The recent domination of the Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series has been a very hot topic with the drivers, fans and on every NASCAR themed media outlet. Qualifying day at Dover will definitely keep the conversation going as Toyota secured five of the first six starting spots for the Apache Warrior 400.
Leading the charge for the Toyota camp was series points leader, Martin Truex Jr. Truex has been the car to beat all season and is considered by many to be the favorite to win.
Truex was happy to beat teammate, Kyle Busch. ““Welp, I’m glad for once we’re first and he’s not. I’ve been second to him a lot in qualifying, so it’s cool to – for us to get a pole. I think he was second, am I correct? Yeah, so it’s – we’ve been on the front row quite a few times together, so feels good that we’re the one in first this time, so it’s pretty cool.”
Busch, who has won eight poles this season, was fastest in the first two rounds of qualifying before being edged out by Truex by only .038 seconds in the final round.
Now the question is – Who can stop Toyota’s stranglehold on the Cup Series?
The only team that has been able to give them a run for their money recently is the Chevrolet team of Kyle Larson. Again, on Friday, Larson was the only non-Toyota in the top-six.
In Playoff discussions, Larson has often been the only non-Toyota driver pegged to make the final four at Homestead. Larson has massed four wins and 17 top-tens this season, just shy of Truex’ five wins and 19 top-tens.
Chevy fans are banking on seven-time Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson, to lead the charge at Dover. Johnson has dominated the Monster Mile throughout his career. Johnson has scored an impressive eleven wins long with 22 top-tens in 31 starts.
On Friday, however, Johnson was only able to secure a 17th place starting spot.
Dale Earnhardt Jr created a bit of excitement in round two of qualifying as the No. 88 jumped to second on the charts. Excitement was short lived, however, as Earnhardt was only able to make it to seventh in the final round.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who is in his last full-time season of competition, has had a lackluster year and will likely not be a threat to Toyota with the exception of perhaps Talladega.
Kevin Harvick has been the strongest Ford team all season, at least since the penalties hit the No. 22 team of Joey Logano in the spring race at Richmond. On Friday, Harvick and Wood Brothers driver, Ryan Blaney, were the only Fords in the top-ten. Blaney has been fast at times, but has had some inconsistency.
While Harvick’s season has not been the greatest, he is definitely leading the charge for the blue oval. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has scored one win and 17 top-tens in 2017.
A few challengers to the Toyotas have shown glimmers of hope, but as we enter the final race of the Round of 16, it appears the Toyota still has a firm grip on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.