Gander Outdoor Truck Series

Mullins: Why You Should Be Happy With NASCAR Right Now

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Let’s face it, NASCAR has had its up’s and down’s. Whether you’re tired of all the “cookie cutter” tracks or are still livid about the rules and how the All-Star Race was, get over it. In the last two weeks, if not the whole season, we have seen the racing returning to NASCAR, and that’s a damn good thing!

So far this season, the NASCAR on-track product has been great; not just in the Sprint Cup Series, but XFINITY and Camping World Trucks, too.

In the first six NCWTS races we’ve had five different winners, with only one coming from a Cup regular in Kyle Busch. Not saying that Busch or other Cup regulars haven’t been in the mix for race wins, they simply haven’t been dominating like in previous seasons.

With the Chase format coming to the trucks for the final seven races of the season – New Hampshire, Las Vegas, Talladega, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami – and only eight sports up for grabs, the NCWTS may be just the series to watch later this season. Of those eight spots, four are already occupied by Johnny Sauter (Daytona), John Hunter Nemechek (Atlanta), William Byron (Kansas), and Matt Crafton (Dover, Charlotte). There are only 10 more races to determine the final four.

Just like the trucks, the XFINITY Chase will have seven races in their Chase for the championship in 2016, but will start with 12 drivers in the first three races, then eight in the next three races, and then the final four at Homestead-Miami to race for the title.

However, there is a big difference from XFINITY to Trucks. Of the 10 races in XFINTIY this season, only three of them have been won by NXS Chase-eligible drivers – Erik Jones (Bristol, Dover) and Elliott Sadler (Talladega). Some may look at this as bad, but with that many open slots and 30+ drivers eligible, this should make for some good racing over the next 16 races.

Despite having seven of the 10 races won by Cup regulars, the XFINTIY Series has produced some great racing on track. With the addition of the Dash 4 Cash heat races and main event and a new track on the schedule, some excitement has been pumped into NASCAR’s second-tier series which has been known as “Cup Light” for many years.

Although there are no changes to the NXS in the foreseeable future, the waves that NASCAR is making this season is definitely for the best.

Now for the Cup Series. In my opinion, the NSCS has been so much better this year with its on-track activities. We have had great finishes which started in The Great American Race, the Daytona 500, and again a few weeks later at Phoenix International Raceway in the Good Sam 500.

Take out those two photo finishes and there is still so much to be happy about this season.

Some may say it’s the decrease in downforce, or the tire compound that Goodyear is using. Either way, keep it up, we have been given a great show this season and I hope it continues.

Over the last two weekends, we have seen some of the best racing this season. In the AAA 400 from Dover International Speedway, we had side-by side racing, passing for the lead, and not to mention the three-dog race of Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, and Chase Elliott to the checkers.

The Monster Mile lived up to its name two weekends ago in the triple-header. Not only was the Cup race the best race I’ve seen at my home track in a long time, the NXS and NCWTS race were great, too!

Now, what can I say about this past weekend for the All-Star race. Yes, people are still mad about the rules because they didn’t understand them, and to be honest, I was a little lost, too. However, as much as people have been complaining about the rules and procedures, I don’t hear people talking about the racing we saw.

Yes, the Kenseth snafu and everything might have been a mess, but the race was great. I don’t know about you, but the rules actually added excitement to the evening, in my opinion, because no one really knew what was going on.

Charlotte has been a track in the past that only really had one racing groove as the night goes on, but when I saw multiple grooves being utilized, the side-by-side racing, and the intensity the drivers had, I’m really excited for this weekend’s Coke 600.

Everything that has been stated about the Cup series has been a positive sign, but the true breath of fresh air has been the Rookie of the Year battle between Elliott and Ryan Blaney. In the recent years, the ROTY battle has been lackluster, but with these two young guns in top-notch equipment,it has been a show to watch in itself.

So many fans have been begging for the drivers to go back to racing and not play follow the leader around the tracks. I think NASCAR has found a happy medium.

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About Jacob Mullins

Jacob Mullins serves as the managing editor and senior NASCAR writer covering all three national touring series's. You can find him on on Twitter at @JMulls15. An intercollegiate athletic administrator by trade, Mullins can be found at the big tracks as well as the local short tracks in the Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area. Mullins enjoys social media, photography and graphic design. A native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, Mullins follows all forms of racing, Major League Baseball (Baltimore Orioles) and college football (Virginia Tech Hokies).

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