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Race fans, start your engines

The NASCAR offseason is one of the shortest in the sports world, but the Sprint Cup sure packed a lot of changes into this winter.

I wrote a story in today's paper that was as much a help to me as it hopefully is to race fans -- there sure is a lot to wrap your head around as the season starts in Daytona. With the economy affecting manufacturers and sponsors, there were several mergers among teams and more than a few driver and car changes

Kevin Harvick, one of the few drivers to not undergo any major changes, got the NASCAR season started Saturday night by winning a crash-tastic Bud Shootout. Will that victory help him the rest of this week, especially with practice time at a premium for teams which were prohibited from doing any testing this offseason?

Which changes do you think will yield the greatest results? Tony Stewart going solo? Joey Logano stepping into his old ride in the orange No. 20?

I'll be tackling a lot of other questions about this season in Thursday's paper (but don't let that stop you from getting the talk of to a vroooming start in the comments section).

Then it's off to Daytona Beach, Fla. I'll be at Daytona International Speedway to pick up my credential Wednesday before covering the qualifying races on Thursday and of course, Sunday's 51st Daytona 500.

I'll be writing stories every day from Daytona. In addition to all the Sprint Cup goings-on, the truck season begins with what seems to be an always-entertaining race Friday night (won last year by Todd Bodine and crew chief Mike HIllman Jr., a Lockport native), and the Nationwide Series race is Saturday afternoon.

Along the way, check back here to the Sports, Ink blog, where I'll have updates from the track, including some live blogging, and some accounts of my travels to the Sunshine State. Last year I was able to get a fine Buffalo meal at Santora's Buffalo Pizza & Wings. Yup, it's the same Santora's. And this year my hotel is closer to their place.  

Here's my quick preseason tip for race fans, which I unfortunately had to relearn Saturday: When you set your DVR to record a race, make sure you record whatever show is on afterward, too. My Bud Shootout ended with 17 laps to go! After I black-flagged myself I checked out the wild finish on Sportscenter.

---Keith McShea

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