The Budwiser Shootout is now just days away.
Like the start of a new year, I am excited about this upcoming racing season. Armed with untold possibilities, I like what I'm reading about the off-season prep work at Stewart-Haas Racing. They seem more prepared than ever, with their inaugural season behind them, to begin their second season. I imagine that Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman are chomping at the bit, waiting for that first green flag fall. As a fan, I can hardly wait either.
I like the fact that they have hired a third pit crew. That shows forward thinking. It seems as though this is the move to prepare for Danica Patrick, or some other driver next year. They will be ready. I think a backup is an excellent idea, even if a third driver isn't in the offing.
While I am saddened that Greg Newman will no longer be spotting for his son, I understand the strategy behind it. I have long felt sorry for Greg, unable to sit back, as we fans can do, and 'watch' his son race. After all, Ryan is an elite driver who is living his dreams -- and the dreams of his father. Ryan is well aware of what his father sacrificed for his career. It is time Greg should be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. At his age, he shouldn't have to subject himself to the grueling pace, the elements, and the emotional roller-coaster that goes with the job.
I admit it will certainly not feel the same, not having Greg and Ryan share radio banter during caution periods. Having the two of them talk together was like having them over for Sunday dinner.
It was comforting to have Greg on the box communicating with his driver, his son, like he has for Ryan's entire racing career. But, perhaps it was too family-oriented. Though it is doubtful, perhaps those close family ties did hold Ryan back to a degree. Maybe they were too comfortable. It will be very interesting to hear how Ryan reacts to a new spotter, one who isn't as familiar with his driving style or the way he wants to hear 'what he wants to hear.' I imagine it is going to be a real learning curve for both of them. But that might put them both right on that edge - the razor's edge that tough competition requires. Oh, I can't wait to see the results. I have a feeling we will see a new resurgence of the 'Rocketman.'