Drop the green and let’s go racing!!

Published 4:59 pm Sunday, February 10, 2019

Don’t you just love the smell of racing fuel in February?

I do.

Because if it’s February and you’re stuck between that day when some fat, furry rodent seeing his shadow determines when you dust off your golf clubs or that date where you have to decide between buying your sweetheart a dozen roses or edible sleepwear, then you know we’re getting closer and closer to racing time.

This weekend (kind of) officially begins the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season. Beginning Sunday afternoon, and for all but three weekends from now until the middle of November, there will be actual racing to watch. Yep, cars going round-and-round those ovals and tri-ovals, with a few right-handed turn places thrown in. No more of this post-Silly Season or preseason chatter. No more crystal ball predictions or quotes and headlines some scribes made up.

Nope, just actual cars, actually racing.

A little past the time you’re reading this, we’ll get some actual bump-&-grind, rubbin-is-racing, wheels gone round-n-round on asphalt stock car racing.

With all due respect to ‘The Clash’, I always felt the season really started with qualifying for the 500, which also begins Sunday the 10th just before this points-less exhibition race takes place.

Things really throttle up come Thursday when the Twin-125 races drop the green flag and everybody has to race for their Sunday Feb. 17 starting position.

Now we’re talking.

Okay, ‘The Clash’ will have real drivers behind the wheel of those painted behemoths but they’re not racing for anything but money, even though there will be a rather generous cash prize for the winner (I’m sure the drivers realize that, too).

And there’s something else I like about this time of year that you can’t put a price on either.


It’s that one thing that every new NASCAR Cup season brings no matter who last December’s big winner was, or any rules changes, or any drama going on – or off – the track, that hopefulness is the one thing that so endears us all to this time of year.

While I confess, I don’t know all the ‘Young Guns’, but there are the favorites, of course, the Kyle Busches, the Jimmie Johnsons (he’s comin’ back, y’all!), the Kevin Harvicks, and the Brad Keselowskis of the world; and look at last year. Did anyone expect Chase Elliott with three crashes to go with three wins, or Kurt Busch to have so great a bounce-back year, that I might start liking him for a change, or the disappointment of Kyle Larson again coming so close, only to be left wondering what if!?!

Well, I didn’t.

And that’s what I like about this sport.

In 2019, NASCAR’s powers-that-be are implementing an entirely new rules package designed to promote closer racing and passes for the lead by tweaking the cars’ aerodynamics. What’s this all mean … ??

Well, right now, nothing.

So, let’s do some more tire testing, and working on our aerodynamics package, and hope we can make it through post-race inspection. Put it all in a bag and shake it up and we might still have the same old top-5 like the last couple of years – in no particular order: Harvick, Truex, Keselowski, Busch, and Logano. All back in the championship race hunt in south Florida come November.

Starting Sunday, we’ll finally have something real to talk about. We’ll have spin outs to dissect, wrecks to analyze, and a big ol’ shiny champagne-soaked trophy to gawk at when that one driver we didn’t think would do it is holding it in the air in Homestead.

Let’s get racin’, boys (and gals).

 Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.