The very last race of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was a historic day. We are a lucky bunch; the history of NASCAR is always around us, and today was truly momentous.

Richard Petty, one of the greatest drivers ever, can still be seen at every race. His unmistakable form reminds us that our history is still very much alive and present. We race at a track that featured races the very first season NASCAR ever waved a green flag. We still race at the first paved oval in the series. Sure. The drivers all strap into the Car of Tomorrow for every race. And the Cup Banquet has been moved to flashy (and fun) Las Vegas.

But the roots of this sport run deep, no matter how many extra layers of concrete are added over them. We should always take a moment to remember the drivers, crew chiefs and people who have made NASCAR what it is today. So though my focus is on the history of NASCAR’s race tracks, for this column, I wanted to take a moment and congratulate Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knauss, and the whole 48 Team for truly making a mark in the history of NASCAR. Johnson deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest racers in NASCAR. And, if I’m not mistaken, Knauss deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with a certain ingenious and car builder by the name of Smokey Yunick.