It’s way, way, way too early for any of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers and teams to start panicking, even if they had poor runs at both Daytona and Atlanta.
As a reminder, in 2015, Kyle Busch missed the first 11 races of the year and came back to win the Cup championship. And last year, Tony Stewart didn’t race until Richmond in the spring and he still made NASCAR’s playoffs.
That said, some of the sport’s biggest stars are off to slow starts and could use some good fortune in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET). Here are five drivers that could use a great run on Sunday.
Last year, Hamlin’s season began with a Daytona 500 victory in the closest finish in event history. This year, he was 17th in the 500 and suffered a hub failure at Atlanta, where he finished 38th.
Although he made the playoffs last year, Dillon is still hunting his first career Cup victory after 123 starts. He was 19th at Daytona and late-race electrical woes in Atlanta left him 32nd.
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.ukBarry Cantrell
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt qualified on the outside pole for the Daytona 500, but was collateral damage when Kyle Busch blew a tire. At Atlanta, everything that could go wrong pretty much did.
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A tire failure on Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 took out half of the six quasi-teammates from JGR and Furniture Row Racing. And last weekend, Busch finished a hugely disappointing 16th, as none of the Toyotas led even a single lap.
The seven-time champion had a horrible Daytona Speedweeks, where it seemed as if he hit everything but the Florida Lottery. Atlanta wasn’t much better, as Johnson struggled to finish 19th.