1. Is Tyler Reddick’s win a bad thing for teammate Bubba Wallace?
That popping noise you heard Sunday (Mar. 27) afternoon? No, it wasn’t a plate of your grandma’s fried chicken in the fryer. It was the heat being cranked up on Bubba Wallace, some of it being self-induced.
Sunday’s win by Tyler Reddick was great for 23XI Racing. But you have to wonder how badly it beat up the psyche of Wallace. This is now two years in a row that a 23XI driver not named Wallace has clinched a postseason spot within the first part of the season. That tells us that the resources, people, and equipment are there for races to be won, and Wallace’s latest self-defeating quote on national TV doesn’t help things.
There’s a line between holding yourself accountable and self-blame, and Wallace can flirt heavily with it at times.
Wallace likely knows this – that he’s in a ride that other drivers in the garage think they could succeed in – he is far from the first or last driver to be in those shoes.
One way to quiet that doubt, but inwardly and outwardly, is to win races. Until Wallace can do that, the question will linger over the No. 23 team with more and more pressure building between now and the postseason.
2. Should COTA replace Texas Motor Speedway on the schedule?
The Austin road course gets a mulligan from 2021 due to the weather, and up until the closing laps on Sunday when everyone tried to out-knucklehead one another, it was an exciting and compelling road race. Recent road-course affairs have gained notoriety for door-slamming action. Sunday, for the most part, was an exciting road race without those theatrics.
Contrast that with Texas Motor Speedway, which despite the efforts to tweak the racing surface, has been unable to put on a brand of exciting racing in recent seasons. If NASCAR’s long-term view is to add events in new markets, a discussion of oversaturating certain areas of the country needs to be had. If the sport’s top division is going to lean toward road courses and away from 1.5-mile layouts, then there is no reason not to seriously discuss replacing Texas Motor Speedway with COTA.
3. Whose silly season move has paid off more? Reddick or Busch?
There is no guarantee of success when a driver moves to a new race team. You can have all the elements in place – people, parts, funding and everything else. But if things do not click and gel, it blows up in your face. NASCAR’s history is filled with cases of something looking good on paper and not panning out. Darrell Waltrip teaming with Waddell Wilson had such high expectations that it was coined “The Dream Team,” but the results ended up being more like a nightmare. Larry McReynolds’ moving to crew chief Dale Earnhardt had an expectation of success, but that never materialized either.
Kyle Busch and Reddick are in an entirely different ballpark, as the moves of both to Richard Childress Racing and 23XI have already shown to be the right decisions. Regardless, both are in the postseason. Sure, there were doubts – was Reddick leaving a trending upward RCR the right move? Could Busch find success early with a new team?
Both have already proven those doubts wrong, and if you give both five more months to fine-tune things, both are looking at a season that goes beyond just winning a race or two.
4. Was the road course ringer show overkill?
Going into Sunday at COTA, there was a justified amount of buzz around the road-course ringers. But in the end, neither was a factor to win in the closing laps. Sure, it was cool to see drivers of a wide degree of disciplines racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, but it felt a lot like Travis Pastrana in the Daytona 500 – a bucket list item being checked off at the expense of drivers in NASCAR’s top series.
Given the end-of-race chaos, any hope of non-NASCAR fans taking an interest in this series had buckets of ice-cold water heaped on it.
NASCAR needs a compelling week-to-week product to generate interest – not trying to cram a one-off all-star race into its top level of racing.
5. When will Sheldon Creed reach a breaking point?
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I can understand what goes through a driver’s head mentally, as my racing experience is limited to go-karts and a brief hot lap or two in a Legends car.
But Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race, in which Sheldon Creed overcame contact from eventual race winner AJ Allmendinger to come back for a top-ten finish, does beg the question – when will enough be enough for Creed?
Every driver has a way that they must choose to race. Some use the chrome horn. Others pride themselves on being a Jeff Burton or Mark Martin and race one another clean. There is nothing wrong with that, but at some point, you have to wonder if Creed will have to have a ‘come to Jesus’ moment and go over the top to show that blatantly dumping him won’t be tolerated.
You can rough a driver up until they show that they have had enough. Earnhardt may have roughed up people, but it’s worth noting that he and Bill Ellliott‘s paint trading never happened again on a deliberate level after The Winston in 1985.
Every driver has a moment to say that enough is enough, and that moment may be soon for Creed.
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reddick’s win will be an earworm to bubba. but never fear talladega is on the horizon. at plate (spacer) tracks he tends to run well.
but honestly, i think 23XI should have a sports psychologist on speed dial.
Wallace needs a sports psychologist to have any chance of staying in a top ride at the Cup level. His mess at COTA almost looked like his foot slipped off the brake pedal. I’m a fan, he’s ‘good for business’, but anyone else would be openly condemned for his recent display of flaws. He’s used up his Mulligans with everyone except the Sneaker Guy.
Tyler is currently twice the driver Bubba is, & as I see it Bubba has two choices. He has Tyler, Kurt, & Denny, as mentors & he can learn from all of them to make himself the driver he needs to be.
Or he can brood about his situation which is not good long term for himself or the team. The choice is his to make. You know what they say about a horse & water.
bubba is his own worst enemy. nothing in life is truly instant. i said before if he ran xfinity series a bit, maybe that would help. but now that the cars are different so i doubt that.
but he brings in the sponsors, so i guess that is ok with the team owners. once go daddy left, danica’s contract was not renewed.
bubba needs to “listen and learn from his mentors” but like a lot of young folks they think they know it all. heck bootie barker is a great crew chief.
i guess it’s easier to complain than to try to work to get better.
I could write probably about 15,000 words about this, but I want to make the point that it’s impossible to get around people thinking that Bubba is in the racecar because of his skin color, and I think Bubba himself might be believing it now and it’s affecting him.
The truth is he isn’t that bad. I have seen him run very well in some races and even contend to win in a few, and the competition is very, very tough out there.
If he were white, would people be questioning his skills constantly? I don’t know. There have been a lot of drivers in this series that I felt underperformed far longer than they should have gotten away with…Kyle Petty, Michael Waltrip and Casey Mears come to mind. Hell, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran mid-pack in top equipment for quite a few years.
Some drivers are there because they bring sponsor dollars for whatever reason, be it their last name, gender or skin color. That’s just the reality of motorsports. It doesn’t always mean they’re not capable drivers. Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there. Look at Joey Logano…nowhere driving for Gibbs, a two-time champion with Penske.
Bubba is a hell of a lot more capable of piloting a stock car than Danica Patrick ever was…how many years was she “learning” in the top series?
I’m tired of all the hype the ringers get. Most of them are in not-so-great equipment and are not even going to be a factor. They also are not used to the style of racing in NASCAR. There are a lot of NASCAR drivers who are great road course drivers and they are able to put on a show.
Nothing screams “publicity stunt” like having guest drivers from other series cross over.
Or extra shills in the broadcast booth!
I think back when I saw a racecar with a symbol on It that represented a racist, corrupt and violent organization.
The driver refused to accept the FBI conclusion of a simple garage pull rope and cried racism. Now he is in a car associated with a wealthy basketball legend and top notch equipment, going nowhere. Can’t forget his suspension for vicious retaliation on a Champion #5 driver. Am I supposed to give this sad driver a hug? No thanks.
The F1 drivers that raced Sunday were great in their day in what is an entirely different sport. they were out of their element and thought they would be out for a Sunday drive but ran into the hornets nest which is too many cup cars on a technical track like COTA In F1 there is rarely ever any passing and never side by side racing let alone five wide in a corner. It appears that most Cup drivers were out of their element as well unless they trained in bumper cars many of the drivers were driving equipment that is beyond their skill level Kudos to Corey La joie he deserves a top level ride but makes the most of what his hard working under funded team gives him
They better not drop Texas Motor Speedway for COTA. Why would they even need to do that? They’re both on the schedule this year and they should both stay there.