NASCAR decided that along with a new sponsor, they would make a few changes in the point system. It is exactly the same idea when Nextel came on board for 2004 in the institution of the Chase format. Monster Energy first came on board, then soon after, the new “Stage Racing” format for each week of action was showcased.
Trying to stage race at Daytona is one idea, because plate racing on it’s down is an entirely different form of racing.
Trying to run stage racing at the other tracks, without the plates and putting more emphasis on how a driver runs during the race rather than just at the very end. Having points given out at the end of two portions of the race, plus playoff points for that winner of either stage, could pay major dividends at the end of the season.
At the same time, even though winning a stage is showing to become critical, in the end the stage that every driver wants to win is the one that posts the black and white checkered flag.
For one driver, it was one pit stop that made the difference. It wasn’t the pit stop that was the difference, because all day long the crew made sure the car entered and left in the same position. In this case, it was driver error.
Kevin Harvick had the best car at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Sped his way to the pole, then won the first stage…and the second. Led 290 laps, and had the best starting spot for the final restart. That is until race control came down and caught him speeding on pit road. In that instant, all the dominance meant nothing.
The final stage on this day, it belonged to someone else.
As luck had it, the driver who took the victory, ran the same manufacturer. Ford took victory at Daytona, and they can now say they are two-for-two on the season. But, rather than it be Stewart-Haas Racing, it’s the Penske group taking this week’s trophy.
After being laps down, due to issues on-track and on pit road, Brad Keselowski fought his way to the front, and has already secured his way into the NASCAR playoffs with his first victory of the 2017 season.
If it wasn’t for the pit road penalty, five writers can say they had their first victory on the season. They did earn playoff points, but wins are becoming more important. This unfortunate twist of fate for Harvick meant no one earned a victory this week. The vast variances in finishing position has already jumbled up the standings for the second week.
Here are the new rankings after Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500:
Rob Tiongson (82) Chase Elliott finished 5th –  0
Billy Fellin (81) Kevin Harvick finished 9th –  2
Ashley McCubbin (81) Kevin Harvick finished 9th –  2
Misan Akuya (70) Kevin Harvick finished 9th –  2
Rob Blount (62) Jimmie Johnson finished 19th –  0
Dalton Hastings (61) Kevin Harvick finished 9th –  2
Patti Rodisch (61) Kevin Harvick finished 9th –  2
Penny Whitecotton (61) Jimmie Johnson finished 19th –  1
Dustin Parks (54) Kyle Busch finished 16th –  0
Sal Sigala Jr. (52) Kyle Busch finished 16th –  0
Ashley Hull (52) Jimmie Johnson finished 19th –  0
Klarissa Mitchell (41) Jimmie Johnson finished 19th –  0
Ashley Hobbs (26) Jimmie Johnson finished 19th –  0
Next Race: One very popular part of the season is when NASCAR decided to combine most of it’s regular season races that take place cclosest to the Pacific Ocean into one portion of the season. It’s the part of the year when “NASCAR Goes West,” and those that live on the east coast are forced to stay up a little later to enjoy the finish.
To start the western swing in NASCAR this season once more, the sport makes a trip to a location where the biggest business happens on just one stretch of road. But, that road is lined with neon lights, big hotels, multiple casinos, and every type of show an individual can think of.
NASCAR is ready to do a little gambling, because the third race of the season is heading to Las Vegas, and the showgirls will be ready in victory lane, along with the new Monster Energy girls.
Writers, the time has come to show your hand at the table. Whether you decide to call the bet, or raise it, that is your desire. But be careful, as going all-in could mean elimination at a moment’s notice. Place your bets, or your picks, for the Kobalt 400 by Thursday, March 9, at 10 p.m. ET.