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This year, we will be having former Professional Supercross/Motocross racer Donovan Mitchell writing stories on his thought about the 2019 NASCAR Season!
Are you ready NASCAR race fans? The 2019 season kicks off in less than a month and the storylines are endless. For the first time, in a long time, the NASCAR garage of drivers and personnel played a solid game of musical chairs in the off season. Some of the staple drivers who have been stars of the sport have been shuffled aside. Drivers like Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmendinger all have been displaced from their coveted spots on top teams. They both have moved into the broadcast booth for FOX and NBC respectively. Combine that with the earth-shattering news that dropped at the tail end of last season, where the super team of 7-time champion Jimmie Johnson and crew chief, Chad Kanus, announced they were parting ways. That alone has the NASCAR nation reeling to see if that is the spark needed to get Johnson back to his winning ways. It is no secret Hendrick Motorsports struggled in different areas throughout the 2018 season. With these adjustments, will we see Jimmie step back up to battle? Perhaps having rookie teammates Alex Bowman and William Byron entering the new season with more experience, it can help push the Hendrick operation. Helping to keep up the rapid progression of car setup it takes to stay at the upper echelon on a consistent basis.
Aside from 2017, Martin Truex Jr. has been in a solo-car operation but is now stepping into a new seat on the JGR team. With his success the past few seasons on the Furniture Row Racing team, which closed at the end of 2018, Truex Jr. enjoyed highest of highs and lowest of lows. Switching over to the JGR team brings on some interesting elements. They now have four top tier drivers, each with a different personality, all needing to get along and work together for things to run seamlessly. It will be interesting to see how the dynamics play out with him, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Erik Jones.
The 2018 season saw Joey Logano take the championship and become the fifth different winner in the same number of seasons. Right now, there seems to be the “Big 4”, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch. This leads us to the question: Of those drivers, who is most likely to etch their name in NASCAR history as a multi-time champion? One would think that Harvick and Busch stand to have the best odds to accomplish this. Both drivers had banner seasons in 2018, winning eight races each. If they can keep that poise and focus, it will be a huge testament to their skill and team support by being able to continually keep setting up race winning cars for 2019.
With that said, the Penske team caught fire late last season when Brad Keselowski got the ball rolling, winning three races in a row. It will be interesting to see if this catapults Logano, Keselowski, and rising star Ryan Blaney straight to the front right from the first drop of the green flag in Daytona. When an organization wins a championship, no matter what sport it is, you can bet on them wanting to back up the prior results and stamp their place as the ones to beat.
Young guns, Chase Elliott, Blaney and Erik Jones are the one to keep an eye on thus far. They all found the winner circle last season and tasted the success they dreamed of growing up. Will 2019 be the year where these drivers start to really become the drivers of the next decade and develop into solid championship contenders? It is their time to start forcing the top drivers we’ve been watching to start thinking about retirement.
Another interesting move during the off-season was Kurt Busch stepping into the #1 Ganassi car alongside the ultimate wheelman, Kyle Larson. These drivers have flare. Kurt Busch is a veteran champion with tons of experience, though he still seems to carry a chip on his shoulder, which makes him dangerous. Larson’s driving style never disappoints; if it weren’t for a couple bad luck situations in the past few seasons, it’s possible we could have been calling Kyle Larson a NASCAR champion already.
What will play out in the 2019 NASCAR season is hard to predict, and that’s what keeps us fans eager each year for the new series. Add in the new aerodynamic and engine packages that has been implemented and the stage is set for a barn burner 36 race battle to stake claim to greatness. Who will rise to the occasion, bring themselves out of the shadows to relevancy, and fulfill all the man hours put in by their team to win races? Thankfully, Daytona is fast approaching!
A Quick biography on Donovan.
Donovan Mitchell a former Professional Supercross/Motocross racer, signed onto the Red Bull Factory KTM Team in 2000. Unfortunately, shortly after he was paralyzed during a race. Now paralyzed from the neck down for nearly 20 years, he has always strived to live an active lifestyle. Whether it was writing for major Supercross/Motocross publications, managing a Professional race team, or now running an online motorcycle parts and accessories business, he has never let his injury dictate what is possible. A true fan of motorsports, Donovan took to Nascar at a young age and over the years really enjoys dynamics of how intricate the sport is. 36 weekends out of the year, you can find him glued to the TV watching practice and races with the hopes that his fantasy team is successful