NASCAR is back, and it’s better than ever!

The long awaited 2021 NASCAR season is finally under way, and we could not have asked for a better start. Two first time winners, a second time winner and only two drivers have finished the first three races inside the top 10. So why does year seem like the best one ever? Well, it’s quite simple really.

Firstly, just looking at the first three races there have been so many comers and goers throughout the races, and whoever is fastest in the first stage generally is nowhere by the end of the race. This has partially been through incidents and other stuff, but there have still been a lot of unfamiliar leaders of the races so far this season. Obviously some teams will keep improving week by week, and soon there will be some regulars at the front each week. But looking at the slower teams, they have definitely improved over the winter, so if they can just keep their current pace up, Front Row, JTG, RCR and Roush will absolutely have a chance be in the mix by the end of the year.

Secondly, the drivers who have already qualified for the playoffs are Michael McDowell, Christopher Bell and William Byron. In my opinion there are nine drivers who were pretty much guaranteed to make the playoffs heading in to Daytona, and neither of the three winners so far are on that list (5, 9, 4, 2, 12, 22, 11, 18 & 19). Both Bell and Byron are absolutely fast enough to make it in on points had they not scored their wins, and I think most people expected them to win at some point during the season, but with these three already securing their spots and none of the above nine having won a race yet, there’s basically just four spots left to race for. Unless of course, one of those “guaranteed” drivers does not make it. Cause let’s face it, it’s NASCAR and anything can happen. And another win by someone who generally does not make the top 16 in points means there’s even less spots left to fight for.

Third, look at the variety of tracks. Seven road courses where a lot of young drivers seems to show surpisingly good pace, a dirt track where no one has a clue what will happen and four superspeedways where anyone can win. Then there are the regular ovals of course, which always provides great racing, and the odd surprise winner every now and again.

On another note I’ve seen a lot of people say that McDowell’s win was a fluke and that he doesn’t belong in the playoffs, but looking at the first three races, he is the only one along side Kevin Harvick to have finished all three races in the top 10 so far this season. I am honestly surprised by that myself, but at the same time I’m loving what I’m seeing. That team has been struggling for a long time, and they’re finally finding success. I just hope Anthony Alfredo will find that same pace before long. Richard Childress Racing is another team I hope will be able to keep their improved pace going. While Tyler Reddick has been struggling so far, up until halfway through the final stage at Homestead, Austin Dillon has shown great pace by winning his duel at Daytona, scoring a bunch of stage points and finishing 3rd in the 500. He showed great improvements at the Road Course and then kept right around the top 10 for most of the day at Homestead.

We’re only three races in to the season, but I stand by my word that this is going to be one of the best ones in a long time. At this points there are literally 30 drivers capable of scoring one of those 16 playoff spots, and the rate we’re going at now, you might even end up needing a win to be there. Bring on Las Vegas!

2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is finally here!

A couple of weeks ago the highly anticipated schedule for next years NASCAR Cup Series was released, and the first thing I am going to say about it is just good job NASCAR! I am not completely on board with everything, but then again, there is never going to be a schedule that will keep everyone happy. But with the amount of changes they made, next season looks like it is going to be incredible. The first thing I look for though when a new schedule is released, is how many races on back-to-back weekends are located geographically close enough to each other that you can go to both and make a two week trip out of it. On this schedule there are a few, so that is absolutely a big plus, but more on that at a later stage. If you haven’t yet seen the schedule, you can easily find it on

They are starting off as usual with what is now the Daytona Speedweek, which was announced ages ago. However, with the Gen 7 car being pushed back to 2022, I was somewhat hoping that the Clash would be moved back to the oval. That obviously did not happen, so I’m not going to get my expectations up for that particular event. If it is anything like the race we saw on the road course earlier this year, it’s a one and done, then for the following season they are back on the oval.

Following Daytona, they are heading straight for Homestead-Miami, mainly to allow fans from afar to attend both weekends in one trip, thus help attendance. An interesting change to the schedule as we are used to seeing Homestead be the final race of the season, and now it’s going to be the second race. This is also great for people like myself as it gives fans a chance for a two week vacation with the possibility to enjoy up to nine days of racing within two weeks.

The west coast swing as they call it will keep its early slot on the schedule with just a minor change, where Auto Club is first up, followed by Las Vegas and Phoenix. A good change in my opinion as it’s nice to see the tracks move around a little bit, so we don’t end up with the same order year after year. There is an even bigger change coming to this part of the schedule for 2022, but I’ll be giving my view on that over the off-season.

Both Atlanta and Darlington are getting a second race each, which is one of the upsides to this schedule in my opinion. Atlanta has one of, if not the oldest surface on the circuit at the moment, and the racing there is always great because of this. It’s one of the few tracks where the drivers are constantly on the edge, even with this high downforce package they are running. Darlington is also a great track that puts on a heck of a show just about every time. The first thing that popped in to my head about that though is that the Southern 500 is one of the crown jewels of NASCAR, and now you’re going to have two races there? Well, upon a little bit closer inspection, the first race will be 310.6 miles (500 kilometres) with the second race being the 500 mile race. So that got cleared up quiet quickly.

The downside of this is that both Chicagoland and Kentucky are losing their dates. It’s never fun to see a track lose their races, and Chicagoland in particular usually puts on a good show. Hopefully these tracks will be back on the schedule soon, but then again, if you limit it to 36 races, there are only so many tracks you can go too.

The All-Star race is moving to Texas Motor Speedway. I like the idea of moving it around to a new track every season, but I would at least try and put it in close relation to the next or previous race so that you could attend two weekends, like they did with the 10 days of Thunder at Charlotte with the All-Star and Coca-Cola 600 being on back-to-back weekends. Here however they are racing on a Sunday, with the previous race being at Sonoma and the next one being in Nashville. Unless they are racing the Xfinity Series there on that same weekend, I just don’t see how they are ever going to get a decent attendance.

There are also a few new track added to the schedule, and this is probably my biggest question mark for this whole season. SIX road courses for next year (seven if you count the Clash), increasing it from the previous number of three. While most Chase Elliott fans are probably loving this, I myself am still not too sure on this. Three of these races will happen within five weeks as well, which is a bit odd, but hopefully they will put on a great show.

Since I’m not a big fan of neither Road America not Circuit Of The Americas though, I guess I might be biased, but I will give it a fair chance before judging it too much. The Brickyard 400 is being moved to the Indianapolis Road Course, which the Xfinity Series put on a great show at earlier this year, and then Dover is moving one of its races to Nashville Superspeedway, which I have no personal reference of what so ever, so that’s going to be a very interesting race to see how it unfolds. And last be absolutely not least, Bristol is changing one of its races to run on dirt?! It is probably going to be an amazing show, but people have been screaming for more short tracks, then they go and take 25% of the short track races and put it on dirt. I don’t really understand how that idea happened, but hopefully it will be a great race.

The playoffs remain pretty much unchanged, with only a couple of races switching positions. But having Daytona as the regular season finale, then Bristol, the ROVAL and Martinsville as the cutoff races yet again is the best they could’ve done.

Overall I am very excited about next seasons schedule, and it’s got a great potential for some very interesting and exciting races, and I thing we might see some surprise winners again. And again, the face that it’s giving us people living overseas quite a few options for travel if you want to attend two weekends in one go is amazing. But until the Xfinity and Truck Series schedules are released, I won’t be able to take a proper look at that bit, so I will simply leave that for something to write about during the off-season.

For now, let’s finish up 2020 with a bang!

/Linus Broström

Which genius came up with this for a Round of 12?

Having Talladega and the Charlotte ROVAL back-to-back to finish up the Round of 12. As a driver I would absolutely hate this, but from a fan standpoint, this is one of the smartest things NASCAR have done in recent years. The outcome of the first race at Las Vegas basically dictates how your next two weeks will be, and with the shaken up result we got, the next two weeks are bound to be insane!

With the surprise win by the hometown hero Kurt Busch, he is through to the Round of 8, meaning there is no pressure on him at all at Talladega and the ROVAL. He said himself that they are still going to be chasing after more playoff points and try to build on this momentum, but should he get in the big one at Talladega, it’s not really that big of a deal. For the rest of the field though, it’s a whole other story.

Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin are 61 and 58 points above the cut line, which essentially means that they have a race in hand. So these two basically just needs to go in to Talladega and survive. While you might think that would be the plan for all of them, Brad Keselowski in 4th is just 16 points above the cut line, and should any of the drivers below the cut line win at Talladega, all of a sudden he is just seven points clear.

This means that for all the other nine playoff drivers there is not room for playing it safe at Talladega. They will just have to go for as many points as they can all throughout this race. That may sound like a given, to go for the max amount of points, but at Talladega, that is not always the case. While racing hard at the front to score points increases the risk of getting in a crash, I think you’d much rather be out of the playoffs cause you tried and got caught in the big one, than be out of the playoffs cause you sat at the back and just waited for something that never came.

While just about everyone has a chance to win at Talladega, the three drivers still in the playoffs I see with the best chance to win and advance are Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola and for obvious reasons, Joey Logano.  Then there are all the drivers looking to cap off their seasons with a win and spoil the party for those still running for a championship. Ryan Blaney, Matt DiBenedetto, Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Newman are just some of the names we can expect to see up front most of the race.

The tricky part here for the playoff drivers is that these other drivers have absolutely nothing to lose. While they’re still racing for their positions in the drivers and owners standings, if they have the slightest chance of winning the race at Talladega, they are going to take risks and make moves that a playoff driver normally wouldn’t make. So the race at Talladega this upcoming weekend is going to be one heck of a show, for many different reasons.

Even if you get in a wreck at Talladega, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the playoffs are over though, as there is still another race to go. The ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway. So for drivers like Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr who will most likely be up front at the ROVAL, Talladega might not be that much of a worry. This is racing though, and anything can happen, especially in NASCAR.

/Linus Broström

Double the fun going into Bristol

This upcoming weekend at Bristol is set to be great in every way possible, and all the main three divisions of NASCAR have big races coming up. It’s a Cup Series cut-off race, it’s the Xfinity Series regular season finale, and it’s the Playoff opener for the Truck Series.

First up is the Truck Series, where ten drivers have qualified for the playoffs, it’s pretty straight forward for everyone involved. Three rounds where the top 8 advance, and with the gap from Sheldon Creed in 1st down to Tyler Ankrum on 10th being only 24 points, these playoffs are wide open.

For the Xfinity Series season finale, the playoff field is pretty much set. The gap from Brandon Brown in 12th to Jeremy Clements in 13th is 49 points, so it’s going to take a minor miracle for Clements to make the playoffs. However, the win and you’re in-formula could easily change this and put Brown outside the playoff. I honestly don’t see this happening, but it’s racing, so anything can happen.

On Saturday night the first cut-off race of the Cup Series playoffs will take place. There are five drivers within 12 points around the cut-off line, and basically 13 drivers who can still fall out. Joey Logano (+51), Martin Truex Jr. (+38) and Austin Dillon (+36) are all somewhat safe to advance, if they just have decent races and stay in it to the end. Chase Elliott (+28 and Alex Bowman (+27) are in similar situations but are still going to have to score some stage points just to stay in full control of their own destinies. The first driver that has to be somewhat worried is Kyle Busch. Despite being 18 points clear of the cut line, he is still going to need a solid race to make sure he advances through to the Round of 12. I don’t think any of these drivers will have to be too worried about making it, but there is always the element of surprise in racing, and when it comes to NASCAR, always expect the unexpected.

Aric Almirola (+7), Kurt Busch (+7), Clint Bowyer (+3), William Byron (-3) and Cole Custer (-8) are all basically just racing each other, and just like the trio at Talladega, this will be the main group to keep an eye on if you want to see some exciting racing. With them all being well capable of finishing in the top 10, or maybe even scoring a win, these guys will race harder than ever for every stage point they can get, as one single point could be the difference between making the Round of 12, and being knocked out of the playoffs. Looking at the races at Bristol from earlier this year, all these drivers the speed to fight for the top 10 throughout, though for Almirola and Custer it ended in a pair of crashes, ultimately they are all very similar speed which is set to make this an incredible race. As we saw last time as well with the leaders, tempers will flare come the end of this race and I would not be too surprised if we see someone get turned for a spot in the Round of 12.

For Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney, Bristol is pretty much straight forward. Unless there’s a major crash taking out several of the previously mentioned contenders, both these drivers basically have to win to advance. They are only 25 and 27 points out respectively, but with the amount of points at least three of those five drivers are most likely going to score, these two will either have to be up front all day long, scoring the maximum points in all stages, or simply just win the race.

I would love to be able to predict what is going to happen at Bristol, but it is literally the me most unpredictable race of the playoffs in my opinion, simply because it’s a short track, with so much on the line for so many. However, Chase Elliott is going to follow up on his All-Star success and score the win, Blaney will have a great day score just enough points to advance, while Almirola will join Byron, Custer and DiBenedetto below the cut line and outside the Round of 12.

/Linus Broström

The 2020 NASCAR playoffs are finally here!

It’s been a weird season so far, with COVID, iRacing, double headers, mid-week races and some driver controversies. But now, it’s finally time for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, and boy is it going to be good!

Kevin Harvick has dominated the whole season along with Denny Hamlin, together scoring half the wins of the regular season. So going in to the playoffs, these two obviously have the upper hand, starting out with more points than anybody else. Looking at the different rounds though, I’m not so sure it’s going to be just a walk in the park into the Final 4 for both of them.

Round of 16 is compiled of three short tracks, if you want to call Darlington a short track, but It sort of drives like one. Then the Round of 12 is Las Vegas, Talladega and the ROVAL at Charlotte. This is probably going to be the toughest round for most of the playoff drivers, mainly because Talladega is a free-for-all, and not everyone is great at road courses. So to get through this one, you are going to have to be outperforming your expectations every single race. The Round of 8 is two 1.5 mile tracks, with Martinsville as the cut-off for the Final 4, and that is going to be one heck of a race. Then the final is a Phoenix, where I’m expecting Harvick to win the Championship, should he make the cut for the Final 4.

Starting off though with the Round of 16, there are a few key points when looking at the field. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin is one, with their domination and whether that will continue or not. He cut-off races throughout these playoffs being Bristol, the ROVAL and Martinsville makes for some really tricky situations for the drivers battling for those final spots at each cut. Will Matt DiBenedetto be able to score his first playoff points, and will he even be able to make it through the first round? What will Austin Dillon and Cole Custer be able to accomplish? These were the two drivers that got in solely based on their wins, so will they be able to back that up, or will they fall out straight away.

Then there is Kyle Busch. The reigning champion who is yet to win a race in 2020. He is going into these playoffs with three total playoff points. One from a stage win, and two from finishing the regular season in 9th place. Will he even be able to make it through the first round? I’m fairly confident he will, specially considering the speed he showed earlier this year at Darlington. He is always a contender at Bristol as well, so even if he doesn’t get his first win of the season in this round, I expect him to rack up enough points to go through.

My predictions for the Round of 16 and the drivers who will not advance are: Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron and Cole Custer. As much as I want DiBenedetto to go through, I just don’t think he will be able to pull it off. And putting Dillon through to the Round of 12? Well, that probably comes from him being my favourite driver, and me wishing him more luck and points than he will probably get.

/ Linus Broström