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NASCAR Roundtable: Is Chase Elliott's winless streak about to end?

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NASCAR Roundtable: Is Chase Elliott's winless streak about to end?
Jun 6, 2018, 10:08 PM

Veteran NASCAR reporter Kenny Bruce joins the NASCAR Roundtable panel this week along with Jim Utter, Nick DeGroot and Tim Southers.

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro NAPA Auto Parts
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro NAPA Auto Parts
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro SunEnergy1
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro NAPA Auto Parts
Daniel Suarez, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry ARRIS and Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry FedEx Express
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Discount Tire, Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Hawk/Carlisle and Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry M&M's M&M's Red Nose Day
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry FedEx Express and Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Stewart-Haas Racing Fan Club
Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Shell Pennzoil and Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry M&M's M&M's Red Nose Day
Race winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet takes the checkered flag
Race winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY
Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Shell Pennzoil
Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Shell Pennzoil
Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Shell Pennzoil

Chase Elliott has four Cup starts at Michigan with three runner-up finishes. Could this be the week he finally breaks through and captures that elusive first Cup win?

Jim: I say yes, but I've been saying that for a while now it seems. Still, there is no track in the Cup series where Elliott seems to be most comfortable and if Hendrick Motorsports has been making good progress, this weekend's race should be a good test of how far they have come if Elliott does well. Elliott has had a lot go wrong and still finished second three times. Everything is bound to go his way sometime and it could well be Sunday.

Kenny: It’s possible, but I don’t expect it. Elliott obviously enjoys competing on the wide, 2-mile Michigan layout. The No. 9 team has been a solid top-10 outfit lately but needs to be among the top five in order to contend for wins.

Nick: He should have a strong run, but I don't think Hendrick Motorsports is in a place where they can go for win right now. They have a lot of catching up to do.

Tim: While I think are legions of fans that would welcome a win, including his car owner Rick Hendrick, I think it would be a popular win if he scored his first Cup Series win at Michigan. However, Kyle Larson has proven to be tough to beat at the track and I think he’ll be the one in Victory Lane this weekend.

NASCAR confirmed earlier reports of the All-Star Race aero package possibly being used in up to three other Cup races later this year. Is this a good idea or no?

Jim: It's an excellent idea for two reasons. First, the quality of the racing in the All-Star Race was a cut above what has been seen everywhere else in the Cup series this season. NASCAR does not need to sit on a potential significant improvement to its racing product until next year. Second, assuming NASCAR was going to implement some form of the package next year, there is no better way to prepare then by testing the ideas in the race. Extra practice time at tracks just does not adequately represent race conditions. Test it now do it will be the best it can be next season.

Kenny: I’m against using points-paying races as nothing more than a glorified test session. NASCAR did it a Michigan in ’15 with a high drag package that was nothing short of terrible. I’m also not fond of changing rules during the season – bigger, better financed teams can adapt while such moves just push those on the other end of the spectrum further behind.

Nick: If the Xfinity race at Pocono taught us anything, it's that this isn't cut and dry. Even though the All-Star Race passed the "eye test," it's a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to just throw it onto the cars with limited to no testing. I feel it would work great at a place like Michigan, but it's not a very good idea to use actual championship races as test sessions, as Kenny said.

Tim: I know reaction is mixed by some, I say with the level of competition at some tracks in previous years would welcome the opportunity to try something new. If only by fan reaction alone from the All-Star race, I think NASCAR could go a long way in the minds of fans if they gave it a try at a race or two.

Kyle Larson could become the first driver since Bill Elliott (1985-86) to win four in a row at Michigan if he wins this weekend. How big of an accomplishment would that be for Larson if he were to get the four-peat?

Jim: Like Elliott, Larson seems to have an affinity for Michigan, and while many Chevrolet teams have struggled this season, his Chip Ganassi Racing team has a cut above the others. I would not be surprised in the least were Larson to win and Michigan and be the first Chevy team to win on a non-restrictor-plate track this season.

Kenny: Winning four in a row at any track is quite an accomplishment. That Larson has rarely won anywhere else (once at Auto Club and Richmond) makes it even more so. Coming off a runner-up finish at Pocono, I’d say the odds are in his favor.

Nick: It would be huge, especially with Chevrolet's struggles this year. He didn't have a top-five car at Pocono, yet they managed to finish second, so he could definitely end the drought at Michigan.

Tim: I’ve already stated in a previous Roundtable answer that I think he’ll win this weekend and he’s already proven to be the most consistent Chevrolet driver in the field this season. Winning four in a row at Michigan would put him in some elite company of drivers who’ve equalled that mark on the Cup Series circuit.

Martin Truex Jr. became just the third driver to win multiple races this year with his victory at Pocono. Of the other three drivers who have captured the checkered flag, who will get their second win first? (Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano)

Jim: Even though his win came at a superspeedway, I would still have to go with Joey Logano. Team Penske has generally been very competitive week-in and week-out and I certainly think Logano is capable of pulling out a win just about anywhere on the schedule. In fact, by the end of the season I would not be shocked to see him develop into a serious title contender.

Kenny: Bowyer could surprise given his much-improved performance this year. Dillon has one top 10 finish since his Daytona win so I don’t expect it will be the No. 3 team. Logano, though, has been up from most often this season, so he’ll have more opportunities and likely beat the other two back to the winner’s circle.

Nick: I'd go with Logano, but if I could take it a step further, I believe we could see a driver like Kyle Larson get two wins before any of them. Again, despite Chevrolet's trouble with the new Camaro, he has managed to finish second three times. That No. 42 will get to Victory Lane more than once this year.

Tim: I think Joey Logano will be the next multi-race winner in 2018. He’s been fast again this season and he has the crew chief in Todd Gordon to make the right calls during a race to put him in a position to win another race very soon.

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