TALLADEGA, AL - MAY 01: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, races Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 1, 2016 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Bump & Run: Which driver is next to score first Cup win?

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We all have opinions, and we all think we’re right. Of course, that isn’t always the case even though we don’t like to believe that.

Today debuts NBC Sports’ opinion forum, Bump & Run. Each Tuesday, our analysts and writers will give their take on the various topics of the day.

Feel free to join the discussion or vote in the polls with these throughout the year. We know you have an opinion on these subjects.

  • Who is the next driver to get their first Cup win?

Nate Ryan: Ryan Blaney. He showed last year he has the ability (top fives at Kansas, Michigan, Chicagoland). Wood Brothers Racing’s move to a shop closer to Team Penske will ensure Blaney maximizes that potential this season.

Dustin Long: Austin Dillon. He placed in the top 10 in each of the four plate races, and his 13 top-10 finishes last year came at 10 different tracks, showing a versatility. Add crew chief Slugger Labbe’s gambling ways and this team could be celebrating this season.

Daniel McFadin: Chase Elliott is the closest to breaking through, and if he manages to do it in the Daytona 500, he’ll match Jeff Gordon in getting his first Cup win in his 42nd start.

Jerry Bonkowski: Chase Elliott has the best shot. He was impressive as a rookie, made the Chase, he just needed a win. That win — and maybe more than one — comes in 2017.

  • Who is the top team at Ford with Stewart-Haas Racing moving over there this year?

Nate Ryan: Team Penske. Stewart-Haas Racing still has more cars, but Penske has them covered pound for pound with Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Expect intrasquad competition between the organizations (which won’t be sharing much information) to be fierce, though.

Dustin Long: Team Penske’s two cars trumps Stewart-Haas Racing’s one and a half (Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch). Nate’s right. It could be just as interesting to see how well these teams get along.

Daniel McFadin: Until we have a healthy sample size after a few races, Team Penske will still be the top Ford organization. In the last three seasons its two-team operation has 25 wins, while Stewart-Haas and its four teams (with Chevy) had 17. 

Jerry Bonkowski: Team Penske, without a doubt. You can’t go against 27 combined Cup wins — including a Daytona 500 triumph — in the last four seasons in a Penske Ford. SHR will have success, but there could be a development curve getting adjusted to the new manufacturer. 

  • Other than Jimmie Johnson, no other active driver has more than one Cup championship. Who will be the next to reach two series titles?

Nate Ryan: Brad Keselowski. He admittedly is obsessed with shaming the naysayers who point to his 2012 championship as a fluke. Through his smarts and sheer will, Keselowski will ensure his legacy is defined by the validation of being a multi-time champion.

Dustin Long: Joey Logano. Yes, he doesn’t have a title yet and five others have one championship each, but Logano’s time is now. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him win two of the next three or four titles.

Daniel McFadin: I see Brad Keselowski as the best chance to get another title. While it may not be this year, he tends to operate on the San Francisco Giants format of enjoying success every other season. Since his 2012 title, he’s won multiple races in 2014 and 2016.

Jerry Bonkowski: With the enhanced race format this season, strategy — and the crew chief that is best at adapting to the format (other than Chad Knaus) — will be more important than ever. I think one of the Busch brothers — Kyle (crew chief Adam Stevens) or Kurt (Tony Gibson) — will be the first to earn a second Cup crown of all drivers that currently have one title.

NASCAR America live at 6 p.m. ET: Daytona 500 recap, Kurt Busch interview

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America recaps all the major stories that came out of the 59th Daytona 500, which was won for the first time by Kurt Busch.

The episode airs from 6 – 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Krista Voda hosts with Dale Jarrett from Stamford, Connecticut. Jeff Burton and Kyle Petty join them from Burton’s Garage.

Voda will interview Busch just under 24 hours after the biggest win of his NASCAR career.

If you can’t catch the show on TV, you also can watch it via the online stream at http://nascarstream.nbcsports.com

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you plug-in that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Kurt Busch’s Daytona 500 winning car has a new home for the next year

59th Annual DAYTONA 500
Getty Images
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Kurt Busch’s Daytona 500-winning Ford Fusion has finally stopped rolling after adding an extra few hundred feet to its mileage log.

One day after capturing “The Great American Race,” the No. 41 was placed on permanent display for the next year at Daytona International Speedway’s Daytona 500 Experience Museum during Monday morning’s traditional race winner’s breakfast.

It was the first win for Stewart-Haas Racing in its first regular season race in Ford colors and power.

Check out some of the photos of the car and the festivities:

And then, last but not least, the Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 championship trophy is safely ensconced in its new home at Stewart-Haas Racing in Kannapolis, North Carolina.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Atlanta to host 2,500th race in Cup history, last on current surface

Hyundai 200
Photo courtesy Atlanta Motor Speedway
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This weekend’s NASCAR action at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with all three major series running, will provide some interesting storylines.

First and perhaps most important, Sunday’s Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 will be the last race ever held on the current track surface.

A complete repaving of the 1.54-mile high-speed quad oval track is slated to begin later this spring.

To make Sunday’s race all the more unique and momentous, it will also be the 2,500th race in Cup history.

AMS, which first opened in 1960, has had the same racing surface for the last 20 years, since its last repaving in spring 1997. That makes it the second oldest current surface in NASCAR.

During that time, it has played host to 31 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, 19 Xfinity Series races and 15 Camping World Truck Series events.

Among some of the highlights over the years on the outgoing surface:

* Dale Earnhardt’s 0.01-second margin of victory over Bobby Labonte in 2000. It would be Earnhardt’s 75th career Cup win and the second-to-last win of his storied career (won at Talladega that fall).

* In his third Cup start after the tragic death of Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500, Kevin Harvick would take the re-numbered No. 29 to victory lane at Atlanta, capturing a 0.006-second margin of victory over Jeff Gordon.

* Carl Edwards’ first Cup win and the first of two wins for him in both Atlanta races in 2005.

* AMS’s first-ever night race in 2009.

* Sunday marks AMS’s 102nd 500-mile race. No other track on the circuit has hosted as many races of that length.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sunday could also be a big day for defending and seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

Having won both the 2015 and 2016 Cup races at AMS, Johnson is looking to become the first driver in track history to win three consecutive races there.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen won four times in as many years (1961 to 1964) at AMS, but they were not consecutive. Another Hall of Famer, Cale Yarborough, also won three straight spring races (1967 to 1969), but failed to win any of the fall races those same years at the track.

Johnson is also looking to extend his overall supremacy at the track, being the only active driver to have ever won there five times in a career (all on the current racing surface).

NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt holds the record for most wins ever at AMS with nine triumphs.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Alex Bowman driving for GMS Racing in Atlanta Truck race

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, walks through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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Alex Bowman isn’t getting much time off between NASCAR starts.

Two weeks after he drove Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s No. 88 in the Advance Auto Parts Clash, Bowman will make his first start this year in a race that counts. He will drive GMS Racing’s No. 24 truck in the Camping World Truck Series’ Active Pet Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Bowman is filling in for Justin Haley, who at 17, is too young to race on tracks 1.5-miles long or bigger due to NASCAR rules.

The defending K&N East Pro Series champion, Haley turns 18 on April 28.

The race will only be Bowman’s second start in the Truck Series. He made his first in 2015 at Michigan International Speedway for JR Motorsports. He started 16th and finished 11th that day.

Bowman continues to capitalize on his performance last season when he helped fill in for Earnhardt in the No. 88 while he recovered from a concussion. Bowman made 10 starts in the No. 88, which included winning the pole for the fall race at Phoenix Raceway. That qualified him for the Clash, which he finished third in.

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