Editor’s Note: Fan4Racing writer Andy Laskey is the co-host for NASCAR Hot Topics Sound Off on Fan4Racing Radio every Monday and Thursday night at 10 pm ET. He’ll now offer a weekly blog of NASCAR Hot Topics to elaborate on subjects that – due to time constraints – we miss or short-change on the radio show. Please share your perspective of these hot topics in the comments section below.
Hot Topics 1 – Daniel Suarez Fails to Make Daytona 500
Arguably one of the biggest disappointments to start the 2020 NASCAR season has to be Daniel Saurez missing the season-opening Daytona 500. The driver of the Gaunt Brothers Racing No. 96 Toyota was involved in a crash in the Duel 1 race that sent him to an early exit from the race and subsequent DNQ from the 500.
This is incredibly disappointing for a team trying to gain traction and establish themselves in the NASCAR Cup Series. The deal between Saurez and Gaunt Brothers Racing came together fairly late in the off-season, which put the team in a position of hiring personnel and building cars barely in time for Daytona Speedweeks. Making the Daytona 500 would have helped this up and coming team in a major way, especially in terms of financial benefits by starting the event, with a good performance and showing the potential to win.
What ‘could have been’ was the chance to gain exposure and sponsorship for the team. Missing the biggest race of the season automatically puts this team in a deficit and it will be interesting to see how they can overcome this set-back in the coming weeks.
Hot Topics 2 – No Sophomore Slump for Gragson
A feel-good story to start the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season has to be Daytona winner Noah Gragson. Entering his sophomore season in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports, Gragson finds himself in a situation of opportunity to step up and establish himself as a title favorite and help secure his long term future in the sport.
There’s no better way to do that than start the season off by winning the biggest race of the year. Granted, winning a superspeedway race doesn’t guarantee success for the whole season but it certainly gives this team a lot of confidence moving forward. To start the weekend, Gragson exhibited a lot of confidence and optimism for the 2020 season, as do all teams this time of year. But you just get the feeling that this has the potential to be a big year for Gragson and certainly his win at Daytona helps establish himself as one of the favorites.
With last year’s Big Three drivers in Cole Custer, Christopher Bell, and Tyler Reddick moving to the Cup Series, it remains to be seen exactly who will fill that void, however, this weekend Noah Gragson certainly made his case that he’ll be a season-long contender.