The NASCAR Sprint Cup season has had 10 races heading into Saturday night’s 5-hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway, and Fox analyst Larry McReynolds, a former NASCAR championship crew chief, broke down the season to this point.
•What’s been the story line of the season so far?
“One of the big stories is in the first 10 races, we’ve had eight different winners. All three manufacturers have won. Five different organizations have gone to victory lane. Nobody seems to have any type of dominance right now. The story is not just who has won, it’s who has not won. When you look at three of our past champions sitting high in the points — Jeff Gordon’s leading, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, two guys who were battling for the championship last year — did you ever think we’d be a fourth of the way through the season and those guys are winless? And throw in Tony Stewart, too.”
•What are your thoughts on the new Chase format?
“It’s changed the mind-set. These guys are truly all about winning. They know if you win, especially if you win two like Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano have done, you’ve punched your ticket to the Chase. When you think about drivers who we don’t talk about much, if they can steal a race on fuel mileage, Kansas is a place where it can be done. Is that a place where Casey Mears or AJ Allmendinger … not only is that a place they can win a race, but it puts them in the Chase this year.”
•Do you see any flaws in the format?
“The only thing I questioned about it in the beginning was taking the top four drivers after nine races and re-racking them going into Homestand. But the more I thought about it, the more I embraced it. There are no more scenarios going into Homestead. It used to make my brain hurt … if Jimmie Johnson finishes 19th, he wins the championship … if he finishes 20th but leads a lap … there are no scenarios. Those four drivers, those four teams, whoever beats who will be the champion. If you win the race, you’re going to be the champion.”
•What has surprised you so far this season?
“Kyle Larson. A lot of focus was on our rookies. This young group of rookies has come a long way. There was a lot of focus on Austin Dillon, and rightfully so, winning the pole at Daytona and driving the No. 3. But this Kyle Larson, … once we start making the second trip to these tracks, we’re going to be talking about him a lot more. He’s got five top-10 finishes in 10 races this season.”
•What’s been disappointing?
“The Roush Fenway group a little bit. Carl Edwards won Bristol, but when you look at how well the Penske Fords are running with the same engine package, other than that win at Bristol, Roush doesn’t have a whole lot to hang their hat on.”