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Fans should line up for 2011 season

Happy new year, Brickyard fans. The 2011 season is officially around the corner, NASCAR Speedweeks are just a few months away, and here are five things that fans should be looking forward the most this upcoming season.

More emotions

Fans finally were able to see emotion out of the drivers in the top three NASCAR series in 2010, after officials allowed the drivers to handle their disputes.  Throughout the season, drivers were in altercations with each other such as Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, and most notably Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski.

Nascar did not penalize any drivers, besides meaningless probations to a few drivers.  It is only expected to see more arguments and on-track incidents this season between teams and drivers.

Success from Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had two and a half dismal seasons at Hendrick Motorsports, finding victory lane once in 2008 at Michigan International Speedway.  Thanks to owner Rick Hendrick, 'Junebug' has to be positive for next season.

The No. 88 cars and driver will share a shop with the five-time reigning champion (Jimmie Johnson) where Earnhardt will have a new crew chief in Steve Letarte.  This upcoming season one can expect Earnhardt to show his stake at Hendrick, because he has the right resources and championship morale to support him all season.  He can walk into the shop every day and see five Sprint Cup trophies-- which should give him confidence each week.

Look for Earnhardt to not only run up front at Daytona, but be the top-running car out of the Hendrick stable early in the season.  After the Lance McGrew era, fans should look forward to a successful season.

Roush organization will rise

Carl Edwards was in the good and bad news at Roush Fenway Racing in 2010 where he and Greg Biffle recorded two wins each.  Edwards and the No. 99 team have the most momentum heading to Daytona after finishing the last two races with victories.

Roush Fenway has struggled over the last two years compared to past seasons.  They still sit with a major sponsor in UPS and returning driver David Ragan.  Despite a disappointing 2010 season, Ragan leads the way for the Roush Fenway roster.

Edwards recorded a season-high, nine wins in 2008 and finished second in points. With their core drivers including Edwards, Biffle and former-champion, Matt Kenseth, Roush will be competitive again, and back to winning ways with the new Ford FR9 engines by Daytona.

Tighter Chase for the Sprint Cup

Denny Hamlin made the Chase what NASCAR always wanted it to be: competitive.  Hamlin and Kevin Harvick were able to show nearly enough muscle to take down the 'dynasty' of the No. 48 team. Harvick led the series with the most top-10 finishes, but still lost after only losing 21 points to Jimmie Johnson over the final 10 races.

Fans should see even more competitiveness going into this year's Chase and during the final 10 races. Robin Pemberton, Vice President of Competition, has hinted that the Chase may expand to 15 drivers next season and any news would be announced before the start of the 2011 season.

Possible new champion

Johnson's reign of championships cannot likely continue and 2011 is predicted to be the year that a new team rises on the top leaderboard after 36 races. Some of NASCAR's most-prominent teams are vying to slip past Hendrick's Motorsports this year, and have all of them have drivers ready to bump past Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus.

It is difficult to pin point who will raise the trophy above their head at Homestead next season, but Edwards, Hamlin and Stewart are top choices to stop the thunder.

 

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