Daytona Beach, Fla. - So far so good on the weather front at it remains overcast and a little chilly for Florida but most importantly dry.
The drivers' meetings just ended and before the usual procedural announcements to the gathered teams personnel, NASCAR president Mike Helton introduced a laundry list of dignitaries from the entertainment world as well as corporate America who have gathered here in Daytona.
Keith Urban, Tim Tebow, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes led the glitz and glamour side of the list but maybe more important were the names and companies represented from the business world.
NASCAR realizes how important the health of the economy and in turn its corporate partners is to the overall well-being of the sport.
So when the heads and marketing managers of such Fortune 500 companies as UPS, NAPA and maybe most important of all series title sponsor Sprint are around they get treated like royalty.
This is a very critical season for NASCAR in many ways. After the tumultuous off-season of contractions, mergers and lost sponsors the sport needs to put on a good product. An exciting Daytona 500 today - Mother Nature permitting - would be a good first step for the sport to turn the attention back to the race track and away from the business pages.
But maybe more than any other professional sport, NASCAR needs the economy as a whole to get better. It certainly needs the fans to buy tickets and merchandise. However NASCAR also needs the current companies that pour millions of sponsorship dollars into the sport to continue and for new businesses to be in position to do so down the road.
That's why Tom Cruise took a back seat to the president of Sprint today, even though he's a star in his own right thanks to appearing in the company's television commercials.