Sprint Cup: Young & Hungry – We are starting to witness a pattern in the Sprint Cup Series: The young drivers are here to race.
If Sunday was your first Sprint Cup Series race, do not mistake these as one-hit runs. In fact, do not forget them as it has become a weekly pattern all season thus far. For Dillon, the Richard Childress Racing driver has far outweighed his teammates in regards to pace, earning
three top 10s in the first four races this season – the other finish being an 11th at Atlanta.
Blaney has proudly, yet quietly, put the Wood Brothers back into legit contention on the Sprint Cup Series step as he backs up his sixth-place Las Vegas outing with a 10th at Phoenix.
Elliott came into 2016 with more pressure to perform than anybody, and he has not faltered. Despite two accidents resulting in non-finishes – both occurring during potential top-5 runs – he has now earned two top-10 finishes this year at Atlanta and Phoenix.
Speed is one thing, but to see three young drivers showing the more important pace week-in and week-out, this could prove to become the biggest story in these opening months of 2016. The next question is: When they will win. – Zach Catanzareti
IndyCar: Mikhail Aleshin Scores Quiet Top-Five in Series Return
After taking over a year off from the Verizon IndyCar Series, Mikhail Aleshin rattled off his first top-five finish since the second Grand Prix of Houston on June 29, 2014.
Aleshin worked his way through the field and stayed ahead of the multi-car traffic jam midway through the race to cruise to a fifth-place result in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The race was the start of Aleshin’s first full season since 2014. The Russian made only one start in 2015, scoring a 10th-place result in the season finale at Sonoma.
Starting 17th, Aleshin required a consistent effort to rise through the field. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver’s fifth-place result was second only to Ryan Hunter-Reay’s third-place run for Honda, and was his highest non-podium finish to date. – Aaron Bearden
XFINITY: Can Joe Gibbs Racing keep their Speed Up?
Through the first four races of the XFINITY Series season, Joe Gibbs Racing has been on a roll. Kyle Busch has won three races in a row, but teammates Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez have flexed a lot of muscle on race weekends as well. JGR has the hot hand right now, and Jones and Suarez have become championship favorites. But could JGR be peaking too early?
— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) March 13, 2016
Remember that this is the first season that the XFINITY Series will use an elimination-style Chase to determine its champion. One thing that has become clear in Sprint Cup Series competition is that the newest format of the Chase favors drivers who run well at the end of the year. Recall that at this time last year, there were a handful of Chevrolet drivers who looked untouchable, namely Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr. and Kurt Busch. It was not until later in the year that the younger Busch, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano really emerged as title contenders when the Chase began.
Something similar could easily happen in the XFINITY Series. JGR may be strong right now, but sooner or later, the rest of the field is going to catch up. When that happens, we should start seeing an elevated level of competition, and hopefully, XFINITY Series regulars will be in victory lane. – Bryan Gable
Short tracks: Tyler Dippel Dominates Mobile 150 For First NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Victory
New York native Tyler Dippel dominated the rain-delayed Mobile 150 Presented by the Mobile Sports Authority on Sunday to score his first-career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory in just his second series start at Mobile International Speedway.
#KNEast Victory Lane 📷 with
— NASCAR Roots (@NASCARRoots) March 13, 2016
Less than a month from his 16th birthday, Dippel rose to the top spot on lap 30 and held the field off on two late restarts to claim the decisive victory, beating out pole-sitter Spencer Davis, with Jesse Little, Austin Theriault and Kaz Grala rounding out the top five.
Rookie Dominique Van Wieringen also made a name for herself in the event, setting KNPSE records for best qualifying performance (second) and most laps led (29) by a female competitor. The Rette Jones Racing competitor put together a solid race, but was relegated to a 20th-place finish by a late spin.
The KNPSE will return to action on Mar. 26, when the field heads to Greenville Pickens Speedway for the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150. – Aaron Bearden