2018 NASCAR Preview & Predictions

Well NASCAR fans, we are slowly but surely inching our way closer to the start of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR cup series season, which unofficially kicks off with the Clash at Daytona on Feb. 11. With only about a month to go, it’s not hard to imagine the sound of forty screaming engines ringing in your ears as they head down the front stretch of Daytona International Speedway. I know the staff here at Honky Tonk Haven can’t wait for the new season to start, as we’re already planning our Daytona 500 party (Hint: there will be lots of beer, and lots of beer battered brats consumed at said party).  But before we all get carried away chugging Busch beer, let’s take a look at what fans can expect during the new year.

New Faces in Victory Lane

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  • It’s no secret that over the last few years NASCAR has lost some of its biggest stars. From future Hall of Famers like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, and Dale Jr, to fan favorite Danica Patrick, who will make her last run in this year’s 500, some of the sport’s most prominent drivers have left and will leave huge voids that need to be filled in this new year. Enter the new generation of young guns. Fans are already familiar with Kyle Larson and Chase Elliot, who have been tearing up the race track and mixing it up with veterans the last few seasons. But 2018 sees a few more new faces enter the mix with Alex Bowman in the #88 and William Byron in the #24. With so much of the old guard retiring or getting pushed out of the sport, look for at least a few new winners this season. Honky Tonk Haven Prediction: At least three new winners in 2018, with Chase Elliot, William Byron, and Erik Jones all finding victory lane.

New Chevy Camaro in Cup Series

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Camaro SS from the Xfinity Series
  • As many of y’all already know, Chevy will be fielding the new Camaro ZL1 during the 2018 season. The change marks a notable one from the previous Chevy SS, which while still sporty was a much less popular car than the Camaro. And while Chevy is almost certainly expecting the new ride to generate interest in Camaros off the track for new consumers, Chevrolet Cup teams are hoping the new ride levels the playing field with Toyota. Toyota dominated the 2018 playoffs, winning 8 of 10 races, and even though all cars are subject to strict regulation to ensure parity, Ford and Chevy drivers complained that the new Toyota Camry had a significant edge over the field. Ford driver Brad Keselowski even claimed on twitter that folks “Haven’t seen NASCAR let a manufacturer get this far ahead since the 70s.” Honky Tonk Haven Prediction: Chevy teams are more competitive this year and hang with the Toyota Camry. Ford falls further behind.

Schedule Changes

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  • A new year means new dates on the NASCAR schedule. Changes include the addition of a second race in Las Vegas, which will be held on September 16 and serve as the kickoff to the NASCAR playoffs. As a result of the new Vegas race, New Hampshire will lose its playoff race and hold only one race on July 22nd. The Richmond fall races will also become a playoff race and will be held on September 22nd, and the Brickyard 400 will serve as the new regular season finale on September 9th. But the most exciting part of the new schedule is without a doubt the inclusion of the Charlotte “Roval” race on September 30th. This is exciting for two reasons, one of which is there is finally a road course in the Playoffs! A fair playoff should reflect every type of race track from the regular season, and with the new addition it finally does. The second exciting aspect of the new event is its unlike anything in NASCAR before it. Unlike tradition road courses, this track is half oval half road course, hence the nickname “Roval”. It’ll be interesting to see which drivers excel at the new layout. Honky Tonk Haven Prediction: The Charlotte Roval will be one of the most exciting races of the playoffs, and a surprise winner will find their way to victory lane.

More Honky Tonk Haven Predictions:

  • Daytona 500 Winner: Ricky Stenhouse Jr (He dominated the plate tracks in 2017, and will write his name into NASCAR history this year by winning the sport’s biggest race).
  • Regular Season Champion: Kyle Busch (Also a force to be reckoned with, expect Busch to be up front from the very start of the season and very often.)
  • Playoff Drivers (Not in order):
    • Kyle Busch
    • Martin Truex Jr
    • Kevin Harvick
    • Chase Elliot
    • Jimmie Johnson
    • Brad Keselowski
    • William Byron
    • Denny Hamlin
    • Austin Dillon
    • Ricky Stenhouse Jr
    • Erik Jones
    • Clint Bowyer
    • Ryan Blaney
    • Joey Logano
    • Kyle Larson
    • AJ Allmendinger
  • Championship Four
    • Kyle Busch
    • Chase Elliot
    • Kyle Larson
    • Brad Keselowski
  • 2018 NASCAR Champion: Kyle Larson

 

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One thought on “2018 NASCAR Preview & Predictions

  1. Pumped for the new Chevy’s in 2018, can’t wait for the fresh talent coming up, especially the likes of Bubba Wallace Jr and William Byron. Byron has all the talent in the world but I don’t see him making the playoffs in his first year.

    Liked by 1 person

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