As Ricky Stenhouse Jr wins at Daytona, the playoff picture gets a little foggier

Not many questions regarding the playoff picture were answered on this CHAOTIC Daytona night. What we do know? Ricky Stenhouse and Roush Fenway Racing is a real restrictor plate threat. We also know that Clint Bowyer, who finished second, is still incredibly consistent. Although he hasn’t grabbed a win yet this year, he sure has turned some heads and opened some eyes. The second place finish puts him 15th in the playoff standings, he will have to race his behind off to stay there.

Joey Logano. After winning the 2015 Daytona 500, Joey solidified his presence as a restrictor player racer. Such a statement was not reinforced after Kyle Busch had a right front tire go down and spun over the nose of Kurt Busch. Kyle Busch was then t-boned by the bright yellow 22 car and Joey’s day was done. He sits 3 points out of the top 16 in points. 

Almost teammates Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones were setting up for a good finish late in the race until contact with Jamie McMurray sent them both spinning on the backstretch, both of their days went over a speed bump. Jones recovered to 9th and Hamlin landed in 24th.

Heading into his final full time cup start at Daytona Dale Jr was facing tons of pressure. After he had a tire go down in the tri-oval, followed by an aggressive tap going into turn one early on in the race, his day looked to be done. But he got back on the lead lap and fought all the way back up to 6th. His day was looking up, you could almost see a light in the cloud floating over the 88 machine. Then Kevin Harvick blew a tire and swept up the 88 machine. His day was over. Many fans were disappointed but none more than Dale Jr himself, this was the final race at the track that he and his late father dominated at. Due to uncontrollable circumstances, Dale Jr couldn’t live up to the hype and he couldn’t add one more win to the Earnhardt column and likely never will. 

On a lighter note, Ricky Stenhouse finds his way back into victory lane. Such a feat has rejuvenated and revitalized Stenhouse’s career. Stenhouse has voiced his interest in having a Joey Logano-like career. Have a rough few beginning years followed by hardly paralled domination. On an even lighter note, Ricky Stenhouse victories may be the only chance Danica Patrick has to visit victory lane. Many questions about her ability to perform have begun to pop up recently. Even rumors about this being her last season have surfaced. Is this Danica’s last season in cup?

To summarize the playoff picture, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliot, and Jamie McMurray are safe inside the top 16. Hamlin, Bowyer, and Kenseth sit right on the inside hoping for a smooth ride into Chicagoland speedway. Drivers Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, and Trevor Bayne are all right outside the top 16 scratching at the door begging to be let in. It’s going to be a wild final 9 races before the playoffs.


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