Being at the center of 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, there have been some big surprises already. Below are 7 of the largest storylines so far, which many would not have predicted.
7. Furniture Row remains hot
It was conventional wisdom that led people to believe that the change from Chevrolet to Toyota during the off season would result in additional adjustment time for smaller single-car Furniture Row Racing team. Well, Martin Truex Jr. had come just 0.010 sec short of winning Daytona 500, leading 392 for 400 laps and winning the Coca-Cola 600.
6. RPM’s struggles
During 2014, Aric Almirola made Chase for his first time, winning the July Daytona. Last year, he almost reached the NASCAR playoffs once again. However, this year, Richard Petty Motorsports seems to have lost their mojo, as Almirola is the 26th, while his teammate Brian Scott comes in the 30th.
5. Chase Elliott wins
People knew that Chase Elliott was good, but they didn’t expect him to be great. He is a second generation driver and is about to make a new rookie record of top 5 finishes. Currently, his points are higher than Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jimmie Johnson, and Kasey Kahne.
4. Toyota dominates Daytona 500
In 2015, Toyota won the Sprint Cup and Brickyard 400 championships for the first time. Both times − with Kyle Busch. However, this year, Toyota shocked everyone when it dominated Daytona 500, winning for the first time, with Denny Hamlin sweeping the top 3 spots and 4 out of the top 5.
3. Tony Stewart gets injured
If you’re looking for a surprise, how about this: on January 31st, only a few weeks before beginning his last season racing in NASCAR, Toney Stewart had a sand-rail crash around the Arizona-Southern Cali border that left his L1 vertebrae fractured. The injury prevented Stewart from being in the first 8 races.
2. Controversy over lug nuts
Another shocker comes with how lug nuts dominated headlines for several weeks. This occurred when many drivers started to complain regarding the dangers of racing with missing lug nuts. NASCAR had to alter the rules to require all 5 of the lug nuts to be on, tight for each wheel. Four crew chiefs have been suspended over this already.
1. SHR switches to Ford
One of the better kept secrets of racing was leaked in February: Stewart-Haas Racing is going to be switching to Fords next year. Also, the speculation of Kevin Harvick leaving in 2017 was cleared up as he signed a new long-term deal to remain with the team.
What is your take on these top stories? Do share the article on your favorite social network and check out more news about Mike Wallace getting beaten and Keith Yandle signing a new deal with Panthers.