The NASCAR XFINITY SERIES and NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES open their 2016 seasons this week at Daytona International Speedway with FOX Sports providing comprehensive live coverage.
FOX NASCAR kicks off its sophomore year of coverage of the NASCAR XFINITY SERIES from Daytona on Saturday, Feb. 20 with the season opener at 3:30 PM ET. Adam Alexander calls the action alongside Michael Waltrip and 2014 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES champion Kevin Harvick with pit reporting by Little, Neville and Yocum. NASCAR RACEDAY – XFINITY, FS1’s XFINITY Series pre-race show, previews the action at 3:00 PM ET. Trotta hosts with analysis from McReynolds and Kenny Wallace.
The NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES opens its season on Friday, Feb. 19 (7:30 PM ET) on FS1, with complete pre-race coverage beginning with NCWTS SETUP at 7:00 PM ET. Vince Welch, in his first year as FS1’s Truck Series play-by-play announcer, has the call alongside Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip. Hermie Sadler, Yocum and Kaitlyn Vincie cover pit road. Trotta hosts NCWTS SETUP live from the Hollywood Hotel with analysis from two-time series champion Todd Bodine and reporting by Sadler and Vincie. (To download the 2016 FOX NASCAR DAYTONA 500 Broadcast Guide, please CLICK HERE.)
Below, FOX NASCAR’s Adam Alexander, Vince Welch and Hermie Sadler, Truck Series pit reporter, offer their predictions for the new seasons:
What effect do you expect the caution clock in the NCWTS to have? How will it change strategy?
“Race teams will have to evaluate how the caution clock affects strategy during each race, just like any other pit stop decisions, but I don’t expect this to be a significant disruption or have a major impact on the races.”
“The caution clock has been a big topic of conversation because it’s new. I like the idea, and from a TV and entertainment perspective, it could make for a better show because it will reset the field and create restarts. It also will close the gap between larger and smaller teams and the efficiency of their over-the-wall pit crews. I’m anxious to see how it plays out.”
How do you expect the new Chase format to change the season on a weekly basis?
“I love the addition of the Chase because it affords more uniformity across the three major series, gives more teams a shot at the title and guarantees an exciting buildup to the championship finale at Homestead.”
“The new Chase format should do the same for the Truck Series as it did for the Cup Series – encourage teams and drivers to gamble more on the track and on pit road. It also gives smaller and less-funded teams a chance to make something happen. More emphasis on winning is always a good thing. What will be interesting is how some of the veteran drivers react to this new system and perform under it.”
“The Chase will create a high level of anticipation weekly in the XFINITY Series. Win and you’re in definitely changes the mindset for everyone.”
Assess the young guns. Who of the youngsters will have the best season?
“The Truck Series is full of terrific young talent. Tyler Reddick proved last year he is championship caliber. KBM should have Christopher Bell in title contention. John Hunter Nemechek gets everything out of his equipment and then some. Rico Abreu is an amazing talent. The list goes on and on; that’s what makes the Camping World Truck Series so exciting.”
“As far as ‘young guns,’ we have an extremely talented group in the Truck Series, but the two favorites for Rookie of the Year are Rico Abreu and William Byron. They’re amazingly talented and have strong teams and support systems behind them.”
“Erik Jones is the XFINITY Series championship favorite in his rookie season. In fact it’s all about the Joneses this year. I also look for Brandon Jones to be strong for Richard Childress Racing.”
Best new driver/crew chief combo?
“There are several interesting Truck Series driver and crew chief combinations in place for 2016, although we won’t know who the best is until a couple of races into the season. But here are a couple to watch: William Byron with the experience of Rudy Fugle; Cameron Hayley with Eddie Troconis; Daniel Hemric with Doug Randolph could be a sleeper for the championship; and Timothy Peters with Shane Huffman, the first new crew chief for him in years.”
Which four drivers make it to the Championship Round in Homestead?
“Cole Custer, Matt Crafton, Tyler Reddick and Johnny Sauter are my bets to race for the Truck Series championship.”
“I like Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon and Bubba Wallace for the Championship Four at Homestead in the XFINITY Series. All have what it takes in a playoff format, and each has a team behind them that should get them there.”
Who has the most to prove this year?
“Johnny Sauter is the driver with a chip on his shoulder, to speak, and has the most to prove of any other Truck Series driver this season. He should run really well with his new team at GMS.”
“The one with the most to prove in the XFINITY Series is Ty Dillon. Richard Childress Racing went to Victory Lane a lot last year, but Ty was shut out. Elliott Sadler also needs to step up. He’s the veteran on his new team at JR Motorsports.”
Who is the favorite this year for the title?
“My Truck Series title favorite is Daniel Hemric. He is underrated as a talent, and Doug Randolph is one of the best crew chiefs in the business. Look for them to have a special year.”
“Common sense says you have to pick Erik Jones for the XFINITY championship. He had two wins running a part-time schedule last season. Not too shabby.”