, but that time will come.
When that time comes, there will be a need for me to select a new favorite driver. Since I have always been loyal to my favorites, I will stick with that driver until he or she retires.
Dale Earnhardt was my favorite, because he made racing exciting for me. He was controversial as well, and yet he had a heart of gold when it came to helping out younger drivers coming into NASCAR, and when it came to charities. When Dale left us so suddenly and prematurely, the only logical choice was another driver who had many of those same attributes, and that was Tony Stewart. Well, he made racing exciting enough for me to start watching again, but the charity part of it, and helping younger drivers didn't come to my attention until later.
So who is next on my list?
I don't know how long Greg Biffle will stay in racing. He is even older than Smoke, and he may retire sometime around the same time Smoke retires, give or take a year. I like to watch him race, barely on the edge of control, and doing whatever he can to get to the front. But how long will he stay? I want to pick a driver who has a little more longevity ensured. For the same reason, even though Matt Kenseth reminds me very much of one of my first favorite drivers, David Pearson, he won't be around long enough to be a viable replacement for Smoke as my favorite driver.
If Tony doesn't retire for three more years, there may be some more interesting drivers who catch my attention between now and then. Joey Logano, for instance, shows a lot of natural talent, and could become an exciting driver. Or, he may just be one of those who hits his marks perfectly, avoids trouble, and takes advantage of somebody else's mistake. I have a lot of respect for drivers who can do that and win, but that is not the kind of talent that gets me excited about a NASCAR driver.
Besides, we will have to wait and see how he does when he enters the NASCAR arena, and how he reacts to the competition. He may very well be the kind of driver I want to call my favorite by 2013.
If Smoke were to retire after the end of next season, my choice is very simple. Kyle Busch. He will grow up, and stop making the mistakes his aggressive style influences him to make. He is among the best talent out there, and I am confident that he can turn that aggression into victories without wrecking others. In fact, he has already done that, this year at Atlanta and Talladega.
But if Tony Stewart were to stay in full time racing for a few more years, that opens possibilities to drivers like Kelly Bires.
Bires has quietly shown that he can compete with the Cup guys, and has shown some fairly consistent finishes in the Nationwide Series. He now stands twelfth in points in that series, but, among Nationwide regulars, he ranks seventh. With the exception of DNF's at Talladega and Mexico City, he has finished only one race outside the top twenty, when he finished thirtieth at Fontana. His highest placed finish was fifth, at Nashville. Bires has caught my attention because he has shown some of the competitive aggressiveness I like in a driver. After a total of thirty Nationwide series races, and eight Truck series races, I think this guy has shown some potential.
There is also Brad Keselowski, whom we all know has cast-iron 'nads. That right there gives a driver a good score for being my next favorite. But his performance has been near the top as well, and I think Dale Jr picked a good'un there. He now ranks seventh in the Nationwide Series points, second among Nationwide regulars, and is only 183 points out of the lead. He is only forty-two points behind Mike Bliss, the leader in points among Nationwide regulars. He has shown us that he can mix it up with the Cup guys, and, in fact, Cup teams are already courting him. And why not? I think he is poised to win one soon, even against the "claim jumpers."
I would like to stick with Smoke as long as possible, but I am ready to jump on the Shrub bandwagon if Tony does retire next year. If he doesn't, then I have time to look at all my options until 2013.


TSRFan said...

I know what you mean about picking a driver for life. I'm betting Tony is around till 2013 so I'm looking at younger drivers. Right now it's a toss-up between Josh Richards, IF he decides to switch from WoO LMS and that Wallace kid. No not Rusty's boy Steven, Mike's girl Chrissy. She impressed Tony enough that he sponsored her late model team, which won 4 races at Hickory last year.

RevJim said...

Chrissy does seem to be very good talent, and she is being developed properly for NASCAR. A good team and good equipment is practically guaranteed for her. I do believe Billy Bellew has picked her up for trucks next season, so, yes that's a good choice. Josh Richards is also a good choice, but I wasn't looking that far down the road. You reminded me of Kraig Kinser, whom I believe Smoke is helping to get back into the truck series. Tony's support of younger drivers and trying to get them into NASCAR is behind my reasoning that Smoke will own a NASCAR team, but it will be a Truck Series team for starters.

Cesar said...

There is a great deal of talent in the NASCAR garage, along with all the talent that is coming up through the regional series. Picking a single favorite driver may be difficult to do, especially because there are all the young drivers, like Smoke's teammate Kyle Busch, that are dominating on the track while maintaining some excitement.


Tim Zaegel said...

This is actually the perfect time to be in a position to pick a "favorite" driver, because you know you'll have years and years to be able to root for them before they head off into retirement.

For me, my fav was always Rusty Wallace, but back around 2000 I knew he didn't have much longer, so I started pulling for Stewart as well. Now, Rusty's gone, but I've still got Smoke to root for.