Just a few observations about the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway:
I don't know that we'll go anywhere this week where the vibe will be better than it was at Wednesday's stop at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Optimism abounds on the media tour, even during these troubled economic times. Everybody expects to have a great season and that's how it should be. What made Stewart-Haas Racing different was that it seems everybody there figures they've wound up in a situation that's much better than they otherwise might have.
Stewart and teammate Ryan Newman both expect to be competitive this year. Whether or not that's what happens is one of this season's great questions.
But there's no doubt that Stewart, Newman and their teammates are embracing the challenge that's before them. Someone there told me a cool story. The new signs for the outside of the shop just went up the other day, and as he was leaving there after dark one day this week somebody saw Stewart pull over, get out of his car and go over and just look at the illuminated sign.
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It just seems so impossible for anybody to come into NASCAR as a new team owner these days and compete with the sport's multicar super teams, but you have to remember that when they started, Jack Roush, Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress and Joe Gibbs all started with single teams.
Gibbs has won championships with Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart and still has two drivers in Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin who have to be considered likely candidates to make this year's Chase.
"I think it can be done," Gibbs said when asked if he thinks a new owner could make it today. "But it is different.
"You have people who come to you saying they’d like to be in the business and the difference is when we started we had 17 people, total. Today it would be 50 or 60 anyway. The size of everything makes it tough. You need a partner when you start. But the more healthy teams and the more sponsors it is for the sport."
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I do not know why Mark Dyer left his job as president of Motorsports Authentics abruptly on Wednesday, but I do know it would be a very bad thing for NASCAR if he doesn't find some place else to go in the industry.
Dyer is one of those guys race fans don't know a whole lot about but who does a lot of good things for the sport. Dyer was one of those who helped devise the Chase for the Sprint Cup format and he also helped pushed the idea of having an official NASCAR Hall of Fame. He played a big role in picking Charlotte as the place where that museum is being built.
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Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick got a special gift from his employees at a gathering this week where the team prepared for its 25th anniversary season. The very first chassis built by the team was located and brought back to the shop in Harrisburg, where team members restored it without Hendrick knowing about it.
They painted the body all silver in honor of the silver anniversary season and presented it to their boss.