Kyle Busch spoke up about the speeds at Dover on Friday and called the package raced there “terrible” on Monday. Do the former champion’s comments have merit or are they sour grapes?
Nate Ryan: There is merit here. Drivers warned all weekend that they were on throttle too much, and even winner Martin Truex Jr. admitted it was hard to pass with a dominant car after starting at the rear. In changing its rules for 2019, NASCAR officials said an objective was to ensure cars didn’t “check out” on the field, and that’s what happened Monday. Busch is known for being churlish after a mediocre finish, but the 2015 series champion also doesn’t whine this way unless it’s justified.
Dustin Long: They have merit. Busch has been clear about how he didn’t want this high downforce package previously. So you know where he’s coming from, but he wasn’t the only driver to raise issues about the package after the race. While those comments weren’t as sharp as what he said, they further lend validity to his words. Busch’s comments about the higher speeds also should not be ignored.
Daniel McFadin: Sour grapes. Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman came from the rear of the field and placed 1-2. Busch was stuck in 10th-15th for most of the race. He didn’t have a better car than that.
Jerry Bonkowski: Kind of in-between. I think there should have been more testing at Dover, given how much greater the speeds were compared to years past. Might smaller engines have been a better option? How will the fall playoff race be? Right now, there’s a lot of questions that need answering – and Busch certainly has quite a few – before the fall race.
Who was Dover a bigger race for — runner-up Alex Bowman, third-place finisher Kyle Larson or fifth-place finisher Chase Elliott?
Nate Ryan: While I agree with Jeff Gordon’s assessment of Dover being a “career race” for Bowman, Larson’s jump back into a provisional playoff spot was the bigger moral victory.
Dustin Long: Chase Elliott. While the race was a nice pick-me-up for Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman, Elliott scored back-to-back top 10s for the first time this season. That they were top fives meant even more. This is a team that could be a force in the playoffs (Chase won twice in last year’s playoffs) but needs to build momentum and consistency. Maybe these are the first steps toward a title run.
Daniel McFadin: I’m going with Bowman because he had to come from the rear. He also never had consecutive top fives before Monday, while Elliott and Larson have plenty of their own top fives. Larson definitely needed Monday’s race, but what Bowman did was more impressive.
Jerry Bonkowski: No doubt about it, Kyle Larson, with his season-best finish. He finally had a decent race with no incidents for the first time this season. Given how cyclical this sport is, for as bad as Larson may have been in the first 10 races, he now could potentially go on a big run over the next 10 races. The motivation and momentum from Dover could take him and his team a long way, potentially even to victory lane.
Are you surprised there hasn’t been a winning vehicle disqualified so far this season?
Nate Ryan: Very surprised. It’s only a matter of time, and the ticking clock will get much louder if it doesn’t happen before the end of the regular season (because teams are bound to push the limits in the playoffs).
Dustin Long: Mildly but it’s still early. I’ll be surprised if it goes a whole season without a winner from either Cup, Xfinity or Trucks disqualified.
Daniel McFadin: Absolutely. That it hasn’t happened at least once in all three of the national series is astounding. It’s possible the threat of losing wins actually did the trick. But I don’t see us making it back to Daytona without it happening for the first time.
Jerry Bonkowski: To an extent, yes. NASCAR is very adamant that it will no longer tolerate overt cheating, and potentially teams even working in the proverbial “gray area.” While disqualifying a winning vehicle would be embarrassing to the sport and especially the team involved, it’s good to know NASCAR has put some teeth in its bite if it needs to. And in a way, if/when (you know it’s going to happen sooner or later) a winning vehicle is DQ’d, it has the potential of bringing more fans back or into the sport, seeing that NASCAR means business about cheating.