As the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars roll onto the racing surface this evening at Daytona it will be minus two of the sport’s biggest stars, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. Gordon will be at the race track up in the FOX broadcasting booth, meanwhile Stewart will be recuperating at home in a bed as the season begins.
That is right neither racer will behind the wheel of a race car at Daytona as the track goes green for practice in preparation for the 2016 Daytona 500. Jeff Gordon, arguably NASCAR’s biggest star in the last 20 years, retired at the end of last season and the four-time champion will be a rookie in the FOX broadcast booth this year.
Even though he is retired, Gordon has been highly visible during the offseason. He one of several people, Rusty Wallace, Ray Evernham, Greg Biffle, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Ron Pratte, former CEO of Pratte Development Company, Inc., that took a little trip to the sand dunes near Glamis, CA, to drive some sand rails. That was the trip where Tony Stewart apparently became separated from the group, mistakenly flew over the top of a sand dune landing flatly and abruptly on all four wheels, resulting in the severe back injuries. The violent compression from that landing precipitated what is known as a burst fracture of the L1 vertebrea.
The back injury has now sidelined Stewart for an indeterminate time, it could be 2-5 months, denying him his last opportunity to try to capture one of the crown jewels of NASCAR that have escaped him, the Daytona 500 victory. Instead, Smoke will watch the race on TV at home while he awaits approval to travel.
These two storylines, Gordon’s retirement and Stewart’s back injury, will be at the top of the list of topics that will be discussed as FOX begins their telecast Friday evening. However, there are many more storylines in 2016 that have merit and will be discussed including, NASCAR charters, reduction of starting positions from 43 cars to 40 cars, a really great class of rookie drivers, the return of Brian Vickers, the long term replacement driver for Stewart, most likely Ty Dillon, as well as the new “green-white-checkered” overtime policy, etc.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!