On this week's NASCAR Roundtable, we break down the action from Monday's weather-marred race at Bristol and look ahead to Richmond.
Kyle Busch won at Bristol with the classic 'bump-and-run' pass on Kyle Larson. Do you think the "old" Bristol is here to stay?
Jim: I don't think last weekend's race was an entire transformation to the "old" Bristol - simply the result of the work the track had done to make the bottom lane a more viable option to once again get around the track. Particularly during longer green-flag runs (there were more on Monday then Sunday), you saw numerous drivers venture up to the higher lanes and begin to "diamond" the track on their laps. Actually, I think having both options available provides the opportunity for better racing in general. If you think about it, everywhere we go there always seems to be a desire for multiple groove racing. I've never understand why Bristol was a sacred exception. More options mean better racing, in my opinion.
NIck: I've never liked this talk of "old" Bristol. Yes, the track has changed and so has the racing, but it's never stopped being an exciting short track race. I don't understand why people obsess over what something was, usually ignoring the positives of what it has become. Tracks evolve, the racing evolves -- just look at Daytona in the 90s versus the tandem drafting of the early 2010s and now the massive pack racing. I am not concerned with returning Bristol to what it was, but I am happy with where it's at.
Tom: I hope so. There's been so much made of NASCAR having to change and adapt to reverse its slide, but it needs to promote its historical highlights too and the Old Bristol is certainly part of that. There are few things more exciting than a well-timed bump-and-pass move and it’s the sort of highlight NASCAR needs to push. Long may it continue, particularly if it's going to serve up great races like the one on Monday.
Tim: While many ‘old-school’ NASCAR fans were happy to see a return of the ‘bump-and-run’ pass for the lead late in the race, I was always happy seeing the multiple groove racing at Bristol. In fact, if you look back at some of the finishes between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson - especially in the Xfinity Series races - they were exciting and close. I think Monday was a good race and if not for the delays by rain, I think you would have seen some drivers move up the track and some continue to use the lower groove. I’m hoping for the best of both worlds when they return to BMS in August.
Kyle Busch has now won two races and could match Kevin Harvick with a third straight this weekend. Who do you think will be the next driver who can score multiple wins this season?
Jim: Of those drivers who have already, I think Martin Truex Jr. is the most likely candidate to earn another, particularly with the races coming up at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he has been very dominant the past few seasons. But sooner or later I also expect Kyle Larson to win multiple races this season and thought he might have earned his first of the year at Bristol. Chip Ganassi Racing really seems to be running the most consistent among the Chevrolet teams and I think Larson is just as capable as Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch to rip off a couple of wins in a row.
Nick: I think Martin Truex Jr. is the easy answer, but Kyle Larson would be my second choice. For Truex, he already has a win and has run strong the entire season. He's been swept up in wrecks the last two races, but shows no signs of slowing down. If they can shake the bad luck, he'll be winning more than a couple races this year.
Tom: With the current set of winners, you'd have to say Martin Truex Jr is the most likely driver to make it a double. Austin Dillon and Richard Childress Racing have shown little sign of repeating their Daytona success, and the return to prominence for the Toyota Camry bodes well for the reigning champion. Another Clint Bowyer win would certainly be popular though, considering the reaction of the Cup field to his Martinsville victory.
Tim: I think we could see Clint Bowyer win as early as Saturday night in Richmond, but I agree that Martin Truex Jr. is most likely to score another win soon with races at Kansas and Charlotte coming up soon where he’s ran extremely well recently in the Cup Series. Bowyer has been fast and won Martinsville, so winning at another short track would not be a big surprise.
There hasn't been a back-to-back race winner in the Cup race at Richmond since Jimmie Johnson swept both races in 2007. Kyle Larson won in Richmond last fall, could he get a second straight win this weekend?
Jim: Absolutely, although I am shocked it's been so long since a driver has won consecutive Richmond races. Larson's run at Bristol last weekend should buoy his prospects of a win this week as well as his victory in last fall's event. I would also keep an eye on Denny Hamlin this weekend, too. This is good a track as any for him to pick up his first win of the season and continue the streak of non-repeat winners.
Nick: That's a surprising statistic and although Larson is fully capable of defending his 2017 win, I don't think it's going to happen. Truex led nearly 200 laps before getting wrecked at the end of that race Larson won and he goes into this weekend looking for some redemption after two rough races. I'm going with the driver of the No. 78 to get his first win at Richmond.
Tom: Kyle Larson's defeat to Busch was the best he'd run in 2018 with Chip Ganassi Racing and he's finished in the top two at Richmond twice in the last three years. He knows what's needed there and I'd expect his form to continue there.
Tim: I think Larson could easily win this Saturday night and after his strong run at Bristol on Monday and his frustration of finishing second to Kyle Busch, I think he’ll enter Richmond with a chip on his shoulder. This could be the motivation he needs to score his second straight win at Richmond and first of the 2018 season.
Who do you think will win the latest Dash for Cash bonus in the Xfinity Series race on Friday night?
Jim: I think the race win and the $100,000 could easily come down to a battle between JR Motorsports teammates Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier. Both have performed well at Richmond and it's Sadler's home track. Both Sadler and Allgaier seem to have picked up right where they left off last season and there's no reason to think they will slow down at Richmond, particularly with no Cup series drivers in the field. Short track ace Daniel Hemric is also likely to figure into the mix while I'm not sure what to expect from Spencer Gallagher, but he has been surprising all season so far.
NIck: I agree that it will be a race between the JR Motorsports drivers. Both Sadler and Allgaier will be in contention for the win and will likely go head-to-head for that $100,000 bonus. In the end, I think Allgaier will prevail and take home the money.
Tim: I think this will be the week we see a continuation of the ‘young guns’ taking the bonus. Ryan Preece took home the bonus at Bristol and while he’s not entered in Friday’s race, I think it’s Daniel Hemric’s turn to take home the bonus. He’ll have tough competition, but the talented short track driver has been fast and is ready to visit Victory Lane.