Going into the final race of the first round of the Playoffs at the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway, there are several drivers right on the cut line who can fall out of the top 12 with one slight mistake.
With 14th-place Jimmie Johnson only a handful of points outside looking in, the drivers above the cut line need to be on their game, but does Johnson have the best chance of the guys 12th – 16th to get in, or is it somebody else?
Meanwhile, rumors have continued to fly about the 2018 All-Star package being used for the majority, if not the entire 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Many fans and media have voiced how they feel about it and it seems as if the public is not too pleased about it.
If that package is not used, what should the 2019 package for the series look like? Should we revert back to a previous year’s package or continue with something completely different?
Q: Of the 4 drivers on the outside of the top 12 right now, who do you think has the best chance to get inside of it following the ROVAL? Kevin T., Tuscan, AZ
A: With the unknowns of the ROVAL, it is so difficult to predict who will break in and who will fall out of the top 12. This is the most unpredictable Cup race in such a long time. I cannot remember a race that was more anticipated yet the drivers were fearful at the same time.
If I had to pick, I would say Clint Bowyer and Johnson can get inside the top 12 following the ROVAL. Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones are too far out to make it in there, though. There would have to be some major catastrophe for it to happen, and their performance this season doesn’t exactly scream winner this weekend.
But if Bowyer and Johnson make it in, who falls out? Alex Bowman and Austin Dillon. While I do believe both drivers have stepped up their game in a big way in the playoffs, the two of them are not the strongest road course racers in the field.
The only thing that is keeping me from saying those two are my official picks to fall out is the unpredictability of this weekend. Nobody knows what to expect and Bowman and Dillon could adapt well and post strong finishes.
It is pretty interesting, yet cool to have this race as the cutoff race though for the first round, and it does make it 10 times more stressful for these drivers and teams. I expect the drivers who have been strongest all year though to still be fast, but at the same time, we are due for some surprises.
Q: If it’s not the All-Star package, then what should the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series aero package look like in your opinion? Samuel W., Albany, NY
A: I will start off with saying I am very against NASCAR possibly using the All-Star package in the majority, if not all of the races next season. The Cup Series is supposed to have cars that are hard to drive and not run wide open for several laps in a huge pack everywhere that’s not a short track or road course.
So, with that said, NASCAR needs to go back to something similar to what we saw in 2014 for the rules package. 2014 was the best season for the Gen-6 and if we went back to a rules package like that, it would make for an improvement in the racing quality.
The last few seasons have been downer years with the on-track product, especially after the reduced horsepower and the tapered spacer were added in 2015. Now, I and likely many others believed that going to a smaller spoiler in 2016 and taking away downforce would be the answer to giving us excellent racing again. Unfortunately, these cars are driven off sideforce, and until we get rid of most of it, the cars will still not be completely where drivers want them and I do not believe it will give us the best racing we can see.
As for 2019, making the spoiler a little larger would help. Again, I would like to see something similar to 2014 when the spoiler was fairly large and the horsepower was there. I’d like to see them take away the tapered spacer and give the horsepower back as well.
If NASCAR does that, racing can be very, very good again. I am not saying the racing isn’t great now, but these changes would make it even better for everyone watching. Nothing will beat the racing we saw in the mid to early 2000s, but progress can be made if they put the horsepower back in the cars and do whatever they did in 2014 to make the racing as good as it was then.
I know the rumors going around with the All-Star package but my hope is NASCAR listens to many people who are going against it, and we do not see it on the full schedule. Yes, it’s entertaining to an extent, but it just is not how the Cup Series should be. We will wait and see, though, with how it all turns out going into 2019.
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