They Say They Know, but They Don’t

So far, Kevin Harvick has had a hot rod. (Getty Images photo for NASCAR)

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, March 3, 2018, 2:01 p.m.

By Monte Dutton

Well, what do you know? The Red Sox are hosting the Yankees on TV this afternoon. I think I’ll keep the game on until the Xfinity Series race in Las Vegas starts. Last night, Kyle Busch won the Camping World Truck race. No surprise there. He labored a bit more than usual. He’s racing in Xfinity today, but at least he’ll have Kyle Larson to occupy him.

It’s tempting to draw conclusions too soon in NASCAR, not just this season but every season. The Ford teams have seemed unusually strong, but the started the season strong last year. Kevin Harvick laid waste to the Atlanta field, and the Fords dominated the Daytona 500 even though they didn’t win it.

Guess what? Ford drivers won the first three races a year ago. I like surprises, but too many observers of NASCAR declare them too soon.

The most striking aspect of the season at this early date is the utter irrelevance of most preseason expectations. The young drivers were supposed to start taking over. So far, nothing could be further from the truth. The top eight Atlanta finishers each had at least eight full seasons under their imaginary belt that is actually a Velcro strap.

Dave Blaney starts out front at Las Vegas. (Getty Images for NASCAR)

One of those ballyhooed young lions, Ryan Blaney, said, “I kind of categorize that as you take all six races before the break to realize … you come here and it is different than Atlanta. You kind of show your strength here. Atlanta you can show strength but it is a different race track. You kind of see where your short track stuff adds up at Phoenix, and then we go to a big two-mile (Fontana, California) and you really get an idea there.

“I think when the break comes and that off weekend (March 31-April 1) comes, you really know where you stack up and if you need to do a lot of work or if you have started off on the right foot. This place is really good to try to figure it out. I feel like you can get a good base of where you stack up.”

Fords have been better. Chevrolet, running a new model (Camaro), should get better. Toyotas were best last year. No one really knows where it goes from here.

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About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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