NASCAR REPORT

Quick Trip Folds of Honor 500 preview

credit to https://outlawnation.com/nascar-atlanta/ for the photo

The Monster Energy Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Folds Of Honor Quiktrip 500.

Since 2015, this track has played host to the second race of the season and after all the smoke cleared last week at Daytona, these drivers will now face a new challenge. As mentioned last week, the sport will be using a new rules package here at Atlanta which has caused much intrigue among spectators and drivers alike. There have been many questions regarding this such as, Will there be pack racing like we saw at Daytona? Will the cars be tremendously slower than they have been? How will it effect the drivers ability to pass? All of these questions should be answered come first practice on Friday when the drivers go out and get a feel for the new set-ups.

Last Week Denny Hamlin captured his second Daytona 500 victory. It was a sentimental win for him and his owner Joe Gibbs after the loss of Joe's son JD. Over the course of the team's history, JD was a major part of the team and its success. His career in racing began in 1998 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He found most of his success when he left racing to become the president of the team in 2007 as his dad went back to coaching the Redskins. Over the years following JD would help shape one of NASCAR's most prestigious teams, in fact Hamlin was quoted in a Racingnews.CO article by Shane Walters as saying "JD was instrumental in bringing me to JGR. He is essentially the reason I got hired." Not only was the win huge for Denny but for the whole company as well. When the checkered flag flew, Joe Gibbs Racing finished 1-2-3 with Kyle Busch and Erik Jones finishing second and third. At the end of the day, I am sure somewhere JD was looking down and smiling ear to ear.

Another big story-line was the dispute between Joey Logano and Michael McDowell. In the closing laps, Logano appeared to have a big run on the leader and needed drafting help from McDowell. After the race Joey assumed that because both drivers drove for Ford, McDowell and his Front Row Racing team would be willing to help him win but instead McDowell chose to draft with Kyle Busch instead. When confronted McDowell replied "My team doesn't pay me to push Joey Logano to a win." Overall, what McDowell was saying makes a lot of sense for a team that does nothing for Front Row Motorsports why should McDowell and his team do anything for Logano? Over time NASCAR drivers have become more vocal about things like this and while this isn't anything new, Joey was wrong to go and confront McDowell for something he would have probably done if roles were reversed. I wish McDowell luck this season in his situation because I think that he is a good race-car driver and I commend him on not caving to Logano and the Penske elites.

The favorite coming into this week's race at Atlanta has to be Kevin Harvick. He enters this race at 4/1 odds of winning on Sunday and he also holds the third highest average finishing position here. Despite last week's disappointing 26th place finish, this is a track where Harvick absolutely shines. Another good reason is that Harvick is the only driver who won in anything remotely close to the aero package they are running on Sunday, Harvick won last year's famous All-star race. He should be tough to beat come Sunday. It should be quite the race as no one really knows what we are going to see but overall it will be intriguing to watch.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats).

NASCAR heads to Michigan for the FireKeepers 400

FireKeepers Casino 400 preview

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images


This week, NASCAR heads to Michigan for the FireKeepers 400. This is one of the biggest tracks on the circuit as it is exactly two miles in length and has wide 18 degree banking in the corners making it one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. With the track being as wide as it is, we should be able to see a lot of green flag runs that could very well bring for more pit road strategy.

Like last week at Pocono, it will be crucial for these drivers to make no mistakes in pit road if they want any chance at victory.

Of course the main point of intrigue this week is how these cars will respond to NASCAR's new rules package. It seems like every week, there is always a question about how these cars are going to run. Overall, it would appear that no one has any idea what's going to happen this week. We very well could see a big pack of cars that run together in a draft or we could see the field get spread out like we have been seeing at tracks like this. As important as this rules package is, many drivers and fans are growing tired of talking about it. When last week's winner Kyle Busch was asked how he would rate it, he responded by saying "STOP ASKING ME PACKAGE QUESTIONS! I'M DONE ANSWERING THEM!"

While many people didn't appreciate his attitude towards the question, I think that he is right for the most part about how difficult it is to race under these new guidelines on tracks like Pocono. Last week's race was not good as there was no passing. Kyle Busch lead a good majority of the laps and when it was all said and done the whole field was two or three seconds apart. Now in a 36 race season, I understand that there are going to be races like this, it has been like that since the sport began but NASCAR has continued to talk about how much closer the racing would be under these new rules and a lot of the time most people have been disappointed. It will be interesting to see how it works this week at a similar track in Michigan.

The driver that I have winning this week is Kevin Harvick. While it may sound like I am picking a favorite here, This season has been somewhat of a disappointment for these guys. While they are fifth in the standings and are doing a good job of collecting points, he has yet to win a race this season. While they have had the speed and have been able to run around the top five, they just have not been able to seal the deal. In his five years with Stewart-Haas Racing, this is the longest Harvick has gone without a win. By anyone else's standards, they would kill to have a season like this but for Harvick, I know that he is not happy with where they are right now so I look for them to come to Michigan and finally get their first win of 2019.

Another driver I see doing well this week is Austin Dillion. Despite his issues in the past couple of weeks at Charlotte and Pocono, he has shown good speed this season as he has been able to run around the top 15. Now if you look at the stat sheet, it would tell you that Dillion has struggled here but over the last couple of races at the track, he has steadily improved. In last year's Fall race here, he was able to finish fourth in one of his better races of 2018. It should be a bounce back week for Dillion as he looks to get back in the hunt to make the playoffs.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats).

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