Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
RAPID REACTION: O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
Although Texas Motor Speedway officials tried to get rubber laid down via running multiple laps with their tire machine, it was a one-groove affair with everybody fighting for the bottom. There were some position changes, but only due to a competitor missing their marks and sliding up off the corner. As the race closed, a second lane developed in turns three and four, with passes in the closing stages.
Even left annoyed today, fans should be patient – the track should improve with age, and produce great racing.
While Chase Elliott has five top-10’s in seven races, his teammates have struggled. Between Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kasey Kahne, they have only three top-10’s in the first five events. Entering Sunday, it appeared that Hendrick Motorsports would continue on that path, given poor starting positions. However, they all found a way to the front, with three placing in the top-10.
Texas Motor Speedway has always treated the organization well, and the momentum should carry to Bristol Motor Speedway, where all but Kahne scored a top-10 last year, including Earnhardt’s runner-up finish.
Put me in Coach
As things are heading up-hill for Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing wishes something would go their way. After sweeping both events in 2016, they failed to contend for victory this year. Matt Kenseth ran up front most of Stage 1, while Kyle Busch briefly cracked the top-10 mid-race.
Now six races into 2017, the foursome has scored only three top-fives. Daniel Suaraz was expected to struggle as a rookie, but based on last seasons results, the other three weren’t expected to.
Some may say it is too early to panic, but for a team that dominated throughout last year, there could be concern two months into the year. Perhaps focusing on last year’s championship run caused them to fall behind, not learning about the new package.
The next two events at Bristol and Richmond International Raceway will be a big test after Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch dominated both trips there last year.
One Hit Wonder?
Ryan Newman has a win, which puts him into the post-season playoffs ultimately – but not much has happened outside that.
Outside of the victory, they only have two top-10’s – eighth at Martinsville due to Newman, and fifth at Daytona International Speedway by Paul Menard. Surprising considering Austin Dillon ended off last year as someone people suspected to score his first career win soon with 13 top-10’s in 2016.
Sunday’s race at Texas proved pitiful for them with the best finish being Newman’s 26th. Dillon went to the garage on Lap 1 with a track bar issue, while Menard went to the pits on Lap 184.
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