Each week the staff at Beyond The Flag will sound off and give their opinions on a trending topic or thought provoking question in the world of Motorsports. The staff are given an open forum to address the question or subject; with the only rule being that they provide a clear opinion. This week they were presented with the following:
Which driver not named Dale Earnhardt Jr. (on any circuit) do you feel has been the most impressive thus far in 2014?
Jeff Gordon (NASCAR). At the age of 42 Gordon is turning back the hands of time. For the first time in his career he has begun the season with four consecutive top-10 finishes. He might not currently have a victory but consistency like this is sure to breed wins down the road. Aside from the finishes he is also qualifying well and racing better than he has in the last five years or so. The team isn’t making the mistakes off of the track and he isn’t making the mental errors on the track. There is a long way to go but right now Gordon looks primed to compete for his fifth NASCAR Championship.
Kevin Harvick (NASCAR).Harvick has been the most impressive thus far in 2014. He went to Victory Lane in just his second start with Stewart-Haas Racing and has had very strong cars despite some mechanical issues. He is clearly the strongest of the SHR camp and is virtually locked in the Chase. I see him being the anchor point at SHR this season and getting quite a few more wins as well. He and Rodney Childers have great chemistry and that is only going to grow stronger. I predict that he will be a Championship contender heading into Homestead at the end of the season.
Scott McLaughlin (V8 Supercars). McLaughlin has stunned most of the racing world, not just me. Here is a 20-year-old sophomore, coming into a second season with a manufacturer making its debut in the V8 Supercars and expected to struggle to get up to speed, and he has been consistently been in the top-5 in all races so far. His epic battle with reigning champion Jamie Whincup were fascinating, and he took a race win at the Australian Grand Prix support race. I’m not sure he and Volvo can sustain this pace over a season and mount a title charge, but I am still immensely impressed with the guy who ‘gives it some jandal’!
Brad Keselowski (NASCAR). The motorsports season as a whole really hasn’t developed enough to form valid impressions, but easily the most notable driver so far in 2014 has been Keselowski. Three top threes to start the Cup year including a pole and a win?! Why people like to write Brad K off after not making the Chase last year is beyond me. If he doesn’t rankle the noses of NASCAR and then lose a bunch of points to penalties along with his crew chief Paul Wolfe for several races – who is probably the best crew chief this side of Chad Knaus – he might have had something to say about 2013’s championship. My assertion is Keselowski and Wolfe will be a duo to be reckoned with for many years.
Kevin Harvick (NASCAR). To me the most impressive driver apart from junior has been Harvick. He has basically been at the front in all the races so far and has not obtained more wins that the one at phoenix only because of mechanical issues. Harvick has shown all season that he consistently has the speeds to beat as well as the cars.
Brad Keselowski (NASCAR). Albeit his win at Las Vegas was a fuel mileage gift from the guy who’s name is Dale Earnhardt Jr, Two third places, the win, and a top ten at Bristol has to shout volumes for Brad Keselowski. I don’t like the little prick, but he has been pretty impressive so far this year.
Valtteri Bottas (Formula 1). One does not hit a wall in Formula One and finish well, but Bottas did at the Australian Grand Prix. He slammed the wall hard enough to sheer his wheel in half, yet he managed to get his car back to the pits and started charging through the field again before finishing fifth. Given how horrid his rookie season was his drive was a career making drive.
Scott Mcglaughlin (V8 Supercars). Impressive season opener with some suburb racing with a brand new Volvo team. To top it all of he is only 19 years old, this kid has a very promising future head of him!
Brad Keselowski (NASCAR). Keselowski has seemed to have gotten out of the rut he was in last year after his championship run in 2012. Keselowski was third at Daytona and Phoenix and won at Las Vegas which immediately puts him in the Chase. He did finish 14th at Bristol, but that was not entirely his fault, plus no driver is perfect every single race. I believe Keselowski and Paul Wolfe might be even better than they were in 2012 and I believe the only team that might be able to rival them are Johnson and Knaus
Sound off below and tell us what you think of our picks and whether or not you agree. You can also share your comments with us via Twitter!