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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Denny Hamlin shows holiday spirit; 2011 is decision time for Danica

NASCAR is already one of the most fan-friendly sports around, and the use of Twitter has made it even moreso. On Christmas Day, Denny Hamlin held a live contest on Twitter, asking a question and awarding the 11th person with the correct answer a trip for four anywhere in the U.S., complete with hotel, airfare and $2,000 in spending money. The contest began and ended in a couple minutes, which I thought was pretty cool.

I haven’t always been a fan of Hamlin’s on-track actions, but I have to say that this was very cool, and he is one of the best drivers when it comes to interacting with the fans online. One woman from Pennsylvania will definitely be rooting for #11 in 2011, as a simple answer on Twitter earned her family a nice vacation. (By the way, it was a trick question that got past a lot of people: “If you received every gift in the song "12 days of Christmas" how many presents would you have?” … think about it)

Which way will Danica go?
One of the biggest questions in racing will be answered in 2011: Which way will Danica go? Will she stick to where she started and give up her NASCAR dream? Or will she ditch the Indycar series and make the bold leap to stock cars permanent?

One thing is clear: She can’t continue to double-dip. Her results show that it’s essential to commit to one side. If she isn’t racing in NASCAR every week, she will never be a great NASCAR driver. That’s just common sense.

So where would I put the odds at right now? Based simply on business sensibility, something which Danica has plenty of, I would say the chances are very high – probably about 75 percent – that she will ditch Indycar and move to NASCAR full-time in 2012. The fact is there is so much money in NASCAR, as compared to Indycar, that she can become a lot richer in stock cars. So that means that the move will probably happen regardless of what’s happening on the track in 2011. Like most things in racing, money makes the decision.

Robby off to Dakar Rally
Some drivers are enjoying their short time away from the sport by vacationing or relaxing in other ways … and then there’s Robby Gordon, who’s preparing to head to South America to take part in the Dakar Rally, driving a truck nearly 6,000 miles over a period of just over two weeks through “grueling” conditions.

It’s not my idea of a fun holiday, but for guys like Robby this is the ultimate in fun. And unlike his Cup efforts, which have been extremely lackluster in recent years, he actually knows how to win in these rally races. So I can see the draw for him, and I wish him luck.

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