When the NASCAR season resumes after the Easter break keep an eye on these five drivers for a variety of reasons.
The sizzling start by Busch across all three NASCAR National Series will slow down in a few weeks. But it’s only because Busch is getting close to the maximum number of Xfinity Series and Ganders Outdoors Truck Series starts he’s allowed. Busch is on pace to be the first driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to score double digit wins since Jimmie Johnson had 10 back in 2007. In the opening nine races of the campaign, Busch has won three times, finished in the top-five six times and he is the only driver to have top-10 finishes in every race this season. There does not appear to be an Achilles Heel to derail Busch’s assault on the record book.
Only five drivers have won this year with all coming from inside Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske. So the fact Harvick is still looking for his first win is not that surprising considering the start of both organizations. It’s not like Harvick has been that far off as his four top-five and seven top-10 finishes indicate. However, he has expressed frustration about his cars not having the speed needed to keep pace with those who have found Victory Lane. It seems inevitable Harvick, an eight-time winner a year ago, will breakthrough soon.
There’s a whole lot of head scratching going on at Hendrick Motorsports in 2019, a puzzle that really extends throughout the entire Chevrolet camp. With the exception of new Chip Ganassi racing driver Kurt Busch, the opening nine races have been a struggle for the Bowtie Brigade. Elliott is the best of the Hendrick bunch as of now and the reality is that’s not saying a lot. He’s 10th in the point standings but has only been inside the top five once. Elliott won three times last year and appeared poised to build on that success. There’s a long way to go in 2019 to be sure, however that also applies to Elliott’s road back to Victory Lane.
Maybe the biggest surprise of the Cup Series to date is the lack of performance from Larson. He’s led 142 laps this year, but they all came at Atlanta where a pit road speeding penalty took him from contention to win. It’s been a downward spiral since then with a lack of speed, poor handling race cars and just plain old back luck the recipe for Larson’s disappointing 19th spot in the standings. The new Cup rules package specifically all the added downforce does not seem to fit Larson’s driving style. The sooner he can adapt and figure it out, the sooner Larson can return to his former competitive and winning ways.
Could this be the breakout season for Custer in the NASCAR Xfinity Series? Although the young driver won before this year, he is a much more polished force to be reckoned with in 2019. Custer has already won twice including the last time out at Richmond and appears to be getting stronger with each passing start. Maybe most impressive is Custer’s prowess on a variety of track disciplines. There aren’t too many weaknesses around "The General" whether it is a short track, superspeedway or intermediate track. More wins and a serious run for the championship again could definitely be in Custer’s future.