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A few Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series predictions for 2018

The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is already a race old with last weekend’s running of the Daytona 500, but as some say, this weekend is the start of the regular season, as Daytona is its own animal, of sorts. So, maybe its not too late to get in some “preseason” predictions, of sorts.

I see reigning champion Martin Truex Jr. doing well, again, this year, but I don’t think he’ll be able to make it look so easy this time around. Last year, it it seemed to take several races before many of Truex’s fellow-competitors to realize the importance of stage points and racing for stage wins or at least stage finishes near the front while Truex and others like Kyle Larson took to it right from the get-go. After seeing a year of stage racing, I’m thinking that won’t be the case in 2018. I think other drivers will get with the program right out of the gate.

While I think Truex and his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team will do well this year, I’m not picking them to repeat as season champions. I’m going with the aforementioned Larson. Barring some mechanical demons in last year’s playoff, Larson probably would’ve been right in the thick of things at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November. I’m thinking Larson will be there this year.

I’m also thinking of a strong showing from the Toyota camp, as a whole, at least early on. I mean, it’s hard to bet against Kyle Busch, isn’t it. Meanwhile, like Toyota struggled with its new livery in the early races of 2017, I see the same for the Camaro ZL1 teams in 2018. Sure the new Chevrolet was fast in pre-season testing and took the pole, a Duel win and the Daytona 500 during Daytona Speedweeks, but as I mentioned at the start of this blog post, Daytona’s its own animal.

I look for Chevrolet teams to end strong, though. Heck, I picked a Chevy driver to take the title.

Speaking of Chevrolet, I’m not sure what to think about Hendrick Motorsports. What about the new guys there — rookie William Byron and Alex Bowman? And have we already seen the best of Jimmie Johnson? I’m thinking Chase Elliott will take over the leadership role at Team Hendrick. That’s a tall order, considering this is the campsite of seven-time champ Johnson. But for some reason, my crystal ball tells me Elliott’s going to be leading the way there.

At first I wanted to predict continued struggles over at the Ford camp, considering the struggles of last season and the manufacturer not putting its new car on the track until 2019, but I’m having second thoughts. Ford leader Brad Keselowski as predicted the new inspection system will even the playing field, but I’m not sure. After all, this new system isn’t changing the rules; it’s making sure the existing ones are being followed. I find it hard to believe that Team Penske and the rest of the Ford camp wasn’t pushing the envelope just like everyone else last year.

Keselowski kicked off Speedweeks with a Duel win and teammate Ryan Blaney won one of the Duels, but again, that was Daytona, that different animal, so put that out of your head.

I hate to say it, but there may be some continued Ford struggle, after all, at least until that new car rolls out in 2019.

Long story short. . .

2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion: Kyle Larson
2018 Playoff final four: Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott
2018 Rookie of the Year: William Byron
2018 manufacturers’ champion: Toyota

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Posted by on February 24, 2018. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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