Daniel McFadin

Getty Images

Staff picks for tonight’s Cup race at Bristol

1 Comment

Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win tonight’s Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Nate Ryan

Matt Kenseth. If it is the last time, he goes out in style.

Dustin Long

Kyle Busch. Get the brooms out.

Daniel McFadin

Kyle Larson picks up win No. 4 on the season with his first Cup victory at track shorter than two miles.

Jerry Bonkowski

Joey Logano survives the typical Bristol mayhem to win and roll into the playoffs (provided this win isn’t encumbered like Richmond was).

Bump & Run: Should NASCAR be doctoring tracks to add grip?

3 Comments

NASCAR is expected to use traction compound or drag tires at a number of tracks there the rest of the season. Are you OK with this action or should NASCAR not do such things to tracks?

Nate Ryan: As long as the drivers are on board, let’s start ordering the sticky stuff by the truckload. 

Dustin Long: Why shouldn’t NASCAR try to find ways to create the best possible racing for fans?

Daniel McFadin: The spring Bristol race was the most enticing Bristol race in my adult memory, so I’m going to say try it wherever you think you need it. Because if you’re a track that’s even considering using it, you probably need to try.

Jerry Bonkowski: I understand why NASCAR is using the PJ1 compound or dragging tires to improve the racing. And while both are used to enhance grip and widen or bring in additional grooves on certain tracks, the purist or traditionalist in me does not like artificial means to be used. I feel that perhaps the use of softer tires may bring better grip, but at the same time, softer tires typically wear out quicker. It’s kind of a Catch-22 situation for NASCAR and its drivers. They want better grip for better racing, but having to resort to an artificial method to do so just kind of rubs me the wrong way. 

Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and Trevor Bayne are the first five drivers outside a playoff spot with three races left before the playoffs are set. Will any of these drivers make the playoffs?

Nate Ryan: It seems as if the rookies Suarez and Jones have the most momentum lately. Bowyer still seems most likely to get a win and also could claw his way into a points spot. But a realist wouldn’t bet that any of these drivers qualifies. The playoff window virtually has closed already.

Dustin Long: No. Have to wait until next year.

Daniel McFadin: Erik Jones. He’s the only one of the group consistently running up front, at least in the last three races, and getting to the front of the pack without pit strategy.

Jerry Bonkowski: Even with the problems he’s had over the last several races, I think Logano will still make the playoffs. Bowyer will need at least top-10 finishes in the three remaining races to make a serious run at Matt Kenneth — and may still come up short. While Jones and Suarez are having a strong battle for Rookie of the Year, I don’t think either will make the playoffs, unless they win one of the next three races.

Did Kyle Larson’s win at Michigan show you that the team is back in form after recent struggles?

Nate Ryan: It’s back in form on strategy and execution, which were flawless in positioning Larson to win at Michigan. But the No. 42 Chevrolet still lacked the blinding speed from earlier in the season. 

Dustin Long: I need to see more. It’s a good start and changes the momentum for the team, which is important. Still, I want to see this team lead more laps and be higher on the speed chart. One race doesn’t turn a team’s season around but one race can be the start of something big. Let’s see what this team does next.

Daniel McFadin: As dramatic and fun as the final restart was Sunday, Larson’s win wasn’t a result of a superb performance. After the “worst start of my career” (starting ninth and falling to 15th) Larson spent all of Stage 1 outside the top 10 and then had an average running spot of 8.8 in the race. He was in a position to win solely because of two late cautions and a willingness to use his bumper.

Jerry Bonkowski: I’d like to think so, but Larson has been very cyclical this season. He won at Michigan in June and had finishes of 26th and 29th in the next two races at Sonoma and Daytona. He had back-to-back runner-up finishes at Kentucky and New Hampshire, only to have three straight finishes of 23rd or worse in the next three races (which occurred before Sunday’s race at Michigan). If anything, he can somewhat be less aggressive in the next three races, knowing he’s locked into the playoffs — and he can ratchet up the aggressiveness when the playoffs begin.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Michigan

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
1 Comment

Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.

Nate Ryan

Martin Truex Jr. He had the best car in June before circumstances intervened. They won’t this time.

Dustin Long

Kyle Larson. He makes it three in a row at Michigan.

Daniel McFadin

Michigan has served as a safe harbor for Dale Earnhardt Jr. during career low points before. The 2-mile track does so again today.

Jerry Bonkowski

Joey Logano. He gets his old Michigan mojo (2 wins, 5 top-5 and 12 top-10 in 17 starts) back — and makes the playoffs as a bonus.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Watkins Glen

Leave a comment

Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Watkins Glen International.

Nate Ryan

Joey Logano. He says it’s his best chance left to win during the regular season. If his crew can implement a sound strategy, he will be proven right.

Dustin Long

Denny Hamlin. With baby No. 2 on the way, he gets win No. 2 of the season.

Daniel McFadin

Kyle Busch keeps the party going with his second win in as many weeks.

Jerry Bonkowski

Clint Bowyer. Yes, you read that right. With a playoff spot at stake, Bowyer once again shows off his road course racing skills and surprises the rest of the pack.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Pocono

Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Pocono Raceway.

Nate Ryan

Kyle Busch. He has been so close many times at this track; it makes sense this season would be the breakthrough.

Dustin Long

Martin Truex Jr. Poke the bear and you get hurt. This team will rally around losing two tire changers to suspension.

Daniel McFadin

Kevin Harvick. After missing out on a victory here in June by one spot, Harvick crosses Pocono off his tracks to win at.

Jerry Bonkowski

Chase Elliott. He’ll join Chris Buescher and Ryan Blaney to become the third driver to earn his first career Cup win in as many races at Pocono on Sunday.