Friday, March 2, 2018

Who's Feeling Lucky? 5 Questions for Las Vegas

Kyle Busch leads the field during last week's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
By Stephanie Stuart-Landrey

It's that time! Time for the teams to head West and race at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Fontana - usually an entertaining three weeks. It's fun to watch these favored tracks, and also fun to tag along on drivers' Instagram and Twitter accounts as they embark on excursions with their families that they normally wouldn't get to do. For example, Thursday night saw Kurt and Ashley Busch attending a live Elton John show in Las Vegas, which, according to Ashley, was an item on her bucket list.

Beyond the In N' Out Burger that we know Kyle Busch will be hitting up, what else are we going to see while NASCAR is out West? Even though the season is only three weeks old, there are a lot of developing storylines to follow, so let's go!

Kevin Harvick burning down the tires after last weekend's win in Atlanta.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
1. Will Kevin Harvick get his 100th series win at one of these three tracks?

Perennial powerhouse Kevin Harvick gained his 98th and 99th wins across NASCAR's premier series last weekend, and he has a good chance to score his 100th over the next three weeks. Harvick is always a favorite at Phoenix, and usually runs well at both Las Vegas and Fontana. It would be special for Harvick to seal number 100 while he's on his home coast. The No. 4 holds the second fastest practice time at Las Vegas at press. The team seems really prepared this season, so look for Harvick to be up front and trying to lead.

2. Is it too early to worry about the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson?

This has been a question that we've heard a lot about this week. Two weeks in, and two sub-par finishes for the seven-time champion. In fact, the No. 48 has failed to finish above 20th in the first two races of the season. Are they not gelling? Are they not adjusted to the new rules package? Are they just having some bad luck? Maybe a combination of the three. While Johnson and team look to be struggling to find the front of the pack, never count them out. Chad Knaus is one of the best in the business, and Jimmie remains competitive. Look for them to hit their stride soon.

3. Can Elliott Sadler finally capture the Xfinity Series Championship?

Elliott Sadler has been around forever, and fans love to see him win. He's been edged out for the Xfinity Series Championship for a couple years, but the car and the team appear to be strong as the season kicks off. A series win would be excellent for Sadler, who drove at the top level for years before losing his ride and finding a home in the Xfinity Series. Winning the series championship would bring some satisfaction and peace to Sadler, who seems to constantly be finishing second or third.

Jeffrey Earnhardt talks to the media during Daytona 500 weekend.
Photo Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts anf Scuffs

4. Is this the new feel of NASCAR?

With the Most Popular Driver now retired and living the good life, and Matt Kenseth and Danica Patrick not receiving rides for the season, there is an admittedly different feel to the races. It seems as if Dale Jr. fans are moving towards Jeffrey Earnhardt, while fans of Kenseth are largely upset and not watching (some have found new drivers to root for, but many say it's just too painful to watch the races after seeing Kenseth get pushed out). Patrick also had a large fan base, but they seem to be holding steady. It was definitely a different feel watching Austin Dillon lead the field to the checkered at Daytona, and seeing a lot of the older drivers in the series running towards the back during the race. While this is a new era for NASCAR, I believe we'll get through it, and everyone will end up happy.

5. Is anyone monitoring Denny Hamlin's Twitter account?

Denny Hamlin seems to be having a rough start to the year, after his run-in with Bubba Wallace saw Wallace lose his spots on Hamlin's recreational basketball and golf leagues. Hamlin has been going back and forth with a lot of folks on Twitter, even calling someone a moron during one exchange. Hamlin doesn't seem very happy lately, and he's taking a lot of anger out on fans. Granted, the fans know he can be volatile and should probably know better before provoking him. We've seen some of this between Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin before, but Hamlin just seems to be in a bad mood all the time. Hopefully his people can step in and remind him it's not wise to call paying race fans morons before he digs himself into a hole he can't get out of.

It's going to be an interesting three weeks, and I'm sure we'll see some tempers flare, and maybe a first-time winner while NASCAR is on the Left Coast.


Post a Comment