Head-to-Head: Richmond International Raceway

Each week the Motor Racing Digest team tackles the tough questions facing the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. This week our experts debate the hot topics as NASCAR heads to Bristol Motor Speedway.

Question 1: A majority of the drivers seemed to enjoy the “new” racing at Bristol with the VHT racing line developing and creating two grooves. Did you like the “new” racing compared to the “old” racing at Bristol?

Matt Lovisa: I enjoyed the racing this weekend at Bristol in the Cup Series. The new grooves at Bristol make for better action than the single file groove of the old Bristol. The high line by itself is follow the leader and produces very little bumping and not much action. The single file line by itself is also very much “follow the leader” but drivers are more willing to move other drivers out of the way. The racing we saw on Monday was the best of both worlds.

Clint Bowyer during the Food City 500
World Copyright: Nigel Kinrade, NKP

Question 2: Clint Bowyer finished second for the first time since the Richmond spring race in 2013. Is a Clint Bowyer resurgence happening as we speak?

Matt Lovisa: Yes, Bowyer is getting his career back on track. I think many thought Bowyer would be strong in SHR equipment, but it’s difficult for any driver to start over again with a fourth different team, and in Bowyer’s case, have a third chance in top level equipment. There’s a lot of pressure to perform that comes with driving for the top teams in NASCAR as he has done with Richard Childress Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and now Stewart-Haas Racing.

Jimmie Johnson celebrates his win in Victory Lane
World Copyright: Nigel Kinrade, NKP

Question 3: Jimmie Johnson scored his second straight victory, earning his 82nd career Cup series victory. Does Johnson win 100 races?

Matt Lovisa: Jimmie Johnson will turn 42 years old in September and has scored four or more wins in each season since 2012. If Johnson scores four wins this season and then averages four wins a year during the next four seasons, that would get him to the century mark by the end of the 2021 season where he will be 46 years old. I don’t see Johnson racing four more seasons, especially if he scores his eighth championship in the next two seasons. Because of that, I will have to say no.

Dale Earnhardt Jr
World Copyright: Nigel Kinrade, NKP

Question 4: Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced his plans to retire from racing following the 2017 season. What do you make of the decision?

Matt Lovisa: I think it is the right move for Dale Earnhardt Jr. given his age, he be 43 by the end of this season, his current on track performance and his opportunities when he steps away from driving full-time.