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 Pocono Raceway.
Question 1: The Brickyard 400 featured a 47-minute rain delay, two red flags for accidents, multiple lead changes and a strategy that resulted in an unlikely winner. Was this one of the better Brickyard 400’s in recent memory?
Matt Lovisa: Outside of the first Brickyard 400 from a pure historical standpoint, this was easily the most action packed last 50 laps of a Brickyard 400. The finish might be overshadowed with the overtime line but the winner was a surprise and that is something many fans will remember for a while. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. crashing while leading, multiple accidents following restarts, and startegy all helped to create a memorable Brickyard 400.
Steven Taranto: Forget recent memory – That might have been the best Brickyard 400 of all-time. For me, the lasting image of this race is going to be Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, and Jimmie Johnson (With an engine that is actively blowing up) all gunning into turn three three-wide knowing that they’re not all making it out of the corner. That’s something that no other Brickyard 400 can boast of. That’s what this race is all about.
Question 2: How would you rate the Xfinity Series race and Indianapolis as it introduced the aero duct and restrictor plate on the cars? Would you like to see it adapted by the Cup Series?
Matt Lovisa: I thought the package NASCAR used worked out very well for the drivers and the fans. It made the race different than the race we saw on Sunday and I think that’s important. I don’t think the Cup Series should adapt it after the action we saw this year but if they were, then the Xfinity Series should race on the road course instead.
Steven Taranto: I was very entertained. I felt like NASCAR had something with the package, but it needs tweaking: Specifically, the restrictor plates don’t need to be on there. I don’t understand NASCAR’s fascination with limiting horsepower, but I feel like if you had unrestricted engines, there would have been even more opportunities to pass.
Question 3: During the second overtime restart and with darkness playing a factor, it seemed as though NASCAR waited to throw the caution flag until leader Kasey Kahne reached the Overtime Line. Should NASCAR change this rule or simply move the Overtime Line closer to the start/finish line?
Matt Lovisa: I think NASCAR should use the start/finish line as the determining factor moving forward and continue to limit the restarts to three. I do think it would have been difficult to get the race restarted due to darkness and I think the fact that the race was in its sixth hour didn’t help matters either.
Steven Taranto: NASCAR should just do away with the overtime line rule and return to using the start/finish line as the event horizon for whether or not another attempt will be made at overtime, but let’s not kid ourselves: There was no way Sunday’s race was being restarted even if the caution had been thrown before the overtime line. It was simply too dark, and I’m pretty sure NASCAR had NBC breathing down their neck to wrap things up as soon as possible.
Question 4: Do you think Alex Bowman was the right driver for the No. 88? Does Bowman makes the playoffs in 2018?
Matt Lovisa: I think Bowman is a good fit for Hendrick Motorsports in the No. 88. He will come into a situation with very little pressure. The No. 88 doesn’t have a ton of history and Earnhardt Jr. never won a championship in it. Until Jimmie Johnson retires, the focus will be on his performance and whether or not he can still dominate the competition. Not many individuals will be expecting Bowman to win before Chase Elliott, so Elliott will more than likely have a little more pressure if he can’t score his first win before the 2018 season starts.
Steven Taranto: He absolutely is. Bowman had put the work in for Hendrick Motorsports this season and I’m glad that that’s being rewarded. I say anything is possible for him. He’s a very good driver and I think people will see that if they haven’t already.