Thoughts, Opinions and Rumors - Oh My!
With three races remaining until NASCAR's Chase, uh, I mean playoff, here are some random thoughts on what we've observed so far and maybe an opinion on what we might still see.
First time winners are always great to see and this season, we've seen it happen three times. Will it happen again, who knows? He hasn't gotten as much attention this season but Chase Elliott is putting together some solid results. With 13 tops 10 finishes this season, including 6 top 5's, Elliott might be the next driver to break through and capture his first win.
It would be great to see Dale Earnhardt, Jr. leave with a final season win like Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart did. There just hasn't been any indication to make folks think it might happen. As big a story as it would be, at this point, it appears the 88 earning a win in 2017 would be considered a small miracle.
Quit saying Kyle Larson is the future of NASCAR. He's not. He's the present and the future of NASCAR. What's not to like about the guy? He's young, articulate, outspoken, brings fans from the worlds of dirt and sprint cars and is good. I mean, darned good! In a world of iRacing, even older fans love the guy because they appreciate his dirt background and how he got started.
It's unfathomable that Bubba Wallace doesn't have a full-time ride in either the Monster Energy or Xfinity Series.
Speaking of Larson, he's become part of the Silly Season talk and that in itself is silly. Target announced a few weeks ago they were leaving Chip Ganassi Racing and this is a contract year for Larson. Add that together and the know nothings have ramped up speculation he's heading to Hendrick. A lot of that should've been put to rest last week when Hendrick announced William Byron will be taking over the 5 car. Any remaining speculation should be buried. Chip Ganassi is two things, a smart business man and a racer. He knows what he has in Kyle Larson and he's not going to let him leave. Larson will be in the 42 for 2018 and beyond.
Did I mention speculation and Silly Season? I was told by a team employee that Matt Kenseth met with Stewart-Haas Racing's competition director Greg Zipadelli the day after the Brickyard 400. I was further told the conversation was about the 10 car. Interesting, to say the least.
Jimmie Johnson's last win was at Dover in June. Since then, he's finished outside the top 10 in eight of ten races and he's scored no top 5's. Remember the last time Johnson had a quiet summer? The stories about "What's wrong with the 48 team" started. Then they promptly won their 7th title.
Wouldn't it be great if we see another driver pick up their first win of the season in these next three races? Joey Logano's encumbered win at Richmond is looming larger than many thought it would because we've had so many drivers earn playoff spots by winning. It would also cause a lot of drivers and teams close the cutoff line to really start sweating. Besides, if you're going to have a playoff, you want the best teams and drivers. Winning is still the name of the game.
Has the stage racing been perfect? No. Is it different? Obviously, but it's been better than a lot of folks thought it would be. If you're one of those who still claim you're not watching or not going to watch because of it, I don't believe you. You would've tuned out months ago. I wasn't a fan of it when it was announced but it's added some wrinkles and affects race day strategy. Overall, it's been a good change.
Have you given much thought to who the final four will be at Homestead? This might end up not being worth the time to type but here are my picks at this point; Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex, Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Yes, I know Stenhouse is a long shot but look at the schedule. He's won the last two restrictor plate races. Roush Fenway has the superspeedways figured out. If he can win the October race at Talladega, he's in a great position. A lot can change between now and November 19 but at this point it would be hard to see the title not coming down to Truex and Johnson.