How many of you—without looking—could tell me the exact number of days until the 2011 Daytona 500?

 

You know who you are.

 

Just in case, it’s 54 and just a little less than two months away. Even then, the wait isn’t that long with the Budweiser Shootout falling on February 12th.

 

Those that know the amount of time until the next race down to the second right off of the top of their heads need no convincing. They can’t wait to hear the roar of the engines again and see all 43 brightly colored racecars (or trucks for that matter!) flying down the frontstretch at 180+mph!

 

Others just aren’t quite convinced it’s worth their time anymore. Whether it’s the Chase, Jimmie Johnson, or some other complaint they have with the current state of the sport, some have claimed their viewership of the races will lessen in the coming years and some have even pledged that they will never come back (yeah…sure…).

 

Whether you’re looking for a reason to give NASCAR your full attention next season or are just trying to tide yourself over until February, here are a few good reasons to return next year:

 

The Racing

You can downplay it all you want to, but the numbers don’t lie: 2010 was the most competitive year in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history. Period. Not just in the year as a whole, but in several individual races this year, records were broken for the number of leaders or lead changes set in that race.

 

While some will try to discount that as just being longer green flag runs that cause a round of green flag pitstops, it doesn’t explain the number of different winners this year (13) or the number of times the margin of victory was less than a second between the winner and second place (17 of 34 races. Two races ended under caution).  

 

If you look hard enough for a problem, you’ll find one. However, take a glance at several of the races this year and you’ll find there were memorable and exciting moments in just about all of them. It shouldn’t be any different in 2011.

 

The Championship

Ok just for a second, try and not whine about the Chase. It’s not going anywhere and it’s not like the old system was perfect either. Anyway, there will always be a group of people who keep track of the points after the Chase begins but still use the old points system. That way, it’s not like you’ll ever be left wondering who would have won it (kind of like “if the race ended now”, huh?).

 

Jimmie Johnson isn’t really helping my case here, since no one really likes to watch the same movie over and over again. I mean, sure, it can be the same type of movie without being the exact same movie but eventually you start to learn your lesson and quit watching … I mean seriously! How many different ways can Hollywood make you fall in love with a dog and then kill it at the end of the film?!

 

Ok, sorry about that. I’m still reeling from Marley & Me.

 

The point is, there were more than a few people at the end of the season who screamed “I’m not watching NASCAR again next year!” after Johnson crossed the finish line as the champion for the fifth consecutive year at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

However, he has to lose eventually right? That’s the reason people watch these primetime television shows every week. Basically the same thing happens in every episode, but you stick around because when something big happens you want to be there to see it! ….Right?

 

Plus, the points battles are usually close. They’re not always as nail-biting as this year’s title run was, but, let’s be honest, neither was the old system. I think we can safely say by now that Johnson will be in the run for the championship as 2011 comes to a close, but if 2011 is even half as entertaining as 2010 was it will be worth watching.

 

Boys, Have At It

Four simple and meaningless words by themselves, but suddenly NASCAR’s Vice President of Competition puts them all together and it becomes one of the most overused quotes in NASCAR history. Heck, we even got this out of the deal!

 

 This wasn’t a one year deal, either. NASCAR would be completely idiotic to withdraw that statement, and they know it! Even the most disgruntled race fans enjoyed the on-and-off track acts of vigilante justice and NASCAR rarely reacted with anything more than probation and a fine.

 

For most fans, it’s the individual races themselves that bring the enjoyment and individual moments in the races that they are talking about around the water cooler the next morning. These moments are likely to continue in 2011, and I pity anyone who would voluntarily choose to miss them.

 

 Changes

Aside from the word Chase (and yes I do keep saying it just to irritate you), “change” seems to be one of the most hated words among NASCAR fans. However, there have been some good changes recently. Double-file restarts, the loss of the rear wing, and the decision by NASCAR to stop regulating drafting at restrictor plate tracks are changes a majority of race fans agree were good ones.

 

There have been rumors circulating that NASCAR could now be making changes to the points system next year and there will be changes to the cars in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series in 2011. While response to these changes from NASCAR Nation has been mixed, there should at least be enough curiosity from people to see how it all turns out. After all, who says you actually have to like the change to be interested in seeing the outcome?

 

Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series

If there’s just no convincing you that the Sprint Cup Series is going to be worth watching next year, at least stick around for the lower tier series. In fact, if you asked diehard NASCAR fans which series they enjoy watching the most, chances are they will either answer the Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series.

 

It’s not really hard to see why. While the diversity in race winners was less than what the Sprint Cup Series saw (NNS had 12, NCWTS had 10), both series continuously put on good races and good finishes. In the Nationwide Series, 33 of the 35 races ended under green and 22 of those had a margin of victory between first and second at less than one second.

 

 In the Camping World Truck Series, 24 of the 25 races ended under green and 14 of those also had a margin of victory of less than one second between the top two.

 

Throw in the good racing with star-power and young up-and-coming talent and you’re in for some good times!

 

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One last reason for you to tune in: Because it’s FUN! It just seems anymore like NASCAR fans take everything way too seriously and forget that racing is there for their enjoyment. It’s not life or death and there are much more important things going on in this world. So smile, tune in, and enjoy the racing!