wirter: Cody E Maughan
We are now headed into Week 5 of the NASCAR season and already things are getting crazy.
Let’s start with the SPRINT UNLIMITED race at Daytona International Speedway. To me, this race is the “pre-season” of NASCAR. With only 25 racers and a lack of promotional advertising and not having the full announcing crew, it’s pretty much just the kick-off to the start of the season. While seasoned veteran Jimmie Johnson started 1st, he led 0 laps the entire race. Alas, Denny Hamlin swooped in from 15th place to lead the most laps and win the race.
Unlike any other race qualifications, the DAYTONA 500 has their two Can-Am Duels to determine starting positon for the 500. Youngster Chase Elliot, in the 24 car for retired Jeff Gordon, started 1st in the Can-Am Duel 1 but Dale Earnhardt Jr swiftly took over the race to win. In the Can-Am Duel 2 it was no surprise that last year’s Sprint Cup Champion Kyle Busch took 1st.
The results of these two Duels is what determines starting position for the DAYTONA 500, or so you thought. There was an uproar in the NASCAR community when Chase Elliot (24) received the pole. However, anyone that actually follows NASCAR year after year realizes that the pole position for the DAYTONA 500 is merely “gifted” to the driver who has the most buzz about them at that time. So Kyle Busch is the previous champion, no one cares. What people care about is their long loved driver Jeff Gordon retiring and the young Chase Elliot who received the honor of replacing him in the number 24 this year. This was to be the race that Chase Elliot got the pole, won the race and all is well. NOPE. Elliot was unable to finish the race. At the end, it was Denny Hamlin to win his first ever DAYTONA 500 with the closest DAYTONA 500 finish in history!
As we headed into week 3 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT ATLANTA Kyle Busch thought he had won the pole except his time was disqualified sending him to the back of the field and giving his brother, Kurt Busch, the pole for the start of the race. While there wasn’t anything too special about the race itself aside from some lead changes, Hendrick Motorsports had a pretty amazing day with Jimmie Johnson finishing 1st and Dale Earnhardt Jr taking 2nd at the last moment. This was a special win for Jimmie Johnson as he tied “The Intimidator” Dale Earnhardt Sr for 76th career win. Johnson honored Sr by taking a lap with 3 fingers held high, it really was a great moment.
Now last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is definitely something to talk about. Weather: Sunny – HOT – and just a slight chance of a HUGE downpour of rain, 50 MPH winds with gusts even higher and it wouldn’t be complete without a desert sandstorm! The race was initially delayed while the track crew worked hard to get the track dried up and all the pit crews did their best to tie down all their banners. The camera crew was tied down to the railing with mountain climbing rated hooks because the winds were so fierce. While all this was going on, just minutes into the race the weather was back to being beautiful again. Thinking about this race will make your head spin. While it’s usually 4-5 racers tops fighting for the top position; there were 21 lead changes between 11 different drivers last week. While it looked like Kyle Busch had the race in the bag; but the last couple laps Brad Keselowski (2) came swooping in from third, after teammate Joey Logano (22) couldn’t muster up the speed to pass Kyle Busch, to win the race.
So here we are at Week 5 at Phoenix International Speedway for the GOOD SAM 500. This week should be very interesting when it comes to NASCAR Fantasy on DraftKings. I’m almost positive that Kevin Harvick (4) just can’t be stopped on this track but if anyone is going to do it then I believe Brad Keselowski is the man for the job. This is a track where the normally great racers we will see falling to the middle of the pack and should see surprising finishes from racers like Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Ty Dillion. There is also a lot to be said for our rookies Chase Elliot and Ryan Blaney (21) for this race. If Elliot can manage to avoid an accident this week then we should see him in the top 10.
DraftKings Lineup Pre-Qualification:
Kevin Harvick - 4
Brad Keselowski - 2
Ty Dillion - 14
Ryan Blaney - 21
Chase Elliot - 24
Denny Hamlin - 11