Kyle Busch seemed slightly miffed that his older brother adamantly vowed multiple times he would have wrecked the No. 18 for the win. Is this the power dynamics of a 30-year sibling rivalry or part of the age-old debates over proper racing ethics?
Nate Ryan: It’s a little of both. While Kyle is right to question the wisdom of vowing you would have wrecked someone if you’d had the chance, Kurt’s repeated (and somewhat gleeful) promises in postrace interviews and on social media seemed indicative of getting inside his younger brother’s head. It felt as if we might be witnessing how Busch brother discussions would have gone after go-kart races in Las Vegas during the early 1990s. But it also was a fresh spin on how far a driver will go to win a race. Kurt has established the line he’ll cross next time to win at Bristol, and by owning it, that should help clear his conscience while also giving fans something to anticipate next time.
Dustin Long: Both. If I was racing my brother, I’d tell him we’re not brothers on the track, we are competitors. If I had to knock him out of the way to win, I would. If he didn’t like it, he could go cry to Mom and Dad.
Daniel McFadin: I imagine Kurt Busch would have said that regardless of who was in the lead, but it’s definitely amplified by their sibling rivalry. It’s really surprising how little they’ve gotten to go head-to-head over the years. But the way they’re both racing, it might happen more than once the rest of the year.
Jerry Bonkowski: If memory serves me correct, Kyle and Kurt have had a few skirmishes over the years, so it wouldn’t surprise me if either took out the other one in a future race or two. What I really want to see, though, is how the pair reacts to each other if one takes the other out. Will we see fists fly? Will they take each other off their respective Christmas present lists?
Was NASCAR right to penalize Brad Keselowski for restarting in the wrong position or should NASCAR have delayed the restart to ensure he was in the right spot and not unfairly impact others?
Nate Ryan: With fewer than 20 laps remaining, this was a less than ideal situation. It probably would have been better to hold the restart and avoid affecting others’ races. But by holding the restart, NASCAR is burning laps, which also negatively impacts the pit calls made by other teams (as the NASCAR America crew noted Monday). A red flag would have been too heavy-handed and set an unfortunate precedent just to position the order correctly. As Jeff Burton noted, five warnings and an extra lap was enough time for Keselowski to line up in the right spot, and at some point, the race had to return to green. And while Keselowski is at fault, the NASCAR tower hopefully learned a lesson about ensuring its communication is better next time, because the radio chatter indicated too much confusion.
Dustin Long: The penalty was justified, but NASCAR should have gotten the lineup right before restarting the race. Throw the red flag if you have to, but get the lineup right! With Brad Keselowski not in the proper spot, he forced Joey Logano and Austin Dillon to be three-wide on the restart. While NASCAR extended the caution a lap to try to get Keselowski in the right spot, it should have stopped the field on the backstretch and gotten the field aligned to go back racing. Get the lineup right!
Daniel McFadin: NASCAR was right to penalize Brad Keselowski, but NASCAR should have taken as much time as possible to rectify the situation in order to ensure a proper restart. The wacky three-wide position of Keselowski, Joey Logano and Austin Dillon doesn’t just impact one driver and as Keselowski admitted, likely affected the outcome of the race.
Jerry Bonkowski: NASCAR was correct in penalizing Keselowski, but at the same time, yes, the restart should have been delayed for another lap to get Keselowski in the right position. This was a very costly lesson for Keselowski. If he would have heeded NASCAR’s initial call, he had a good chance of winning – or at the very least, finishing top five instead of 18th.
Denny Hamlin has three speeding penalties in the first eight races. Is this a concern?
Nate Ryan: No. Hamlin’s speeding penalties receive more scrutiny than any other driver in Cup. He is culpable of putting his team in tough positions, but as Texas proved, it often gives the No. 11 team a chance to test its mettle and rebound. Though this penalty undermined a strategy call that could have put him in position to win a race, it didn’t cost him the race (he finished about where he ran in fifth), nor has his proclivity for speeding cost him a championship or playoff advancement. He and the team usually have figured it out when the stakes are at their highest.
Dustin Long: No. It’s not ideal, but I’m not going to worry too much about it. They’ve shown the speed to recover and win from such a penalty.
Daniel McFadin: Absolutely. Hamlin won at Texas despite two pit road penalties. If he’s off to the best start of his Cup car, there’s no telling how much more we’d be talking about him if not for his mistakes on pit road.
Jerry Bonkowski: There’s no one else to blame but Hamlin himself. Yes, it’s a concern that Hamlin has a heavy foot. For all we know, if he hadn’t have been caught speeding so many times, Hamlin may have had another win or two to his record by now. I understand wanting to get on and off pit road ASAP, but if this keeps up, Joe Gibbs needs to sit down with his driver to tell him to slow down.
Because this is the week of the Masters golf tournament — a tradition unlike any other, they say — what is a tradition unlike any other in NASCAR?
Nate Ryan: Not a big fan of traditions because they can impede the necessary progress for betterment. There are some Masters-esque traditions in NASCAR, but many have changed and then reverted over the years (Martinsville hot dogs, Southern 500 on Labor Day, etc.), and there are others that soon will end (Bristol night race in late August, Daytona’s July 4 race week). All of this is good if it keeps NASCAR headed in the right direction. The only tradition that matters is retaining the essence of why people attend races, which is compelling action mixed with passionate emotions.
Dustin Long: Awarding a grandfather clock to the winner at Martinsville.
Daniel McFadin: This will only be the fifth year of the tradition at this point, but I’m going with the Throwback Weekend at Darlington. It’s just a great, celebratory moment for the sport with a bunch of unique paint schemes to remind people about its deep history. I get excited with every car reveal and we’re already off to a good start with Richard Childress Racing’s cars.
Jerry Bonkowski: No question about it, the Daytona 500. The pomp and circumstances of the event – not to mention its illustrious history – is NASCAR’s pride and joy. Is it any wonder why so many non-NASCAR fans tune in or attend in-person? It’s a happening like the Super Bowl and everybody wants to see it.