With the halfway point of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season only three races away, already there have been some major surprises.

Here are seven storylines that few people would have predicted before the season began.

7. FURNITURE ROW STAYS HOT -- The conventional wisdom was that an off-season switch from Chevrolet to Toyota would require time for the small, single-car Furniture Row Racing team to adjust to. Not so, Martin Truex Jr. came within 0.010 seconds of winning the Daytona 500 and led 392 for 400 laps to win the Coca-Cola 600.

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6. RPM'S STRUGGLES -- In 2014, Aric Almirola won the July Daytona race and made the Chase for the first time. Last year, he nearly made it to NASCAR's playoffs again. This year, though, Richard Petty Motorsports has lost its mojo in a big way, with Almirola 26th in points and teammate Brian Scott 30th.

5. CHASE ELLIOTT'S SUCCESS -- Everybody knew Chase Elliott was going to be good. But not this good. The second-generation driver is on pace to set a rookie record for top-five finishes and has more points right now than Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne. That's stout.

4. TOYOTA'S DAYTONA 500 DOMINATION -- Last year, Toyota won the Brickyard 400 and Sprint Cup driver's championship for the first time, both with Kyle Busch. This year, Toyota crushed the Daytona 500 field, winning the race for the first time, as Denny Hamlin led a Toyota sweep of the top three spots and four of the top five.

3. TONY STEWART'S INJURY -- Talk about shockers: On Jan. 31, just weeks before the start of his final season of NASCAR racing, Tony Stewart suffered a burst fracture of his L1 vertebrae in a sand-rail crash near the Arizona-Southern California border. The injury kept Stewart out of the first eight races of the season.

2. LUG NUT CONTROVERSY -- Who knew that the lowly lug nut would dominate the headlines for weeks? When some top drivers complained loudly and publicly about the alleged dangers of running with as few as three lug nuts, NASCAR altered its rules to require that all five lug nuts must be tight on every wheel all the time. Already, four crew chiefs have been suspended as a result.

1. SHR SWITCHING TO FORD -- The best-kept secret in racing in a long, long time exploded in late February, when it was announced that Stewart-Haas Racing would switch to Fords in 2017. And despite much speculation that SHR's Kevin Harvick would jump ship next year, he signed a new, long-term deal to stay with the team well beyond just 2017.