Pleasant surprises and a head-scratcher from the 2016 NASCAR season so far

Teammates Jamie McMurray (1) and Kyle Larson (42) have been slow out of the gate this season.

Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

We are three races into the season, but I am pretty pumped up about some of the things we are seeing.

I think the racing at all three events has been great. I’m excited to see this new rules package on yet another track this weekend at Phoenix. As I mentioned earlier this week, I won’t be surprised if we don’t have our fourth different winner in four races come late Sunday afternoon in the desert.

I’ve been excited to see how well rookie Chase Elliott has been running, although he has been caught up in two wrecks in three races. I’ve been equally impressed by rookie Ryan Blaney. His finish at Atlanta two weeks ago doesn’t reflect how well he was running then, but he had another great run Sunday at Las Vegas, and finished sixth. That’s some positive momentum to build on in his young career.


I am also thrilled to see how well Roush Fenway Racing has been doing so far. I don’t know if RFR is ready to drive into Victory Lane, but I will say the organization is pretty solid right now. If you look at how its cars ran the first three races of 2015 versus 2016, it’s definitely a substantial change for the better.

I guess on the negative side of the ledger it has to be Chip Ganassi Racing that has me concerned. Kyle Larson simply isn’t running well. Nor is teammate Jamie McMurray.

That’s a head-scratcher to me because I thought with the improvement we saw at the tail end of 2015 from Jamie, and with this being Kyle’s third full season of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, that those two cars would be a lot stronger. Simply put, that organization is struggling right now, and I don’t know what the answer might be.