NASCAR season 2013 is off and running.
Drivers and race fans have been cooling off during the winter break, but mechanics and race shops have been busy with the introduction of the "Generation 6" cars to the Sprint Cup series.
Chevy, Ford and Toyota unveiled their new race-configured prototypes late last year. Crews have been building cars for the start of the new season. The "Gen 6" has taken on a look of today's models driven on the streets.
The front windshield and trunk lid are provided to the teams by their manufacturers and the rest of the car design is mandated by NASCAR.
Spare parts for the new cars have been hard to come by due to the vast amount being requested by the race teams.
Each team is building between 13 to 20 cars to run this season.
Manufacturers have fallen behind on their production of the required parts, so some of the race teams are now finishing their Daytona 500 cars. The "Great American Race" is set to run at 1 p.m. Sunday. Front-row starters Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon will lead the field of 43 cars to the green flag.
The 500 and other races will be viewed by several thousand loyal race fans, but the cost of tickets has not dropped to a level low enough for all fans. The average cost for a Sprint Cup race ticket this year is $50 for a decent seat. To gain a preferred seat, some fans will pay more than $250.
I suggest that NASCAR officials consider dropping the number of race cars in the top two series to provide more funding to more teams and possibly dropping the cost of admission to races.
Silly Season had several drivers changing seats and teams changing manufacturers, but the one thing that has remained constant is the loyalty by race fans to their favorite drivers. Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrapped his 10th consecutive Most Popular Driver Award, but is in need of a sponsorship for 13 races this year in the Cup series.
Danica Patrick has made the jump up to the Cup series.
Patrick and current series champion Brad Keselowski are the only two Cup teams with a single sponsor for this year.
Sponsorship funding is the single-most vital need for NASCAR's top series. Teams continue to search for funds to fill out their sponsorship this year. Several teams are relying on five to six companies to foot the bill this year.
Dollars and cents drive the well-being of the sport. NASCAR is still a viable entity to watch, but the excitement level will need to be raised to fill the stands and keep television ratings on the rise.
Patrick first announced her plans to divorce Hospenthal, a physical therapist, on Facebook in November 2012. Patrick has a reported net worth of $18 million.
Contact Eddie Thomas at email@example.com