Three weeks ago, millions of race fans were waiting with baited breath in giddy anticipation for the start of the 2010 NASCAR season.
It was going to be the best year ever. The reins had been loosened. The drivers were set and ready to go racing. It was a new season; a new decade. It was going to be awesome.
From the time D.W. said the words “Boogity! Boogity! Boogity!”, until Jamie McMurray was standing in Daytona’s Victory Lane, fans couldn’t sit down. It was the best racing we had seen, perhaps in years. The excitement of the decade’s first race couldn’t be extinguished. The early-season thrill was maybe, just maybe, going to last all season this time.
Three weeks later, it’s just about gone.
Sunday marks just the fourth race of the 2010 NASCAR season. So why is the early-season thrill almost gone? Because nothing has changed this year. Jimmie Johnson has won 67% of the races run so far; Chevrolet has won them all. Hendrick Motorsports continues to be the powerhouse team, while another Chevy team, Richard Childress Racing, is its closest competitor.
The rebirth of RCR has really been the only good story of this season so far, outside of the maturation of Joey Logano. While that’s nice to see, unless you’re a Chevy fan, you haven’t had much to cheer about. And if you’re not a Hendrick(and more specifically, Jimmie Johnson) fan, the start of this season is almost depressing.
The fact that NASCAR is already losing its early-season thrill became apparent to me today when I went on a major sports website and discovered that every single top story had to do with the NFL. Football season has been over since the beginning of February.
Granted, the stories had to do with major free-agency pick-ups, such as Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers going to the Chicago Bears, or cornerback Dunta Robinson going to the Atlanta Falcons. But the NFL had every top story. What did NASCAR have? Zip. Zilch. Nada.
There’s nothing to talk about in NASCAR besides the same-old-same-old. And NASCAR fans don’t get excited over that, just like Lost fans don’t get excited over a repeat episode of their favorite show. If you know what’s going to happen, it’s just not that thrilling to watch.
We’re not four races into the new decade. And NASCAR is already losing its early-season thrill.