Monday, February 22, 2016

Top 3 Positive Sprint Cup Surprises
After Daytona 500

By Jens Sennelind

#7 Chevrolet, Regan Smith
Tommy Baldwin Racing



#7 Chevrolet, Regan Smith Tommy Baldwin Racing
Regan Smith, age 32, was driving full-time in the Xfinity Series prior to 2016 season (2013-2015). He has also driven full-time in Sprint Cup before, but never really got that ”lucky break” to stay consistent with his race results.

Career highlights happened in 2011, when Regan collected his only win in Sprint Cup together with two top-five and five top-ten finishes. Regan has raced at Daytona 13 times in his career with three top-five and five top-ten finishes as highlights.

In the 2016 Daytona 500, Regan made his Sprint Cup “comeback” at from position twenty-seven on the starting grid with a new team (Tommy Baldwin Racing-TBR) and ended up P8. That is a very impressing team debut for Regan Smith. Perhaps he can get solid season again?

#42 Chevrolet, Kyle Larson
Chip Ganassi Racing w/FS

#42 Chevrolet, Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing w/FS
Kyle Larson, age 23, started his 2016 Sprint Cup season in a positive way with a seventh place finish at Daytona 500. Starting from position fourteen, young Kyle was in the forward pack for most of the 200 laps.

Kyle started his full career season 2014 in Sprint Cup with very impressing stats (eight top-five, and seventeen top-tens). Unfortunately, his 2015 stats declined somewhat (two top-five and only ten top-tens). Further his average finishes were lower comparing to the starts (S:13.3, F: 19.3).

That’s perfectly normal and I think Kyle is settled in to be a full-time Sprint Cup driver. We are all waiting for Kyle’s first checkered flag and I think he could get it this season.

#59 (95) Chevrolet, Michael McDowell
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing
 

#59 (95) Chevrolet, Michael McDowell Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing
Michael McDowell, age 31, normally drives part-time In Sprint Cup and has done so since 2014. Now, with the newly merged race team Circle Sport –Leavine Family Racing, the plan is to run full-time in car #59 and #95, splitting the seat with Ty Dillon.

Starting the Daytona 500 in P39 (!), Michael drove his Chevrolet hard all 200 laps and got a impressing fifteen place finish. Only one-time before in his career has Michael ended up with a better Daytona 500 finish and that was a P9 finish in 2013, driving for Phil Parsons Racing.

I like what I see in this new merged team and I’m thinking maybe this season can be a jump forward for Michael McDowell’s career.

Photos: NASCAR Media

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