Parks Pit Report: Gander Outdoors 400

This scene is getting far too common for NASCAR this season.

I have to say, the way this season has gone for the top-tier NASCAR series is making me enjoy it less, and less.  Sure, the driver I root for has a lot of wins this season…but so does another two drivers.  We are now five races away from the reset in points for the playoffs, meaning 21 races are in the books.

Alright, let’s now break this down.  The season began with Austin Dillon winning at Daytona.  Clint Bowyer then won at both Martinsville and Michigan, although the latter in a rain-shortened event.

Joey Logano won at Talladega, and then a few weeks back Erik Jones took the summer event at Daytona.

So by my calculations, that’s five races that earned five drivers a playoff berth.

Alright, now let’s just get to the rest.

Kyle Busch, as of Sunday, now has six wins on the season.  Kevin Harvick, as of last weekend, has six wins on the season.  Finally, as of two weeks ago, Martin Truex Jr. has four wins on the year.

Last year, one dominant driver was the talk of the season, but he was dominant when it mattered, and in the end he rightfully won the championship.

This season, when three drivers have won just under 80 percent of the races, 16 of 21 to be exact, have dominated the season, and in a sense, the fans are getting extremely tired of seeing the same guys be up front every single week.  When the race ended Sunday, the big three finished first, fourth, and 15th.  But all three ran near the front for most of the race.

Each week this is the case, and it literally is to the point where if a guy like Jimmie Johnson, who has been winless since late last season, were to win, he’d probably be cheered as though he was Dale Earnhardt Jr.  In fact he gets that reaction now just when he takes the lead.

The rest of the field needs to catch up, and fast, otherwise the championship will be long decided before Homestead, and before that a lot of fans will be saying farewell to the sport, just like many already have.

The “Big Three” needs a reality check, it’s just taking a lot longer than anyone expected.

STAGE 1:  Chase Elliott

STAGE 2:  Kevin Harvick

RESULTS:  1-Kyle Busch  2-Suarez  3-Bowman  4-Harvick  5-Jones  6-Byron  7-Elliott  8-Newman  9-Kurt Busch  10-Hamlin

NOTABLE FINISHES:  11-Bowyer  13-Dillon  15-Truex Jr.  26-Logano

CAUTIONS:  7 for 29 laps.  Lap 52-56 (End of Stage 1); 84-87 (#72 Incident-T3); 102-105 (End of Stage 2); 122-125 (#2 Incident-T2); 127-132 (Fluid on Track from #00); 155-157 (#43 Incident-T1 [Red Flag-10 Mins, 10 Secs.]); 160-162 (#10, 17 Incident-T1).

LEAD CHANGES:  13 among 10 drivers.  D. Suarez 1-21; B. Keselowski 22; J. McMurray 23; Kurt Busch 24-34; D. Hamlin 35-39; C. Elliott 40-53; E. Jones 54-64; K. Harvick 65-77; D. Suarez 78-84; K. Harvick 85-101; W. Byron # 102-111; Kyle Busch 112-121; D. Suarez 122; Kyle Busch 123-164.

TIME OF RACE:  3 Hrs, 5 Mins, 43 Secs.

AVERAGE SPEED:  132.460 MPH

MARGIN OF VICTORY:  1.788 Seconds

POINTS (Earned/Behind Leader [Playoff Points]):  1. Kyle Busch, 891 [35]; 2. Harvick, -48 [33]; 3. Truex Jr, -129 [26]; 4. Logano, -201 [7]; 5. Bowyer, -214 [10]; 6. Kurt Busch, -214 [2]; 7. Keselowski, -247 [4]; 8. Larson, -265; 9. Hamlin, -273 [2]; 10. Blaney, -279 [4]; 14. Jones, -358 [5]; 19. Dillon, -389 [5].

Schadel Driving Toward Fair Harness Racing Trophy
GANT Sports Writer to be Inducted into PA American Legion Sports Hall of Fame

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