NASCAR Recap: Sylvania 300



What was the point?

It’s a fair question to ask of the first 26 races this 2015 Sprint Cup season. After Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, all the work it took to get to the track seems moot for some Sprint Cup teams at the moment. Here’s a breakdown of winners and losers from Loudon.

Win: Ryan Newman

Newman barely received attention during Sunday’s race. But look at the points. Barring a horrible collapse, Newman will advance to the second round. Newman hasn’t been a threat to win the entire Sprint Cup season, and he’ll advance to the quarterfinals. Moreover, he has all the experience in the world to work through the field, finish in the top 10 and make it to Homestead. Kudos to Newman for having a plan that works, but never has a driver done so much by doing so little during the Sprint Cup regular season.

Lose: Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick

Where to start with these two? Consider which is worse:

  • Busch had to battle back from a broken leg and race like his hair was on fire to make the Chase. Then, one dumb piece of luck puts his Chase dreams in jeopardy.
  • Harvick owns the 2015 Sprint Cup regular season, gets two pieces of dumb luck and needs a miracle to make it out of the first round.

Each are horrible; both are indicative of a larger issue. Shouldn’t the regular season mean something? In every other sport, there is a bonus for being the best in the regular season. Why can’t the driver who wins the regular season points race automatically qualify for Homestead? Ditto a driver who wins the most races in the regular season? I think six drivers racing for a title is better than four.

Draw: Hendrick Motorsports

Jimmie Johnson came through the other end of the Kevin Harvick spat with a spirited run. Jeff Gordon looks clear for the next round. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has some work to do.

On the other hand, do you look at any of those three drivers and say they can hang with Joe Gibbs Racing, or even Team Penske right now? Johnson is a threat until he’s eliminated. But Jeff Gordon never has found his 2014 footing, and the No. 88 hasn’t been itself in two months. If there is one Hendrick horse in the final eight, would it surprise you? Could you imagine saying that three years ago?

Let’s see where the road takes Sprint Cup teams in Dover next week. Enjoy the playoff scenarios, and insert a random catchphrase here.