From Charlotte to Iowa and everywhere in between, racing action was fierce and it didn’t disappoint last weekend. Fans were treated to many exciting events which translated into storylines galore over the past week.
After seeing everything unfold, the Trackside Duo has plenty to share on how they thought the entire weekend went down.
1. Jamie McMurray’s All-Star Race victory initially came as a surprise to many. However, his track record at Charlotte Motor Speedway should have indicated otherwise. He showed just how well he can perform at the speedway in the final few segments, competing closely for the lead on numerous occasions. What are your thoughts on how well he performed and do you believe the No. 1 team will emerge as a Chase contender over the next few months?
Alanis: Had the All-Star Race not been an exhibition, McMurray would certainly be a Chase contender. However, that wasn’t the case. He certainly has the potential to get a win during the regular season — especially with his momentum from the All-Star Race — and returning to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the second weekend in a row this weekend may allow McMurray to do just that.
Jason: The All-Star Race allowed McMurray and the No. 1 team to prove their place among the top teams in the sport. Keith Rodden is leading the team to the top of the charts almost every weekend and it will only be a matter of time before McMurray is in victory lane again. He will make the Chase as he will take this momentum and perform very well over the next few months.
2. Prior to the start of the fifth and final segment on Saturday night, Kevin Harvick looked like he was in a prime position to win his second All-Star Race. He was the most consistent in the first four segments which allowed him to enter pit road first for the mandatory pit stop before the final 10-lap dash. However, he was beat off pit road by Jamie McMurray and Carl Edwards which set him so far back as to not be able to recover. Do you believe if Harvick had exited pit road first that he would have been victorious?
Alanis: While the other All-Star segments were fairly dicey on Saturday night, it always seems like the final segment is lackluster for whatever reason. The frontrunners on the restart tend to have the advantage, as exemplified by McMurray’s ability to separate himself from the other competitors during the final 10 laps. Had Harvick been in that position, I believe he could have easily done the same with the car he had on Saturday night.
Jason: Every driver wanted that prime position out front for the final segment. Starting first basically guaranteed victory as it seemed to be very difficult for anyone starting from the second row back to challenge the leaders. Whether it was Harvick or any other driver exiting pit road first or second, they would have most likely pulled away to win the million dollars.
3. Standalone Nationwide races such as Iowa’s event on Sunday allow for a slightly different looking field of competitors, as top teams field drivers who don’t normally get to compete in the Nationwide field. What are your thoughts on standalone races and the absence of Sprint Cup regulars in those races?
Alanis: I always enjoy getting to see unfamiliar faces in the Nationwide Series — after all, that’s what it’s there for. While it’s necessary for a significant amount of sponsorship money and attention for the series, seeing the same guys dominate Nationwide races every weekend isn’t the most ideal form of entertainment — especially when those drivers compete full time in the Cup series the next day as well. Personally, I’d love to have more standalone Nationwide races for the sheer fact that up-and-coming drivers get more of a chance to shine.
Jason: Standalone events for the Nationwide Series typically produce a variety of different names running up front. Seeing the regulars get a chance to shine is a nice change of scenery from having names like Busch, Harvick, and Keselowski dominating the field. I would enjoy seeing some more standalone races at short tracks and road courses. Seeing the regulars duel on some non-Cup tracks would produce some fantastic racing.
Follow Alanis on twitter @AlanisNKing and follow Jason @NASCARJason. Also make sure to follow @Drive4Autism, as Alanis and Jason will be providing live updates from that account during the 2014 Drive for Autism celebrity golf tournament on Thursday, May 29th during Dover race weekend.