OK with delay: Six who could make Monday marks – Nascar
When the skies clear and the green flag drops today (1 p.m. ET, FOX), Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers will face a different type of Bristol.
Pounded by rain over the past 24 hours, all of the rubber that accumulated onto the track, giving it grip, has been washed away. All of the resin-based VHT applied to the bottom of the track in an attempt to create a full-blown groove on the bottom? Who knows?
What we do know: Some drivers and teams will adapt better than others.
We studied the results of last year’s four races that were delayed a day due to rain — both Pocono races, the fall race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Bristol Night Race, which ran Sunday afternoon rather than the typical Saturday night. Some drivers excelled a day later more than others.
With those results in mind, here are our six drivers to monitor today as you watch the race on FOX or as you make final tweaks to your Fantasy Live lineup. | Full fantasy preview here
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1. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing. He tops the list because of his win last year at Bristol in a rain-delayed race run the following day in overcast conditions … the exact forecast for Monday, as it turns out. Harvick also notched a fourth and a ninth at Pocono. He is one of just three drivers who finished in the top 10 in three of the four delayed races from 2016.
2. Brad Keselowski, Team Penske. Two top-five finishes at Pocono plus a seventh at Charlotte in the fall equal a team that understands how to adapt to ever-changing conditions. Crew chief Paul Wolfe is one of the sport’s best strategists.
3. Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing. In addition to winning Pocono last year in the summer, Busch finished 10th at Pocono in August and eighth at Charlotte. Given his Bristol history and a veteran crew chief in Tony Gibson who’s done this delayed race thing a time or two, this year’s Daytona 500 champ makes the list.
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4. Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch finished in the top 10 in two of last year’s four postponed races — sixth at Charlotte and ninth at Pocono-2. We’re giving him additional credit for his Bristol performance last year, though, where he led 256 of 500 laps but had to take his car to the garage with a broken suspension.
5. Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne’s top-10 performances in last year’s delayed races came at the bigger tracks (Charlotte, Pocono), but they were strong finishes — third and sixth, respectively. Plus, his 10-consecutive lap averages during Saturday’s practices were among the best in the field.
6. Chris Buescher, JTG Daugherty Racing. Yes, a wild card. Buescher’s Pocono-2 win was based off great strategy and intuition, but don’t discount that he finished fifth at Bristol while driving for Front Row Motorsports.