BURNS: Around The Track

Chase Elliott has had plenty of reasons to smile this season. (HHP/Gregg Ellman photo)
Chase Elliott has had plenty of reasons to smile this season. (HHP/Gregg Ellman photo)

MOORESVILLE, N.C. – It’s already been a whirlwind week in the world of NASCAR.

The Camping World Truck Series kicked it off in style on Wednesday, with the series’ second dirt race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

Here are some musings from what has been an interesting stretch of action on and off the race track:

• Bad luck and missed setups are all that will keep Chase Elliott from winning the Nationwide title as a rookie. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports team has been incredible this year – winning seven times – but no JRM driver has been as impressive as 18-year-old Elliott.

He’s faster than his closest rivals, Elliott Sadler and Regan Smith, nearly every week. He’s smooth, smart and in one of the series’ best cars. He won’t give this championship away.

Someone will have to take it from him.

• The Race Team Alliance could be a real boon to NASCAR, and it could be a real bust. It’s still so early that it’s hard to say which is more likely. It’s certainly something to watch in the future, though nearly all of their work will be done behind closed doors.

• Are there any drawbacks to NASCAR adopting heat races for Sprint Cup and Nationwide events? The drama they provided on Wednesday at Eldora showed how entertaining they can be.

Sure, car counts are low enough that a last-chance qualifier won’t be necessary in most Cup weekends, but if you’re looking for ways to spice things up – and it seems NASCAR is always trying – why not test heat races in the top two series?

• Is it the Camping World Truck Series or the Toyota Series? Ford and Chevrolet haven’t been able to keep up with the top marque. It’s partially because Kyle Busch Motorsports and ThorSport Racing, the teams who win most of the events, use Toyota power. Still, who would’ve thought we’d be this far into the season and we still haven’t seen every manufacturer visit Victory Lane?

• Unless something changes, which I think it will, we could see several members of last year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup on the outside looking in when September rolls around. Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle are out of the Chase as the tour heads to Indianapolis. Paul Menard and rookies Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon are ahead of the aforementioned trio with just a month and a half left in NASCAR’s regular season.

I still think Kahne finds a way to make the Chase, and Stewart’s chances stand at 50-50 in my opinion. Stewart’s No. 14 Chevy just needs more speed, so the team can focus on getting top fives.

• Wouldn’t it be nice if NASCAR still had the Nationwide Series racing at the Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis? It was often a great show when the second-tier cars went there. It’s a shame the track has no major touring series date.