Start your engines: Media Tour offers glimpses into 2015 season

NASCAR president Mike Helton (left) speaks as Brian France, NASCAR CEO and Chairman, looks on during the NASCAR Media Tour at Charlotte Convention Center last January.

Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

The 2015 NASCAR season doesn’t officially start until next month’s Daytona Speedweeks, but the first real news gathering begins Monday with the kickoff of the 2015 Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom.

Here are five things you need to know about the Media Tour:

1. THE ATTENDEES: About 240 television, radio, Internet and newspaper journalists and photographers from across the country and as far away as Germany will converge on the Charlotte Convention Center for the Media Tour.

Also on hand will be numerous NASCAR executives and various combinations of owners, drivers and crew chiefs from the following teams: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Joe Gibbs Racing, Furniture Row Racing, Leavine Family Racing, JTG Daugherty Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Penske, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, HScott Motorsports and Wood Brothers Racing.

There will also be representatives from assorted NASCAR tracks, sponsors and other industry people.

The Media Tour is not open to the public. 

2. THE SCHEDULE: The first press conference is Monday at 1:30 p.m., when NASCAR will present its annual "state of the sport" discussion. If there are any changes to the format to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup or major alterations to rules and procedures, they will be announced then.

From there, press conferences continue more or less morning, noon and evening for four days, with the final event concluding at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.

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3. THE AGENDA: All of the individual team press conferences are 60 to 90 minutes in length. Typically, the owner, drivers and crew chiefs at each team make opening statements, take a few softball questions from an emcee and then head to breakout sessions, where journalists can and do ask anything and everything, as long at time allows. 

Teams will use the Media Tour to introduce new personnel and sponsors, and talk about their prospects for the 2015. 

4. THE NEWS: By now, all the major teams have firmed up their driver-crew chief-sponsor-manufacturer alignments, so there likely won’t be a lot of blockbuster announcements. And with no testing, most of what everyone will be engaging in is speculation.

The word "excited" will be repeated ad naseum because every team is convinced they have built better cars over the winter, hired smarter and more capable people, and in general improved their respective operations. In January, everyone is an optimist. They all think they are headed for a great 2015 season. There will be at least 15 drivers who honestly believe they have a legitimate shot and the championship and most will be right. They will have a chance, but only one will be the next champion.

5. THE TAKEAWAY: For NASCAR journalists and fans alike, the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom is a welcome relief from the quiet of the offseason. It’s a great event, well organized, well run and full of interesting information. Journalists get to actually talk to racers and create content that fans can consume, so it’s win-win.

The thing to remember, though, is that the real proof of who has improved the most in the off-season will come on the race track starting at Daytona in mid-February. The Media Tour will be interesting, entertaining and hopefully fun as well. But it doesn’t pay any points. The real racing will be here soon enough.

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