|Lots of horsepower needed to do well at Fontana.|
My favorite part of the early season so far is how great the racing has been with the race broken into three stages. I love the strategies each team employs with points being offered as the prize for being successful. They're all trying to be competitive right out of gate to get points and the stages are having its intended effect, which is forcing more people to watch the entire race instead of the final 50 laps.
I also got a thrill last week seeing Ryan Newman grab his first win since 2013 (Brickyard). The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had Newman posted at 80/1 odds, but only four bettors took him there totaling just $45 bucks. It was also Richard Childress Racing's first win since Kevin Harvick won at Phoenix in 2013 before jumping ship to Stewart Haas Racing. I like all the new guys in the sport, but it's great to see some of the older guard still be relevant.
NASCAR completes its three-race West Coast swing this weekend at Fontana's wide 2-mile layout known as Auto Club Speedway, which is the sister track of Michigan International Speedway. The significance of Michigan coming into the conversation this week is because we're all still getting used to how the new low downforce package will run. Last season this same package ran on a trial basis at Kentucky and Michigan.
Although the two tracks are almost identical, the results from each of the tracks rarely resemble each other. What I have seen in recent years is that a lot of the drivers who fare well on 1.5-mile tracks also do extremely well at Fontana where speeds down the straightaway get over 200 mph.
We've seen two races already this season on 1.5s and then we also have Michigan from last season to reference so we've got a lot of data to dissect and the biggest trend among all three of those races begins with new points leader Kyle Larson, who has finished second in his last three starts.
"It’s really, really cool to be the point leader right now," Larson said after finishing second at Phoenix. "That was a goal of mine going into today (Sunday). We’ll hopefully continue to have this speed in our race cars and maybe close some of these races out.”
Oh yes, this kid has speed everywhere and the second win of his career is coming soon. His first win came in the Michigan race using his this new package. Good luck finding double-digit odds on him this week. Those days are long gone because he has just jumped into the upper-echelon of championship contenders who have the goods to win every week.
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