Welcome back everyone! I want to start out by inviting you all to join my Yahoo Fantasy Racing League once again this year. Just click on the link to sign up Yahoo Fantasy Racing League. The ID number is 671 and the password is johnson. Yahoo limits the league to 50 players, so first come first served. When the league is full it is full. Put your team up against mine and see how you do.
The biggest surprise for myself and almost everyone else who follows NASCAR this offseason was the announcement that Carl Edwards was retiring effective immediately. Carl said he wanted to pursue other opportunities and spend more time with his family. I wish him the best of luck on his future.
The series also has a new sponsor this year. It is no longer called the Sprint Cup Series. It is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The length of the contract has not been revealed, although they have said it is a multi-year deal.
There will be three full-time rookies vying for the Rookie of the Year. They are Ty Dillon, Erik Jones, and Daniel Suarez who is the driver replacing Carl this season for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Clint Bowyer moves into the #14, replacing the retired Tony Stewart. This had been agreed to right after Tony announced that 2016 would be his final season competing in the Cup Series, so this is no surprise. I think this will be a good fit for Clint and we should see significant improvement with his finishing positions this season.
Greg Biffle doesn’t have a ride at the moment. He split with Roush/Fenway Racing and the Charter was leased to a second JTG Daugherty car for the season. Not sure if this means that Greg is retired or if he has something in the works with another team that hasn’t been announced yet. He might also be a replacement for any injured drivers during the year.
The Stewart-Haas teams have switched from Chevrolet to Ford this season, which means they are going from Hendrick engines to Roush-Yates engines. We will have to see if this affects the speed of these cars and how the drivers adjust to the new package.
Michael Waltrip will try to qualify for his thirtieth Daytona race and it was announced that this will be his last Cup race as he will officially retire from driving in the series.
Finally, NASCAR has changed the points format once again. Following are the new rules they are implementing this season:
• Races will now consist of three stages, with championship implications in each stage.
• The top-10 finishers of the first two stages will be awarded additional championship points.
• The winner of the first two stages of each race will receive one playoff point, and the race winner will receive five playoff points. Each playoff point will be added to his or her reset total following race No. 26, if that competitor makes the playoffs.
• All playoff points will carry through to the end of the third round of the playoffs (Round of 8), with the Championship 4 racing straight-up at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the title.
• Championship points following the first two stages will be awarded on a descending scale, with the stage winner receiving 10 points, second receiving 9 points, and so on.
• The race winner following the final stage will now receive 40 points, second-place will receive 35, third-place 34, fourth-place 33, and so on.
So much for them making the points easier for the fans to follow.
I will have my Daytona 500 picks posted once the Can-Am Duels are over. The Duels are scheduled for the night of February 23rd with the running of the Daytona 500 scheduled for Sunday, February 26th. Remember to sign up for my Yahoo Fantasy Racing League before all of the spots are taken!