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Bump & Run: What should NASCAR do about inspection violations before race?

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Eight of 37 cars failed inspection before the Richmond Cup race and lost their starting spot. Is there a better way for NASCAR to handle such infractions to limit talk before a race being about penalties?

Nate Ryan: There has to be a solution, and whatever it is, NASCAR needs to implement it quickly. Switching from headlines about woes in postrace inspection to woes in prerace inspection is an improvement, but the preferred solution should be no headlines about inspection at all. 

Dustin Long: Until NASCAR figures out a way to do things differently, inspection failures will dominate talk before a race, especially if it involves more than 20% of the field as it did at Richmond.

Daniel McFadin: Unless you change the penalties for failing inspection (again), the cars will fail regardless of if you hold qualifying inspection right after qualifying or on race day. Only real solution I can think of is to have inspection before qualifying and for that to be the only inspection until after the race. That would just continue the endless cycle we seem to be in on the issue.

Jerry Bonkowski: It’s just the nature of the beast, particularly when you have such a large number of cars that failed pre-race inspection. The larger the number of cars penalized, the greater the attention that is placed upon the situation by the media. Perhaps more attention should be focused on what NASCAR could do to improve and streamline the overall inspection process. And if it has to swing the pendulum even further, increase penalties to keep crew chiefs from playing games with their cars. Kick out the crew chief from the race, or perhaps hold the car for the first five laps of the race. That will change things in a hurry.

NASCAR tried another format for Cup qualifying at Richmond, limiting each round to five minutes. Should this be the format at most tracks the rest of the season?

Nate Ryan: Makes no difference here as long as the focus is on qualifying results and whoever won the pole position, not on the process for getting there. 

Dustin Long: Whatever it does, NASCAR needs to get out of this rabbit hole soon.

Daniel McFadin: I’m 50/50 on this. I’d prefer the first round being 10 minutes at anything larger than 1 mile, which allows teams to make more than one run – but that’s based on the premise drivers won’t wait until the final minute to make their first.

Jerry Bonkowski: Five minutes works fine on short tracks. Not so much on longer tracks of 1.5 miles and greater. That’s why I believe open qualifying should be replaced by having two to four cars (depending on the size of the racetrack) go out at a time for two or three qualifying laps. This creates attention and a kind of race-within-qualifying excitement among fans to see which driver can “beat” the other drivers, so to speak.

There’s been a lot of talk about what Joe Gibbs Racing will do with its Cup lineup for next year with Christopher Bell’s continued success in Xfinity, but Cole Custer has won twice for Stewart-Haas Racing in Xfinity. What kind of dilemma could SHR face with its driver lineup for 2020?

Nate Ryan: With no disrespect to Cole Custer, he has yet to show he is in Christopher Bell’s league, nor is there the external pressure of a huge investment in his development to avoid letting a coveted prospect escape (as is the case with the millions Toyota Racing Development has spent on grooming Bell). Because Custer is related to the SHR executive Joe Custer and effectively sponsored by team owner Gene Haas, the dynamics are incomparable. If Custer shows enough promise for promotion, the team probably could make room in Cup next season, but there is no sense of urgency as exists with Bell.

Dustin Long: Gene Haas said last year that Cole Custer needed to win more often. If Custer continues to do so, it will make him a more inviting driver for a team, whether that is SHR or another Ford operation.

Daniel McFadin: Cole Custer is already in his third full-time Xfinity season, which makes him middle-aged in Xfinity driver years. While we’re not privy to driver contract lengths, Kevin Harvick is locked in to at least 2021, Daniel Suarez is in his first and Aric Almirola continues to be strong in his second year. Clint Bowyer probably has the biggest question mark being in his third year with the team. Gene Haas will have to decide who’s a better long-term investment: A 39-year-old Bowyer or a 21-year-old Custer. Bowyer grabbing some wins this year could complicate that.

Jerry Bonkowski: One potential option could be embedding Bell with another Toyota team such as Leavine Family Racing in 2020, like when Erik Jones was with Furniture Row Racing in 2017. I think you’ll see a similar embed of Custer with another Ford team, perhaps Front Row Motorsports. Or, because Custer’s father, Joe, is a top executive at SHR, it would not surprise me to see Daniel Suarez shifted to another Ford team to make way for the younger Custer at SHR.

The IndyCar race at Long Beach ended with series officials penalizing Graham Rahal one spot for blocking Scott Dixon on the last lap. Should blocking be a penalty in NASCAR?

Nate Ryan: No. Different series, different cars, different tracks.

Dustin Long: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Don’t need any more judgment calls for NASCAR to make.

Daniel McFadin: Heck no. As much as Tony Stewart may have despised it, blocking is a racing maneuver. If a driver doesn’t like it, just show your displeasure with a love tap to the rear bumper.

Jerry Bonkowski: Yes, particularly if it puts the driver being blocked and other trailing drivers at risk of crashing. I’ve long felt that egregious blocking should be penalized. But if that were to happen, it could open a Pandora’s Box of additional issues, such as bump-and-run moving an opponent out of the way. How would NASCAR draw the line between egregious blocking/bumping and legitimate blocking/bumping?

Jimmie Johnson ran in Monday’s Boston Marathon. What is another event you’d like to see a NASCAR driver attempt to take part in someday?

Nate Ryan: Denny Hamlin in a PGA Tour event and paired with Michael Jordan.

Dustin Long: Kyle Larson as a bobsled driver. Also, Denny Hamlin in a PGA Tour event.

Daniel McFadin: Since Ryan Newman is sponsored by Oscar Mayer, he should enter the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4.

Jerry Bonkowski: The Baja 1000 is the first one that comes to mind. That, to me, is the most grueling combination of man and machine. I’d also like to see more NASCAR drivers try their luck in the Indianapolis 500 and, conversely, do “the double” by racing later that same day in the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte. Lastly, although it would be difficult due to the Cup schedule, I’d also like to see some of the best golfers among Cup drivers try their luck at The Masters.

Bump & Run: Saying you’d wreck your brother for a win a good move?

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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.

Bump & Run: Is Kyle Busch right about Cup drivers in lower series?

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Should NASCAR implement Kyle Busch’s suggestion that any Cup driver can run as many races in a lower series until they miss one? So if they run the first 10 Xfinity races and miss one, they can’t compete in that series the rest of the year?

Nate Ryan: It’s an idea with merit. One of the main complaints about Cup drivers dropping down into lower series is cherry-picking events. This proposal eliminates that concept while also still allowing unrestricted participation — with one major catch.

Dustin Long: What’s the goal here? NASCAR needs to decide. Is it worth having the Cup regulars compete more often in lower series? Or is it better for the sport to limit those drivers and allow others to have a chance? Based on its actions, NASCAR seems to suggest that it is better to give other drivers the opportunity and not have Cup regulars compete. Until NASCAR makes a philosophical change, don’t expect Kyle’s plan to take hold.

Daniel McFadin: I don’t think Kyle Busch thought this through before saying it out loud in Martinsville. He’s already promised his wife not to compete in Truck and Xfinity races at Daytona and Talladega. That means he’d be eliminated from both series after Speedweeks in February.

Jerry Bonkowski: I like the way the system is now and don’t see any need to change it. While I understand Busch’s suggestion, what would preclude a driver – including Busch – from competing in ALL Xfinity or Truck races (or both)? Busch previously did that before NASCAR limits were put in place, and didn’t seem too worse for the wear. Of course, if NASCAR implemented Busch’s idea, he potentially could hit 300 or more wins in his career before he hangs up his firesuit for the final time.

Who will be the first driver from outside Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing to win a Cup race?

Nate Ryan: Kyle Larson.

Dustin Long: Kevin Harvick

Daniel McFadin: Kurt Busch and it will come at Bristol.

Jerry Bonkowski: I believe that driver will come from Stewart-Haas Racing. The question is who will it be first: Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola or Clint Bowyer? All three have been knocking on the door to victory lane. While I believe Harvick has the best shot, seeing Almirola or Bowyer beat Harvick to victory lane first would not be a surprise.

Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer had a spirited battle during the first stage at Martinsville, causing some choice words from Harvick about his teammate on the radio. Typical short-track racing, or are some of the 2019 frustrations boiling over for Stewart-Haas Racing?

Nate Ryan: Stewart-Haas Racing has been solid but still a notch below Gibbs and Penske on the big speedways early this season. Martinsville represented one of the team’s best chances yet to score a 2019 victory, and the sniping (as well as the urgency for Bowyer to get to the front in the first stage) was a byproduct of that.

Dustin Long: Typical short-track racing. Move on.

Daniel McFadin: It’s a combination of SHR not having won through six races and neither Harvick or Bowyer having defended wins from last year. Bowyer was a favorite at Martinsville, but that was futile. Harvick should be among the favorites at Texas.

Jerry Bonkowski: Combination of the two. It’s definitely partly due to short-track racing, particularly at Martinsville, which is the shortest and tightest track on the Cup circuit. But also, Harvick is likely frustrated that he hasn’t been able to reach victory lane yet. And even though they’re all teammates, Harvick may feel threatened by Bowyer and Aric Almirola and the success they’ve had of late. And let’s not forget Daniel Suarez. If he finds himself in the right place at the right time, he potentially could beat his other three teammates to victory lane first.

After tying a season-low finish (24th) as the worst Hendrick Motorsports driver at one of his best tracks, has Jimmie Johnson bottomed out, or are four finishes outside the top 15 in six races the new normal for the No. 48?

Nate Ryan: It’s possible this was the bottom, given how average he has been lately at Martinsville (where he now has five consecutive finishes of 12th or worse since his Oct. 30, 2016 win there). But when juxtaposed against his teammates — runner-up Chase Elliott nearly won, Alex Bowman hung around the top 10, and even William Byron finished ahead of Johnson after starting from the rear and enduring a tough weekend of contact — there should be significant concern that midpack is where Johnson’s team will reside at most tracks now.

Dustin Long: Jimmie said before this season this new package would be a challenge for him. Add to that he has a new crew chief and Hendrick Motorsports has carried over some of its struggles from last season, the tough times are not surprising. But his results at Atlanta and Martinsville in particular are troubling. I still think he’ll bounce back, it just might take longer than anticipated.

Daniel McFadin: Martinsville was a measuring stick for the No. 48 team. Now we know that nothing before 2019 matters. Johnson shouldn’t have any expectations going forward.

Jerry Bonkowski: This is Jimmie Johnson, seven-time champ and winner of 83 Cup races, we’re talking about. He hasn’t forgotten how to win. Hendrick Motorsports struggled much of 2018 and continues to do so in 2019. But I predict that if Johnson wins and finally breaks his 65-race winless streak – and he very likely could do so Sunday at Texas, where he’s won seven times – HMS as a whole will also start to rally back.

Bump & Run: Who had best, worst West Coast Swing?

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Who had the best West Coast Swing?

Nate Ryan: Team Penske. Kyle Busch turned in the best individual performance, but the trio of Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney posted the best across-the-board effort by any team.

Dustin Long: Kyle Busch. Five wins in seven national series races (should have gone seven for seven).

Daniel McFadin: Kyle Busch easily. Of the seven races he entered, he won five and placed in the top three in the other two.

Jerry Bonkowski: With two wins and a third-place finish in the West Coast swing, there’s no other choice but Kyle Busch. Other drivers that had a good run include Kurt Busch (fifth-seventh-sixth), Joey Logano (one win, one runner-up and one 10th-place finish) and Kevin Harvick (two fourth-place finishes and a ninth-place).

 

Who had the worst West Coast Swing?

Nate Ryan: Ryan Preece. After three consecutive finishes outside the top 20 (while his teammate notched three straight top 20s), the outstanding showing at the Daytona 500 must seem much further away than a month ago.

Dustin Long: Those hoping the rule changes would dramatically alter the racing and alter who the best teams would be.

Daniel McFadin: Has anyone seen Ryan Newman? While his teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has shown glimpses of improvement, including at Las Vegas, the No. 6 Ford has been missing in action. Newman’s West Coast Swing was made up of finishes of 24th (Vegas), 12th (Phoenix) and 22nd (Auto Club). He has no top 10s through five races.

Jerry Bonkowski: With finishes of 22nd (Las Vegas), 26th (Phoenix) and 30th (Fontana), Bubba Wallace ranks 30th after the West Coast swing. He’s way behind the eight ball after just five races. About the only chance Wallace has to make the playoffs is to get a win in the next 21 races.

 

If you were seeding the Cup field like the NCAA tournament, who would be your four No. 1 seeds after five races?

Nate Ryan: Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick.

Dustin Long: Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick.

Daniel McFadin: Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch

Jerry Bonkowski: Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin.

 

Bigger Chevrolet surprise: That Kurt Busch has four consecutive top 10s or Hendrick Motorsports has no top fives this season?

Nate Ryan: Busch seemed reinvigorated toward the end of last season, and Chip Ganassi Racing made the necessary moves to shore up its performance this season, so while the No. 1’s consistency has been unexpectedly stellar, it’s less of a stunner than Hendrick. It’s been 19 years since the team went five races into a season without a top five. Yes, there’ve been flashes of speed by each driver, but the statistics don’t get any plainer than that. Hendrick will need to show it has made progress by Texas Motor Speedway next week.

Dustin Long: Kurt Busch. I like how this team has performed at the beginning of the season but Busch told me after Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway that for all that has gone well for them with finishes, they need to qualify better to gain more stage points. He scored only four stage points during the West Coast races.

Daniel McFadin: Kurt Busch’s remarkable consistency. He entered a car that had just two top fives last year and matched it in the first four races. Last year, Busch didn’t earn his fourth top 10 until he placed second at Talladega in race No. 10. Hendrick is still working itself out of a rut that started two years ago.

Jerry Bonkowski: Tough question. Busch is the most pleasant surprise for Chevy, for sure. But Hendrick Motorsports is the biggest surprise overall – and that’s not a good thing – in the bowtie camp, as all four of its drivers are already more than 100 points behind points leader Kyle Busch after five races and Chase Elliott is the highest-ranked HMS pilot in 12th place.

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

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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.