Through the Field: Summer Nights
Summer is upon us.
While the official start of the season hasn’t quite passed on the calendar, all the traditionally great parts of summer have begun rolling.
The hot weather, vacations and nights on the grill or by the fire have kicked off. School’s out for the kids, and most importantly, the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series schedules have moved onto NBC for the remainder of the season.
While I completely understand those who prefer the more mild seasons of spring or fall, or those who enjoy the cold bite of winter, summertime just has a special feeling to it. This year, it’s even more special as we return to normal across the country. And as we do our best to put the pandemic behind us, let’s not forget to enjoy each and every moment of summer fun. I certainly will try to never take it for granted again.
For fans of Hendrick Motorsports, in particular Kyle Larson, this success can’t be taken for granted either. The team as a whole hasn’t lost a race since Martin Truex Jr. won at Darlington on May 9, and including Sunday’s All-Star race at Texas, Larson’s No. 5 team has won three races in a row.
To be honest, the team shows no signs of slowing down either. All four Hendrick cars ran well in each of those races and earned good finishes at both Charlotte and Texas, which are most similar to the upcoming races at Nashville and Pocono.
There’s plenty of room for new competition, however. None of the top three NASCAR series have visited Nashville Superspeedway in about a decade, and a doubleheader at the Tricky Triangle in Pennsylvania to close the month of June has chaos written all over it. But we’ve seen these Hendrick cars overcome plenty of obstacles this year, so they still have to be the favorites.
Short of an absolute “buy, buy, buy” for the No. 5, 9, 24 and 48 cars, here’s my advice for the upcoming events:
Fantasy NASCAR Buys
Kyle Busch: This one should be obvious, but if it isn’t, the No. 18 team has been the best non-Hendrick car over the last few weeks. The younger Busch brother demands perfection week in and week out, not only from himself but from his team, and it should lead to another win in the near future (or at least another few weeks as the best finishing non-Hendrick machine, which is almost a win in itself).
Kevin Harvick: If Stewart-Haas Racing is going to rebound in 2021, it’s going to come soon. Kevin Harvick is obviously the best of the bunch in that four-car ensemble and will be the first of that team to win this year. Harvick has won before at Nashville in the lower series, and maybe he can catch some luck running a Monster Jam-themed Grave Digger paint scheme this coming weekend. With Grave Digger being the most popular and/or successful monster truck, maybe the series’ joint-active wins leader can catch some good mojo.
Fantasy NASCAR Sells
Ryan Blaney: It was tough to pick a sell candidate this week; the season has mostly leveled out at this point as the contenders are obvious and those who are slumping have continued to slump. Ryan Blaney falls somewhere in-between. He’s in very good equipment and has a win this season, but the No. 12 has been outside of the top 10 in six of the 10 races since that win.
That stat is not reflective of bad performance, though; in four of those six races, he’s finished no worse than 13th. Blaney just has the unfortunate distinction of being just far enough back to be this week’s sell pick.