NASCAR Spring Break Report Card

NASCAR Spring Break Report Card

Monday, 17 April 2017
Dennis Michelsen

NASCAR Spring Break Report Card

Couch Potato Corner

It sure seemed strange not to see a NASCAR race on a weekend. After seven weeks of action and occasional inaction we have been programmed like our television remote to tune into a NASCAR race every weekend. Of course the discerning fans could still find their NASCAR fix with Lori Munro and I on The Final Inspection Radio Show as usual on Saturday.

Let’s take a look at NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series grades at Spring break with only one driver and race getting selected for each grade. (And yes the grading is done on a banked curve)

A: Martinsville Speedway– This was the best race of the year by far giving us the most racing action along with great story lines. We need more short track racing in NASCAR!

A: Kyle Larson– The early part of the 2017 season will be remembered as that time when “Potential” was realized and Kyle Larson became one of the top five drivers at the Cup level. Can he continue this performance all season? Sure he can because it was the car not his ability holding him back.

B: California Speedway– Yes I am guilty of grading on a curve. I wasn’t expecting much from this race since the other speedway races showed that clean air was more important than ever before. But this race was better than expected.

B: Brad Keselowski– It’s hard to believe the driver with the most wins and the most playoff points only gets the second best grade but isn’t this performance expected from the former champion? There is no doubt the best two drivers so far this season have been Bad Brad and Young Money.

C: Daytona International Speedway– It might seem fitting that an average grade was earned by the track that kicks off the NASCAR season every year because this season has been average if not below average so far this year.

C: Ricky Stenhouse Jr– It has been good to see Roush Fenway Racing performing better this season. It has been a surprise that their best driver has not been Stenhouse Jr who has looked good at times and struggled on other weeks to earn this very average grade.

D: Atlanta Motor Speedway– This might be more of a case of “Lunch Bag Let Down” than anything else. Over the years the racing at Atlanta used to be fantastic. The last few years the racing has been very ordinary and this race was a great example of the issues at AMS.

D: Daniel Suarez– Rookies in Cup often struggle and this year watching the three rookies shows who might be a star someday soon (Erik Jones), who is ready but not terrific (Ty Dillon), and who was moved to the Cup level too fast (Daniel Suarez). The only reason “Danny” didn’t get the lowest grade is because this is what rookies are supposed to be like.

F: Texas Motor Speedway– Would someone at NASCAR please stop making excuses and just once would they give us a little honesty? This was not a good race. Combine the lack of action with my “Lunch Bag Let Down” and it is very obvious which track deserved the lowest grade.

F: Danica Patrick– This has been a tough start to the season for Danica Patrick. Over the years when asked about her driving abilities in NASCAR and how good she might be I have called her a “25th Place Driver.” This season she has not even been able to live up to those low expectations.

Sound Off

What did you think about the race weekend? Give us your grades and the reasons why you thought that and the best comments might be used on “The Final Inspection” on 105.7FM The Fan in Milwaukee on Saturday at Noon CT. Steve Zautke hosts the most entertaining two hours covering all things racing and Lori Munro and Dennis Michelsen will have your NASCAR news and views every week.


  1. Sander R.Taylor says:

    For me, there are no “A”‘s in any race. Martinsville was less than I expected, I gave a “B-” for the paper clip. “C” for Daytona, Vegas and California. “E” for Phoenix, Atlanta and a “F+” for Texas. Racing in general wasn’t better than past season. In Xfinity Series, racing was very worse than 2016, same case in trucks.
    The racer of the year as far as now is Larson, then (little far) Elliott and Kes. Danica still showing not deserve a seat in a Cup car.
    Teams : A for Ganassi and Penske (plus their satellite team Wood Bros). B for FRR. C for Hendrick, RCR and Roush. D for Gibbs.

    • Dennis Michelsen says:

      Great comment Sander!! I was really entertained on many levels by Martinsville but I can understand a lower grade.

  2. Dan Rogers says:

    For me I give high marks to two things. 1. The resurgence of Wood Brothers Racing with Ryan Blaney at the wheel. 2. Stage Racing. I did not think at the start of the season that I would like Stage Racing but I have come to enjoy it. It brings a level of excitement all throughout each race. The only way to get rid of the (Clean Air) Advantage is to remove the splitters and raise the air dam a few inches, No Aero advantage then.

    • Dennis Michelsen says:

      Dan I was also a huge skeptic of stage racing and it has won me over. (And how can you not love seeing that famous 21 up front early and often this season?) Great comment thanks!

      • Chuck says:

        Still not a fan of stage racing since it awards the top 10 “participation points” and aside from two additional restarts — what’s the point? It hasn’t improved the racing at all.

  3. Ken says:

    I don’t think any track of any driver has earned an A in this disappointing year. I would give a B to Martainsville because it was by far the best race of the year. I would give both Larson and Keselowski a B because one has exceeded expections and the other has performed well. I think several drivers deserve a C and many deserve less. I think the other tracks deserve a D and a couple, including Texas get an F.

    I think your grading for the teams is pretty accurate except I might drop them all a half grade but they are in the right order.

    I agree that as a driver, Danica deserves an F but I would give her a D as a Kardashian type personality. She is famous for being famous. She got where she is because of her looks and sex appeal with moderate skills driving a race car. She is now showing her age and like many older actresses who have limited talent, she will fade away and and be a footnote in history.

  4. Joseph Jacalone says:

    The racing has been about average over all, but I do think the stage points have livened up a few of the segments. I agree that Martinsville was the best race, and Texas and Atlanta the worst. I am very happy for the Wood Brothers, they have been a backbone of NASCAR. Danica Patrick is still what she has always been, a circus sideshow, only slower this year.

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