Race Weekend Central

5 Points to Ponder: Should Bill Elliott Fill in For Chase Elliott at Atlanta?

1. Should Hendrick Motorsports tap Bill Elliott to fill in for Chase Elliott in Atlanta?

So hopefully, diehard Bill Elliott fans have not just destroyed their computer monitors or cell phones at the thought of a longtime Ford driver driving a Chevrolet. After all, there are probably fans of Awesome Bill still mad that he drove a Dodge.

Here’s why it should be a consideration, though. For one, if you recall, Elliott never got a formal farewell event. How awesome would it be for a final hurrah at what amounts to Elliott’s home track? Plus, there’s the sentimental story of a father filling in for his injured son behind the wheel.

It’d also sell lots of last-minute tickets, something that Atlanta is likely missing out on with Chase Elliott likely being sidelined.

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2. Does NASCAR have an intermediate track problem?

NASCAR’s current car in the NASCAR Cup Series has had its misses, but one of its heralded achievements most of last year was that it appeared to fix the lack of excitement in races at 1.5-mile and other intermediate tracks.

That’s why Sunday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway felt like an alternate universe. For whatever reason, the race felt like a 1.5-mile track of a few years ago – namely the final years of Atlanta Motor Speedway’s surface before its recent reconfiguration when yes, it showcased how well one or two drivers could run if they got hooked up, but rather dull otherwise.

You saw that Sunday – the racing was low on excitement unless you are a fan of Kyle Larson and William Byron, and that’s not a good thing when one of the selling points of this new car was its intermediate track performance.

It’s a tale as old as time in racing in recent seasons – NASCAR can roll out one of the most exciting packages until its luster wears off when engineers have time to catch up, and a few teams move to the front.

Does NASCAR have an intermediate track problem? This weekend at Phoenix Raceway will give us a big clue.

3. Has Bubba Wallace taken the baton for Toyota on intermediate tracks?

After qualifying near the top 10 at Las Vegas, Bubba Wallace kept that pace on Sunday, charging late for a top-five finish. He was one of, if not the most consistent Toyota driver on Sunday, better than teammate Tyler Reddick and yes, Joe Gibbs Racing.

At this point, the No. 23 running well on these types of tracks should not be a shock. Wallace won in the fall at Kansas Speedway, was a top-five car there in the spring and was just shy of a win at Michigan International Speedway last year, too.

From all indications, Bootie Barker, crew chief for the No. 23, has hit on something at these types of tracks, and the goal now has to be to take advantage and get a race win to rack up an elusive playoff spot.

4. Is it time to hit the panic button for Ryan Blaney?

A year ago, Ryan Blaney was a trendy pick for a driver primed for a run at a championship as he came off a year in which he won three times. All that is a distant memory now for Blaney, who, since winning at Daytona International Speedway in 2021, is on a 49-race winless streak in points events.

There have been flashes, for sure, going back to last season, with three finishes in the final six races within the top five. But if this season shapes up like last year, good finishes won’t be enough to make the postseason. It’s something that the No. 12 team will have to figure out, for sure.

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Stock Car Scoop: What Is Wrong With the Fords?

5. Is Austin Hill an early NASCAR Xfinity Series title contender?

It’s one thing to win on a restrictor plate track. To do so on a different type of track with a late-race move? That’s exactly what Austin Hill did on Saturday, robbing Chandler Smith of a win.

Already in the postseason, Hill and his No. 21 Richard Childress Racing team can already start tweaking things and playing mind games with the rest of the field by showing it can run well on all types of tracks, and if Hill can do that between now and September, it’d be hard to go against an RCR team that’s also gotten itself a spring in its step from Kyle Busch’s overall impact, as well.

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janice

i do not think bill elliott should be in the car at Atlanta. sure it’s the elliott’s “home track”, but bill is a bit old and this car is just so different from previous cars, i can’t see it. putting bill in the car will just be to sell tickets and put butts in the seats.

you want local element, maybe hendrick should talk to childress about putting austin hill in the car. he’s west ga guy, and he might surprise people.

Last edited 1 year ago by janice
DoninAjax

Forget Bill. Why not keep Josh Berry in the car or another young driver who could use some seat time in a Cup car? The 9 won’t be trying to win an event until Chase comes back.

Christopher

Put Dale Jr in the 9 (if his wife agrees) at Phoenix.

wildcats2016

Egads, no. I like Bill Elliott but just no, on him taking over for Chase. There are lots of young drivers out there that can sit in for him.

Shayne

Put Jocko Flocko in the #9. That ought to draw tens of tens new casual fans and curious onlookers.

DoninAjax

How about Clyde?

“Left turn, Clyde!”

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