The Big 6: Questions Answered After the Bank of America 500

Unlike earlier this year, though, Truex Jr.'s auto was a bit of a late bloomer on Sunday, and he entered the final stage of the race having not led a single lap.

Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth gave Joe Gibbs Racing the top two starting spots for the race.

The first round of the NASCAR playoffs this season could be summed up in one word. "Maybe for the future we definitely need to look at a different way to prep the track so when we go out there guys aren't running into the wall". But, it could have been much worse for Stenhouse, who was all over the board Sunday until he solidly cracked the top-15 late in the race. Dillon also has a lot of motivation for this race as he is out of the Cup series playoffs now, and he would love to get a win to get some of his confidence back.

With rain having washed out practice Saturday, Truex had no indication his auto would get much better throughout the day, and that it would eventually turn into a vehicle that would allow him to hold the lead on two late restarts, including the final green-white-checkered finish. Charlotte Motor Speedway is Earnhardt's home track, so it was only fitting that it gave him something as well. Sure it had that long run to kick off the final stage where things got strung out and the incentive was to save equipment, but that's a 500-mile race.

Jimmie Johnson has picked up the pace in the last couple of weeks after a miserable summer (and in reality, a miserable year, wins aside). He won his first race last season and got bumped from the playoffs in the first round. However, he dominated the final segment, leading 91 of the 157 laps, including the one that mattered most. "I don't know if we had the best vehicle, but we damn sure got it in victory lane". Next race: Alabama 500, October 15, Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, Alabama. The Playoff field will be cut from 12 drivers to eight after the October 22 race at Kansas Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr. celebrating at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kyle Larson is another driver who should be on your radar each and every week as well as he has recorded four Top 5's and a 6.0 average finish over the last six races and has also added 385 laps led and an average of 69.8 DraftKings points per race. He hasn't won this season and is 22nd in the standings headed into Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway.

Ryan Blaney seems like a safe pick as the favorite. Fast facts: Justin Allgaier sits in first place ahead of this week's race.

William Byron is a driver I continue to put faith in. He probably should have finished fourth or fifth without the pit error, but to be no better than a top-five auto at Dover and Charlotte should be an eye-opener. He's retiring at the end of the season, in part because of multiple concussions he's received while racing. Next race: Kansas Lottery 300, October 14, Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kansas.

"Track position is obviously important - track position, restarts, pit stops, strategy, all that stuff", Kenseth said. Race distance: 191.1 miles, 53 laps.

Not Earnhardt. He opines on the sport each week on his "Dale Jr Download" podcast, and on his latest episode, he took aim at the "same exhausted stigma" NASCAR has faced over its racial and political overtones. Fast facts: Verstappen snapped Lewis Hamilton's three-event winning streak, beating him by over 12 seconds. Kimi Raikkonen holds the lap record at Suzuka at 1:31.54. It's on the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas next Sunday.

NHRALast race: Steve Torrence won in Top Fuel at Gateway.

  • Julie Sanders