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 Watkins Glen International.
Question 1: Kyle Busch finally scored his first win of the 2017 season and snapped a winless streak dating back to Indianapolis last year. Does Busch have what it takes to win the championship this year?
Matt Lovisa: Yes, and he didn’t need the win to prove that. Busch has had one of, if not, the strongest car on multiple occasions this season. If it wasn’t for wrong place, wrong time, Busch might already have a handful of wins. Busch and his No. 18 team know how to contend for a championship and win. Something his two closest competitors right now, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson, don’t have experience with. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Busch in the finale at Homestead with a chance to win his second career title.
Question 2: For the first time, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualified and raced on the same day. How did you think it went and should NASCAR do this regularly?
Matt Lovisa: I think it went well and gave the fans something to do before the race on Sunday. I would have liked to see the time shortened between qualifying and the race starting but I think that’s something that can be perfected moving forward.
Question 3: Ryan Preece, in his second and final scheduled start for Joe Gibbs Racing this season, won at Iowa after finishing second in New Hampshire. At 26 years old, should Preece be on the radar of other teams?
Matt Lovisa: Well, I am sure he is on Joe Gibbs Racing’s radar now and probably a handful of other teams looking for young talent. Preece had a few opportunities in subpar equipment in the previous seasons and decided to take this year off from racing full-time in the top three tiers in NASCAR and focus on his modifieds. That decision could payoff for Preece in the Alex Bowman type of way. Obviously Preece won’t have an opportunity like Bowman did in the No. 88 but if he can use his win to string together a competitive Xfinity Series ride, he might make his way up
Question 4: Target announced they would no longer sponsor Kyle Larson following the 2017 season, ending a 16-year partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing. How alarming is this news for the sustainability of NASCAR?
Matt Lovisa: This is a major red flag for NASCAR. One of the series top drivers who has shown his marketing prowess with current sponsor Target, is in need of funding. This has nothing to do from Larson and everything to do with NASCAR. It shows that the sport isn’t attractable to large corporations as much anymore and Target being such a household name, makes it even more difficult to swallow.