Lewis Franck
Monday January 1st, 2007

Most people love making resolutions, even if they don't always keep them. Here are some NASCAR resolutions for 2007 to consider:

Jimmie Johnson: Buy a golf cart without a roof. The 2006 Nextel Cup Champion pocketed close to $16 million this season, yet he evidently can't afford a golf cart with safety features. In December he was "horsing around," sprawled on the roof of his golf cart when he was thrown to the ground, resulting in a broken left wrist.

Tony Stewart: New Chase Rules. After failing to make the Nextel Cup Chase, the two-time champ went on a tear, winning three races and finishing in the top-four on two other occasions. In the post-race interview in Kansas, Stewart said he'd like to see two races every weekend in the Chase: A 200-miler for those outside and followed by another 200-miler for those in the playoffs. Smoke added that he'd go on top of his motor home, crack open a beer and watch his colleagues duke it out.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Shorter races, shorter season. NASCAR's most popular driver, when quizzed about the decrease in TV ratings, offered a solution: Cut the race distance. "If you made these races anywhere from 250 to 350 miles [as opposed to 500 or 600], you wouldn't have to captivate the attention span over such a long period of time," Earnhardt explained. "There's a big chunk in the race that's really pointless to be running. You're just making laps; you're not really accomplishing anything. And you could make the races a little shorter, give the fans a little more of a sprint-type feel, a little more urgency throughout the whole telecast."

Car of Tomorrow: A little love. Never before has there been such a consensus in the NASCAR garage than the hatred directed at the COT. Stewart dubbed it the "flying brick." Even the diplomatic four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon had complaints about it. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice-president of competition, said that once everybody starts racing the car, which was designed from the ground up to enhance driver safety and make the cars more racy, the chorus of complaints should lessen if not completely disappear.

Penske Racing South: A turnaround year like Richard Childress Racing had in 2006. Racing today is very much a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport. Just one year ago, many pundits and fans had written off RCR as dead-in-the-water. But Kevin Harvick, who renewed his deal with Childress, and Jeff Burton each made strong challenges in the Chase. The Penske South team, having made some changes for 2007, now must get Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch back in the hunt.

Yates/Ricky Rudd: Likewise, find some competitive fire. Robert Yates Racing has Daytona 500 wins and a Cup Championship to its credit, but in recent years the team has been off the mark. Rudd, coming off a "hiatus," should bring good karma.

Allstate Insurance Company: Make more funny Kasey Kahne commercials. These ads are some of the most entertaining bits on television -- and on the Internet, where they can be seen around the world. Sure, most NASCAR fans have seen these ads hundreds of times, but perhaps the ads can help entice new fans to watch Cup events.

OK, so my resolution? I'm going to become a NASCAR driver because that's the quickest way to meet and marry a supermodel.

Yes, it's no surprise that Gordon and Johnson have married models. But Burney Lamar? The 26-year-old burst on the scene with a second place at the season-opening Busch race at Daytona. The rest of the year was not-so-spectacular -- he had an average start of 18.7, average finish of 22.6, six crashes and a total of three top-10 finishes in 29 starts.

Yet in December he married Niki Taylor, who has appeared on over 400 magazine covers.

Evidently, I need to dig out that old driver's uniform and start practicing.

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