Photo Courtesy of Nascar.com
It’s Sunday night after the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway, and I thought I’d add a few post-race thoughts. I’m going to start trying to do this for all the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, so watch for it each Sunday or Monday. Here are my thoughts from this week.
-After watching all three races this weekend, including being at the Xfinity race at MIS, I’d have to say the Cup race, as it should be, was the best race of the weekend. It seemed that with the current package, cars could pass going into and coming out of the turns, on the straightaway, and even in the middle of the turns. If someone wanted to pass, and had the speed to do it, they could. The same couldn’t be said about the Xfinity cars on Saturday, and Saturday night’s race at Gateway — which often is a good race — was a snoozer.
-Kyle Larson. We talk about him every week in the podcast, and man this kid is something special. It’s nice to see him coming into his own and it’s neat to see him do it on a team that hasn’t been considered to be one of the absolute top teams in the sport. I think the rest of the drivers should be happy the season doesn’t end at Michigan or California, because they’d be racing for second in the championship if Larson made the final four.
I’ve been waiting for him or the team to falter, and so far they haven’t. Second win this season, officially locked into the playoffs, and I think Larson is one of the major contenders for the championship this season. Him and …
-Martin Truex Jr. Truex is a favorite this year, thanks to the mountain of playoff points he’s piling up with the stage wins. The problem for Truex is he needs to start finishing, because you can points your way into the playoffs, and you can points your way through the rounds, but you can’t points your way through the final race, and everyone has proven you have to win at Homestead to win the championship. It’s great he’s racking up the points now, but they won’t mean anything if he can’t be first across the finish line.
-The young guns. I know this isn’t a thing anymore, but there was a point when I looked up at the screen today and in the top eight we had Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, and a couple of other young drivers running right there. Kyle Busch was leading, and he’s not exactly an old man yet either. If anyone thinks there is a lack of talent coming up in this series, they’re smoking something. Yes, we’re losing veterans to retirement, but there are plenty of kids waiting to take their place. In fact, some of them have already taken those places this season. Wow.
-Stages. Saturday during the Xfinity race was the first time this season I really saw a stage HURT the racing by extending a caution for about three extra laps. Today, as has been the case all season for the Cup series, the stages helped. Michigan has a tendency to have long green flag runs, and it never hurts to break them up.
-Late race shootouts rule the weekend. Saturday’s Xfinity race had a 10-lap and a 2-lap shootout to end the race. Saturday night at Gateway the trucks had a 7-lap shootout to end it and Sunday’s Cup race featured a 5-lap shootout to end it. All three were entertaining to watch. I don’t want to see a manufactured finish, but when you have a shootout at the end, you rarely lose. Now, if everyone knew it was coming, it would be a different deal. But because it’s unexpected, it makes it exciting. Hence why the shootout at the All Star race stinks.
Check out the podcast Wednesday night when James and I will break down the race at Michigan and preview the first road course race of the year at Sonoma.