As the brightest stars of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series get ready to put on a show in Charlotte, we take a look at the stories that have defined the season so far.
Compared to other major sports, the NASCAR All-Star Race doesn’t fall at midseason. In fact, it comes just a third of the way through the entire 36-race schedule, so it’s more like a stage break in the overall scheme of things.
However, since the NASCAR Playoffs became a thing (including the Chase days), the annual trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway does come pretty close to the middle of the regular season, and thus gives us plenty of time to draw some conclusions based on what we’ve seen and learned through 12 races.
Here’s our take on the five most prominent storylines of the 2018 NASCAR season prior to the summer months, ranked in order of importance.
5. The new Camaro has been more curse than blessing for Chevrolet teams
As it turns out, Brad Keselowski had nothing to worry about. The driver of the No 2 Ford acted like the proverbial canary in the Chevy coal mine, convinced that the arrival of the Camaro ZL1 would boost the fortunes of the Bow Tie Brigade the same way the 2017 Camry seemed to supercharge the Toyota teams.
If anything, it’s had the opposite effect, as none of the Chevrolet teams have quite managed to figure the new car out yet. The numbers don’t lie: Despite counting seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and rising superstar Kyle Larson among their number, Chevys have made it to exactly one Victory Lane, and that came the very first week when Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500.
With precious few exceptions, the Chevrolet teams haven’t even been in the mix for victories most weeks since then, a depressing state of affairs for a manufacturer with such a proud NASCAR tradition. Hope remains that the summer will see a big change in that regard, but for right now, there’s not a whole lot to cheer.