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: Do you think Brad Keselowski’s comments about the Toyota cars sandbagging had some truth to it, or, was it purely a tactic to gain an advantage?
Steven Taranto: I’d chalk it up to just your run-of-the-mill garage grumbling. I’m sure plenty of drivers and other people in NASCAR have made comments like that privately. I don’t think Keselowski was trying to get in the Toyota team’s head – He was just being outspoken as always.
Dave Thompson: I don’t believe there is any truth behind Keselowski’s comment, just him speaking how he feels or thinking. Even if they were sandbagging…good for them…smart strategy, but most followers of the sport had to believe they would turn things around at some point during the season.
Question 2: Kyle Larson won his third straight race at Michigan and fourth consecutive win at the 2-mile d-shaped ovals. When will Larson have his breakthrough and win on a different type of track?
Steven Taranto: I think he’s proven that he’s capable of winning on any kind of racetrack even if he hasn’t closed the deal anywhere else. I expect Dover or Charlotte to be where his first win on a non-D Shaped oval comes. And if not there, Homestead for sure. He has that place figured out.
Dave Thompson: Larson has been runner up enough times this season to prove he can contend at other ovals, but just hasn’t managed to pull off the win. Just for argument sake, I will say he doesn’t win the rest of the season and will have to wait until next year to break the trend.
Question 3: Darrell Wallace Jr. went to victory lane at Michigan in his first start in the truck series since 2014. A fan and garage favorite, will Bubba find a full-time ride in NASCAR again? :
Steven Taranto: Absolutely. He has the talent and it benefits all parties involved for him to be out there. It’s just a question of finding him the right backer who’ll support him for years to come. His going back to Victory Lane should help him out tremendously.
Dave Thompson: Undoubtedly, he should be in a full-time ride at some level of NASCAR next season. However, with all the Cup series drivers in limbo for next season, you have to wonder how things will unfold for Wallace.
Question 4: There are just three races before the playoffs start and only three spots remain. Will the current three drivers ahead of the cutoff, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth, make the playoffs?
Steven Taranto: I think Chase Elliott is capable of getting in on points, and I expect Matt Kenseth to go to Victory Lane in the next few races. I’m not quite sold on McMurray even though he’s run well all year. If I had to pick anyone from that group to get leapfrogged by a new winner, it would probably be him.
Dave Thompson: As much as I would like to see Clint Bowyer slip into the playoffs, I have to believe that Elliott, McMurray and Kenseth will all remain in the playoffs on points. But it will definitely make some great headlines if Joey Logano can pull off a victory at Richmond and knock one of them out of the playoffs.