The Cup Drive For 17 series is alive

1. Two and ready for Road America?

It’s the story every potential NASCAR Cup Series venue wants to tell: NASCAR takes a chance, adds it to the schedule, has a successful debut, the following sells well, too, and then the series doesn’t come back after that.

OK, maybe that last chapter leaves a bit to be desired.

Road America has apparently done its part to repay NASCAR for listing it in the Cup Series, staging a pair of races that have proven popular with fans in the greater Milwaukee area. It’s a beautiful spot and has had a couple of popular winners after last weekend’s Kwik Trip 250.

But its future is very much up in the air, and there are questions about whether the circuit is really suitable for stock cars. Fans on Twitter liked Sunday’s race, but not by a wide margin in Jeff Gluck Poll.

The question of the future of Road America is also framed as a zero-sum game against a potential Chicago street race. If that event does take place, the idea is that the upper Midwest doesn’t need that as much as Road America.

Maybe that’s true. But if so, it sucks that Road America did almost everything right and may not be back in 2023 just yet.

2. Maybe returning July 4th weekend to Daytona is a tradition NASCAR should honor

Even if Road America returns next year and beyond, does it have to be the holiday weekend?

When the second Daytona race was held around July 4, it felt good, even more so than the Daytona 500 at the beginning of the season, to be honest. He helped make the return seem special and it was easy to remember when it would take place.

NASCAR hasn’t stuck to many old-school dates for specific races as it has worked to revamp the Cup Series schedule in recent years, so in that sense, moving Daytona II to a weekend Random week of August is no different.

(Also yes, the new date isn’t exactly random, since it’s the end of the regular season, but the point remains.)

But with all due respect to Road America, there’s nothing about that race that screams celebration. Restoring the 400 miles to the World Speed ​​Center would be a great nod to tradition amid continued evolution elsewhere, and a move NASCAR should definitely consider.

3. Tyler Reddick’s win was something we needed to keep Winpocalypse 2022 alive

Although it seemed possible several times in recent seasons, there has been something about the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season that made it feel particularly ripe for what remains the most intriguing (and perhaps the only) playoff scenario possible: 17 or more regular season. winners, meaning a win doesn’t really lock you into the playoff field.

Austin Cindric winning the Daytona 500 helped us get off to the right start, and Chase Briscoe, who won for the first time a few weeks later, also helped. A good mix of rookies and the usual suspects followed, and no one ended up hogging a ton of wins. In fact, to date, no Cup Series driver has more than two wins in 2022, which is one of the essential ingredients if you want to see playoff chaos.

One of the others is for drivers who seemed poised for a breakthrough and are actually making it. Daniel Suarez fits that description, and he capitalized on his potential by taking the checkered flag at Sonoma a few weeks ago. Tyler Reddick is another, a driver who has come tantalizingly close to his first Cup Series victory more than once.

Now that he’s finished the deal on an impressive faction, beating road-course ace Chase Elliott at Road America, the Cup Series finds itself at 13 different winners with seven regular-season races remaining. There are some drivers you’d hope to win that haven’t yet, namely Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. It would be helpful if all three win soon, but even one who gets a ‘W’ in the next two or three races will make me start to believe.

A quick run through the standings finds that there are 11 other drivers who have previous Cup Series wins, and while not all of them looked like they could add another this year (sorry, Brad Keselowski), the point is that they could. And if Blaney, Truex and Harvick can pull it off, only one of the 11 needs to get the job done.

That doesn’t seem like much to ask. The search for 17 winners is truly alive and glorious.

4. Is it okay to put down your crew if they’re horrible?

Bubba Wallace let his disappointment with his pit crew come out very publicly two races ago … well, publicly because whatever is said on the team radio will eventually come out.

Last weekend, Wallace’s team owner, Denny Hamlin, wasn’t happy about that, saying so on Road America.

Here’s the thing, though: Wallace’s pit crew has been undeniably horrible this season, costing its driver places time and time again. They are professionals just like the drivers, and they have been terrible.

Yes, Wallace could handle his dismay in another way, but he’s not the only Cup Series competitor with harsh words for his teammates. It happens almost every week.

It is only with the squad No. 23, it seems that it is happening to them weekly. That part is not in Wallace. As owner, Hamlin has the right to express his dissatisfaction with his driver passing on his own team. But it’s hard to imagine that if his No. 11 team were doing so poorly, he wouldn’t turn them on, and because the onus stops in part with him, it’s up to Hamlin to do something about the mess in the 23rd pits sooner. later place.

5. Is Chase Elliott really the favorite for the championship?

He’s probably saying something that a couple of wins and the return of his mojo on the road, despite the end of Road America, is enough for sportsbooks to believe that Elliott is the number one choice for the Series trophy. of the Cup at the end of the season. It makes sense, because the current playoff system rewards momentum, and Elliott has it right now, winning at Nashville and finishing second at Road America.

He’s been there before, too, and championship experience counts for something, not just for the driver, but for the entire No. 9 team, who know what it takes to win a championship.

However, Elliott is only a slight favorite over Kyle Larson, with Ross Chastain (!) and Hamlin not far behind. In other words, there are still a lot more races to be done, and who is on top on July 4 won’t mean much in November. Let’s just say Elliott is a solid favorite at the moment, but no more than that until he does more.

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