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    (L-R) Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowes Chevrolet; Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet; Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet; Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet; and team owner Rick Hendrick during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Charlotte Convention Center on January 28, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)

  • HMS_SprintMediaTour_0127146_Dale_Earnhardt_JR

    (L-R) Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet; and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Charlotte Convention Center on January 28, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)

  • nascar-hall-of-fame-portrait-dale-jarrett-miranda-lambert-blake-shelton

    Country music artists Blake Shelton (left) and Miranda Lambert (center) pose with NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Dale Jarrett (right)during the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony at NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 29, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)

  • Sprint_Media_Tour_Charlotte_012714_Harvick_Busch_SHR

    Kevin Harvick (left), driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John's Chevrolet, and Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Racing Chevrolet, look on during NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Charlotte Convention Center on January 27, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

  • Sprint_Media_Tour_Charlotte_012714_Stewart_Patrick

    Tony Stewart (left), co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, and Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, speak with the media during NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Charlotte Convention Center on January 27, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

  • sprint-media-tour-ganassi-driver-mcmurray-larson

    Kyle Larson (left), driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, and Jamie McMurray (right), driver of the #1 McDonalds/Cessna Chevrolet, speak with the media during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Charlotte Convention Center on January 28, 2014 in Charlotte, N.C. (Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

  • sprint-media-tour-richard-childress-racing-drivers

    (L-R) Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar/Quicken Loans Chevrolet; Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Menard's Chevrolet; Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 DOW/Cheerios Chevrolet; Eric Warren, director of competition for Richard Childress Racing; and Richard Childress, owner of Richard Childress Racing speak with the media during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Charlotte Convention Center on January 28, 2014 in Charlotte, N.C. (Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

  • sprintmediatour_mwr_013014_bowyer

    Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5Hour Energy Toyota, speaks with the media during NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Charlotte Convention Center on January 30, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

  • SprintMediaTour_MWR_013014_Vickers

    Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota, speaks with the media during NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Charlotte Convention Center on January 30, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

  • sprintmediatour_PettyDrivers_012914

    Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 43 Smithfield Ford, and Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 9 Stanley Ford, and Richard Petty look on during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Charlotte Convention Center on January 29, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)

  • sprintmediatour_RoushDrivers_012914

    (L-R) Chris Buescher, driver of the No. 60 Ford EcoBoost Ford, Ryan Reed, driver of the No. 16 American Diabetes Drive to Stop Diabetes presented by Lilly Diabetes Ford, Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 Advocare Ford, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 17 Nationwide Ford, Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Fastenal Ford, and Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford, pose for the media during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Charlotte Convention Center on January 29, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)

  • sprintmediatour_trevorbayne_bowling_012714

    Trevor Bayne, driver of the #6 Roush-Fenway Ford in the Nationwide series, bowls during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Strike City on January 27, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)

the new chase format means the networks have to create a lot of spiffy new graphics

I mean, A LOT of graphics! I think the theme of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season will be ‘Explanation.’ Everybody is going to be explaining how the new qualifying system will work and how the new Chase format will work, so get ready for a bunch of segments dissecting the new formats and whether or not Jimmie Johnson will be able to adapt to them. Let’s all start praying for Jimmie, you guys. (Maybe there’ll be a graphic for that too???) :)

For the record, I like the changes. I think it’ll be interesting because of the eliminations and the final race of the season has an automatic “dun, dun, dun, duuuuuuuuuuuuh” factor without anyone having to do any math!

Anyway… In addition to the new Chase format announcement, this week was the annual Sprint Media Tour in Charlotte. That’s where all the teams host the media at their shops and talk about the same stuff they always talk about. It’s our first real, formal chance to see the newly re-configured teams and remember how many people were shuffled around from Silly Season.

I still find it strange that Kurt Busch is at Stewart-Haas Racing, and I’m pretty sure I’m never NOT going to find that weird. My favorite photo has to be that of the Roush Fenway Racing drivers, because I love the suits with the different (sponsor-matched!) shirts. And the Richard Childress Racing photo is pretty awesome because they all look so miserable. :)

In other news…

The Hottest Driver Tournament will be returning this year! Normally I always do it in the off-season in the first week of January, but I’ve wanted to make a change to this site and hopefully find a sponsor for the trophy. So I don’t have an exact date yet for when it will start but it will happen soon.

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