Turn 2 Blog: Playoff Disrupters; Can RCR Rise to the Challenge?; Clements Wins … Again

*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideCircleTrack.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the NASCAR and pavement short track racing topics of the day.

What do you make of these Playoffs disrupters?

Richard: I mentioned in one of these pieces a while back that I wanted there to be as much chaos as possible leading into the NASCAR Playoffs, and now that they have started, I am still on that train. It’s not that I hate the Playoffs or anything like that, I just love all the drama. There have now been two races that have been won by two non-Playoff drivers in Erik Jones and Bubba Wallace. That really puts the pressure on those who are in the running for a championship.

Also, everything is now set up for what ought to be a great race in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. With drivers the caliber of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch below the cutline, there is potential for desperate moves and chances being taken.

And more than just Playoff disrupters, who would have thought there would be 18 different winners with the likes of Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. still looking to make their first trip to victory lane?

This has been a crazy season, so it makes perfect sense for the Playoffs to be crazy as well.

Michael: I would have never guessed the first two Playoff races would have been won by those on the outside but I think it’s great. It shows the other teams are not laying down for anyone.

Bristol should be epic. With everything that’s on the line, I can’t wait to see what happens. And don’t forget there is potential for some paybacks. Maybe we’ll see another one of those memorable Bristol moments.

Things didn’t work out between Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs (Getty Images)

Will Kyle Busch be a regular contender in his new Richard Childress Racing ride?

Richard: I guess the key words in that question are “regular contender”. That car, with Tyler Reddick in the driver’s seat, has shown the potential to be a contender and even a winner from time to time but can that car and team do so week after week?

There’s no doubt Kyle Busch is one of the most talented drivers to ever sit in a NASCAR race car. But RCR has not exactly been a powerhouse over the last few years. Austin Dillon has won races and Tyler Reddick was emerging as a star but now the team has an established star. If there were poor runs before, the organization could chalk it up to driver inexperience. If Busch doesn’t run well, it won’t be the driver’s fault.

The spotlight and the pressure will be on RCR in 2023. That team is not up to the level of Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske or Hendrick Motorsports right now. Will having Kyle Busch in the fold be enough to raise the level of the entire organization?

Michael: You have to wonder by bringing on Busch whether RCR can get more support from Chevrolet and draw better sponsors to get better people in their organization. If so, RCR with Busch will be back to where it was years ago. If not, a lot of people will be questioning why Busch went to a mid-level team.

Busch was the one driver I didn’t think JGR would let walk. You have to wonder if Busch would have received and signed a contract extension had Martin Truex Jr. decided to retire at season’s end. If they promote Ty Gibbs to the No. 18 next year, they’ll have to find another driver for the 19 after 2023. Aside from Hamlin and Busch, JGR has been a revolving door.

Jeremy Clements

Are you surprised that Jeremy Clements Racing won its appeal?

Richard: I am not only surprised, I am shocked.

I do not for a minute believe Jeremy Clements and his team intentionally tried to cheat. And I am not going to pretend that I know enough about intake manifolds to even pretend that I know an illegal one from a legal one. But what I do know is that NASCAR doesn’t lose many appeals.

Jeremy Clements winning at Daytona was one of the best feel-good stories in racing this season. I don’t necessarily root for particular drivers, but I do root for great stories. It’s a shame that the win was, for a couple of weeks, tainted by the original penalty.

Perhaps the No. 51 not only winning the race but also winning the appeal is an even better story.

Michael: I am also shocked he won his appeal. NASCAR loses appeals as often as the Alabama Crimson Tide loses football games, probably less than that.

I’m glad Clements won his appeal. Not because we have conversations with him on Twitter. But because these small, family-owned teams need to have success if others are to get into the sport. They are the little engine that could. And to win two Xfinity races going against JGR, JR Motorsports, and Kaulig Racing is something that should not be taken lightly.

Please consider also reading:

Next two races will go a long way in determining how Kyle Busch ends stint at JGR

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