1. NASCAR admitted it made a mistake when Jimmie Johnson was told he had to start at the rear of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway after failing post-race inspection twice. Should NASCAR have made an attempt to correct the situation during the race, and what could it have done?
Wesley Coburn: The race had already started by that time, so it was too late to do anything other than say, “Uh, guys — we messed up.” Very embarrassing for the sport and the organization, but it doesn’t matter that much, as Jimmie Johnson had already been eliminated from the playoffs and wasn’t a factor to win the race.
Zach Gillispie: This is an absolutely detrimental and embarrassing mistake by NASCAR. The race had already started, thus there would not have been an easy solution to correct the mistake. There was nothing the control tower could have done to correct the situation. NASCAR must cough this up as a gaff and make sure this never happens again. I will say that this is a clear indication of why NASCAR has way too many rules. NASCAR should consolidate rules and make rules clearer for fans to understand.
2. Justin Haley has managed to score a win in each round of the Camping World Truck Series playoffs and will race for the title in Homestead-Miami Speedway. Do you see Haley as a championship threat, and who else do you think will join Johnny Sauter and Haley in the Championship 4?
Gillispie: Throughout this season, Justin Haleyhas found himself in the right place at the right time over and over again. While Haley has been lucky this year, he has also quietly posted the second best average finishing position this season among full-time drivers. Haley’s consistency will defiantly help him be a threat, but it will be hard to match up to his teammate Johnny Sauter. However, I do believe Haley will have a leg up on Noah Gragson and Brett Moffitt, the other two drivers who I believe will be a part of the championship four.
Coburn: Justin Haley drives for GMS Racing… of course he’s a championship threat. Unfortunately for him, teammate Johnny Sauter has been crushing the field all season and is also in the title hunt. There won’t be any change in the other two spots as of now; Brett Moffitt and Grant Enfinger will be racing for the title as well.
3. The two winningest drivers in the XFINITY Series this year are both in danger of missing the Championship 4. Which one still has the best chance of advancing, and do you think they will make it in?
Gillispie: Justin Allgaier. To put it simply, Allgaier has less points to make up than Christopher Bell. With stage points, I think Allgaier can make it in to the Championship 4 on points. Bell will likely have to win the race to advance to the championship, which is a much harder challenge to overcome.
Coburn: Christopher Bell, because JR Motorsports has to split its attention and resources between Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler and Tyler Reddick while also preparing for Noah Gragson to come on board next season. Also, in four career races at ISM Raceway between the NXS and CWTS, Bell’s finished between fourth and eighth every time. Did I mention he also drives for Joe Gibbs Racing?
4. ISM Raceway has completed a massive reconfiguration and upgrade project since the most recent race there in March. What do you expect from the new layout, and will it improve the on-track product?
Coburn: The on-track product seemed fine in the first place, though the improvements to everything else like the media center, spotters stand, etc. were necessary. If there is a change in the racing due to the reconfiguration, there might be gigantic Pocono Raceway-type wrecks going into the first turn. Chase Elliott will master the new layout the quickest and become the dominant driver at ISM in the same way that Kevin Harvick is at the moment.
Gillispie: ISM Raceway has always been one of the more entertaining tracks on the schedule. The wide dogleg and slow corners have always produced great racing. I think the product will stay the same for the most part, but a late restart could but on a heck of a show going into the final turn.