It may not exactly have the weight of Obama vs. McCain, but the first reader polls of 2009 here on Trading Paint! have closed -- and the results are somewhat surprising.
For all you Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans, I wish I had better news, but an overwhelming majority of readers feel the driver of the No. 88 will once again be deprived of his first career Sprint Cup championship in 2009.
The question posed was to the point: "Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. win the Sprint Cup championship in 2009?"
Of 122 votes cast, 85 percent (104 votes) predict Junior will once again end the season watching Jimmie Johnson or someone else get all the glory, adulation and yes, the Sprint Cup Trophy. Only 18 votes (15 percent) think Little E can break through to get that ever-elusive crown.
My take: While many people think I'm a Junior basher, I'm not. In fact, while I agree with the majority of voters that Junior won't win the title, I'm also including a big caveat in my analysis of his chances.
Frankly, I think Earnhardt has a good chance to have one of his best seasons ever in Sprint Cup competition. The first-year attention and pressure of his high-profile switch to Hendrick Motorsports is over, and now Junior has but one thing to do -- and the one thing he does best: to just drive.
Honestly, I think Earnhardt can very easily be a top-five finisher and I expect him to contend for the championship through most of the Chase.
As for results of our other poll, the question posed was: "With ticket prices and associated costs coming down at various venues, will more fans attend races in 2009 despite the poor economy?"
I thought the results would be a bit more even-handed, but an overwhelming majority of voters (91 percent) predict that NASCAR will continue to be vexed by the current economic crisis -- and that things like reduced ticket prices and concession stand costs simply won't lure fans back into the stands.
It's pretty clear by the voting -- 88 to only 8 -- that the attendance decline NASCAR has continued to see over the last two seasons will once again continue even further in 2009.
We plan on offering one to two new questions each week to pick your brains and get a true sense of what the average NASCAR fan is really feeling.
Check out this week's two new questions on the left side of the home page and get ready to cast your ballot:
1) How much do you like Darrell Waltrip's trademark line of "Boogity, boogity, boogity, let's go racin', boys!"?
2) With Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman together, will Stewart Haas Racing be a surprise contender in its first season of operation?
To those of you that participated in the first polls, thanks, and we look forward to your participation in future polls.