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Melillo’s Mind – Post-Texas Midweek Thoughts

Melillo’s Mind is back this week! Man, it is really tough to balance three full time jobs and a writing career. I’m sorry to say that my column had to take a break for a few weeks, but it is back! There sure is no shortage of topics to talk about, either.

This week’s ‘Big Three’ topics:

  1. Cup Qualifying
  2. Denny Hamlin’s impressive win
  3. NASCAR 2020 Season Full Schedule is out!

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Jimmie Johnson 48 Texas Motor Speedway 2019 pole
Photo by Cheri Eaton/The Racing Experts

CUP QUALIFYING

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying is still not what anyone would imagine it to be, even after an attempt at Texas to button it up.

Jimmie Johnson won the pole, but there was still a waiting period at the end of pit road, and some teams still didn’t make both of the laps they had hoped to make.

Some rules were ignored, some rules were enforced, and nobody seemed to have any idea what was and wasn’t allowed on Friday afternoon.

I had hoped that whatever changes that were coming forth at Texas would fix the issues and give the fans the intended excitement.

Instead, fans were glued to the cars sitting at the end of the pits, hoping somebody, ANYBODY would just make a move.

Daniel Suarez was about the only driver who didn’t care to play the games. He ran on his own in the second and third rounds, and ultimately started fourth.

The others just sat. Again, some were too late and didn’t get their second laps in. There wasn’t a penalty because their first laps counted, but it was still frustrating to see cars at full song not able to finish off their attempts because they couldn’t time it better.

I don’t think NASCAR is going to be able to come up with a fix to the current system. I will be happily surprised if they do, but I’m not banking on it.

Qualifying doesn’t have to be a show. Single Car Qualifying will be the best route moving forward.

Denny Hamlin Texas Motor Speedway 2019 win
Photo by Cheri Eaton/The Racing Experts

DENNY DELIVERS AFTER MULTIPLE MISCUES

Denny Hamlin collected his second win of the 2019 season at Texas Motor Speedway, even after multiple pit road issues took him seemingly out of the equation.

Hamlin, at first, seemed to miss pit road on the opening stage stops. The next time around, Hamlin was too fast, and served a pass-through penalty.

Recovering to win the Second Stage, Hamlin then received another pit road violation on the very next stop. This time, his pit crew had an uncontrolled tire, sending Hamlin to the back once more.

On the final restart of the race, Hamlin worked his way up into the Top 5 before pit stops, and the call by the No. 11 crew to take only fuel was the winning call. Leading before the stops, Hamlin’s teammate Erik Jones opted to pit earlier and take four tires.

Tire wear wound up being not as important as track position, as Hamlin’s faster stop put the FedEx Toyota out front in the closing laps, and into victory lane.

Hamlin has been taken out of contention by virtue of pit road penalties in the past, but I think this is one of his most impressive wins in his career.

Not just one, but two times Hamlin had to work his way up from the back of the field, and in the end, Hamlin was still victorious on the day.

IMG_4074
Photo by Dominic Aragon/The Racing Experts

2020 SCHEDULE BRINGS DIFFERENT FEEL ACROSS THE TOP THREE SERIES

The 2020 NASCAR National Series schedule has been released in full, with the NASCAR Cup Series announcement last week, and the Xfinity Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series announcement on Wednesday.

The contract with the current batch of tracks doesn’t end until AFTER the 2020 season, so it was quite a surprise to see the amount of changes headlining in the final contract year.

Some changes are absolutely fantastic.

-Martinsville gets a Standalone Cup race UNDER THE LIGHTS on Mother’s Day weekend, and then it gets a Triple-Header weekend to determine who gets to race for the championship in all three series.

That’s right, the Xfinity Series is back at Martinsville.

-The race was traded for a Richmond race, which now brings the Gander Outdoors Truck Series back to Richmond as well.

-Pocono gets FOUR points paying races in one weekend. TWO are for the Cup Series, and Xfinity and Trucks also get a race during the mayhem.

Other changes might take some getting used to.

-Daytona is no longer on Fourth of July weekend. It becomes the Cup Series Regular Season Finale instead, in August.

-Indianapolis moves into the slot vacated by Daytona in July.

-Homestead will no longer be the Championship Finale. Instead, the 2020 season will conclude at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

I’d say the schedule, as a whole, is mostly positive changes, although I can’t help but wonder why these changes are being made when there will probably be even more significant changes the following season.

Either way, I’m looking forward to the new-look NASCAR schedule.

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Other notes and tidbits:

-Leave Darrell Waltrip alone! The man is a legend, if he wants to retire, then let him retire. If he wants to stay in the booth, he’s EARNED THAT RIGHT to keep that seat. DW has been an integral part of the NASCAR on FOX team since it’s inception, and it’s saddening to see some of the comments pointed his way.

Sure, other journalists make very good points for his retirement, but I’m strongly in the category to let the man decide his own fate, and not let the fanbase kick him to the curb before he’s ready.

-Bristol is coming up next. Will it be another Martinsville repeat, with one driver dominating the day? Or will we see tempers flare? Maybe both!

-The next race I’ll be attending is Richmond Raceway in 10 days. Never been there before, so I’m excited to cover my first short track race!

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Justin Melillo View All

Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com

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