MENCS Opinions

Handy: Will The Streak of First-Time Winners in 2017 Continue?


The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season already has three different first-time winners heading into Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 from Michigan International Speedway. With this season giving drivers their first taste of victory lane in NASCAR’s top series we could see a fourth different winner after 400 miles.

The current stretch of first-time Cup winners started on May 7 at Talladega Superspeedway when Ricky Stenhouse Jr driver of the No. 17 claimed his first victory in five full-time seasons with Roush Fenway Racing.

Just two races later on May 28, Austin Dillon driver of the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing won the Coca-Cola 600 which is NASCAR’s longest race of the season by saving just enough fuel to claim his first MENCS victory. Dillon was so close on fuel that he wasn’t even able to complete the celebratory burn out that many drivers do after a win.

Ryan Blaney driver of the No. 21 added to the current stretch by winning last Sunday’s Pocono 400 for the Wood Brothers and claiming his first win in NASCAR’s top series. Wood Brothers Racing hadn’t seen victory lane since Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 in just his second Cup start which was his first and is his only Cup victory in his career to this point.

Let’s not forget the current trend of first time winners actually dates back to Pocono last August 1 when Chris Buescher, who was then driving for Front Row Motorsports won a rain and fog shortened race. Buescher and his team chose to stay out when a caution was called and he was in the lead. The race was eventually called on lap 138.

Kyle Larson would also break through at Michigan International Raceway in his third full-time season for his first Cup series victory, the victory came just three races after Buescher won.

None of this is a surprise. The talent coming into the MENCS is top notch and these drivers are all in competitive equipment to get wins. The recent streak is not only exciting for fans, but is showing the Young Guns really can race with the veterans and get the job done.

While fans are still waiting to see 2016 Rookie of the Year winner Chase Elliott breakthrough for his first win there is also the young talents of Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Ty Dillon, and Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. whom made his Cup debut with Richard Petty Motorsports in the iconic No. 43 last weekend at Pocono.

Except for Wallace who only made his debut last weekend all the other young guns without a win have consistently run in the top 15, if not the top 5-10 on a regular basis. Consistently running up front will bring one of these other guys to victory lane.

After Blaney won on Sunday Jones said, “It really makes the other young guys, me, Chase, Daniel (Suarez), all feel like we do have a shot to go up and do it.”

In my opinion, I believe we will see Elliott and Jones break through next for their first wins. Jones finished last week’s race at Pocono in the third position, while Elliott finished in the 8th position and both will be carrying momentum into Sunday’s race.

Will Sunday’s race give another young gun their first win? It sure looks possible with the way this season has been playing out. Tune into Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 from Michigan International Speedway, 3pm EST on FS1 to see if the streak continues.

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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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