Through the Field: We Can Do Better
Social media is still a complicated, unique and unbelievable tool. I don’t know if we’ll ever fully understand its true impact on society.
And, just as you would see in society off the internet, different groups act in different ways. I’ll focus on two categories of the Twitter world that we all know and (mostly) love: fantasy football Twitter and NASCAR Twitter.
Fantasy football Twitter, the group of people and accounts who create a large amount of the fantasy content you see and likely read frequently if you’ve stumbled upon this article. It is largely nothing but positive energy.
While there are the occasional bad eggs, largely everyone supports everyone else’s goals and content. Even though in a sense, we are all direct competitors of each other. There’s such a large amount of collaboration, even entire group chats made just to retweet and share everyone else’s content. As I mentioned, a seemingly infinite amount of positivity.
You just don’t see that with the NASCAR fans on Twitter nearly enough. And don’t get me wrong; There are a lot of differences between these groups. The fantasy football analysts are more refined and brand-driven as there really isn’t a “fantasy NASCAR” subset of Twitter.
It seems like a lot of younger fans are drawn to racing on social media as well; they probably shouldn’t be on social media at all, let alone given the platform to share that they have. There’s also still unfortunately the stereotype that occasionally rings true of the NASCAR fandom.
All of those factors likely contribute to the lack of positive energy, so to speak, in the racing community on social media. Too often, everyone’s out to get each other. Statements, opinions, polls and other content is shared simply to hate on a particular driver, team or another member of the community.
Some people do have legitimate flaws, and those people have left or been removed from a popular role in the community. But for those who remain, the best way to advance the content we are all working to promote and share is to become more like fantasy football Twitter. Where spirited discussions can still take place in a positive way and we work together rather than throwing insults and hate at those with who we don’t agree. We can and should do better.
Regardless of the fact that this site heavily promotes positivity & becoming a better person each and every day, that simple fact rings true in every facet of life no matter who you’re hearing it from.
Something else that rings true is that I was unfortunately correct in predicting that my “sell Joey Logano” advice from two weeks ago would bomb; of course the No. 22 went to Victory Lane on the Bristol dirt track.
With the Martinsville night race upcoming and a stretch of races every weekend until mid-July upcoming, it’s a true do-or-die section of the season. Where we really get into the swing of things. Where your team will either sink or swim based on how the early summer stretch of racing goes.
Daniel Suárez, Bubba Wallace & Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: I’m grouping these three together because they all either entered the season with low or no expectations, and have all had performances early in 2021 worth talking about. None of these drivers are the dominant superstars of the circuit. None should be very expensive to pick up in Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) or on a waiver wire of sorts depending on how you play. With how wild this year has been, don’t be surprised to see all three of these guys add their names to the list of unexpected winners.
I was very tempted to call Daniel Suárez’s start with Trackhouse, a brand-new team with support from Richard Childress Racing, a fluke. As most of his time in a truly competitive spot in the running order was due to pit strategy or issues with better drivers. But after seeing him lead laps and come close to both a stage and a race win on the Bristol dirt, especially considering Suárez had never raced on dirt in his career, I’m buying in. Don’t forget that this is the same Suárez who won an Xfinity title just five seasons ago.
Bubba Wallace’s much more famous startup team, 23XI Racing, has been absolutely snakebit in the luck department thus far. Parts and tire failures as a result of contact that was not entirely the fault of the No. 23 have hurt their finishing positions despite relatively solid runs at times. Once the unit shakes off the new-team jitters, the sky is the limit. That is if Wallace is as good as he should be in good equipment.
As for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., it’s been a good year for JTG Daugherty Racing. His teammate Ryan Preece, racing without a charter, has got most of the fanfare. But Stenhouse Jr.’s runner-up finish on the Bristol dirt track is the culmination of a great start to this mid-tier team’s season. The No, 47 hasn’t finished outside of the top-20 all season. His four races before the dirt all were top-13 runs. Stenhouse may not even need Talladega to get into the conversation for a potential win, though that’s not too far away as it is.
Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR): Before the season, I predicted that Joe Gibbs Racing was the team to sell. That prediction also backfired, as two of its four cars have already won. A third has led a ton of laps and the fourth is driven by a rowdy man who will not go a second-full regular season without a win.
Though I’ve been hinting at this one for a while, I’m officially out on Stewart-Haas Racing. None of these teams are performing well and I don’t see how it can be fixed in short order.
Kevin Harvick is 45 years old. He still has five top-10 finishes. But has he really been a factor to win in any race in 2021? For a driver who won nine times in 2020 and eight times two years prior to that, it doesn’t seem like the No. 4 is all that close to getting back there.
None of the other three teams are even in the same zip code as the winner’s circle right now. We could probably give the rookie Chase Briscoe a pass if he hadn’t won nine Xfinity Series races in 2020. And if he’d had an average finish of higher than his current 22.1, roughly seven positions lower than Clint Bowyer last year.
Cole Custer is driving a No. 41 car that technically barely has any sponsorship (since Haas is, of course, the co-owner’s company) and is running on par with where he did in his first full season.
Aric Almirola’s average finish is four spots worse than Briscoe’s and six worse than Custer’s. The 14-year veteran won twice in Cup and ran an average of 13 spots better last season. He doesn’t have the excuse of inexperience to back him up.
This is no longer a fluke and the sirens should be going off in that building right now. The only time I would ever consider picking up an SHR driver anytime soon is if Harvick’s price drops dramatically.
Thanks for reading. For more fantasy NASCAR and life advice, follow me on Twitter, @EHicks39, or check out more of my work at Elliot-Hicks.com.