NASCAR–Season Opens–End of Career”
The dateline was Daytona, the opening of the NASCAR season, with the Daytona 500.
It was like some sort of coronation.
NASCAR, the fans, and Fox TV spent enormous amount of time leading into the race, saluting San Diego’s and El Cajon’s Jimmie Johnson.
It was the beginning of JJ’s farewell tour, this being his final season on the Cup circuit, heading to retirement.
Johnson is a 7X-points champion. He has won every big race possible in the series, but of late, it has been a drought of 88-races. Unknown to many what Johnson has done with his foundation work, back in his adopted homes in North Carolina and in San Diego’s East County schools. A superstar who truly gives back to education programs, schools, and kids he wants to help out.
It happens to all the great ones in modern day racing, from Dale Earnhardt-Junior to back in the day Bill Elliott.
It is truly a changing of the guard in NASCAR with so many great names having left the sport. Much has been written about what the leadership is going to do to stop the eroding TV ratings and to fill the empty seats at a lot of the race tracks.
But for one Sunday, there was excitement, pomp and circumstance.
President Trump made an appearance and announced ‘Gentemen start your engines.
Jeff Gordon moved into the #1-analyst seat on the Fox broadcasts.
Legendary driver Tony Stewart is no longer in a car but running his entire team.
Earnhardt Junior was in the starter’s gate dropping the green flag.
Outspoken driver turned TV personality Darrell Waltrip has gone into retirement, so we no longer have his favorite phrase ‘boogity-boogity let’s go racing’.
They remembered the legacy of Junior Johnson, one of the last of the ‘Goold Ole Boys’ from the moonshiners era.
Ricky Stenhouse started on the pole with another relative young-un Alex Bowman alongside…
There was the impressive ‘Lap of Honor’ as a salute with Johnson driving the lead lap before green flag flew.
Oh it was strange, just as they prepared to go green, it rained, and a delay.
Then another 20-laps later, another rain shower, and then darkness moved in.
They will race on Monday, and the sellout crowd will return.
But for 1-day and the 6-hours there, it was quite a day, a throwback to great days at Daytona, and the great seasons that NASCAR has enjoyed.
It would be electric if Jimmie Johnson, who is running upfront with the leaders, can cap off this weekend with a victory come Monday.
He’s meant so much to the sport. It would be great so see him get a victory in return.
A season opens as a career is about to end.
Hoping Dateline Daytona becomes Dateline Winner’s Circle for JJ.