2009 NASCAR Fantasy Season Preview

“Welcome back to OBW as we get ready to start a new fantasy NASCAR season.

First off I would like to invite all of you to join me in my Yahoo fantasy league. Just go to Yahoo Fantasy Racing and sign in or sign up. It’s free! Then click on join a group. The group ID# is 5366. The group name is OBW Fantasy Challenge and the password is: daytona. It’s that simple. The first league is full so I started a second league. The group ID# is 18151 and the password is bristol. Good luck!

Congratulations to last years winner, Harold, who received a $50 gift card to the NASCAR Superstore. Once again this year we will be giving a prize to the winner that is yet to be determined. Hurry and sign up now because the Challenge is only open to the first 50 participants!

One of the first rule changes that NASCAR has mandated is that no team can test on any track that NASCAR sanctions races at. The teams have already gotten around that by testing at Rockingham, Pike’s Peak and New Smyrna to name a few. You just won’t see them at the Milwaukee Mile or Nashville this year.

It’s hard to tell what is really going to happen this season because of the economy. Most NASCAR teams have felt the full impact of recession with sponsors pulling out or not resigning with teams. The layoffs have been staggering on almost every team and owners aren’t sure if they will be able to run their full fleet all year. Watkins Glen has lost their race sponsor and many of the teams have merged in an attempt to save money by pooling their resources.

So, it looks like there are only going to be 2 drivers competing for the rookie of the year this season. Joey Lagano, who will be competing for Joe Gibbs Racing in the #20 Home Depot car and Scott Speed, who will be manning the #82 Red Bull Toyota that was formerly the #84.

DEI and Ganassi Racing merged during the off-season and will be running Chevrolets this year with engines supplied by Earnhardt/Childress Racing Technologies. That means the Ganassi cars have left Dodge and DEI is now merged with two other race teams on and off the track.

Petty Enterprises and Gillette/Evernham Motorsports have also merged and will run 4 cars this year in the Cup series. Bobby Labonte was let go by Petty and is now driving for Yates racing. Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson will pilot 3 of those cars but the driver of the 4th car has not been announced yet. However, rumor is that the #10 car will be driven by AJ Allmendinger

Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman will debut at Daytona for the new Stewart/Haas Racing team. Tony will be able to use his past champions provisional but Ryan will have to get in on time in the first 5 races this season. They will be running Chevrolets which has been a huge sponsor of Tony in the past and what Tony runs in the Nationwide series for his own team.

The rumor is that Penske Racing will swap Kurt Busch’s points from last season with Sam Hornish Jr. this season. That means that Kurt can use his past champions provisional if he needs it and Tony Stewart doesn’t already have it. Alltel has also been bought out by Verizon and I don’t know how that will affect the sponsorship of that car to be driven by David Stremme this season.

Yates Racing and Hall of Fame Racing have also merged and will probably run 3 full-time cars this season with Bobby Labonte, Travis Kvapil and Paul Menard who brings his Menard’s sponsorship along with him from DEI. David Gilliland seems to be on the outside looking in at this point.

The Wood Brothers announced that they will only run on the mile and a half tracks this year because of sponsorship problems. They picked the intermediate tracks because they believe this is where they are the most competitive. There is no official word on Bill Davis Racing but it looks like they might not compete the full season or at all right now because they have no sponsorship for the #22 car nor do they have a driver signed for it.

As for who to watch this season go no further than last season. Jimmie Johnson has won the past three championships and will defend that title against Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. All other teams really had to make up some ground this off-season if they want to compete with these three drivers. You have to give the edge to Johnson until someone can prove that they can beat him in the Chase.

Look for Brian Vickers to win a race this season, Mark Martin to make the Chase and possibly win the Daytona 500 for the first time in his career, Jeff Gordon to improve over last year and get back to victory lane, Stewart/Haas Racing to struggle in the early part of the year and some of the teams who originally planned to run the full schedule shut down before the first half of the season is over. There is also the possibility of races being run with less than a 43 car field this season.

Check back after the Duels for a short preview of the Daytona 500. I will give you my pick to win and all of my Yahoo picks then. Until then, sign up for the fantasy challenge at the top of the page and good luck on your fantasy leagues this season!