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A final wrap on the 2009 NASCAR season

by Dave Grayson
Friday, December 18, 2009

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Here we are in the final days before Christmas morning arrives and, amazingly, we still have racing story lines to track. Thank you Danica, among others, for that. With that thought in mind let's begin with:

THUMBS-UP to the ARCA Racing Series, presented by RE/MAX and Menards, who will be receiving an extraordinary large amount of media attention for pre season test sessions. ARCA will be conducting the test sessions at the Daytona International Raceway December 18th through the 20th. In a rare set of circumstances a full fledged media blitz is expected to attend these test sessions because Danica Patrick, in her #7 Go Daddy Dot Com/J R Motorsports Chevrolet, is going to be in attendance. This test session will allow Patrick to enter the ARCA Series opener at Daytona. The experience she'll gain in that event should satisfy qualifications which will set up her debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series which will be held the following week. There are actually eight female drivers expected to be at the ARCA test but, needless to say, all eyes will be on Danica.

However one of these drivers that will bear watching will be Milka Duno who is also a three year veteran of the Indy Racing League. She will be driving a Braun Racing Toyota which will, hopefully, lead her to a NASCAR future as well. Unlike Patrick, Duno does have some experience at Daytona via sports car racing there. In 2007 she set the mark for the highest finishing female in a race there following a second place in the 24 Hours Of Daytona.

However, Duno's presence at Daytona could lead to a potential WHAT'S-UP. She and Danica Patrick have a past Indy Racing League history of not exactly getting along. That may be a development to watch in the months ahead while both ladies are launching potential NASCAR careers.

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THUMBS-UP to whomever worked massive overtime to make Danica NASCAR souvenirs available to us so quickly. OOH-WHEE we can all run around now wearing her likeness. There's already a collection of shirts and large flags available and you know even more nifty things are coming soon. Are these items going to rack up impressive sales figures the first week? You bet they are. The largest item of all may turn out to be the biggest seller of all. That would be the life size cardboard cut outs of Danica. One features her dressed in her Go Daddy driver's uniform. But the second one has the lovely race driver all dolled up in a cocktail dress and ready to go clubbing. That may be a little tough to explain to a wife or a girlfriend, but I can truly see a lot of guys paying $39.95 plus shipping and handling so they can claim they have one.

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Then there's the matter of NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chief Steve Addington swapping Busch brothers. We will have to wait and see, at a designated time in 2010, to determine whether or not this move turns out to be a THUMBS-UP or a WHAT'S-UP. The new chief for Kurt Busch's #2 Miller Lite Dodge has at least placed himself in familiar territory. He's very well versed on the antics of a Busch brother screaming at him via the in car radio.

During his tenure, of approximately two years, leading Kyle Busch's efforts for Joe Gibbs Racing, Addington led the team to a Sprint Cup victory lane 12 times. As impressive as those numbers are, the 18 team languished during the 2008 Chase For The Championship and were virtually ineffective. The next big shock came one year later when the team failed to make the 2009 Chase line up and it appeared, from the outside looking in, that Addington took the hit for that failure. It was an evaluation that many, including yours truly, felt was unfair to Addington and my original WHAT'S-UP to Joe Gibbs Racing for letting this stellar crew chief walk out their front door still stands.

I'm inclined to think that the coupling of Addington and the elder Busch brother will turn into a THUMBS-UP. Following a quick period of adjustment for both men, it's likely you will see this #2 Dodge team become championship contenders in the same manner as they 2009 performance.

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Item last, but extremely important, is a continued request for all members of the NASCAR Nation to continue sending good thoughts and prayers to Jim Hunter. The NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications is in the process of putting up a valiant fight against cancer and could use all of the prayers that we can send. Anyone that has ever met him already knows that Mr. Hunter is one of the good guys.

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