Usually, by the time the NASCAR Cup Series hits July 4, it’s pretty clear who the championship’s favorite is. Often, the summer months are just formal, recording laps when a good team just gets better while everyone in the garage is moving towards the most important parts of the fall and season. It’s time to do it.
The usual. But this season is not the case.
Many hype has been imposed on next-generation cars as a good equalizer to make the competition closer, and some of them prove to be true. The top organizations in the series are still the most successful, but it’s undeniable that the car is a steep learning curve, four months after the competition, and no one could take advantage of it. .. Of the 12 different winners, only 5 were repeated and no apparently runaway favorite team.
Alan Gustafson, crew chief of Chase Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports, said:
Hendrick Motorsport and Trackhouse Racing are leading the way for Chevrolet. However, the order of pecking changes weekly. The Toyota team went out for lunch, had a disastrous day at the Sonoma Raceway, and then went to all six cars that looked like cars to win at the Nashville Superspeedway. Toyota drivers led 253 out of 300 laps.
The pendulum keeps swinging back and forth. A good week, away, the next week. It can be a little unpredictable who will unload fast and competitively at the racetrack and who will not. For Team Penske, it’s average on most tracks, but you can argue that flatter and shorter tracks are better.
“It depends on the truck,” Joey Logano said of the driver who will beat this season. “There are certain tracks that we feel really good, and there are certain tracks that we have a little bit to do. The same is true for others. There are teams that think mile and half are really good, And I said, “Well, how do they do that?” And some teams are good everywhere. There are some that can pinpoint any of them, so now we need to be consistent across all racetracks. “
Eleven drivers led more than 200 laps in 17 races. This season’s repeaters have won only two times: Elliott, Rothschild, Joey Logano, William Byron and Denny Hamlin. It seems a bit strange that the magic number that drivers are trying to get this season will be third.
A year ago, Kyle Larson had already won four times at this point. Martin Truex Jr. was the winner three times. Alex Bowman won two.
However, this time around June, equality among the top teams is still alive. Truex hasn’t won yet. The same is true for Ryan Blaney, who consistently sits near the top of the championship points ranking.
And when it comes to points, there is no clear departure. It’s not just racing that keeps things changing.
“It’s still widespread, as it seems like no one is taking off for the season,” Alex Bowman said of racing in Nashville over the weekend. “Hopefully we are in the best possible condition when the playoffs are swung around.”
Elliott, Chastain and Byron all have the most playoff points at 13. Logano and Hamlin are 12. Then there are seven playoff points: Larson, Kurt Busch and Daniels Ares.
“Over the last few years, we’ve seen men rely on competing for lots of victories and lots of playoff points,” Bowman said. “Usually they are the best guys in the playoffs anyway. So that’s a bit funny. But now it’s pretty wide open. Even from now until the playoffs, the team gets hot and then cools down. I think I’ll do it.
“There are a lot of changes in this race car. It’s not like the old car we’re pinching things about, making a few changes and a little development. You can’t change the parts, but the race car It will be a big change as the team learns and makes the race car better. This is a big improvement and I think it will continue to be. “
Logic says that in the end, the team hits it and begins to pull apart. I suspect that no team or two or three people will start winning three, four or five races. But what hasn’t happened yet is a great pace change. As a result, so far, when things start in September, it’s a great pace change for the championship field to get a little closer.
https://racer.com/2022/06/27/opinion-next-gens-gift-of-unpredictability/ Opinion: The Next Generation Gift of Unpredictability