NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in NASCAR: Sonoma Edition

It was a bit of different kind of racing weekend as the Sprint Cup series was off, but the Truck and XFINITY Series races provided plenty of good plots and subplots throughout the weekend. So, this week’s column will give some time and space to drivers and teams in those two series.

HOT
William Byron is young, just having graduated high school, but he’s showing he’s a pretty good teenage driver already. Byron won his second straight truck race on Saturday night at Iowa and now has three wins for the season. Just what happens in his long-term future is hard to say, but for the short-term, he’s got it going on right now.

NOT
It was terrible news (but not tragic mind you, since no one was injured) that the ThorSport Racing truck team had its shop burn to the ground. They were able to salvage two trucks and some equipment, but it’s going to be a complete rebuild for that team. That they were able to compete at Iowa was a credit to the team’s dedication and also others in NASCAR who have offered help to keep them going in the midst of a difficult situation.

(Photo: John Harrelson/NKP)
It was a trying week for ThorSport’s teams, but they arrived at Iowa ready to race after a fire destroyed their shop in Sandusky, Ohio.(Photo: John Harrelson/NKP)

HOT
In just one week, Sam Hornish, Jr. went from substitute teacher to NASCAR winner after taking the XFINITY race Sunday at Iowa. Hornish didn’t get the call until the Monday before the race, but as has often been the case with whoever drives the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing car in the Xfinity Series, there is always a chance to win. But it was also an extra special time for Hornish when he reached Victory Lane, to have his wife and children waiting to celebrate with him. Hard to find a better Father’s Day story.

NOT
Another piece of terrible news to hit the NASCAR family this week was that former NASCAR driver Mike Wallace was allegedly badly beaten and kicked in the face after being knocked unconscious when he and his daughter were leaving a concert in Charlotte. Just awful. There are some really mean people in this world. Don’t be one of them.

HOT and NOT
I’ll admit at the beginning of the NASCAR truck season, this whole idea of a caution clock seemed a bit ludicrous to me. It seemed it would be penalizing a team that would be dominating a race. But as the season has gone on, I have to admit the clock idea has grown on me a bit. The 20-minutes of green flag racing hasn’t happened in half of the truck races this season. Then, as we saw on Saturday night, if there is a late caution, it gives some teams an opportunity to try a different strategy to gain track position and a chance to win the race. The best truck still won this race, but it was just a lot more interesting. I am not sold on the caution clock yet, but it’s worth seeing how it works for the rest of the season.

Predictions
This week the Sprint Cup series heads to one of its two road races on the season, this one being Sonoma. My pick to win is the obvious road course favorite in AJ Allmendinger. If you’re looking for a deep sleeper underdog here, one driver who knows how to play the fuel mileage game well on the road courses is Clint Bowyer. Maybe this is the kind of race where he can have a chance.

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