Bump & Run: Time to change the yellow line rule at Daytona, Talladega?

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Should NASCAR eliminate the rule prohibiting drivers from going below the double yellow lines to advance their position on the last lap of a race at Daytona and Talladega?

Nate Ryan: Ideally, yes, but everyone knows what that would produce. Still, Ryan Newman‘s point is well taken that a racetrack with an out-of-bounds marker seems less legitimate. Would it be too much to ask (or too difficult to incorporate) for an inside wall with a SAFER barrier where the lines are at Daytona and Talladega? 

Dustin Long: No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. 

Daniel McFadin: While tempting, the rule is there for a reason, spelled out through this exhaustive Twitter thread. It’s out of bounds and drivers need to be mindful of boundaries. 

Dan Beaver: It doesn’t seem right to have a different set of rules for the final lap. If NASCAR is going to enforce the double-yellow line at all, they should be consistent throughout the race. But, perhaps the line doesn’t need to be a perfect arc through the corner and could give a little more room in the middle of the frontstretch.

Several drivers had season- or career-best finishes at Daytona. What was the best feel-good story for you among such drivers?

Nate Ryan: The scene around Jeffrey Earnhardt‘s car was unforgettable as the driver took selfies with an endless parade of family, friends and sponsor reps. With no definitive future plans for Earnhardt’s next Cup race, it’s natural to wonder if his 11th-place finish might have been the end of an era, too. 

Dustin Long: Ty Dillon’s sixth-place finish. It has been a rough year for Dillon and the Germain team. He had not been credited with a top-10 finish in 71 career starts before last weekend. He had an average finish of 25.4 this season before his Daytona run.

Daniel McFadin: I’m going to go with Matt DiBenedetto. The No. 32 Ford was in the top five very late in the Daytona 500 before getting taken out in a wreck. So seeing DiBenedetto surviving until the end this time around and finish seventh was a pleasant sight. With GoFas Racing, you never know if you’re going to get another shot at the front of the field.

Dan Beaver: It’s difficult to not go with the winner of the race since Erik Jones was such a dramatic story. Other than Jones, Jeffrey Earnhardt’s 11th-place finish is a great story because it almost put an Earnhardt back inside the top 10 on a track that has meant so much to the family.

After Erik Jones’ win at Daytona, how soon before the next win by a driver under age 30?

Nate Ryan: Kyle Larson always is a threat at Michigan and Bristol, and he possibly could factor into Saturday night’s race at Kentucky Speedway. But with the way this season has unfolded, it feels as if it could be a while if he doesn’t break through.

Dustin Long: Kyle Larson will win in the next month. Joey Logano might win even sooner.

Daniel McFadin: Either at Michigan or Bristol and it’ll probably be Kyle Larson. I just can’t imagine him going winless through the entire regular season.

Dan Beaver: Within the month, the new guard is going to start to chip away at the dominance of the Big 3. After Kentucky is in the books, look for youth to be served on the flat tracks of New Hampshire and Pocono.

Wild night at Daytona ends in superlatives for some drivers, teams

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A night that saw half the 40-car field eliminated by crashes, presented opportunities for other drivers Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.

The result was a list of superlatives for drivers and team that often aren’t in the spotlight.

The highlights for those teams and drivers:

# Kasey Kahne matched the career-best finish for Leavine Family Racing with his fourth-place performance

# Both JTG Daugherty Racing cars finished in the top five for the first time. AJ Allmendinger placed third and Chris Buescher was fifth. Allmendinger’s result was his fourth consecutive top-10 finish at Daytona, the longest active streak.

# Ty Dillon placed sixth, earning his first career top-10 finish and was the first top-10 result for Germain Racing since Casey Mears finished sixth in the 2015 Daytona 500.

# Matt DiBenedetto’s seventh-place finish was his fourth career top 10 in 122 starts.

# Jeffrey Earnhardt finished a career-best 11th.

# DJ Kennington finished a career-best 13th.

DiBenedetto’s best finish this season before Saturday was 16th. He scored the top 10 despite being collected in the 26-car crash that brought out the caution on Lap 55.

“I guess that was probably one of the craziest races I’ve ever taken part in,” he said. “I’m glad we survived and we seem to always position ourselves in a spot to be up front and competing for the win at the end of these speedway races at Daytona quite often.”

Kahne was thrilled with his run. His best finish this year before Saturday’s race was 17th.

“It was a strong car, really strong car,” he said. “The guys did a great job and we were able to avoid wrecks. I knew in the second stage we had a car capable to win if things went right. We were there from that point on.”

On the final restart, Kahne didn’t have anyone pushing him but the cars in front were stalled out as they ran side by side and Kahne got a run on Martin Truex Jr.

“I got past him and he just hung on my left rear corner off of Turn 2 and side drafted me, sucked me back down half the straightaway,” Kahne said. “We had such a gap on (winner Erik Jones) that he had a huge run on us at that point. I tried to block a little but he was going where I wasn’t and got by.”

Allmendinger had to overcome challenges throughout the race.

“You know, tonight was strange,” said Allmendinger, whose best finish this season before Saturday was eighth at Martinsville. “Tried to ride at the back early on, and still got wrecked and had a lot of damage on the left rear of the race car, so my guys did a good job to fix it good enough. Heck, I probably missed another seven wrecks after that.  It was just kind of chaos out there.

“You know, it was a little bit of survival, and there at the end it was just trying to make the right moves. With that damage on the left side of the race car, it put a lot of drag in it, so I didn’t really know if we had a great shot to win it. I knew my only shot was going to be off of Turn 4 and try to make the right move. Going down into (Turn) 3, Martin was battling with Erik there and made a move and tried to push Martin and obviously get as much as I could, and we salvaged a great result out of it.”

Buescher, his teammate, also was in contention on the last restart.

“Glad we were able to push Erik out there and at least help him get his first Cup win, that’s pretty cool,” said Buescher, whose result matched his season-high of fifth in the Daytona 500. “Pretty wild race. It was a good points night for us. Pit crew did excellent. We put all the puzzle pieces together and stayed out of trouble. That was a big part of it.”

Earnhardt was excited about his night.

“Just proud of all these guys,” he said. “Nine Line Foundation, Black Rifle Coffee, Extreme Concepts – they are the reason I am here with the cause that they are trying to push and its just an honor to get to be a part of it. It’s an incredible company and they support our country, our military and all of our veterans. I am so happy I got them a good run.

“Everyone kept asking me what it means to come here with the Earnhardt name at Daytona, and it does mean a lot, don’t get me wrong. But to show support to our veterans and be a part of what the foundation is doing … that meant more to me than anything tonight.  Proud of all the guys at Premium in giving me a good car tonight and keeping the car in one piece.  It’s my best career finish in the Cup series, so hopefully this will lead to some more sponsorship and get me back out here on the track more often.”

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Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski out after 26-car crash on Lap 54 at Daytona

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Pole-sitter Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski and many other contenders were involved in a 26-car crash on Lap 54 and eliminated from the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

The wreck occurred at the end of the backstretch when Keselowski, who was running behind race leader William Byron in the bottom lane, was turned while getting a push from Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Keselowski shot up the track and into Kurt Busch, sending the field scrambling.

Also involved were Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Ty Dillon, Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, Paul Menard, Jimmie Johnson, Matt DiBenedetto, Jeffrey Earnahrdt, Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, Ross Chastain and Aric Almirola.

Kurt Busch and Logano were eliminated.

Keselowski was upset with how Byron was racing him.

“It was just a bad block,” Keselowski told NBC Sports and ESPN. “There are times you can make a block, there are times you can’t. When you got a guy with a big enough run and you can’t throw a block. I made the mistake of lifted instead of wrecking him  and that’s my fault. I take the blame

“You got a list of drivers that are making moves that are unqualified to make and it causes big wrecks. That was one of those. It was my fault because I lifted. I should have wrecked him and sent a message to the whole field. So we’ll wait until Talladega and every one of those rookie drivers or guys that don’t know what the hell they are doing we’ll drive through them and wreck them until they stop blocking us and we don’t have this problem no more.”

Said Hamlin: “I’m not sure but somebody probably wrecked somebody. Usually the person that starts it doesn’t get wrecked. (Keselowski) was sideways in front. Yeah, the 2 got wrecked and so did everybody else.”

Said Logano: “Felt like the longest crash ever.”

 

What Drivers Said after Chicagoland

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Kyle Busch — Winner: “It was a lot more hectic than I wanted it to be. Those lapped cars just got in our way and slowed us down so much that we just had no momentum. Finally I got through a couple of them. Larson just threw a dart there in Turn 1 and 2 and tried to pull a slide job. I don’t think he was close enough. He didn’t get enough clear on me to be able to slide. And when he got to me, he throttled up and drove us in the wall. And going down the backstretch, I lost all of my momentum. I tried to side-draft him as much as I could to keep him alongside of me. He cleared me and I gave him what he gave me back into Turn 3 and 4.

Kyle Larson — Finished 2nd: “Oh man, I’m not upset. I had an opportunity there to slide in front of him and I figured I wouldn’t clear him or I would allow him to drive back underneath me. So, I tried to get to his door and you know I opened the door for him to retaliate into (Turn) 3. I thought it was free game. I ran into him first, he got me after that, maybe a little bit worse than I got him, but that is alright. I love racing Kyle (Busch). I know all these fans are probably mad at him, but hey we put on a hell of a show for you guys and that was a blast.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 3rd: “Our car was just off all weekend. We had a tough time making the front end turn and then we would wind up way too tight, all the way through the corner or way too loose all the way through the corner. The guys did a good job and kept us in the game all day. We had a chance, we just wound up at the wrong side of it at the end.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 4th: “Up and down for sure. Starting in the back and we overcame that pretty quickly, really. Our pit stall was awful. I feel bad for the 42 (Larson). To pit behind us and there is nothing we could have done about it. That rule where NASCAR picks your pit stall for you, it hurts the 42. It hurts us just as much. All in all we battled here today with track position and we were a fourth-place car and that’s where we finished so it was a good day.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 5th: “Yeah, we were too fast. The guys work very hard on making sure that they are pushing the envelope, which you have to do in this world and against this competition. You have to push everything. Certainly pit road is a big part of that. You are splitting hairs out there on the race track down to the tenths of a second and you can gain seconds on pit road. Obviously our pit road speed was just a little too fast. We practiced it yesterday and the guys even made some adjustments but that tight section down there was just too fast.”

Erik Jones — Finished 6th: “Yeah, I think overall the last two weeks have been really good to us. Sonoma was a big challenge and I thought today was going to be a big challenge. Which, overall, the grip level being as low as it was. The track being as hot and slick as it was. We did a good job making good adjustments. Overall, we did what needed to do to get a good run and it turned out into a solid top 10.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 9th: “We struggled with some stuff out there today. Struggled with a vibration and we struggled with grip. We were a little better, probably a fifth place car today. I probably cost us a couple of spots but that is just the way it goes. I think we are the same we have been. We can run fifth to 10th at the 1.5-mile tracks but we are behind the (Truex), (Kyle Busch) and Stewart-Haas (Racing) cars.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 10th: “It was a good day for us for sure. Another top 10 is something for our team to continue building on. We battled some loose conditions off and on, but (crew chief) Greg (Ives) made some great changes to the car. Our Axalta pit crew was on it today. I am pretty sure we gained two or more positions on each stop. This is definitely good momentum going into next week’s race.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 19th: “Unfortunately, we didn’t finish like we started. We tried a couple things and they just didn’t work out in our favor. There just was no pace on the top there at the end.”

William Byron — Finished 20th: “Yeah, just fought tight the whole day and felt like we got a little bit on the other side of it but didn’t really help us out much. But, good pit stops and a couple of good things to hang on to. So, go to Daytona.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 25th: “Our car was super fast, especially out in clean air. It was incredibly fast. We just have to execute. We have to put a whole race together. That is the difference between being good and being great. We are capable of winning. We showed it today. We have speed, we are bringing incredible race cars to the race track and we just have to put a whole day together. We have to be flawless on pit road and I have to do my part too. Today we just had two loose wheels on two separate instances and you can’t have that, especially in races like this that go green forever. I am really frustrated but the good news is that our cars are fast. We can build on that. We are going to win a race. I guarantee you we are going to win a race. We have to be perfect to do it though.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 28th: “We still have some work to do on our intermediate track program. Our team has certainly had some good moments this year, like our 13th-place finish at Texas, but today was a struggle for our GEICO Camaro ZL1 team. It’s so hard to take notes from one mile-and-half to another because a lot of them are in different stages of a repave from recent years. We are going to keep working at it though. Continuing to build and improve takes hard work, and this team certainly isn’t scared of putting in that time and effort.”

Driver odds for the Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway

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The NBC and NBCSN portion of the NASCAR schedule begins this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

The Cup Series holds the Overton’s 400 on the 1.5-mile track.

Here are the betting odds for the race courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

It’s should be no surprise that the top three drivers on the odds list are Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.

Odds to win

Kevin Harvick 9/4
Kyle Busch 7/2
Martin Truex Jr. 7/2
Kyle Larson 7/1
Denny Hamlin 12/1
Ryan Blaney 15/1
Brad Keselowski 15/1
Joey Logano 18/1
Erik Jones 20/1
Kurt Busch 20/1
Clint Bowyer 20/1
Chase Elliott 25/1
Jimmie Johnson 30/1
Aric Almirola 40/1
Daniel Suarez 100/1
Jamie McMurray 100/1
Ryan Newman 100/1
Paul Menard 100/1
William Byron 100/1
Alex Bowman 100/1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 300/1
Austin Dillon 300/1
Trevor Bayne 500/1
Kasey Kahne 500/1
Bubba Wallace 500/1
AJ Allmendinger 1000/1
Chris Buescher 1000/1
Ty Dillon 2000/1
Michael McDowell 2000/1
FIELD (all others) 500/1