As the Easter holidays hits NASCAR, there has been some incredible action that has taken place so far this season. From The Clash at Daytona to the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, NASCAR has once again proven it is as exciting and fun as it ever was.
Kyle Larson racing during the STP 500
Joey Logano won the first race of the season at The Clash at Daytona International Speedway, and has not looked back since. Although Logano has not won any races, he is still gaining crucial points in the Monster Energy Cup Series as he currently sits in 5th place with 243 points and 1 playoff point.
This season, NASCAR has implemented a new point system that goes in depth during the race. There are now two stages varying in length based on the duration of each race. The winner of each stage is now awarded one playoff point, and the winner of the race is awarded five points.
Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin won the first and second Can-Am Duels, respectively. The Duels helped Elliott and Hamlin in the seeding for the first race of the series, the Daytona 500.
Kurt Busch won the season opening race, the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The win was Busch’s first ever win at Daytona and the 29th win of his career.
“To have come here over the years and to have fast cars, to not deliver for the team, you leave here feeling more dejected than any other racetrack,” Busch said. “The years that you have really fast racecars, you end up on the hook, wrecked, those are the worst feelings.”
Busch received 56 points and 5 playoff points for his win at Daytona.
Brad Keselowski won the second race of the season, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Keselowski also won the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Keselowski is the only driver to win two races so far this season and is leading the standings in playoff points. The wins were the 22nd and 23rd of his career, respectively and provided momentum in his racing. Keselowski has been in the top 5 of the standings for the duration of the season, and does not look to slow down anytime soon.
Brad Keselowski celebrating one of his two wins in the series
“I always feel like before a race, you obviously always want to win, and you always wonder yourself when your last win is going to be, and I'm not anywhere near retirement age, but you still think about those things and you think about how tough it just is to win at this level and how lucky you are to have a team to win,” Keselowski said. “A great winning percentage at this level is one out of every 10 races, and one out of every 10 races, if you can pull that off, you're a Hall of Famer”.
Martin Truex Jr. won the Kobalt 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, for his first win of the season and his first career win at the Kobalt 500. Truex Jr. became the first driver to sweep all 3 stages of a race.
“I think the important thing for us is we're starting off the season strong,” Truex Jr. said. “We're putting ourselves in position to win races, and that's really the key. If we can continue to run up front, lead laps, run at the front of the pack all day, you're going to put yourself into position to win races, and that's what we did today”.
Ryan Newman won the Camping World 500, which happened to be his first win in 127 races. This was the longest drought of Newman’s career.
Kyle Larson has been the story of the Monster Energy Cup Series so far, stringing together three second place finishes followed by a win at the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. This was Larson’s second win of his career.
“Well, I'm really, you know, fortunate to be driving really fast race cars right now” Larson said. Our cars are by far as good as they've ever been, really good at every racetrack right now. In both series I feel like I have a shot to win every time I go to the racetrack. That's always a lot of fun. That's always something I've hoped for, to get to a point of that in my NASCAR career”.
Jimmie Johnson won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway for his 81st win of his career. This was Johnson’s first win of the season, and his second top 5 finish.
Kurt Busch celebrating his win at Daytona 500
Kyle Larson leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings with 315 points and 6 playoff points. Chase Elliott is in second place with 298 points and 2 playoff points. Martin Truex Jr. is in third place with 275 points and 9 playoff points. Brad Keselowski is in fourth with 274 and 10 playoff points. Joey Logano is in fifth with 273 points and 1 playoff point.
The next race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards won the race last year.