Do you foresee William Byron retaliating against Joey Logano at any point this season after their run-in at Darlington Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series?
Anthony Damcott: A private conversation is needed between both parties to clear the air. Some are on the fence about who’s at fault; there are those who claim William Byron forced Joey Logano into the wall on the final restart and that Logano’s retaliation was warranted. Whether that was the case or not, a retaliation on Byron’s part might result in NASCAR getting involved by telling the two to knock it off, much like Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott‘s on-track issues at the end of 2021. A dialogue between the two might be the best course of action instead of any kind of retaliation that could devolve into ugliness.
Luken Glover: There is a good chance he will, it’s just a matter of timing. If it happens, it will likely be during one of two circumstances: for a win or in the playoffs. Logano has bumped Byron twice now, a failed attempt at Martinsville Speedway and a bump for the win at Darlington. That won’t sit well with Byron, and if the opportunity arises, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him take it. The playoffs seem like the most likely option with some tracks that tighten up the competition, and if a spot is on the line, or a teammate is in need of help, the driver of the No. 22 may be getting a dose of his own medicine.
Brad Harrison: How can he not do so? As a team and driver, you need to have a mental edge and not have it over your head going into the playoffs, that’s for sure. It may not be next week, but with summer coming up at road courses and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, I’d be stunned if there’s no payback. It’d be a definite arc for Byron, similar to Elliott prior to being dumped by Denny Hamlin at Martinsville. At some point, a driver is put into a situation where they’ll be forced to stand up and have a not-on-my-watch moment, and this moment may have just arrived for Byron.
Stephen Stumpf: Judging by his reaction after the race, it looks like payback will be in store for Logano sometime in the future. Byron is normally a calm and collected driver, and that was the angriest I’ve seen him after a race in his NASCAR career. Clearly, Logano’s actions set Byron off to give him that sharp of a response. When or where the payback will occur is unknown, but it appears that this is not the end of the story for these two this season.
What, if anything, can 23XI Racing do to turn its drivers’ seasons around?
Glover: I’m not sure how much can actually be done. Some unfortunate luck has plagued the team week after week it seems. Kurt Busch‘s No. 45 team has all the tools for success. Busch is a veteran driver who has been in a similar spot, he’s got a knowledgeable crew chief in Billy Scott and raw speed from the TRD department. The missing piece in the puzzle is just timing. Busch has been in the wrong spot at the wrong time on numerous occasions this season. Eventually, that luck has to turn around. For the No. 23 team, the clock is ticking. To be fair, Bubba Wallace has shown great speed the last two weeks but a lot of misfortune to go with it. However, the speed is a step off of the No. 45 overall, and changes have already been made to the team in its short existence. Eventually, things will come together or 23XI may be faced with a change to make the sponsors happy.
Stumpf: Better luck. Toyota teams Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI are off to slow, hit-or-miss starts with the Next Gen car, but JGR’s performance has picked up in recent weeks. The same jump has not happened with 23XI, and it feels like Busch or Wallace have had crashes or mechanical failures each week in the past month. Early exits and destroyed racecars hinder the momentum and progress of a race team, so consistently making it to the checkered flag in one piece would do wonders in improving the team’s fortunes. And as the old adage goes, to finish first, you must first finish.
Harrison: One option? Recreate the locker room scene from Major League and request to sacrifice a live chicken and have someone bring a whole bucket of chicken instead. The chief issue at 23X1, no pun intended, is that this team is putting its eggs in the TRD basket, and as long as Toyotas are strong overall, that’s great. This year, that’s not the case. If a rising tide lifts boats, 23X1 is bailing water to keep the boat afloat right now. Last weekend was a morale victory with both Busch and Wallace as they ran near the front until being caught up in a wreck, but this team expected to take a step forward this year, and morale victories don’t work in NASCAR’s top division. At this point, every position on the race team needs to be looked at, because needing something good to happen isn’t working right now.
Damcott: There’s not much to be done by 23XI if it is consistently getting caught up in bad luck. However, this season should be less about growing pains for the team as it should be about putting together solid runs. That being said, Busch is also still trying to find his footing, given it’s the first season for the No. 45 team as a whole. Therein lies a crucial problem at 23XI: Busch and his brand new team have had a more consistent season than the already-established No. 23 team of Wallace, despite the bad luck for both teams. Busch is still currently eight points ahead of Wallace in the driver standings, despite statistically completing fewer laps thus far in the season. When it comes to luck on the racetrack, there’s nothing 23XI can do; but when both drivers are running at the finish of a race, Wallace needs to step it up before another change is made to that team.
Will there be another different Cup winner at Kansas Speedway?
Stumpf: With 10 winners in the first 12 races, the chances of making it 11 of 13 this weekend at Kansas are relatively slim. Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Logano, Eliott and Hamlin have all had great success at Kansas, but each driver has already picked up a win this season. If Kansas is to produce a first-time winner in 2022, it will most likely be Tyler Reddick, Martin Truex Jr. or Harvick. Reddick dominated at Auto Club Speedway in February, which is a track that races similarly to 1.5-mile intermediates like Kansas. In the most recent 1.5-mile race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Truex was hounding Kyle Busch for the win in the closing laps until an overtime finish jumbled the finishing order. And although it has been a long winless drought for Harvick, he recorded second- and third-place finishes at Kansas in 2021. The race will most likely end with a repeat winner, but these three have the greatest chance of spoiling the party.
Damcott: One would think. Drivers like Reddick and Daniel Suarez are just chomping at the bit to get their first win so they will be ones to watch like usual. However, some veteran drivers who haven’t won yet that are usually strong at Kansas include Ryan Blaney and Harvick, so I’d look for them to be towards the front as well. Kyle Busch, Logano and Hamlin are favored this weekend among winners this season, as well as just about any of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers. With what we’ve seen of the Next Gen car this season, it’s hard to say.
Glover: With the parity of the Next Gen car, who knows? Hendrick has to be the clear favorite, and defending race winner Kyle Busch will likely be in the mix too. A couple of teams who stand out to me to potentially earn their first win of the season are Blaney, the Richard Childress Racing drivers and Harvick. Blaney is usually feast or famine here, but he’s arguably been the best Ford driver this year and his time feels like it is coming here. Kansas fits Reddick’s persona, and he was competitive in both races last season. That first win could very well come this week. But don’t rule out Austin Dillon, either. He’s quietly having a career year and has reeled off some strong runs on intermediates this season. Harvick has finished fourth, second, third and third in the last four races at Kansas. He may finally bring his winless drought to an end this weekend.
Harrison: You’ve got to give a good look to Reddick. Of the drivers in the garage pegged as someone for whom a win will come soon, he along with Suarez have to lead that list. The fact that Reddick has also been a noticeable factor on a mixture of tracks makes him another to keep a close eye on.
Despite not yet visiting victory lane, has Carson Hocevar become a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship contender?
Damcott: Carson Hocevar needs to win once — maybe twice — this season, and in convincing fashion, to be a title contender. However, if there were any driver this season who could pull a Matt Crafton and become a winless champion, it would be Hocevar. At this point in the season, he’s an outside threat to sneak into the Championship 4, but he needs to keep his string of good runs up if he wants to elevate to favorite for the championship.
Harrison: Yes, I’d say so. As we’ve seen repeatedly in this postseason format, all you need to do is run well and be in a position to have it all click when it matters most. If Hocevar can keep doing that and generate a strong wind of momentum, it’s hard to have any title-contending conversation in the Truck Series and not bring his name up.
Stumpf: Not yet, but he’s getting closer. Prior to last weekend, Hocevar’s best performances in the Truck Series had come on dirt tracks Knoxville Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway. At Darlington, Hocevar won a stage, had an average running position of fourth and finished second. It was his highest ARP in a race on pavement and it tied his best finish in the series. With his Darlington performance, Hocevar has now shown that he has the potential to consistently run top five on tracks that make up the majority of the schedule. While he isn’t a championship contender yet, he will be if he can continue these great runs.
Glover: Hocevar is a legitimate playoff contender, but I’m not quite at the point where I would rule him as a title contender. His runner-up finishes the last two weeks were his first top-five results of the season, with an eighth and a ninth serving as his best finishes in the first five races. If I had to pick the Championship 4 for the series today, Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, Chandler Smith and John Hunter Nemechek would be my predictions. However, Hocevar has proven he can pull off surprises, and it wouldn’t be a shock if his performance reflects these past two races the rest of the way.
About the author
The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.
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