THREE THINGS WE LEARNED AT NEW HAMPSHIRE
1. Junior mystery
Dale Earnhardt Jr. unloaded slow and stayed slow during the entire New Hampshire weekend. Funny thing, N.H. Motor Speedway and Phoenix are similar, and he has three wins out West. “Didn’t have good speed,” he said Sunday. “The best we were going to run was 10th probably, ended up 18th.”
2. Fast cars
Bill France Jr. used to say of the race field, “They are all good cars,” then would add, “Just some are better than the others.” Such is the case in 2017. Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. continue to dominate. Larson has seven second-place finishes, plus two wins.
3. Pothole repair
NASCAR has come a long way from the 2010 Daytona 500, which was red-flagged twice to fix a pothole in Turns 1 and 2. Officials found a baby pothole at New Hampshire, stopped the race for about five minutes, made the repair, and it was never an issue.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1. Full circle
Kyle Busch has gone full circle since his last NASCAR Cup Series victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2016. Since kissing the bricks, Busch has not won another race, a streak of 35 races. Now that Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin has broken the losing jinx, will Busch become the first driver to win three consecutive Brickyard 400s? “This sport is built of momentum,” JGR teammate Daniel Suarez said.
2. Busch retirement?
Busch, 32, plans to retire from racing in a few years. OK, don’t panic. The 2015 Cup Series champion told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio he plans to stop racing in the Xfinity Series when he gets to 100 wins. Right now he is at 89 and counting. Busch’s goal was to top Richard Petty’s 201 national series wins record (the King had one win in the Convertible Series). Between Cup, Xfinity and Cup, Busch is at 175.
3. Logano’s plight
Joey Logano won a race, but still has not qualified for the NASCAR playoffs because the golden ticket was snatched from his hand when his car failed post-race inspection at Richmond. After finishing 37th on Sunday and falling in points, he needs to find a victory again to make the postseason. “Must win,” he said. “Back against the wall. The team has it in them. We just have to get faster to be able to do that.”
A few questions we had to ask ourselves
Hamlin wins; who’s next to end a drought?
GODSPEAK: The stars are aligned for Kyle Busch to win Indy; it’s just gonna happen.
KEN’S CALL: Kyle is the easiest call, but I’m going with Clint Bowyer, who is way, way past due.
Will this start a run for Gibbs Racing?
GODSPEAK: Joe Gibbs Racing is now cleared for takeoff.
KEN’S CALL: Doubtful.
23 years of summertime Brickyard 400s. Favorite memory?
GODSPEAK: Dale Jarrett had the fastest car in 1998, lost four laps when he ran out of gas, but finished 16th on the lead lap, then won in 1999.
KEN’S CALL: Easy, Geoff and Brett Bodine playing “Family Feud” at the inaugural running.
QUESTIONS & ATTITUDE
Compelling questions ... and maybe a few actual answers
Who’s Kyle kidding?
Not us, that’s for sure. After winning the 89th Busch/Nationwide/Xfinity Series race of his career this past weekend, Kyle Busch said that once he makes it to 100 wins, he’s “retiring” from moonlighting on that circuit. In a world where sponsor commitments and team-funding structures are often stretched way into the future, no driver can make such a commitment. In other words, if Kyle gets win No. 100, yet is contractually obligated to run several more Xfinity races, he’ll likely run several more Xfinity races.
Speaking of funding structures, the Chrysler folks have reportedly decided it’s not worth the commitment to return to NASCAR with the Dodge. Late last year, much premature noise was made when the idea was broached. But according to a report from automotive website “The Drive,” the flirtation died on the vine. New manufacturer blood, from wherever, would still be a nice jolt, however.
FEUD OF THE WEEK
ERIK JONES VS. DENNY HAMLIN:
Jones said he made contact with Hamlin on an early pit stop, which led to him blowing out a tire and smacking the wall on Lap 41.
GODWIN KELLY’S TAKE:
The two drivers will be teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing, so there wasn’t any finger-pointing or name-calling by Jones on this incident. But he was not happy.
1. Martin Truex Jr. 758
2. Kyle Larson 720
3. Kyle Busch 650
4. Kevin Harvick 639
5. Denny Hamlin 589
6. Chase Elliott 587
7. Jamie McMurray 572
8. Brad Keselowski 564
9. Jimmie Johnson 552
10. Clint Bowyer 526
11. Matt Kenseth 524
12. Ryan Blaney 486
13. Joey Logano 472
14. Kurt Busch 455
15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 441
16. Ryan Newman 428
17. Erik Jones 427
18. Daniel Suarez 404
19. Trevor Bayne 369
20. Austin Dillon 363
WHAT'S ON TAP?
CUP SERIES: Brickyard 400
SITE: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile rectangle)
TV SCHEDULE: Saturday, practice (CNBC, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.), qualifying (NBC Sports Network, 6 p.m.). Sunday, race (pre-race coverage begins on NBC, 2 p.m.; green flag, NBC, 2:45 p.m.)
XFINITY: Lilly Diabetes 250
SITE: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
TV SCHEDULE: Friday, practice (NBC Sports Network, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.). Saturday, qualifying (NBCSN, 12:30 p.m.), race (NBCSN, 3:30 p.m.)
CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS: Aspen Dental 150
SITE: Eldora Speedway (half-mile, dirt oval)
TV SCHEDULE: Wednesday, race (Fox Sports 1, 9 p.m.)
GODWIN'S PICKS FOR INDIANAPOLIS
WINNER: Kyle Busch
REST OF TOP 5: Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
FIRST ONE OUT: Chris Buescher
DARK HORSE: Danica Patrick
DON’T BE SURPRISED IF: Now that Joe Gibbs Racing has a win, look for Busch to keep the momentum going.