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Opinion: Summer School

School’s out for summer so it’s time to hand out some grades in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

A Students
Kevin Harvick – Five wins, an All-Star Race victory and 26 playoff points
Kyle Busch – Four wins and honestly could have a couple more on the board
Martin Truex Jr. – Not quite up to last year’s level but still solid with a pair of wins
Clint Bowyer – Maybe the year’s biggest most pleasant surprise with two victories

B Students
Joey Logano – A Talladega win is the highlight in addition to 12 top-10 finishes
Brad Keselowski – Winless but consistent with nine finishes inside the top-10
Kurt Busch – Appears to be knocking on the door of Victory Lane very soon
Aric Almirola – Certainly most improved from a year ago and is near the top-10 in points
Denny Hamlin – He’s led 235 laps with six top-fives but still winless
Ryan Blaney – Hovering around the win column and the third most laps led (444)
Kyle Larson – Expected to be in the A class but just a bit off so far
Alex Bowman – Getting better as the year progresses and four top-10’s on the board
Erik Jones – Tailed off of late however five top-10 performances not too bad
Austin Dillon – His Daytona 500 win definitely has helped earned this grade

C Students
Chase Elliott – An average year for the third year driver who continues to Chase first career win
Jimmie Johnson – Maybe below average by his standards but we’ll grade him on a curve
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Hasn’t matched last year’s effort by a long shot
Paul Menard – Transition to the Wood Brother has been fairly average to date
Jamie McMurray – Decent speed at times but looking for better finishes in second half
Daniel Suarez – Has battled a number of challenges including a thumb injury
Willian Byron – Lofty expectations for the young driver have been met with decent outings
Ryan Newman – Good not great but much more speed needed
Bubba Wallace – Lots going on in his transition with a few flashes of success
Chris Buescher – A bit stuck in trying to get better but not terrible given the circumstances
David Ragan – Team is a bit better thanks to more support from Ford
Michael McDowell – Like teammate Ragan doing what he can with smaller budgeted team
Matt DiBenedetto – The uphill climb continues for the little team that thinks it can

D Students
AJ Allmendinger – Frustrating season so far with the hope of road course success in the future
Kasey Kahne – Another veteran scuffling after his move from powerhouse Hendrick to LFR
Ty Dillon – Thoughts of a breakout year have been replaced by major head scratching
Trevor Bayne – Maybe an incomplete would be a fairer grade
Matt Kenseth – Small sample size has delivered modest returns

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.