RACING

The Cup Drive For 17 series is alive

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1. Two and it’s done for Road America?

That’s the story every potential NASCAR Cup Series venue wants to tell: NASCAR takes a chance, adds you to the schedule, you make a successful debut, the sequel sells well too, and the series doesn’t come back after that.

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

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Road America has apparently done its part to repay NASCAR for putting it on the Cup Series roster, hosting a pair of races that have proven popular with fans in the greater Milwaukee area. It’s a beautiful venue and there were two popular winners after last weekend’s Kwik Trip 250.

But its future is very uncertain, and one wonders if the circuit is really well suited to production cars. Fans on Twitter liked Sunday’s race, but not by far. The Jeff Gluck Poll.

The question of the future of Road America is also presented as a zero-sum game against a possible street race in Chicago. If this event happens, the idea is that the upper Midwest doesn’t need both this and Road America.

It may be true. But if so, it stinks that Road America did just about everything right and might not be back in 2023.

2. Maybe returning 4th of July 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 on or around July 4, it was just fine—even better than the Daytona 500 at the start of the season, to be honest. It helped the comeback feel special and it was easy to remember when it would be.

NASCAR hasn’t stuck to many old school dates for specific races as it has worked to revamp the Cup Series schedule over the past few years, so in that regard moving Daytona II to a random weekend August is no different.

(Yes, too, the new date isn’t exactly random, since it’s the regular season finale, but the point remains.)

But with all due respect to Road America, there’s nothing about this race that screams party. Restoring the 400 miles to the World Speed ​​Center would be a big 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 has seemed possible many times over the past few seasons, there was something about the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season that made it particularly ripe for what continues to be the playoff scenario. the most (and perhaps the only) fascinating one possible: 17 or more regular-season winners, which means that one win doesn’t actually lock you into the playoff field.

Austin Cindric winning the Daytona 500 gave us a good start, and Chase Briscoe, who became a first-time winner a few weeks later, also helped. A good mix of newbies and usual suspects followed, and no one ended up monopolizing a bunch of wins. Indeed, to date, no Cup Series driver has more than two wins in 2022, which is one of the key ingredients if you want to see playoff chaos.

One of the others is for drivers who seemed ready to make a breakthrough. Daniel Suarez fits that description, and he tapped into his potential by taking the checkered flag in Sonoma a few weeks ago. Tyler Reddick is another, a driver who has come close to his first Cup Series victory more than once.

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

A quick look at the standings reveals that there are 11 other drivers who have already scored Cup Series victories, and while not all of them looked like they could add another this year (sorry, Brad Keselowski), the fact is that they could. And while Blaney, Truex and Harvick can all pull it off, only one of the 11 has to do the job.

It doesn’t seem to be asking for much. The drive for 17 winners is truly alive, and it’s glorious.

4. Is it okay to badmouth your pit crew if they’re horrible?

Bubba Wallace let his disappointment with his pit crew bubble up in a very public way two races ago…well, public because everything said on the team radio eventually comes out.

Last weekend, Wallace’s team owner Denny Hamlin wasn’t happy about it and told Road America.

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

Yes, Wallace might handle his dismay differently, but he’s not the only Cup Series contender to have harsh words for his teammates. It happens almost every week.

It’s just with the No. 23 team, looks like it’s happening for them every week. This part is not about Wallace. As an owner, Hamlin has every right to express his displeasure at the idea of ​​his pilot broadcasting his own team. But it’s hard to imagine that if his No. 11 crew did this wrong he wouldn’t light them up, and because the blame partly ends with him, it’s up to Hamlin to do something about the mess. in the 23 pits sooner rather than later.

5. Is Chase Elliott really the championship favourite?

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

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

Still, Elliott is only a small favorite ahead of Kyle Larson, with Ross Chastain (!) and Hamlin not far behind. In other words, there’s still plenty of racing to do, and who leads on July 4 won’t mean much in November. Let’s say Elliott is a solid favorite at the moment, but nothing more until he does more.

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