DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – After a ho-hum Clash last Sunday, what can we expect for the next race on the NASCAR schedule – The Duels? Will Thursday night’s races be just as tame or can we expect more side-by-side racing?
No one wants to tear up a bunch of equipment. When 38 of the 42 drivers know they have a guaranteed starting spot in the field, what’s there to risk? While points are on the line, are they worth the risk?
Some drivers said on Thursday that they’ll play it more conservative, others say they have the green light to race without any pressure. So what happens in the 60 Lap races?
I have a feeling a majority of action in each Duel will be single file again. Why push it early? You need to be there in the end after all. With the drivers on Sunday saying one of the reasons for the single file racing being the cooler temperatures and max grip levels, they could trim out and still have enough grip in their Goodyear tires to stick to the banking. Thursday night will be even cooler, so mix that with races not being won in the first 45-50 Laps, why make any dangerous moves early?
Then, if the drivers all go to the high line, it’s going to be a parade. Some of the drivers were saying that this new restrictor plate package at Daytona and Talladega only allows using the side draft on the right side of these cars. When they’re all running up against the SAFER barriers in the banking, how can you side draft?
The engines are wound up running the high line and if you pull out to go low, you lose the momentum.
Rick Hendrick has cars on the front row in each race. It’s honestly a tough position to be in though. Does William Byron and Alex Bowman risk crashing and giving up a front row starting spot for the Daytona 500, or just go to the back and get by?
“We want to be in the Sunday race, and we don’t want to put the cars in any unnecessary harm’s way, but we’re going to — we’ve got to find out what we’ve got so we’re going to race,” said the team owner. “It’s kind of a two-edged sword when you’re on the front row. You don’t want to take a chance on tearing up a really good car, but you’ve got to figure out what you have, too. So we’re going to race.”
Last year’s Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon said that he’s going to go for it too. While he doesn’t want to crash his primary car, calling it a bullet and that it’s clearly the better car, but he does have the luxury of going to a backup car and a guaranteed starting spot.
Michael McDowell says he’s going for the win and will race too. Ryan Blaney says that while he will be racing, he will be racing more cautiously. Maybe, some of the moves that you’d make in the Daytona 500, you don’t even attempt to do so on Thursday night.