ONE: Give Him a Second
Kevin Harvick is becoming one of the greatest bridesmaids of all time. With his runner up finish in the Pocono 400 on Sunday, he passed Lee Petty for 10th in all-time second place finishes. Harvick has finished second 49 times in his career. The 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion is a 35-time winner. If he could have translated all of those second place finishes into wins as well, then he would have 84 career wins. That would tie Harvick with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for fourth on the all-time wins list and place him a win ahead of Jimmie Johnson and Cale Yarborough. Harvick is likely a future Hall of Famer, but if “The Closer” had closed out more of those races where he just missed out on winning, then he could have been regarded as one of the best to ever drive.
TWO: Ryan Blaney Could Make History for Wood Brothers Racing
For a team that has been around since the early days of the sport, Wood Brothers Racing could reach new heights in 2017. Ryan Blaney‘s win at Pocono Raceway was the 99th win in team history. It is not hard to imagine that Blaney will win again this season and notch the triple digit win for the boys from Stuart, Va. If Blaney does win again then it would mark the first time the team scored multiple victories in a season.since Neil Bonnett won three times in 1981. Blaney’s win also essentially locked the Wood Brothers into the playoffs for the first time in team history. One thing missing from the Wood Brothers’ museum is a Cup championship trophy. If Blaney could win the title or finish runner up then it would be the highest the No. 21 has finished in points in the team’s history. David Pearson’s best result was a third place in points in 1974 despite only driving 19 of the 30 races. Imagine the titles that could have been won had the Pearson/Woods combination driven full time during the 1970s.
THREE: Would a Salary Cap Work in NASCAR?
One of the things that really evened up the playing field in the National Football League was the introduction of the salary cap. As a result, the big marker teams cannot go out and buy all of the best players and dominate the league. In NASCAR, there are a couple of teams that have bigger budgets than all the rest of them. Those teams win most of the races and there is hardly ever a changing of the guard because they can afford to spend extra in research and development, engineering and salaries without bankrupting themselves. Meanwhile, the smaller teams are forced to exhaust every dime in an effort to keep up. In the past few weeks, we have witnessed the ultra-competitive Red Horse Racing and Roush Fenway Racing’s XFINITY Series No. 6 team close their doors because the amount they were spending to be competitive outweighed the income they were bringing in from sponsors and race winnings. If NASCAR could set a cap limit on each entry of the field to limit how much they are spending on R&D, engineering and salaries, then I believe that the smaller teams would have an easier time keeping up and more middle-of-the-road teams would become race winners. The cap would have to be slightly above what the average spending is per car so that the top teams will not be allowed to throw around so much money. The result would be a more competitive NASCAR where teams would be forced to be creative in making their cars faster rather than throwing money around. At the very least, NASCAR could set a spending cap on the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series so that the Cup teams will not be so dominant when they invade.
FOUR: The Overtime Rules Still Suck
After the Dover MENCS race, all of the Overtime Line apologists claimed that people that hated the Overtime rules really just did not like seeing Jimmie Johnson win the race. Well this time the controversial overtime rules cost Chase Briscoe a shot at winning the CWTS race at Texas Motor Speedway. I saw many posts on Twitter (including from Briscoe’s owner Brad Keselowski) and I talked to several people that feel like Briscoe was robbed. Johnson was not in the Truck race. Do the people that disliked the finish to that race hate him as well? No, it means that this Overtime system has to go. Fans want to see a race finish under the green flag because that is the most concrete manner to decide a winner––there is no gray area that way. When a race winner is determined by flimsy rules, fans do not trust NASCAR to make the right call. The governing body lost this trust in 2013 when it decided to add a 13th playoff spot for Jeff Gordon just because he complained. Give the fans a green flag finish and they will trust that the race winner truly earned the win.
The MENCS tours come to Michigan International Speedway this weekend. Michigan is one of the older tracks on the tour, having hosted two NASCAR weekends a year since 1969. The greatest obstacle of this weekend’s race will be the season-long plague of clean air. In the perfect Aero package, Michigan provides quality racing, but this year’s failed package could result in a 200+ miles per hour single-file parade. Kyle Larson is certainly the driver to watch heading into the race. Larson has won the last two races held at two-mile tracks, winning at Michigan last August and at Auto Club Speedway earlier this season. Joey Logano could be a threat to win this Sunday, as he was the June Michigan winner last season and is a two-time winner at the track. Logano is running out of chances to pick up an unencumbered win in the regular season, so his aggression should be climbing. Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch have the most wins at MIS of active drivers, with three each. One storyline that has been developing for the past few seasons is Brad Keselowski’s desire to win at his home track. The Rochester Hills, Mi. native has 15 starts and five top-fives at the track, but has never made the trip to Victory Lane in the Cup Series. Erik Jones, who is from Byron, Mi., will be making his first start at his home track. Following a career best third-place finish at Pocono, it would not be a stretch to predict that he could become the fourth first-time winner of 2017 in this weekend’s race.
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