The Final Word – Sometimes the dawn of a new season is an exciting time, sometimes it is 2018

A new season has dawned, the engines roared back to life, and the Clash delivered a…well…a modicum of excitement. If you are a Brad Keselowski fan, it was one hell of a race. If you like Jamie McMurray, it kind of sucked. If you were looking for diving and dashing for the opening, Chase Elliott gave us one or two moments. If you wanted to sit on the edge of your seat, share the chair. This was not one for the ages, I am afraid.

If you were seeking to calm those who are heading for the exits or entice those who never were with you in the first place, I do not see how either mission was accomplished. Drop me a line and tell me where I am going wrong. Tell me how Sunday’s action kept you riveted. I am at a loss, to be honest.

As for Thursday’s duels, they are now two 20-car races with nothing on the line. 40 entries for 40 spots for the most iconic race of them all. That does not bode well for Las Vegas, Phoenix, or California when they swing west after the visit to Atlanta. How many have grown up yearning to be the next Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube champion, or the master of the TicketGuardian 500, and let us not forget about the Auto Club 400? No one, that is who.

Usually, my pessimism is in check at least through to May. Usually. On the bright side, when the points start counting next Sunday, I will be glued to the tube once again. I wonder how Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and even Clint Bowyer will do. I am looking forward to seeing how Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace, and William Byron will perform. Let us not forget about Erik Jones. Veterans and young pups on the biggest opening act stage in all of sports. The Daytona 500 means something, and I am looking forward to watching the action unfold.

Atlanta’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 might be fine. Since Kentucky ran off with its original spring date, this is a one and done deal for the good folks in Georgia. I guess there is something traditional about this event, and the corporate splash does have some patriotism mixed in.

Then they head west. Maybe by then, the storylines will be interesting. Somebody might shine brightly to start the season, some might be hurting early, a kid might do things a kid is not expected to do. Something, anything, to entice us to watch the multi-colored autos with the big numbers on their roofs roar around and around and around.

That is in the future. The Clash is behind us, the Duels provide something for Thursday afternoon, while Sunday is the one we have been waiting for. Even me. A new season has dawned, and a new Daytona 500 champion awaits his crowning…unless you believe Danica Patrick has a Cinderella story of her own in the offing. Now I’m just being silly.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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