That's right, boys and girls, NASCAR is back. And we NASCAR fans would like to extend to you the open invitation to join us this Sunday at 12 noon on your local FOX affiliate for the Daytona 500.
At some point you need to pick a favorite driver. Races are always fun, but they're more fun when you have a competitive stake in them. You have two main options when it comes to picking a favorite. You can pick the car you like the best, or you can watch the drivers for several weeks and see whose personality you like the best.
You can also pick a car based on its sponsors - that is, the logos slapped all over that pretty color scheme.
Here are a few of the local companies sponsoring a team and the car on which their logo will be front and center on Sunday. For a list of all the cars entered in the race and their primary sponsors for the Daytona 500, check out Jayski.com's Daytona 500 entry list. Better yet, see all the cars for yourself, along with some scheduled to compete throughout the season, on his terrific paint scheme gallery.
Coca-Cola: Associate sponsor of Tony Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet, Ryan Newman's No. 39 Chevrolet, Clint Bowyer's No. 33 Chevrolet, Jeff Burton's No. 31 Chevrolet, Kurt Busch's No. 22 Dodge, Joey Logano's No. 20 Toyota, Denny Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota, David Ragan's No. 6 Ford, Greg Biffle's No. 16 Ford, and Michael Waltrip's No. 15 Toyota.
Home Depot: Primary sponsor of Joey Logano's No. 20 Toyota
Aaron's: Primary sponsor of David Reutimann's No. 00 Toyota, also Michael Waltrip's No. 15 Toyota and Martin Truex Jr's No. 56 Toyota as an associate sponsor.
NAPA Auto Parts: Primary sponsor of Martin Truex Jr's No. 56 Toyota and Michael Waltrip's No. 15 Toyota, also David Reutimann's No, 00 Toyota as an associate sponsor
Aflac: Primary sponsor of Carl Edwards' No. 99 Ford.
Do you love M&Ms? Silly question, everyone loves M&Ms. Well, we have an M&Ms car, the No. 18 Toyota driven by Kyle Busch.
How about Mountain Dew? Maybe you chase your M&Ms with a Dew. Dale Earnhardt Jr's No. 88 Chevrolet carries AMP Energy Drink and Mountain Dew logos for most of the races - with the National Guard filling the sponsorship role in the other events.
Do you shop at Target? Maybe you buy your M&Ms and Mountain Dew at Target. The iconic bullseye is found right smack-dab on the hood of Juan Pablo Montoya's No. 42 Chevy. Yes, Juan Pablo Montoya. No, he's not from Dumptruck County, Alabama, as you may have deduced. He's from Colombia.
The wide variety of NASCAR sponsors that play a role in our everyday lives doesn't stop there.
For example, you might come home from work in your Chevrolet (the winningest car in NASCAR) after filling up at the local Shell station (Kurt Busch's No. 22 Dodge) and help your wife cook a hearty portion of Hamburger Helper (Clint Bowyer's No. 33 Chevrolet). You reach into fridge you bought from Home Depot (Joey Logano's No. 20 Toyota) and grab a Coca-Cola (an associate sponsor on several cars). Then you walk over and plop down in your favorite easy chair, leased from Aaron's (David Reutimann's No. 00 Toyota) and flip on your wide-screen TV you just bought at Best Buy (AJ Allmendinger's No. 43 Ford).
While you sip your Coke, an ad with that guy in the suit explaining how you can save money with Geico (Casey Mears' No. 13 Toyota) comes on. As you ponder whether Abe Lincoln was honest, your wife holds a Post-It sticky note, manufactured by 3M (Greg Biffle's No. 16 Ford) in front of your face, reminding you that you promised to fix that darn sink when you got home.
So you get up from your easy chair and go hop in your Chevrolet and head down the street to Lowes (Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet) since it's closer than Home Depot and you want to get home fast. You walk in and buy a few Stanley Tools (Marcos Ambrose's No. 9 Ford) to help you fix the sink. Then you head back home and slide in there to do some work. Unfortunately, things go awry and you end up sitting in a hospital bed, eating some smuggled Taco Bell (David Gilliland's No. 34 Ford) and wishing you could be sipping on a Miller Lite (Brad Keselowski's No. 2 Dodge) to get your mind off the pain.
Meanwhile you tell your wife to go to an attorney's office the next day so she can get some legal documents - printed on a machine bought from Office Depot (Tony Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet) - and ship them via FedEx (Denny Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota) to the makers of that pipe that busted, even though it was your own darn fault anyway.
But hey, you think. You might be missing work - and a few fingers - but at least you've got that insurance from that company with the adorable duck for a mascot (Carl Edwards' No. 99 Ford) to cover your assets.