I was seeing Austin Cindric’s performance on 1.5-mile tracks as a detriment to his potential to compete full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series as early as next season. He was consistent but missing that next step. Not any more. He started 15th, but progressed through the field quickly and easily. He eas narrowly beat for second-place by Harrison Burton, but he wouldn’t be held down for much longer after that. The driver who dominated Stage One, leading 37 of 50 laps, sped entering pit lane at the subsequent Stage break.
Riley Herbst and Harrison Burton showed flashes of brilliance. Unfortunately, the racing was dominated by the Outside Lane. I have mixed feelings about the NASCAR using it. I had to think deeply and even sleep on my decision last night. I appreciate NASCAR trying new ideas and applaud them for their continued efforts to try to improve competition at Kentucky Speedway. At this point, improving anything at Kentucky is a lost cause thought. The race, in its enirety showed flashes of excitement, but for the wrong reasons. Excitement rose each time when a wreck was starting or two drivers hit each other. Because drivers have to rely on momentum now kore than ever, they have to rely on their acuity on executing the Slide Job, which is when a driver enters a set of corners further and faster than another driver and slides up into their lane. It rarely worked last nighr and eesulted in tempers flaring afterwards. If that’s the only dray to watch a race at Kentucky, then NASCAR has a fundamental issue with keeping Kentucky Speedway on the sechedule at all.
The post-race activities were spectacular last night. Harrison Burton and Noah Gragson fought briefly and Michael Annett and Daniel Hemric fought briefly. I don’t envy being anyone in the competition meeting at JR Motorsports on Monday moring. That’s undoubtedly going to breed a palpable level of awkwardness. Gragson needs to learn more patience and calculate the execution of his moves. He’s got to be certain that they are high-percentage moves if he thinks he’s going to succeed in the Cup Series one day. High-percentage passes are those that a driver has certainty that he or she will complete without causing an accident or hitting another driver.
Toyota Racing, as an entire organization, has been noticeably struggling lately. Denny Hamlin has been the only driver who has been consistently performing at peak output. It is fair to say inexperience contributes to the lack of production. That is undoubtedly showing in the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series lineup at Kyle Busch Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series lineup. It’s time for Brandon Jones to move on from the NASCAR Xfinity Series and possibly be the veteran leader that Kyle Busch Motorsports desperately needs. Toyota’s best option is to either sign Myatt Snider or Brett Moffitt or demote Erik Jones until Truex or Hamlin retires. I like Erik but he needs a boost of confidence and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity Series team needs a more productive veteran leader tahn Brandon Jones. Demoting Jones might not be as far fetched as people think. Gibbs undoubtedly notices the mistake he made expressing Jones career because Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick, who each competed in the Xfinity Series for two seasons and are rookies this season, are continually outpacing him by a large margin.
Racing at Kentucky in NASCAR Heat video games is tumultuous. It is so difficult to be consistent. It might be that I’m using a controller though. I’m hoping to get a steering wheel soon.
The next stop for the series is My Bariatric Solutions 300 from Texas Motor Speedway, on July 18 at 3 PM ET/12 PM PT.
The rivalry between Cindric and Chase Briscoe will escalate next week. Comparing the drivers’ statistics, Briscoe has the advantage. He was battling for the lead with Christopher Bell last November when Garrett Smithley hit Bell and wrecked both leaders. Briscoe led 26 laps that day but Cindric led zero. However, Cindric has momentum after his performances at Kentucky. I predict the race will be won on an overtime restart by Brisco. I hope NASCAR uses the traction compound at Texas, although it won’t help the competitiveness of the race enough. They shouldn’t have reconfigured the track because they completed ruined it.
Force Factor: 65%