What is your biggest takeaway from Daytona Speedweeks?
Nate Ryan: The emergence of Bubba Wallace as a budding star. His resonance became decidedly noticeable after the runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 and subsequent emotional news conference. Results now become critical (and much more daunting away from plate tracks).
Dustin Long: The relative acceptance from the competitors about blocking even though it was a factor in many of the crashes during Speedweeks. What once was a rallying cry to stop now is viewed with a shoulder shrug by drivers because that’s how things are done on plate tracks. Blocking seems to bother fans more than drivers.
Daniel McFadin: When was the last time a second-place finisher overshadowed the winner of the Daytona 500? Whether it’s local or national media, Darrell Wallace Jr. seems to be getting just as much or more attention than Austin Dillon. Also, whether it was a result of the rules package, physics or luck, we went through every NASCAR event in Speedweeks without a car or truck flipping or getting airborne.
Jerry Bonkowski: I agree with my colleagues about Bubba Wallace. I’ve long thought he was a star in the making, dating back to his days driving a Truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Sunday was his day to shine and that he did. Along with several of his young peers like good friend Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and more, Wallace could play a key role in NASCAR’s youth movement. One other thing: I loved the new Chevy Camaro.
After the Xfinity race went to a fifth overtime attempt to finish, should NASCAR consider limitations on how many overtimes it allows? If so, what should that limit be?
Nate Ryan: No. The Rubicon has been crossed. The only change now is eliminating green-white-checkered finishes, which will never happen.
Dustin Long: No change is needed.
Daniel McFadin: If you’d asked me in the moment Saturday evening, I would have given an emphatic yes right before the final attempt. Then Tyler Reddick and Elliott Sadler somehow delivered the closest finish in national NASCAR series history. If you’re going to put a limit on it, maybe make it five in honor of that finish. Until then, do you want you can to have the race finish under green.
Jerry Bonkowski: No. Keep racing until the race finishes under the checkered flag.
What are you most interested in seeing this weekend with the series at Atlanta Motor Speedway?
Nate Ryan: Which teams and manufacturers are running well at the first 1.5-mile track of the season, though this won’t be as accurate of a barometer as Las Vegas.
Dustin Long: Pit road. There will be more pit stops and each time teams will change four tires. At Daytona, many changes were no tire or two tires. We’ll start to see who has it figured out the best on pit road this weekend.
Daniel McFadin: How the Chevrolet teams on the Cup side perform with the new Camaro in its first race at an intermediate track, specifically with the teams of Jimmie Johnson – who has tied his career mark for races without a win at 24 – and Darrell Wallace Jr. There’s a lot to be excited about surrounding Wallace, but everyone should be prepared for temper their expectations. In Aric Almirola‘s six starts for Richard Petty Motorsports at Atlanta, he finished better than 11th once (ninth, 2014).
Jerry Bonkowski: The biggest thing for me is to see how guys like Austin Dillon, Bubba Wallace and others who did so well at Daytona wind up doing at Atlanta. Totally different type of race track, no restrictor plates, more strategy and more of the race in the driver’s hands (and feet). The last thing I want to see is guys who did well at Daytona not do so well at Atlanta.
Austin Dillon got a tattoo to celebrate his Daytona 500 win. What would it take for you to get a tattoo?
Nate Ryan: An ungodly sum of money and full jurisdiction over its placement and size. (P.S. I drove by a tattoo laser removal billboard off I-4 on my drive to Daytona every day the past two weeks. So if any of the No. 3 team members change their minds about the “permanent” ink, there’s hope.)
Dustin Long: Not happening. Next question.
Daniel McFadin: It would take the Dallas Cowboys winning consecutive Super Bowls and someone reminding me about this article for me to give that serious consideration.
Jerry Bonkowski: My kids talked me into getting a temporary henna tattoo at DisneyWorld once. It was a barbed wire on my right arm. Let’s just say this: it looks good on Pamela Anderson, but me, meh, not so much. Like Dustin said, “not happening” any day, any way.