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Harris: Wishin’ And Hopin’ 2011 Style

Mike Harris | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, January 3 2011

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 2011 with a new crew chief and hopes for new and improved results. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Mike Harris | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

It seems like 2010, with all its action and drama, just flew by. Now it’s the start of 2011 andtime to start thinking about the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

Here’s what I think a NASCAR  wish list for the new year would look like:

– Dale Earnhardt Jr. would like a competitive car and some race wins so he can justify still being the stock car sport’s most popular driver after a pair of very mediocre seasons.

– Mark Martin would like a little of the elixir that Harry Gant drank when “Handsome Harry’’ was winning races in his early 50s so the sport’s only Quinquagenarian (person in his 50s) can make another serious run at his first title after a disappointing 2010.

– Denny Hamlin would like another chance to show he can handle the pressure of a

Denny Hamlin has a burning desire to again challenge for a championship. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

championship battle and take home the trophy from Homestead next November,  instead of an empty feeling in his gut.

– Kevin Harvick would like another solid season that puts him in the hunt for his first championship and gives team owner Richard Childress a shot at his first title since the late Dale Earnhardt drove the black No. 3 Chevrolet to the crown in 1994.

– Jeff Gordon, who hasn’t won a race since April 5, 2009, would like to feel the thrill of winning again after taking the checkered flag 82 times in his illustrious career.

– Kyle Busch would like to do more than beat up the competitors in the Nationwide and Camping World Trucks series, becoming a serious contender and making a run at the Cup championship.

– Tony Stewart would like to regain the magic of his first year as an owner-driver (in 2009) when both he and teammate Ryan Newman were winning races and looking like possible title contenders.

– New father Ryan Newman would like to give his daughter a chance to visit Victory Lane and see what all the excitement is about.

– Richard Petty would like to enjoy a season with competitive drivers in his cars and no money woes after regaining control of his own team.

Tony Stewart needs to rediscover the magic. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

– Joey Logano proved last season he is capable of standing up to other drivers, on and off the track, and the 20-year-old  would like to show people that he can take the next step and become a consistent contender.

– Jamie McMurray would like to do a lot more than win big races at Daytona, Talladega and Indianapolis.

– Kurt Busch would like to get back to his role as annual contender and give team owner Roger Penske his first Cup championship.

– Jeff Burton would like to be more than the best quote in the Cup garage and make a real run at a championship as he approaches his mid-40s.

– Clint Bowyer, considered by many to be one of the best drivers in the Cup garage, would like to win more races, become a household name and a legitimate championship contender.

– Brad Keselowski would like to avoid controversy and show the world that he can be as good in the Cup series as he is in his Nationwide car.

Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer both have to be considered contenders in 2011. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images for NASCAR)

– Kasey Kahne would like to make his lame duck year with Red Bull Racing a successful stepping stone for moving to the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports team in 2012.

– Carl Edwards would like to see what a backward flip off his car would feel like after winning a Cup title.

– Greg Biffle would like to step out of the also-ran category and give the championship a serious go after falling short throughout his promising career.

– Team owner Jack Roush would like to come back strong from a disappointing 2010 and give Ford Motor Co., a manufacturer’s championship in the first full season with its new made-for-NASCAR engine.

– Matt Kenseth would like to, quietly of course, get back to contender for race wins and titles.

– Juan Pablo Montoya would like to show everyone that 2009 was no fluke and that the onetime IndyCar and Formula One star is now a genuine contender for both the Chase for the championship and the Cup title.

– Finally, there’s Jimmie Johnson, who would like nothing more than to continue the status quo and win a sixth straight Cup championship – which, by the way, probably still wouldn’t earn JJ the respect and admiration he deserves for his unprecedented run of titles.

I can hardly wait to get to Daytona and get all these wishes started. Happy New Year to all.

– Mike Harris can  be reached at mharris@racintoday.com

Mike Harris | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, January 3 2011
One Comment

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  • Terry says:

    I’m wishing someone OTHER than the Mega Teams win a race or two….
    And Brian France and Helton get called into RICK’S….JACK’S…RICHARD’S…AND JOE’S TRAILER’S…
    and get a earful from them to NOT let it happen again…..