Clint Bowyer got his second win of the season at the rain delayed and shortened Michigan race. It was not only a good day for Bowyer but for Stewart-Haas Racing as they took the top three positions with Kevin Harvick second and pole-sitter Kurt Busch, third. Aric Almirola finished 11th after starting 6th. In fact, all four cars started the race in the top 12. That is a pretty impressive feat.
It was also another blue ribbon day for the Ford teams as they took 7 of the Top 10 and 8 of the top 11 spots. Kyle Busch was the only Toyota in fourth and Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray rounded out the Top 10.
The way things are going right now, it doesn’t take much of a leap to see the potential for Kurt Busch and Almirola each getting a win before the end of the year. Certainly Busch will get a win before the playoffs starts.
And speaking of the playoffs, Bowyer’s win solidifies how well SHR is running right now and how they will probably continue to dominate the rest of the season. Michigan was seen as an opportunity for a new winner and potentially one of the so-called young guns. But that didn’t happen. Sure, the race was shortened but it was shortened for everyone. Kyle Larson was considered a near shoe in for the win but he led just a single lap. Ryan Blaney led 15 laps. That’s it. The rest were all led by veteran drivers.
This week the teams get a break before we begin the final run to the playoffs in Las Vegas. Next up is Sonoma and a real test for Chevy. Downforce packages won’t mean as much, this is all about handling and the driver’s skill. We’ll see if Jimmie Johnson can return to form here or if they are just flat out off this year. This is a potential opportunity for someone to break out of the pack and win, but it will require getting past one of the wiley veteran drivers. No longer can you pick a ringer for a win, these guys all know how to get around a road course.
With just 11 races left in the regular season, the pressure to win is amping up. The final cut off at 16th is going to be a battle. Only 6 drivers commanding 15 wins are locked in right now and more than a few of the remaining races will be going to the likes of Kyle Busch, Truex, and Harvick. Let’s just say they each win just once more, leaving eight more wins open. If you believe that Kurt Busch will get a win, that leaves just seven more opportunities. And if you really believe that Jimmie Johnson will get a playoff contending win, then that leaves six. Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski are all contenders and if they each win a race, that leaves three spots for someone like Blaney or Chase Elliott. And if Logano or Bowyer get another win, whoo doggie will it be a gunfight at the ol’ OK Corral.
In previous years, we’ve had 10 or more drivers with a win entering the playoffs. This year we’ll be lucky to have 10. To get to 10, we’ll need to see 4 new drivers in Victory Lane. It’s not impossible and probably better than a 50-50 chance of seeing that. But will we see 6 new winners? I doubt it. I think we’ll see at least 5 drivers getting in on points. And we’ll be lucky to see 4 Chevy’s in the playoffs.
Unless SHR and JGR cool down dramatically, this looks to be a Ford vs Toyota championship run.
Happy Father’s Day to all of you who are dads, stepdads or playing the role of being a father to a child. It’s an important job.
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