OBSERVATIONS: Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Despite high expectations for a great race on an aged-surface, the NASCAR XFINITY Series Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway failed to deliver in many aspects.
The event featured some high-packed action at times, but the sizzled faded as time went on.
The drivers began the race close together at the beginning, battling side-by-side for multiple positions throughout the top-10, with some close calls. There were also drama as the first stage came to a close with a late caution, seeing some drivers stay out while others pitted. The result was a move from Kevin Harvick in going 10th to first in two laps on fresh tires.
But other than these two moments, the event failed to produce the excitement the aged-surface typically brings. Harvick cruised away to victory, leaving only eight competitors on the lead lap.
YOUTH VS EXPERIENCE…. If there is one thing to say, the future of the sport is safe as youth proved they could run with the experienced veterans on Saturday afternoon. Although Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veterans Harvick and Joey Logano ran one-two, they were followed by four young drivers – Christopher Bell, John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Cindric, and Kyle Benjamin.
Last year’s XFINITY Series Championship turned into a barn burner with the youth of William Byron up against the experience of Elliott Sadler. The 2018 edition seems to be headed down the same road.
COLE CUSTER was the unfortunate driver to find his race end early, while most of those whom he will battle for the title scored top-10 finishes. Battling for a top-10 position, he became the pinball, bouncing from a loose Nemechek, to a bump from behind from Elliott Sadler into the frontstretch wall.
Seen as one of the early title favorites after a break-out year with Stewart-Haas Racing’s first XFINITY season, he currently ranks 25th in the standings, 59 markers behind points leader Sadler, after scoring a 14th at Daytona International Speedway.
Custer has shown speed, and everybody knows a win or two Dash 4 Cash victories, and you have nothing else to worry about. Expect the slump to not last long, as he should be a factor in the races moving forward.
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