On this week's edition of the NASCAR Roundtable, we discuss NASCAR's decision to admit their mistake in not penalizing Kevin Harvick late at Texas, among other hot topics.
NASCAR admitted this week it messed up a call on Kevin Harvick during a pit stop and this is isn't the first time NASCAR has admitted to a missed call. Do you feel this transparency by NASCAR is given enough credit?
Jim: Too much actually. I don't think it serves any useful purpose to state after the fact that officials made a mistake, especially if it isn't going to change the result. It only provides ammunition to those who already think you are doing a bad job to re-enforce their beliefs. And is it really transparency? The only way it's true transparency is if NASCAR went through the entire race after the fact to double check each call and point out the ones they miss. But they don't do that or if they do it, they don't share the results with the public on a regular basis. So basically, this was NASCAR once again simply responding to social media criticism. That's not a good PR strategy in my opinion.
Nick: It's appreciated, although there will be backlash either way. I give NASCAR credit for owning the error and clarifying what happened. Just keeping quiet and pretending it never happens makes people question and that's never good. Getting ahead of it, admitting a mistake and explaining what they should have done was the right move and I hope they react the same way in the future should another issue arise.
Tim: I think it’s a no win situation for NASCAR. If you admit it, then they are blasted for making a mistake, if they don’t admit then fans on social media think that there is a ‘cover-up’ and conspiracy, etc ... I don’t expect perfection as human beings are still ultimately involved in many of the calls, but when you stress how you are using technology to improve officiating, then you have to get it right. In the end, I think NASCAR was correct to admit the mistake. Done, it’s over. Everyone should move on and learn from it.
Tom: There seems to be two ways of handling these situations. Either front up or stay quiet and wait for it blow over. Too often series, teams and drivers go for the latter, which is self-defeating. By fronting up and explaining itself, NASCAR is able to present its side of the story rather than the one side of its competitors. Motorsport should take note of NASCAR's approach.
With Kyle Busch getting his first win at Texas, what do you think his chances are to go back-to-back at Bristol this weekend?
Jim: Absolutely. And he's pretty good at Richmond, too, so a Kevin Harvick-like run of three in a row is certainly not out of the question. The best thing for Busch to come out of his win Sunday is that he went toe-to-toe with Stewart-Haas Racing and Kevin Harvick and came out on top. If he would have lost a fourth time to an SHR driver, it was going to be a long and very difficult season for the No. 18 team.
Nick: With it being Bristol, the chances are pretty good. He has six Cup wins at Bristol and 14 more in the Xfinity and Truck Series. He's also been a threat at almost every race this year, so I would go as far as to call him the favorite this weekend.
Tim: For sure. Busch has made Bristol his home away from home. He has more Cup Series wins there than any other track (6) and has also collected nine Xfinity Series and five NASCAR Truck Series wins there. Busch has also swept all three races during the annual August triple-header at the high-banked oval.
Tom: We've said before that Kyle Busch's knack of being in contention to win at most tracks meant things would fall his way eventually and most impressively, he was doing it on a variety of tracks. No longer on the island of "second place", there's no reason he can't win at Bristol. Martinsville is a similar track to Bristol meaning the Stewart-Haas Racing and Penske Fords should look good, as well as reigning champion Martin Truex Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had by far his best run of the season at Texas until mechanical issues late in the race. Was that performance a sign that team may have gotten things turned around?
Jim: It's certainly a step in the right direction. His performance (until the mechanical issue) was even more impressive considering he had to start from the rear of the field in a backup car and much of the final third of the race never had much more than 10 cars running on the lead lap, of which Stenhouse was one. Stenhouse has no wins at Bristol but some of his best performances in the Cup series have come at the track. If his No. 17 team can bring whatever they had going at Texas to Bristol, he could easily be in the mix for a win.
Nick: I wouldn't go as far as to say gotten things turned around, but they are making headway. I was equally impressed with Trevor Bayne, he came back from two accidents to finish 12th. And without the brake issues, I see Stenhouse getting a top-ten, maybe even a top-five at Texas. Roush Fenway should be proud of that showing.
Tim: What has impressed me is how Stenhouse and the team have been able to bounce back from any adversity this season and in this case, remain fast and competitive. This shows me the team has turned things around and he should be a challenger for a win or two before the season is done.
Tom: Ricky Stenhouse Jr is always capable of having his moment in the sun and performing, but doing it every week seems to evade him. It'll take more than one much-improved drive to convince me that a trend has been bucked.
The Xfinity Series Dash for Cash program will award a driver $100,000 this weekend at Bristol. Who do you think will take home the bonus? The drivers eligible are Christopher Bell, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Ryan Preece.
Jim: Since there will be no full-time Cup series drivers in this race, the race for the win and the $100,000 could very likely come down to the four drivers that are eligible, which should be very entertaining. Right now, I would have to think Christopher Bell would have the edge - he has by far been the most consistent. But all four drivers are certainly capable of winning.
Nick: Bell is the obvious choice, but I am going with Ryan Preece. He has been very fast in just a handful of Xfinity starts with Joe Gibbs Racing and he is no stranger to short track racing. He even has a win at Bristol in the NASCAR Modified division.
Tim: I love the fact there are no Cup regulars in the mix this weekend so we could see a ‘preview’ of the excitement we'll fet in the finale at Homestead with just regulars going for it. I think this could be a very entertaining race among the four drivers eligible to win the bonus. I agree with Jim and will go with Bell to get the win.