THREE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM KENTUCKY
1. Truly Truex
Martin Truex Jr. lapped all but eight cars at Kentucky, which brings to mind another driver capable of such domination — Bill Elliott in 1985. The theory going around is that the No. 78 Toyota team has found the spicy speed sauce recipe and is keeping it isolated in its Denver shop.
2. History lesson
Bill Elliott and his brothers had their race shop in Dawsonville, Georgia, and hit upon a magic combination that caught all by surprise in 1985. Elliott won 11 of 28 Cup Series races that year. Since they worked away from the Charlotte race community, their secrets stayed safe all season.
3. Tweet battle
Twitter has become a new battleground in NASCAR. Kasey Kahne was wrecked out of the Kentucky race, and then brandished his Twitter foil and defended his driving style. Kahne became so frustrated by negative comments, he replied to one tweet basher with “You’re an idiot.”
THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. Kenseth shocker
The oldest driver in NASCAR Cup Series racing revealed he won’t be invited back to race next year at Joe Gibbs Racing. Matt Kenseth, 45, heated up “silly season” by making the proclamation. Dale Earnhardt Jr. jumped to Kenseth’s defense. “It’s smart for him to let everybody know early what his plans are,” Earnhardt said. “He is a talented guy who is just a couple of races removed from being a winner.”
2. Window closing
If the race at Kentucky had decided the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, a lot of big names would be out of the postseason, including Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne. Earnhardt and Kahne are nearing must-win territory based on regular-season points. Matt Kenseth is on the bubble (16th) at 478 points. Logano is only seven points behind, but Earnhardt is 146 points back with only eight races left.
3. T-shirt sales
Kyle Larson let it be known on social media that he’s making more money from his moonlighting, dirt-track merchandise sales than he does from his day job in NASCAR. He pocketed $13,000 in souvenir sales in one night at a dirt track in Pennsylvania. When the dollar amount was revealed on Twitter, Larson responded with “More than I’ve made all year in NASCAR sales…” Ouch!
A few questions we had to ask ourselves
Where is Matt Kenseth seated next season?
GODSPEAK: Let's go nuts here and say good buddy Dale Earnhardt Jr. creates a Cup Series ride at JR Motorsports.
KEN'S CALL: Tough call, but I'm leaning toward the No. 77 magically finding sponsorship and Matt swapping rides with Erik Jones.
What about Bubba Wallace?
GODSPEAK: Two options. He gets picked up by Wood Brothers Racing, or heads back to the Xfinity Series for a year.
KEN'S CALL: I think he's a natural fit to replace Ryan Blaney in the No. 21 when Blaney is “promoted.”
QUESTIONS & ATTITUDE
Compelling questions ... and maybe a few actual answers
Ready to play the “I told you so” card?
No, this one was way too easy. Prior to this season, we kept reading rave reviews about NASCAR’s new aero package on the cars, how those rules would put racing “back in the drivers’ hands,” how “the greatest drivers in the world” would now separate themselves, and on and on and on. This past weekend at Kentucky, Brad Keselowski finally broke the seal: “It is a poorly designed race car.” Rave reviews last until some team(s) realizes it can’t find the grip.
What’s Bubba’s deal?
Right now, he doesn’t have one. But in four Cup starts as sub in the No. 43, Bubba Wallace finished 26th, 19th, 15th and 11th, in succession. That’s what we call trending in the right direction. He’ll be in a car of some sort soon, and probably in a Cup car (the No. 21?) next season. Practically guaranteed.
FEUD OF THE WEEK
KASEY KAHNE VS. TREVOR BAYNE: Kahne and Bayne rhyme, but that’s all they had in common at Kentucky. They were fighting for position, and Bayne got into Kahne and it turned insane.
GODWIN KELLY’S TAKE: Kahne is under pressure (we’re guessing) to keep his job. This did not settle well. “I got under him getting into Turn 1 and he just drove over my front end, pretty simple,” he said.
1. Kyle Larson 710
2. Martin Truex Jr. 709
3. Kyle Busch 609
4. Kevin Harvick 599
5. Chase Elliott 560
6. Jamie McMurray 545
7. Denny Hamlin 538
8. Brad Keselowski 536
9. Jimmie Johnson 519
10. Clint Bowyer 495
11. Matt Kenseth 478
12. Joey Logano 471
13. Ryan Blaney 462
14. Erik Jones 426
15. Kurt Busch 419
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 418
17. Ryan Newman 414
18. Daniel Suarez 373
19. Trevor Bayne 352
20. Austin Dillon 341
WHAT'S ON TAP?
CUP SERIES: Overton’s 301
SITE: New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1.058-mile oval)
TV SCHEDULE: Friday, practice (NBC Sports Network, 11:30 a.m.), qualifying (NBCSN, 4:30 p.m.). Saturday, practice (NBCSN, 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.). Sunday, race (pre-race coverage begins on NBCSN, 1:30 p.m.; green flag, NBCSN, 3:15 p.m.)
XFINITY: Overton’s 200
SITE: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
TV SCHEDULE: Friday, practice (NBC Sports Network, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.). Saturday, qualifying (CNBC, 11 a.m.), race (NBCSN, 4 p.m.)
CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS: Aspen Dental 150
SITE: Eldora Speedway (half-mile, dirt oval)
TV SCHEDULE: July 19, race (Fox Sports 1, 9 p.m.)
GODWIN'S PICKS FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE
WINNER: Matt Kenseth
REST OF TOP 5: Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch
FIRST ONE OUT: Ty Dillon
DARK HORSE: Clint Bowyer
DON’T BE SURPRISED IF: Kenseth nails the win, then starts listening to offers from other race teams.