There's nothing better than the start of the season!  Everyone's in first-place, every fan base is full of optimism and the year is a blank canvas just waiting to have paint thrown on it.

As someone that grew up on "stick and ball" sports, I've always loved that time.  Whether it was the freshly-mowed green grass of MLB's Opening Day, the cool autumn breeze for the kickoff of the NFL or the crispness of the rink air for the NHL's first puck drop, the start of the season is always fun.

But, nothing quite compares to the roar of the engines in NASCAR.

While the other sports raise excitement, NASCAR raises hairs.  On the commute to work this morning, I listened to Dick Berggren talking on Rock 101.1 about some of the 2012 storylines.  I started to envision the famous command to fire engines, the field roaring out of turn 4 and the green flag waving at Daytona International Speedway.  As I did, I started to get a tingling and I could feel the goosebumps that certainly weren't being caused by excessively mild weather.

It's racing season, NASCAR fans!

While the widely accepted start of the year, the Daytona 500, is still a solid week away, the drivers, media and fans are already starting to pack the famous speedway and will get the first taste of checkers and wreckers this Saturday in the Bud Shootout (8 p.m. on FOX).

The long, cold winter (to use a metaphor, as it certainly didn't hold true in New England this season) is finally over.  It's time that we get back to heating up the track every Sunday.  The days of scrounging around for an article about Kurt Busch's move to Phoenix Racing or blogging on the connection between NH primary candidates and NHMS are things of the past.  We can get back to talking about the one thing that we all care about: 43 races cars on a track.

The 2012 NASCAR season is upon us and no matter who you cheer for, your driver is still mathematically very much in the hunt to knock off Tony Stewart and take this year's Sprint Cup Trophy.  So, hop in and strap on your seat belt, because it won't be long now until we hear the most famous words in racing to start those engines.

Boogity, boogity, boogity!  Let's go racing in 2012!