We are gearing up for race number three in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and each week, I am bringing you “4 things you need to know” before the green flag waves. This week, we head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Home to the Kurt and Kyle Busch, this track never ceases to bring some great on-track battles!
Along with the four things you need to know, we will take a look back at one thing we learned from the race before. So let’s get started with what you need to know before Las Vegas.
1: Kurt Busch is one to watch.
The No.41 team of Kurt Busch, led by veteran Crew Chief Tony Gibson, is on track for an impressive 2016 season. Now, I know we are only three races in to the season but Busch has already captured two pole positions; Las Vegas and Atlanta. The Stewart-Haas Racing team has had its down moments but for the most part, since its creation in 2014, the No.41 has shown immerse progress and growth. Busch made the Chase in 2015 and had a strong showing, capturing two wins last season. Busch and Gibson are a great paring and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this pair vying for the Championship trophy at the end of the season. Keep an eye on the eldest Busch brother…I think the best is yet to come.
2: Jimmie Johnson ties Dale Earnhardt.
It’s a feat not many have accomplished. Dale Earnhardt is one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history and Jimmie Johnson, with his win at Atlanta last weekend, has tied The Intimidator in the number of race wins in a career. “Six-Time” Jimmie Johnson is no doubt one of, if not the greatest, driver of his time. It won’t be long before he surpasses Earnhardt in the number of race wins and he could very well surpass former teammate and friend Jeff Gordon before he retires. Keep an eye on Johnson this season, we could be calling “six-time” a seven-time Sprint Cup Series Champion come November.
3: Weather might be an issue.
While rain might be the devil to NASCAR fans and drivers weekend, the temperature during the race plays a big part in the way the cars handle throughout each run. This weekend, the temperature is expected to drop from the 80s on Friday to the 60s come Sunday. Along with expected wind gusts upwards of 30mph, it could mean the low downforce package will be tough to handle for a lot of drivers.
4: For the second week, there will not be a full field of drivers.
With a field of 39 for the second week in a row, the Sprint Cup Series race will not have a full 40-car field. What does this mean for NASCAR? Too soon to tell. The field number was dropped by NASCAR from a maximum of 43 drivers to 40 drivers for this season and the shortage of entries could just mean low-funded teams are waiting for the bigger races to enter their cars. It could also mean that the rising price of entry compared to the chances of making the race and the risk of coming home with a wreck racecar is too much for low-funded teams. Does a change need to be made in order to get more cars on the track? You decide.
One thing we learned at Atlanta.
Chase Elliott is going to surprise us this season. After his race was shorted in Daytona thanks to a wreck, Elliott made up for it at Atlanta. He consistently ran in the top-10 and finished an impressive 8th at the tough track. Is it too early to expect great things from this Rookie? I don’t think so. Elliott comes from a family of great racers. With Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kasey Kahne as his teammates and mentors, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Elliott in Victory Lane this season.