We’ve reached the first off-weekend in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, which means it’s time to take a look at who’s getting it done and who isn’t.
Here are five drivers who have overachieved in the first seven races of the year.
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By winning in Phoenix, Newman broke a 127-race winless streak for himself and a 112-race winless streak for Richard Childress Racing. Now all but guaranteed to have a spot in NASCAR’s playoffs, Newman is 13th in points, well ahead of RCR teammates Austin Dillon (21st) and Paul Menard (26th).
LAT ImagesMatthew T. Thacker
In his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing, Bowyer is ninth in points, ahead of teammates Kevin Harvick (10th), Kurt Busch (15th) and Danica Patrick (29th). Given that he’s had to learn a new team and a new crew chief, that’s pretty good. And his personality is an excellent fit for the free-wheeling SHR gang.
Until Jimmie Johnson’s victory at Texas on Sunday, none of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers had done much except Elliott, who in his second year has been fast almost everywhere he goes. He’s still looking for his first victory, but he’s a solid second in points.
While it’s true that the entire Joe Gibbs Racing organization is struggling this year, Busch has far outperformed his three teammates. Busch has led 413 laps, while the other three have combined to lead just 28. Busch also has two top-five finishes, while his three teammates have only one among them. And let’s not forget that Busch is seventh in points, the only JGR driver in the top 15.
What can you say about Larson’s amazing season? One victory and four runner-up finishes in seven races are about as stout as one can get. Larson is clearly tapping into the talent that people always knew was there. Of course, having fast race cars helps, too, and his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolets have had a lot of speed. And how about this? Larson has 315 points this season, 51 percent more than the 209 points teammate Jamie McMurray has.