posted on Dec, 10 2004 @ 09:26 PM
nothing going on in the nascar world? here is an idea of just how busy these guys are during the winter
by Jerry Bonkowski, Yahoo! Sports
December 9, 2004
Tick, tick, tick.
Less than a week after NASCAR wrote the final chapter on the 2004 season with its annual awards banquet in New York, the clock already has begun
counting down to the start of the 2005 campaign.
Don't be surprised at just how quickly time flies, as it's going to be one of the shortest offseasons in the sport's history.
How short, you ask? How about two to three weeks, if that?
While most NASCAR teams used to routinely shut their doors for up to six weeks once a season ended, most will be right back at it immediately after
Christmas, if not sooner.
Among the offseason activities:
Several teams are in the process of scheduling test sessions for later this month to work on a variety of things, including adapting to the new nose
and spoiler that will grace Dodge cars next season (which, by the way, shift from the Intrepid to the new Charger nameplate). Ford cars also are
getting new noses.
After not being held this year, the event formerly known as the T. Wayne Robertson Winston Review and fan festival in Winston-Salem, N.C. (which used
to be held annually), will be resurrected in a different format and name on Jan. 8, 2005, when Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center hosts the
Fitness 500 at Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem.
Instead of the previous meet-and-greet fan fest, where drivers posed for photos and signed autographs with fans, and all proceeds went to local
charities, this year's reprised event will feature numerous drivers taking part in various events to test their health and fitness levels.
There also will be opportunities for photo and autograph sessions between fans and drivers. Among those scheduled to appear: NASCAR president Mike
Helton, Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Rusty Wallace, Jamie McMurray, Michael and Darrell Waltrip, Ray Evernham and Bobby Allison.
NASCAR really starts to get busy beginning Jan. 11 with nearly two weeks of official preseason testing at Daytona International Speedway. Expect most
NASCAR Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series teams to be on hand.
DIS, which has undergone a multimillion-dollar infield renovation since hosting the Pepsi 400 last July, will have Cup cars on its famous 2½-mile
oval on Jan. 11-13 (teams in odd-number places by owners points) and Jan. 18-20 (even-number placed owners points).
Craftsman Truck teams, meanwhile, will test at Daytona Jan. 15 and 16, while Busch Series cars have the track to themselves from Jan. 22 through 24.
Things heat up more with the annual Lowe's Motor Speedway Media Tour in Charlotte from Jan. 24 through 27 (for the media only), where the hype and
P.R. spin for the upcoming season really starts to spiral.
We get into even more serious testing with four days at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Jan. 31 through Feb. 3), as well as three days at California
Speedway (Feb. 1 through Feb. 3). Nextel Cup and Busch Series teams will be allowed two days of testing at each venue, for a total of four test days
that will not count against the seven test sessions each team is allowed during the course of the regular season.
Finally, we get down to the real business at hand when Speedweeks officially kicks off at Daytona on Feb. 10, with the Bud Shootout – the first
official (though exhibition) on-track racing of the 2005 campaign – coming two days later. Following that are the Gatorade Twin 125s, and then the
granddaddy of all NASCAR races, the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 20.
I, like most other beat reporters, drivers and team members, was downright exhausted right after the season finale at Homestead, Fla., two weeks ago,
but I'm already starting to get the itch to get back on the road. As exciting as 2004 was, I think 2005 will be even more so.
I'm not the only one already looking forward to 2005. Among those itching to get behind the wheel again is Nextel Cup driver Jamie McMurray.
"It's crazy, but the last Friday of the week after Homestead, I was all ready to go back to the track," McMurray said. "Even though you want a break,
you don't want that long of a break. It's time to get going again."
Truer words never were spoken.