1. Who is After MTJ?
A 54-race winless streak in points events ended Monday afternoon (May 1) with Martin Truex Jr. taking the checkered flag at Dover Motor Speedway.
Truex can breathe easier not only with the win, but also with the playoff berth that comes with it.
With the weight of that drought gone for Truex, the focus now turns to which driver has the best chances of snapping their winless streak next. Two of the longest winless droughts belong to a pair of drivers highly capable of getting back on track with a victory very soon.
You can’t talk winless streaks without first mentioning Ryan Blaney. It has now been 57 points events since he last visited victory lane. There is too much good driving ability and too many resources from Team Penske for that streak to last long, and we’ve now seen two races in a row with Blaney finishing top three. Running up front is not an issue for the No. 12 team. They just need all the pieces to fall at the right time.
You can’t discount Brad Keselowski as being on track to end a winless drought either. It’s one thing for RFK Racing to run strong at plate tracks, but they have shown they can do likewise at other layouts, as seen from this past race at Dover and even Chris Buescher‘s win last year at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The honeymoon phase is over for Keselowski, and with the No. 6 coming off two top 10s in a row, the snapping of a winless streak going back 73 races is not a matter of if, but when.
Is Suarez Falling Short of Expectations?
Expectations can be a funny thing if you were to look at Daniel Suarez prior to last season. At the time, coming off of rides at Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing, a top four and four top-10 finishes through the first few months would have been serviceable.
But expectations can sure change perspective, and Suarez is a case of that, coming off last year when he got his first win and advanced to the postseason for Trackhouse. That performance raised the expectation of what Suarez could be capable of. The trouble with expectations? You have to continue to feed that monster, and Suarez has yet to do that so far this season.
His average finish through 11 races of 18.9 rates fourth in his seven-year career in the NASCAR Cup Series so far. Obviously, the sky is not falling for Suarez.
With road courses on the horizon, an area of strength for him, the opportunity is golden for Suarez to right things. He did, after all, win at Sonoma Raceway last year, place in the top five at Watkins Glen International and was also among the leaders at Pocono Raceway — a track that in some ways may as well be a road course.
Does Truex’s Win Make Him More Dangerous?
Remember last year when you wondered if Kevin Harvick could even make the postseason, and his drought-breaking win turned into a two-race win streak just in time for a playoff push?
You could see the same for Truex. With this week’s win, pressure is off the No. 19 team and the cloud of wondering if or when that race win will come is gone. It’s now a group that can afford to race with nothing to lose.
The smallest thing can get a team rolling, and with Truex being someone who has run extremely dominant in the past at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway and those tracks coming up soon, Monday’s win could be very well-timed.
Is Ty Gibbs Postseason Material?
The stat sheet may show that Ty Gibbs finished 13th at Dover, but the bigger picture is what happened leading up to that, when he spent a good part of the latter stages of the race in or near the top five.
That should be no surprise, as Gibbs is showing that while he may be classified as a rookie, he is not racing like one. Take away a DNF at Talladega Superspeedway, where he was also running among the leaders, and Gibbs came into this past weekend with four top 10s in five races.
More importantly, Gibbs is keeping the car in position for a solid finish and not wadding it up early in the race, something that can make any driver a friend of a pit crew by not giving them wrecked racecars to fix each week.
Gibbs, to this point, has kept his nose clean on the track. If he keeps doing that, he’ll be contending for a postseason spot come August.
Does the Toyota Move Change Johnson’s Legacy?
Shockwaves hit the NASCAR world on Tuesday (May 2) with the announcement of Legacy Motor Club moving to Toyota for the 2024 season. This obviously has multiple layers, such as Erik Jones being back under the TRD umbrella and Richard Petty, someone whose likeness is as American as apple pie, being associated with a team that’ll now be with Toyota.
More significant, however, is that you will now have a Toyota team co-owned by someone who was essentially the face of Chevrolet in NASCAR for nearly the past 20 years in Jimmie Johnson.
Until his retirement from full-time driving, when you thought Johnson, one of the first things that came to mind was the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. You can argue that the combo of that number, make and sponsor defined Johnson. Now, all that has changed with Johnson now being aligned with one of Chevy’s fiercest competitors.
What’s next for Legacy? Does it use this momentum to go after a high-caliber name like Chad Knaus or Cole Pearn? Does it start a third team and try and poach a driver from the Chevy camp?
Oh, and there’s also the angle of Jeff Gordon and Johnson all of a sudden going from Hendrick Motorsports teammates to, a few years later, competing car owners.
Legacy may not have the full deck for it yet, but over time, with Toyota backing, it could birth a formidable rivalry with Hendrick Motorsports.
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