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Battle Round: New winner sweep, Larson’s big win, throwback weekend

Written by Matt Lovisa on . Posted in Featured, Nascar Camping World Truck Series, Nascar Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series

4-6 September, 2015, Darlington, South Carolina USA Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick ©2015 Scott R LePage NKP

©2015 Scott R LePage. NKP

Submitted by Matt Lovisa (follow on Twitter)

Contributions by MRD Staff Writers

August 31, 2016

EACH WEEK THE MOTOR RACING DIGEST TEAM WILL SHARE OPINIONS OF THE NASCAR RACE WEEKEND AND HOT BUTTON TOPICS. STAY UP TO DATE WITH ALL OF OUR WRITERS ON TWITTER AND LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK. SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE BATTLE ROUND QUESTIONS ON OUR FACEBOOK AND TWITTER PAGE OR CLICK THE “REPLY” BUTTON AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ARTICLE. WE LOVE TO HEAR YOUR OPINIONS AS WELL.

Question 1: This weekend was the first time in NASCAR that all three series winners scored their first victory. Does this show that NASCAR has more parity amongst the competition or more young talent on the horizon?

David Morgan: I’d have to say it’s the latter of the two options. There was bound to be a weekend like this with all of the young talent in all three series. What we saw this weekend was a glimpse into the future of the drivers that will be the headliners of the sport for years to come.

Brandon Whitton: There’s more young talent on the horizon than there is parity. It’s hard to find a reason to dislike any of the winners from the past weekend. Each deserved it through different challenges and obstacles along their respective career paths and I would venture to guess 99% of the fans feel the same.

Steven Taranto: I think every driver in the Cup Series right now and a lot of the Xfinity/Truck Series full-timers are capable of winning races with the right team and under the right circumstances. I think it’s more about that than simply the depth of talent we have entering the sport right now. Plus the fact that I wouldn’t exactly call Michael McDowell young.

Matt Lovisa: New faces in victory lane is good for the sport. Whether they are veterans such as McDowell or new faces trying to make a name for themselves like Moffitt. It think this shows a little bit of both. There is some parity in the lower level series due to  the increase in young talent. I think we all hope that same parity makes it way up the ranks so we have some new teams, like Chip Ganassi Racing, in victory lane with new drivers in the years to come.

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/NKP

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/NKP

Question 2: More impressive win this weekend: Brett Moffitt in the Truck Series or Michael McDowell in the Xfinity Series?

DM: McDowell. He’s run well before on road courses, but has never had the equipment necessary to get it done. This weekend he did, and was able to seal the deal finally. Now he can be known as a winner in NASCAR instead of just being the guy who crashed spectacularly in qualifying at Texas several years ago.

BW: Moffitt. McDowell has proven to be a threat on the road courses for many seasons in the Gibbs cars, so him finally winning is more of a formality than impressive. Moffitt on the other hand is tearing up the truck series in unsponsored equipment. Three top three finishes in three races is spectacular for the Red Horse Racing No. 11.

ST: In terms of driving performance? Moffitt. I never would have imagined that anyone could drive it wide open into turn one at Michigan and make it stick on the high side. In terms of all-around story? McDowell. He’s made a living taking less than stellar opportunities for most of his career and it finally paid off for him. His win was extremely popular in the garage area for a reason.

ML: Moffitt. It could have been real easy for him to become discouraged after driving in the Sprint Cup Series a year ago and be without a part-time ride for a majority of the 2016 season. He is making the most of his time in a truck that other drivers haven’t performed as well in.

©2016, John Harrelson / NKP

©2016, John Harrelson / NKP

Question 3: Kyle Larson scored his first Cup Series win at Michigan by becoming the 7th driver to win a race in the Cup, Xfinity and Truck series all in the same season. Is Larson the best young driver in the Cup Series right now?

DM: Larson and Chase Elliott are neck and neck as the best young drivers in the Cup Series right now, with Blaney not far behind. These guys are going to be the future of the sport, so it was cool to see them all battling it out at Michigan.

BW: It’s tough to point at any one of the younger drivers and tab them as the best. Sure Larson got a win and has been running well lately, but Chase Elliott is more consistent and comes from a high profile background. We can’t forget Ryan Blaney or even Austin Dillon in this conversation. These core four will be around for a while, but I can’t elevate one above the others right now.

ST: I give Chase Elliott the edge over him. I’m the kind of person who is more impressed by calculating drivers as opposed to kamikaze ones, and I think Elliott and Larson fall into those two categories respectively. I still can’t get what Elliott did at Darlington a few years ago out of my head.

ML: I think it is Larson hands down. I am impressed by Chase Elliott in his rookie season, don’t get me wrong. But lets see what Elliott is doing at this time next year. He may be doing much of the same and if that is the case, then it could be him. But for me, right now, it is the driver who has displayed the ability to win at different tracks in the lower level series while constantly improving in the Cup Series. That driver is Larson. Bob Pockrass from ESPN wrote an article talking about how Larson won his first race the right way, instead of spinning out Matt Kenseth for the win at Dover in May. We all debated about that same topic, too.

Credit: Harrelson Photography for Darlington Raceway

Credit: Harrelson Photography for Darlington Raceway

Question 4: What is your favorite NASCAR throwback paint scheme for Darlington?

DM: For me, it’s a toss up between Tony Stewart’s Coca-Cola throwback and the “Gray Ghost” that Jeff Gordon will be driving this weekend in relief of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. They’re all amazing, but those two stand out.

BW: I can’t pick just one, so in no specific order the Hooters Ford of Greg Biffle, the Tide Toyota of Matt Kenseth, the Interstate Batteries Toyota of Kyle Busch and the Rumple Furniture Ford of Landon Cassill.

ST: Kyle Larson’s Marty Robbins throwback in the Xfinity Series. Not only does it look great, but it’s a nod to one of the distinct characters of that era that a lot of fans probably don’t know that much about. There are some great stories about Robbins’ racing career out there – That and I’ve always enjoyed his music.

ML: All the above. I am a fan of the Tide ride, the Hooters Ford and the Coca-Cola throwback. I think in a few years from now they should let the fans vote on which ride for which drive and have a “best of” so we can see the Mellow Yellow and Valvoline paint schemes again.