Getty Images

Bump & Run: Who will finish with more career Cup wins? Kyle or Jimmie?

1 Comment

Kyle Busch has 52 Cup wins. Jimmie Johnson has 83 Cup wins. Busch is a decade younger than Johnson. Who will finish their career with more Cup wins?

Dustin Long: Kyle Busch is a generational talent and still has many Cup wins ahead of him. It’s easy to look at what he’s done since 2015 and project that type of pace (23 wins in the last 137 races for a 16.8 percent winning percentage), but I think Jimmie Johnson has multiple wins left before his career ends and Johnson finishes ahead.

Daniel McFadin: If I were to base my answer just on how Busch has performed in the first four races following a season where he won eight times, I’d say him. Johnson is running on limited time and he hasn’t won since 2017. Busch looks like he can only be slowed by penalties and mechanical failures. Johnson looks like he needs some help just to finish in the top 10, which he was able to do in Phoenix.

Jerry Bonkowski: One thing that has been overlooked about Busch is that he has earned more than half (28) of his 52 Cup wins since 2013. He’s definitely getting better as he gets older and it would not be a reach to say he’s in the prime of his career. I think he’s motivated to reach 100 Cup wins. He’d have to average five wins per season for each of the next 10 years to do so by the time he’s 44. Unless he decides to retire, I think he can overtake Johnson – or will continue racing until he does so.

Nate Ryan: Kyle Busch will finish with more than Johnson and very possibly more than David Pearson’s 105.

In the last six Cup races, dating back to November’s playoff race at ISM Raceway, Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing each have won three times. Which organization is the best?

Dustin Long: Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR has two wins and three runner-up finishes to Team Penske’s two wins and one runner-up finish this season.

Daniel McFadin: I’ll give it to Penske because they’ve shown to be more consistent with their three cars than Joe Gibbs with four. For JGR, Busch has been the only car that’s been a consistent threat up front in all four races. If not for a cut tire and a pit penalty, we could be talking about him having three wins. Truex has shown closing speed and Hamlin resurfaced in Phoenix after a two-race disappearance. Penske has shown they can be fast anywhere.

Jerry Bonkowski: They’re both on the same level in my opinion. If I had to pick one, I’d give the edge to Team Penske because Joey Logano won the championship last season, and JGR hasn’t won a title since 2015 (Kyle Busch). I think there’s a lot of similarity between JGR and Team Penske, and as such, they feed off each other both on and off the race track.

Nate Ryan: It’s close to a virtual tie, but because of Joey Logano’s 2018 championship and the recent three-week run of two victories and a pole position, I’ll give the nod to Team Penske.

Kyle Busch won Sunday, Martin Truex Jr. has two runner-up finishes in the past three races, and Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500. Who has been Joe Gibbs Racing’s best Cup driver this season?

Dustin Long: Kyle Busch with his win and two runner-up finishes tops Martin Truex Jr., who has no wins and two runner-up results this year.

Daniel McFadin: Busch. He’s the only Cup driver to finish in the top 10 in every race and he leads the series with three tops fives. Pretty simple.

Jerry Bonkowski: I’d give the edge to Busch, who has a win, three top-five finishes and has not finished lower than sixth. Plus he’s been no lower than fourth in the points (he’s No. 1 this week after the Phoenix win).

Nate Ryan: This is also a very tough call, but in addition to his win Sunday, Busch has the second at Daytona and a third at Las Vegas (where he probably could have won without a penalty).

Restarts are as wild as ever, but yet there haven’t been any multicar accidents listed in the past three box scores since the Daytona 500. Are restarts somehow wilder than ever but drivers also better than ever at keeping their cars beneath them?

Dustin Long: The added downforce has helped drivers when cars got out of shape. What might have turned into a crash before is now a nice save.

Daniel McFadin: I think drivers are able to control their cars to a remarkable degree, but I also think the increased levels of downforce make the cars less likely to spin out of control. We’ve seen plenty of cars make contact in the last three races without anything bad happen. Most of the incidents Sunday came from parts and tire failures.

Jerry Bonkowski: While restarts may look as wild as ever, drivers are being more cautious to not make over-the-top moves, in my opinion. They saw how much Daytona and all the wrecks impacted them and put so many teams off on the wrong foot to start the season, as a result. They realize how important stage points and good finishes are and may look like they’re driving as wild as ever, but I believe they’re being more selective in picking their spots to be aggressive and when not to be.

Nate Ryan: This might be heresy, but I think restarts have been wild since the introduction of double file nearly 10 years ago. The only difference is that this year’s lower horsepower has allowed cars to run three and four abreast to a slightly greater degree and duration. It is surprising that multicar crashes have yet to be more prevalent, though.

Kyle Busch has idea for NASCAR’s Xfinity, Truck limits

Leave a comment

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Kyle Busch would entertain the opportunity to pursue the one NASCAR championship that has eluded him – in the Gander Outdoor Truck Series – when his Cup career is over.

But he’s got an idea that would allow him to run both series concurrently and address the limits on Cup drivers running in lower series.

“Why don’t you let us run as many races as we want to run and then once we miss one, we’re done?” Busch pondered after his victory Saturday in the TruNorth Global 250 truck race at Martinsville Speedway. “So if I go all the way to (the June 15 race at Iowa Speedway) in the trucks and run 10 races and can’t go to Iowa, I’m done.

“You can race for points or whatever and so if that ever came down to that, then maybe there’d be an opportunity years down the road that then you can run multiple series and try to go after a championship that way.”

What was NASCAR’s reaction to the plan?

“That’s probably the first time I’ve said that or thought about it,” Busch said with a laugh. “Now that it’s out there … there’s not a damn fan that’s ever going to let it happen.”

Indeed, Busch’s 201st career victory in a NASCAR national series drew the usual outrage on social media Saturday, both from his Rowdy Nation legion of fans and those who vehemently believe he should be limited beyond the NASCAR cap of five truck races and seven Xfinity races allowed for full-time Cup drivers.

Busch has won in seven of 11 starts in trucks, Xfinity and Cup this season.

“Could have been nine or 10 (victories) probably, that’s what the scary part is if it wasn’t for simple mistakes,” Busch said. “Overall, it’s been fun. It’s a damn shame I’m only allowed five and seven.”

Busch has two 2019 starts left in trucks: at Texas Motor Speedway next week and Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.

He said the chances are solid for going 5 for 5.

“I’d like to think Texas is a good place,” he said. “I think our guys have a good baseline. Charlotte is always one of my best tracks, favorite tracks and enjoy running there with the trucks, especially. There’s a good opportunity.

“It’s kind of an expectation (to win every race). We just go out, work hard and smart, and today we let the race play itself out and come to us.”

Busch won the 2009 Xfinity championship in the last season in which he ran full time in NASCAR’s top two series. He has focused solely on Cup full time since then, and NASCAR has changed rules over the past eight years limiting the ability to run for more than one title.

Despite 148 starts (and 54 victories), he is yet to run a full truck season, but the 2015 Cup champion has said he’d like to become the first driver to win a championship in each of NASCAR’s top three series.

Three Cup cars fail prerace inspection at Martinsville Speedway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The cars of William Byron, DJ Kennington and Jeb Burton failed inspection Sunday morning at Martinsville Speedway.

Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet failed mechanical measurements. His sixth-place qualifying time will be disallowed, and he will have to start from the rear.

Kennington failed the OSS. He qualified 34th.

Burton had qualified 33rd.

The three cars will officially start behind those that passed inspection. Cars that qualified behind them will move up one spot.

The No. 24 suffered a right-front tire problem in the opening minutes of first practice Saturday morning, and the team made repairs to put the car back on track.

Today’s Cup race at Martinsville Speedway: Start time, lineup, more

Leave a comment

MARTINSVILLE — High downforce could bring hot tempers to Martinsville Speedway, where today’s STP 500 will mark the first short track of the 2019 Cup schedule.

In the last visit to the 0.526-mile oval, Joey Logano bumped Martin Truex Jr. aside entering the last two corners in one of the most thrilling finishes of the 2018 season.

Here’s the pertinent information for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Robert DeRidder, the senior vice president and general manager of Energizer Holdings Inc. (owners of STP), will give the command to start engines at 2:01 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 2:07 p.m.

PRERACE: The crew chief and drivers meeting is at noon. Driver introductions will begin at 1:20 p.m. The invocation will be given by track chaplain Mike Hatfield at 1:54 p.m. The 380th Army Band will perform the national anthem at 1:55 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 500 laps (263 miles) around the 0.526-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 130. Stage 2 ends on Lap 260.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race with coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race. MRN’s coverage begins at 1 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast, which is also available at MRN.com.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 63 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: In a race delayed to Monday by a snowstorm, Clint Bowyer scored his first victory for Stewart-Haas Racing. Kyle Busch finished second. Ryan Blaney placed third. Joey Logano won at Martinsville last fall. Denny Hamlin placed second. Martin Truex Jr. was third. 

TO THE REAR: William Byron (mechanical measurements), DJ Kennington (OSS) and Jeb Burton will start from the rear after failing inspection Sunday morning.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Cup starting lineup at Martinsville

Leave a comment

Fords flexed their muscle during Saturday’s qualifying, grabbing the first four spots and six of the first 11 for Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Joey Logano will start from the pole, alongside Aric Almirola. Brad Keselowski will start in Row 2, alongside Kevin Harvick.

Row 3 will have Denny Hamlin and William Byron. Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott make up Row 4, while Martin Truex Jr. and Daniel Suarez will start from Row 5.

Click here for the full row-by-row Cup starting lineup.

Note that the starting lineup is provisional until Sunday morning’s pre-race inspection. Any car that fails inspection will lose its starting spot and move to the back of the field.

Follow @JerryBonkowski