All Stars Go For the Million At Charlotte from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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No matter how you look at it, this definitely won’t be just another Saturday night under the lights. The All-Star race is special for fans and drivers alike. When you put a certain number of what are called the best drivers in the world in fast racecars on the 1½ mile track at Charlotte Motor Speedway and hold a million-dollar carrot out in front of them, you can bet it will be a different and exciting night of racing. That’s the thing about the All-Star race. It’s all about fun and chasing the carrot more than anything else.

Lately there’s something NASCAR brings to this race to try out under racing conditions and it’s the same this year. There will be a few things different on the cars and it remains to be seen how it will affect the handling of the cars when they pull up to pass. Usually they stall out and the one with the advantage is the one out in clean air. Since that seems to be the biggest driver complaint – not being able to complete a pass – hopefully this will be step in the right direction.

So, what is it that makes the All-Star race different from all the others? Well… the biggest difference is that it is all or nothing. It’s about winning the million dollars and that’s about it. There are no points to be gained and finishing second or worse won’t really be remembered. The winner is the one that takes home the money – or at least him and the team take it home – and they get to bask in the glory of being the All-Star race winners until next year.

For just a moment, I just have to give my thoughts on last weekend’s race at Kansas. Many have stated it was the best race on a 1½ mile oval in the 2019 season. I have to agree with that and it was good to see something closer to real racing going on, with multiple grooves and side by side, two and three wide rather than so much follow-the-leader laps.

Another thing about Kansas was the performance of the Chevys. They are finally beginning to look like they can compete with the Fords and Toyotas and even on 1½ mile tracks, which have been their biggest weakness, particularly over the last two years. It looked like a Chevy was actually going to win it but, right at the end, Brad Keselowski managed to pull away on the final overtime restart and take it to Victory Lane. Alex Bowman finished second for the third race in a row and almost got his first win in Cup. the Hendrick Chevys are finally showing they can run up front even at the end of a race and three of the four HMS teams finished in the top six. That could mean they might make a race of it in the All-Star on Saturday night.

I have to admit, with the competition being so tight between all the manufacturers, the All-Star race could prove to be one of the best ever All-Star races in recent history. If last week at Kansas was a precursor to what might happen in Saturday night’s slugfest, well, let’s just say it should be intense. There will be chances taken that normally wouldn’t be seen and they will be coming from every driver on almost every lap in every stage.

Most importantly, the final fifteen lap stage will likely be a total slugfest and it will be interesting to see just which of them will cross the finish line in one piece and out front of the rest. We all know that it’s pretty much “anything goes” when it comes down to how the drivers will take it to their competitors. In the past it has sometimes gotten pretty rough and particularly when there are several cars coming to the checkered flag and it’s door handle to door handle and bumper to bumper.

Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I don’t think anyone is trying to intentionally hurt anyone but, sometimes the racing gets rougher than normal and some have been hurt in past years. Fortunately, most of the damage is to the cars and from high emotions accompanied by hot tempers and heated “discussions” as they survey their damage and loss. Will there be fisticuffs when all is said and done? Well… that remains to be seen, doesn’t it…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 17, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Kansas – Just Another Saturday Night Under The Lights from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well… here we are… just another Saturday night, under the lights. But, will it really be just another Saturday night under the lights at the Kansas Speedway? This is one weekend that many have been looking forward to, especially those in the Hendrick Chevys. What they really want to know is the answer to the question, “Have we really made advances in performance or are we only making improvements on what are called ‘specialty tracks’?”

It is a valid question and one that needs to be answered sooner than later since many of the tracks they face in a season are mile and a half tracks. If the Hendrick and other Chevy teams make a good showing at Kansas, it could mean they are making steps in the right direction. As it stands at the moment, they have proven they can perform well at the Super Speedway of Talladega and shorter tracks like Dover and Martinsville but, those just aren’t the same as the one and a half mile tracks they will face this weekend and those coming in the near future.

With the way the practices and the qualifying went, the Fords look very good. In fact, the Chevys AND the Fords looked to have good speed in qualifying. I do find it interesting that two Stewart/Haas racing teams sit on the front row and one of them is, Kevin Harvick, the pole winner. The next three positions are also Stewart/Haas Fords comprised of Aric Almirola, outside pole with Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez taking the third and fourth starting positions.

In a quick look back, I have to admit, last weekend’s race at the Monster Mile was different and it definitely didn’t go as I expected it would. It was actually a pretty good race and the speeds were extremely fast, especially in the turns. It seems some drivers liked it and others didn’t and some even expressed their dissatisfaction with the package NASCAR had them run.

What I find interesting is how several drivers complained about the latest package NASCAR required them to run at Dover and I know you’ve already heard what Kyle Bush AND Kevin Harvick had to say about NASCAR and the package this last week. What I find even more interesting is that the ones complaining so much, (actually, I call it whining), are drivers that have been dominate in the past and can’t seem to find their way to the front lately. I guess they think the package is to blame for their lack of performance. Frankly, I just don’t see it that way.

What I see is drivers not being able to pass like they think they should. At times, it seems they think that everyone should just move out of their way so they can go by. Unfortunately, those they are trying to pass are using the very same tactics they would use to keep those other drivers behind them. When the shoe is on the other foot, it appears they just don’t think it is fair, or that the package is keeping them from passing or from taking the win or whatever else they want to blame on the package rather than their ability to find a way to make it work.

The two most well-known to register complaints were Kyle Bush and Kevin Harvick and is it just me or, did Kyle Bush show us another time he wasn’t happy. Could it be that he wasn’t happy because he could only manage a tenth-place finish? Funny that his teammate, Martin Truex Jr. won the race at Dover coming from the rear while Kyle could only manage a tenth-place finish. Same make, same car, same team just different drivers.

From my view, I honestly think the only time we ever do see Kyle happy is when he wins. All other times he does his usual “whining” about the track, the tires or the package and wears a frown for hours, and sometimes days, until he finally shows up and has a chance for contending for the win. If he has another bad day, his attitude is the same almost every time.

Well, I don’t apologize for that little rant, but it is time to move on to my view of what it will be like at Kansas Speedway under the lights. After all, the answer to the question I started off with won’t be answered until the green flag drops. That’s when the… well… you know what it is that stops when the green flag drops…

Judging from the qualifying and just the general consensus after qualifying by the SHR teams, this may just be another “Saturday Night under the lights” at Kansas Speedway. One big difference could be that the Chevys actually make a good showing against the Fords and Toyotas, perhaps even coming away with a win and wouldn’t that be something different than recent times at the one and a half mile tracks. But wait! Didn’t Chase Elliott win at this track the last time the MENCS teams visited last fall???

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 11, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS And The Monster Mile At Dover from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There’s a reason why they call it “The Monster Mile.” It’s because it really is a monster of a challenge and a monster to face for 400 miles and, for the MENCS teams, it will be even more of a “Monster” than it has been. This weekend at Dover is a totally different experience for the drivers and teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

This is the first time the MENCS teams have taken to the Monster Mile with this particular package. There is more downforce and more speed (on an already high-speed track, I might add) and it will be a different experience for all. There has never been any time when The Monster wasn’t a challenge but this time, the first time competing with this package on this track, it will definitely be a challenge and a learning experience. Add to the new package a different tire brought in by Goodyear and you have all of the elements for a dramatic race, UNTIL, they adapt to all of the nuances of this new package.

There is one statement we all hear about the NASCAR Cup drivers and it’s often repeated and has been with regularity this weekend. That statement says that these are the best racecar drivers in the world. From this fan’s view, it looks like they get another chance to prove that statement true again this weekend.

Now, I am not trying to add any negative input into the statement because I do think they will once again prove it to be true. I have noticed while observing the statements and observations of the drivers that there is a bit of concern and hesitancy in how they think the race on Sunday afternoon will go. Not getting to practice in the scheduled early morning practice on Saturday because of pretty dense fog may or may not have a large impact on them but I expect they will adapt anyway. It is just less time for them to know how their cars will react when running in groups of other cars and how the tires will wear and affect their ability to compete. Add the fact that rain is presently very likely for Sunday, this fan can’t help but wonder if we will even see them race on Sunday.

It was good to see NASCAR decide to go back to single car qualifying and, I have to admit, what I saw this weekend looks good to me, at least so far. As I have admitted many times before, I have been around stock car racing since I was very young and, whether it was at the dirt tracks in Southern Illinois or the asphalt tracks in Florida, qualifying was always pretty much the same. It was one car and one driver at a time against the track and the conditions for that moment in time. There weren’t any second chances. The time you got was the time you were stuck with for that qualifying session. I don’t see any reason why it can’t be the same on a continuing basis for the MENCS teams

It seemed the racing was still good and, no matter where the better cars qualified, they did everything they could to work their way to the front. Sometimes they didn’t qualify well and other times the rules for the night might be to reverse the lineup just to make it interesting for the fans. It didn’t matter, at least from this long-time fan’s view, the racing was always exciting and filled with emotion and drama. Sometimes the favorite would win and sometimes the favorite underdog would. It didn’t matter and I’m kinda glad NASCAR decided to make it simple and to the point again.

Just a quick mention about last weekend at Talladega. Since I am a diehard Chevy fan, it was great to finally see a Chevy end up in Victory Lane. It has been a long, hard struggle for them and congrats to Chase Elliott for the race he drove and the way the Chevy teams pretty much followed their plan and strategy for the Super Speedway in Alabama. Last weekend’s race at Talladega was, in this fan’s opinion, one of the best races of the 2019 season and not just because Chase Elliott won it in a Chevy. That was good too, but the racing was even better than I had hoped. I really kind of expected to see them run a bunch of laps in single file and sort of make their play or moves very near the end of the stages. I was pleasantly surprised to see double file, close racing for almost all of the laps of the race.

There are two things I just have to mention. You remember I started off this with the statement that there is a reason why they call this the Monster Mile. First, this is a one mile oval with lots of banking and, with the added downforce of this package, high speeds. That could mean there might be some unexpected happenings as the race progresses. Things like broken parts and tire failures and any number of problems, whether on the track or in the pits. Second, along with all of the possible unknowns as we enter into race day for the Gander RV 400, we can only hope it doesn’t rain and that the race goes on without a hitch weather-wise.

There have been a lot of statements about which of the drivers might win and, of course, many have brought up the names of Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott. I’m not willing to pick one of them directly but I will say I would not be disappointed with any of those three winning.

Now, considering how the Chevys have performed so far this weekend I have to ask this question: Could it be that the size of the rear spoiler and the added downforce have been what the Camaros have needed all along? Well… I guess we’ll see as the season progresses…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 4, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

No Restrictor Plates At Talladega? from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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I know you’ve already heard it a thousand times this week. There will be no restrictor plates at Talladega for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this weekend. It’s another week of rule changes for the Cup teams and it should make for a very interesting race on Sunday afternoon. (Of course, it could mean another weekend of not-so-great racing as well.)

Alright, I admit it. This has been a season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series where the racing just hasn’t been all that great. (Well, at least that’s this fan’s opinion.) There isn’t anything wrong with change and there have been a lot of them this season but, from this fan’s view, the 2019 season has been a little lackluster for much of the time. (Once again, I stress that this is this fan’s view and you may or may not agree with it.) Sure, the last couple of races at the short tracks before taking a week off were better but, in my opinion, the season as a whole so far just hasn’t been all that exciting. I point to everything from the way qualifying has gone to even the stages being somewhat uneventful. It just seems that something’s missing. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me but compared to last season, there just doesn’t seem to be the same intensity in the stages or in the racing overall.

Take, for example, the qualifying sessions. Until they shortened the amount of time to get on the track and acquire a qualifying time, nothing was happening for most of the first two rounds until the last few minutes. Don’t you agree there’s nothing more exciting than watching the cars all sitting and waiting on pit road waiting until they have to take a lap? Yeah, that’s what I thought…

So… why might this weekend’s race at Talladega be different? What is it about this race that could be so different from previous races at the Super Speedway in Alabama? What else is going on other than they have removed the restrictor plates? (At least they still had no restrictor plates at the time of this writing.)

This will be the first time restrictor plates haven’t been used in over thirty years. They have made some other rule changes to the cars dealing with drag and horse power but the biggest news is the lack of restrictor plates. This will be old news to the avid NASCAR fan but they have a nine inch spoiler on the rear deck, an additional extension below the bumper along with a couple of other items and all of this was to control the speed so they wouldn’t need the restrictor plates.

So far though, the speeds have been over 202 mph when in the draft. That is approaching a speed that NASCAR doesn’t want to have them run at for safety reasons. It is true, when running by themselves, the speeds are much reduced but, when they get together in a pack, drafting speeds are higher than many expected they would be. The closing rates are much higher also and there are still questions about stability when running in the draft

I don’t remember a time, at least in recent Talladega history, that there has been such obvious concern for how the cars are going to drive and what it’s going to be like for the long haul during the 500 miles. Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying the drivers are fearful of the cars or the possibilities. I’m just bringing up my thoughts on how they have been talking of how they think the racing will be on Sunday afternoon. They are very uncertain and really and honestly don’t know what to expect. It is going to be a new and different Talladega experience for them. Well… at least for a while, until they adapt to the conditions created by the rule changes.

I hate to bring it up again but, as a Chevy fan, I’m just not sure the Chevys are ready to run up front yet. During the first practice session they looked like they just might be very competitive. After a couple of tweaks to the rules by NASCAR entering into the second practice, they moved right back down the speed chart to none being in the top ten. That may not bode well for them on Sunday in the Geico 500 but, I guess we’ll just have to wait and seen on that one.

When it comes to races on the Super Speedways, I have to admit I am still a big fan. That being said, there are a couple of things I hope we don’t see on Sunday afternoon. I really hope they don’t pick up tandem racing again. A lot of people liked the “two-car draft” racing but I wasn’t a fan. I guess I’m one that likes the door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper stuff. I like it best when they’re in big packs, slicing and dicing in and out of the lanes they’re in to make a run on those in front of them. Sometimes they advance and sometimes they fall back a bunch of spots and have to try it all over again. The other thing I hope we don’t have to endure for any extended number of laps is everyone falling into single file and just counting down the laps until a stage is nearing its end. I know there will be a certain amount of that but, I do hope the racing is better than that.

When all is said and done, there is a definite possibility that there could be at least one big one and possibly more over the 500 miles of the Geico 500 at Talladega. I just hope there are some cars left running at the end and that one of the drivers contending for the win on the final lap is driving a Chevy…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 27, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Saturday Night Short Tracking At Richmond from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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You hear it all the time if you follow NASCAR or just follow stock car racing in general. “Ahhhh, there’s just nothing like Saturday night racing at a short track.” Well, it’s true. there really is nothing like stock car racing under the lights on a Saturday night. Whether you’re a fan, a driver, an owner or just plain like stock car racing, you probably grew up going to the races at your local track on a Saturday night.

I know I did. From a very early age my parents took my sister and me to the races almost every weekend. We were fortunate. Our town had two tracks, both dirt, and whether it was on a Friday night, Saturday night or a Sunday afternoon, we were often there. Now, it is true, as a family, we couldn’t afford to take all of them in, but we did make it to one of them almost every weekend and usually, Saturday night was the night.

Of course, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is different than those local short tracks when it takes place on a Saturday night, under the lights, but the feel is the same. For some reason, the cars look better and the racing is generally better and much more intense. Emotions always seem to play an important part and tempers often surface whether in the cars, the pits or even the stands. It will be the same at Richmond tonight. (Well, that is IF it doesn’t rain…)

Before I spend more time reminiscing about Saturday nights and my thoughts on Richmond, I do need to say a few words about Bristol. It was nice to finally see some good racing for much of the race at Bristol. Maybe it was because it was typical short track racing or maybe it was because the shorter tracks just fit the new rules better. Whatever the case and from this fan’s view, it was nice to watch considering how the season has gone so far.

If you remember, last week I mentioned my thoughts for making qualifying better. It seems NASCAR must have heard me because this week they changed the qualifying procedure at Richmond. Three, five minute, sessions to qualify in whatever order they end up in. I don’t know about you but, this fan thought this weekend’s qualifying was much more interesting and, even though there were tons of complaints from drivers, crew chiefs and others, it wasn’t a long drawn out waiting period so they could all go out in the last three minutes.

Well, in all honesty, I seriously doubt they read or listened to my blogcast, but they did institute pretty much what I mentioned in last week’s article. I don’t know what you think about this week’s qualifying, but I thought it was much better and perhaps they should think about doing it the same way at larger venues, too. I think it simplifies the process and still accomplishes the task. (You know, that old, “The end justifies the means” thing.)

Whatever the case, I hope they at least consider this week’s process for qualifying as a regular format over the next several races. It is much more dramatic and exciting, especially from a fan’s view. Oh well…
I know I keep harping on some of the same things, week in and week out but, I can’t help but wonder if the Chevys are ever going to win a race this season. Considering how they dominated at one time, it has to be frustrating for them to have fast race cars but not be able to seal the deal at the final checkered flag. I still think it has to do with the Camaro body style but I’m not an engineer and I don’t know what they saw in it as promising over any other choices they could have made. I realize all three makes look pretty much the same, but something is different about the Camaros compared to the Toyotas and Fords. Is it underneath the bodies that the Chevys don’t measure up or are they just that much further behind the other teams in making everything work?

Lately, it does seem the Chevys are making headway but every week the results are the same. It has to be frustrating for the drivers and teams to continually talk about the improvements they’re making but never see better results. Well, at least not so far.

All I can say about tonight’s race at Richmond is that I hope it doesn’t rain it out or shorten it in any way. A shortened race just isn’t what I want to watch even though I know things do happen that way. If they have to move it to Sunday, well… let’s just say it loses that “Saturday night under the lights” appeal. Sure, it will still be a short track race and have much of the same drama and emotional racing but, it just won’t be the same in daylight as when they go “under lights” at Richmond. This fan is hoping it goes the distance and it does it “under the lights on a Saturday night…”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 13, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Take It To Bristol from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The MENCS teams take it to Bristol this weekend, OR, maybe I should say Bristol takes it to the MENCS teams. I don’t know which is best, but I do know that Bristol is in a class by itself. That’s not to say other tracks aren’t in their own class but, well, Bristol is Bristol. (Okay I admit I’m trying extremely hard not to say, “It’s Bristol, baby!!)

Yeah, it’s true. That phrase has been used and re-used so often that it really is what many NASCAR fans think first when the MENCS teams head to Bristol. Go ahead and try it yourself. You won’t have to search very far to find someone that will use that phrase if you just ask where the MENCS teams are racing or what they’re expecting the racing to be like for the weekend. Depending on how you look at it, truer words have hardly ever been spoken about a track on a regular basis – it really is “Bristol baby!”

It does look like the Chevys are making headway on their quest for more speed and, after two weeks of being pole winner and front row starters, there may be some hope for them to finish at, or near, the front when the checkered flag drops in the not-so-distant future. Jimmie Johnson on the pole last weekend and Chase Elliott this weekend with teammate William Byron starting outside pole says Hendrick Motorsports is finally realizing some better results in this 2019 MENCS season. (Well, at least from this fan’s view. I guess being a long time HMS follower and fan, I could add, it’s about time.) No matter though, I was a Chevy fan a long time before and I am just happy the Chevys are showing some potential in their second year of working with the Camaro. Been waiting a while now…

From my view, the Chevys aren’t the only ones struggling at least somewhat this season. One of the strongest performers last season was Kevin Harvick and he hasn’t lived up to expectations for him and his team and teammates so far this season. Everyone expected the Fords to struggle a little with their new Mustang body style but not many expected SHR teams to be outperformed as much as they have by the Penske teams. Now it’s not as bad as I just made it sound but, the Penske teams are running very good. Of course, they’re all being outperformed by the Joe Gibbs Toyotas so far this season.

Taking a quick look back at last weekend, from this fan’s view, it was definitely better racing overall. I don’t know, maybe it was because the Chevys showed some life last weekend even though they didn’t win. (Sorry to let that Chevy thing show up again but, after all, I am a fan and as a fan, I would really like to see a Chevy in Victory Lane at least once before too much more of the season passes. Of course, as a Chevy fan I do have a preference as to which one I would like to see there but, at least a Chevy winning would be good.)

So far this season, NASCAR’s attempt to improve the qualifying disasters has, from this fan’s view, been shy of actual good results. Probably this weekend was the closest we’ve seen to improvement, but it still has that boring aspect to it. Of course, I don’t think that tells us that much about improvement or lack thereof. That will probably have to wait until a larger track or road courses but, I do have my own thoughts of how they can improve the situation.

First of all, they should eliminate the staging area all together. If you pull out, you go take your lap or laps. As it is, they are trying to negate the effect of someone having an advantage over another but, by doing so, they are giving the advantage to anyone not going out first. If they want to continue qualifying as they do presently, my remedy is to draw pills to see who goes first and they have to pull out in that order and continue on to take their time.

Of course, I do know there are some complications to that but those can be solved by timing. As it is, they don’t need ten minutes for two stages of qualifying and five minutes for the last stage because hardly anyone pulls out to qualify until under five minutes anyway. One possibility is that they have thirty to forty seconds to follow the driver in front of them or they are disqualified. In my opinion, this would add real drama to the qualifying sessions and keep them short for the TV coverage. (Hey look, there’s hardly any body in the stands for qualifying anyway, at least from my observations, so it’s not about them. I don’t know, maybe they want to return to single car qualifying or go by points every week. Could be they should try both of those at least once and see how that works. Could it be any worse??) Oh well, that’s my two cents on that issue…

No matter what way they determine to go in the future for qualifying, it won’t change the racing at Bristol. It has been and probably will always be a high speed, high emotion and action-packed race and one always worth watching right down to the final checkered flag. After all, it IS Bristol, baby…!!!

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 6, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Takes On Texas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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You’ve heard it said many times I’m sure. Texas Motor Speedway is just another one of those cookie cutter mile-and-a-half tracks and they’re all pretty much the same. I mean, we have so many of them in an MENCS season, the results will probably be pretty much the same as they’ve been and it will probably be another weekend that the Fords and Toyotas sweep the top spots.

Well… that may have been the case before the MENCS teams arrived at Texas for this weekend but there does seem to be a little bit of hope for the Chevys making a run for the checkers on Sunday. Even though there are still 2 practices left (at the time of this writing), the Chevys have occupied more of the top spots as far as lap times go and, from this fan’s view, that is a good thing and I am sure it is encouraging for all Chevy fans. We haven’t had a lot to get excited about so far this season, but, that doesn’t mean we don’t expect them to keep on getting better.

Last week at Martinsville, Chase Elliott finished second and that was somewhat encouraging, at least for the Hendrick teams, even though he was the only one of them that could give Brad Keselowski a run for the money for most of the day. I mean, seven-time champ, Jimmie Johnson finished three laps down. Say what you will but that could not have (and probably did not) set well with him, his team or his boss, Rick Hendrick. In fact, the way the Hendrick teams have struggled so far this season, I don’t think it is setting well with any of the teams – it’s just not like them to be this far behind two years in a row. True, they were making headway near the middle and end of last season but fell back behind again with the new season and its rule changes.

All of that aside, Martinsville was a typical short track race and had the usual and expected short track emotions and action. It was a pleasant change from the humdrum racing so far this season – (well, at least from this fan’s view.)

Okay, let me get back to Texas…

Earlier I was saying what many say about the mile-and-a half tracks frequented by the NASCAR teams and how they are so similar – you know, cookie cutter. Well, Texas is different and it has a character and feel all its own. Most, if not all, of the drivers look at it that way. It is challenging in its own ways and more than just in the way it is designed. Different banking in turns 3 and 4 than in 1 and 2. The exits from the turns are different and require the drivers to “remember” which one they are in. That may sound funny but, after a few hundred of the five hundred miles, fatigue can set in and cause lapses in their rhythm and judgement. Many have tested the wall over time at the Texas Motor Speedway and the cost is usually either finishing poorly or not at all.

With the performance of the Chevys in the early practice and qualifying, things could look different at the end of the day Sunday afternoon. Seven-time Champ, Jimmie Johnson taking the pole position for the first time in a long time and William Byron taking the outside pole position is a real attention getter for the start of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 for Sunday. Admittedly, I am writing this before the Saturday practices and things could change but, the Hendrick Chevys do look good so far this weekend. Jimmie Johnson sitting on the pole is a major jump and encouragement after last weekend’s disappointing (and from my view, embarrassing) three lap down finish. In fact, this is the first time all of the Chevys have shown this much speed compared to the other makes in a while – quite a while.

From this fan’s view, it would be really nice to see someone other than Kyle Bush end up in Victory Lane this weekend. I know there is already talk of him making a sweep of the three series again this weekend but I hope that isn’t the case. I have nothing against Kyle and all of the wins he is racking up, but there are others I would like to see win in all three of the series. We all know he is talented and definitely on a roll but I do have to admit, I would really like to see someone else win. I know that isn’t what you Kyle Bush fans want to hear but it is my opinion and hope for this weekend.

I really want to see a Chevy win and, although I am somewhat partial to the Hendrick Chevys, I don’t care all that much which one wins as long as it is a Chevy and the end of the day.

Who knows. This just may be their weekend to shine brightly under the Texas skies…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 30, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Taking On Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Finally… the MENCS teams return from the West coast swing and take it to the short track at Martinsville. In this fan’s opinion, there’s no better way to come back East than to take on the half mile short track, the first short track of the 2019 season. Other than Kyle Bush taking his 200th win and looking fairly dominate so far this season, it was a relatively uneventful trip… well… at least from this fan’s view.

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I know I’ve been a bit critical of the season so far, but I have to say it just hasn’t been what I expected even with the new rule changes and everything. I had at least half hoped the Chevys would make a better showing and that the Fords would struggle at least a little bit with their new body style, the Mustang. Unfortunately, not too much has changed. The Chevys are still struggling to find speed and don’t look much different than they did last year. The Toyotas have built on their advancements from last season and the Fords… well… they just seem to be picking up pretty much from where they left off. Honestly, as a fan, it just hasn’t been all that exciting to me. In fact, I would go so far as to say it hasn’t been near as exciting as the talking heads and commentators have said it has been.

That could all change since short tracks have a tendency to generate more excitement and emotion than the tracks visited so far this season. That’s not to say the other tracks don’t have the same things, it’s just that short tracks are more fun all round for everybody, fans and drivers alike. There’s bumping, beating, blocking, banging and pushing, high emotions and, because of the way short tracks are, there can be tempers flaring and paybacks that may go back several races ago. Short tracks are where everything got started and they are still fan favorites.

One thing about short track racing is that drivers can lean on their competitors, bump them out of the way or be knocked out of the way and often come in and knock out a few dents and return to the track. Interestingly enough, that can all happen and they can still be competitive enough to possibly win at the end of the day. Now that’s what I call excitement, (maybe because short tracks were what we frequented and where my friends and I did our watching and racing.

Unfortunately, it looks like this might be another weekend that the Chevys don’t shine as brightly as they once did. The Fords and the Toyotas have looked very good in the practices and that could really spell defeat for the Chevys on Sunday afternoon. There is one that may make trouble for the Fords and Toyotas and that would be the Chip Ganassi Chevy of Kurt Bush. He has won at Martinsville before (even though it has been along time for him) and he has been the highest finishing Chevy almost every week, lately. Even his teammate, Kyle Larson hasn’t performed up to expectations considering how he did last season.

It does make this fan wonder, “Did the rule changes NASCAR made for this season just set things back for the Chevys from the advancements they made during last season?” It does sound strange that it would be that way but, maybe the changes did affect the already troubled Chevy Camaros more than the others.

As an avid Chevy fan, (after all, they were what I built and drove when I was racing), I have been quite suspicious of the Camaro since they moved to it. At first, the only place they seemed to be competitive was on the Super Speedways and after Daytona it was a while before they looked competitive much at all. The Hendrick Chevys, in particular, appear to have struggled the most (at least to this fan) and they still haven’t been all that impressive over a full season later. That’s not to say they haven’t had ANY speed, it’s just that they haven’t been showing up at, or near the front when it counts (like when it’s time to take the checkered flag.)

This is one race where there will likely be a whole lot less whining about not being able to pass slower cars BUT it is likely there will be some hotter tempers and emotional displays. That is one of many things I like about short track racing, especially at Martinsville. When it comes down to it, there will actually be racing for positons instead of a lot of complaining. Will there be enough emotion for there to be some fisticuffs? Well my friends, that is something we won’t know until the race starts and progresses to the end (and that’s a great reason to be watching which is what I will be doing.) How about you…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 23, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

ACS In Southern California Is Next Up from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The last stop for this western sweep of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is at the Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. If qualifying gives us any idea of what Sunday’s race will be like then… well… let’s just say it could be very different than the norm. I’m not saying it will be strange or weird but, it could be very different than what we as fans have come to expect from the racing at the speedway.

Just in case you missed it, the third round of qualifying basically didn’t happen. Because of the way qualifying is done these days, nobody made it around to take the green flag in time to beat the clock. Everyone waited until too late and qualifying reverted back to the way they finished in the second round giving Austin Dillon the pole. In all honesty, from this fan’s view it was much more frustrating than it was exciting and really quite a let down. (At least to this fan it was.)

It’s not that I don’t like the way qualifying takes place, it’s just that I don’t see the purpose of even having qualifying if no one wants to be the first one on the track. Their reasoning was they needed to be able to draft to get their top speed and actually go for the pole. In my opinion, they might as well go back to having single car, three hour qualifying sessions or just line up according to points position and see how that goes. Can’t be much different than it was this time.

Naturally, at this time is when I go into my minor “rant mode” and I still want to give my opinion of last week’s race at Phoenix even though my overall opinion hasn’t changed all that much yet.

To be honest, as a fan I have been relatively disappointed with the racing so far this season. I can’t really point to any one reason but I do know it has been tough to stay interested when most of the real racing happens during the starts and restarts after cautions or the end of the stages. One thing that bothers me week in and week out is how the talking heads keep saying how exciting the racing has been this season. There have been times I really don’t think they are watching the same races I am. When they were in Vegas there was talk of how exciting the restarts would be. The only problem was they only had restarts after the stages were done and that wasn’t very exciting, (at least not to me.)

Last weekend at Phoenix they had a plethora of cautions and plenty of restarts. According to some, that made the race really exciting. (Well, at least for a few laps at those times anyway.) That’s not necessarily the way I saw it and I wasn’t alone. In fact, I had a conversation with a customer/acquaintance and we basically agreed on the quality of racing this season. He said there just isn’t the same intensity as in years past. (Hey, he brought it up first, it wasn’t just me thinking out loud.) We both agreed it doesn’t have to do with the new rule changes for this season. It just seems that something is different but neither of us could put our finger on what it is exactly. Oh, and by the way, we both agreed there seems to be a lot whining going on this year.

Anyway, this weekend might be just a little different. Everyone seems to be wondering if Kyle Bush is going to win another one. Whether he ties or surpasses Richard Petty’s 200 victories this weekend isn’t all that important to me. Records are made to be broken and he is a very talented driver. I don’t really compare the two and their number of wins. They were, and are, great drivers and both have made a definite impact on the sport, they were just in different eras. The times and technology may change but talent is talent.

Probably the biggest question in my mind for this weekend is, “Will this be the weekend that the Chevys begin to actually show up at the end of a race?” This may be a new year, new season and new rules but their struggle continues. The Fords and the Toyotas seem to have picked up where they left off last season (even with the new rules changes) and I guess you could say the same thing about the Chevys. They just haven’t shown the same results as the other two makes and, as I said last season and still say this season, the Camaro just hasn’t proved to be a good choice for some reason or another. Not that they haven’t shown speed at times, but they just haven’t shown it when it counts – like when the checkered flag drops at the end of the race, declaring the Victor.

I don’t know… maybe the racing to this fan just isn’t as good as it was because the Chevys aren’t winning (or even showing they can win.)

Wait a minute! Does that sound like I’m whining…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 16, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer – © March 16, 2019 – all rights reserved Rusty Norman is PodCastNorm

Week Two Of The Swing Out West Is At Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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No matter how you look at it, the season for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has been filled with changes. From the first weeks in Daytona to the ISM Raceway at Phoenix, there have been changes to the horsepower, the downforce and other things, making it a very interesting time for the MENCS teams. It has to have been a real stressful and trying time for the crew chiefs and engineers in particular with every weekend being just a little different. I guess we could also include the drivers along with them since they have had to adapt to the new feel and horsepower changes to their driving style. All of it has made life very interesting for all of them I’m sure.

Before getting in to the talking about this weekend’s race, I just have to mention a few thoughts about last weekend at Vegas.

Without being too critical of the racing so far this season, I have to admit I don’t see it the way many of the talking heads and others do. All of the changes to the cars this season were supposed to make the racing better and closer but, at least so far, I haven’t seen all that much change. If you listen to some, they say how exciting the racing has been even going so far as to say it has never been better. Others give their opinion of the overall race and still talk about how “exciting” and close it has been.

Look… I’m not trying to cause a ruckus, be overly critical or anything like that but, I just haven’t been impressed by the racing all that much so far. Oh sure, there have been moments that could be considered “exciting,” but for the most part, (at least from this fan’s view), I just haven’t seen it. Yeah, they still press to get points near the end of the stages and still want to win at the end but, at least from my view, the races have been relatively lack-luster. Not that there haven’t been moments. It’s just that it’s been quite a bit different than even last season. It seems that the intensity is missing, (except may be at the restarts.)

Now maybe it’s just me but I have seen a lot of griping and complaining about how some drivers just won’t get out of the way of one driver or another and they just can’t pass or they’re being held up from being able to chase down the leader. I mean, come on! Isn’t that why we call it racing? Isn’t the idea supposed to be about finding a way to move past those holding a driver (or drivers) up.

I realize that may sound like I’m talking about bumper cars but, I’m not. There are ways to let a slower driver know your intentions and, like I said in last week’s article, there’s always the, “I tried you high, I tried you low and them it was time for you to go.” Eventually it comes down to out-driving or moving someone. That doesn’t mean a driver has to wreck another one. It does mean they have to use measured aggression, knowing full well that they will be raced the way they race. That may be a fine line and, once it’s crossed, it usually opens up a whole new can of worms (or, it could start a whole new set of rivalries. Who knows?)

(Well, now that I’ve made that point, let me move back to ISM Raceway at Phoenix.) It was my hope that the Ford’s moving to the Mustangs might be a little bit of an equalizing factor with the Chevys and, to a lesser degree, the Toyotas. As it turns out, that hasn’t been the case and the Fords have picked up right where they left off last season. From this fan’s view, the Fords appear to have an advantage, at least for the present, and that may or may not make things hard for Chevy fans wanting to see a Chevy in Victory Lane.
If there are any signs of how the race Sunday afternoon might go, it would be that the Fords (and Toyotas for that matter) will likely finish ahead of the Chevys again. Now I am not making a definite prediction but, I am saying there are several drivers looking very strong going into Sunday’s race and unfortunately, they aren’t in Chevys.

Now perhaps the return of horsepower along with the increased downforce available this weekend at Phoenix could make everyone happier. The drivers seem to be happier to have the horsepower back along with the increase in downforce and maybe they will gripe less and pass more without so much whining. (Hey, I’m just saying…)

Now that I’ve said all of this, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Chevys prove me wrong. Chase Elliott looked very good in practice and qualifying and could be the first Chevy to win in 2019. Of course, there’s Kyle Larson along with him and he is a likely competitor as well. I can’t discount the RCR teams either since they have also shown strength in the last couple of weeks. One thing to consider is there is a very good possibility there could be an unexpected winner this weekend and even more as the season continues. Personally, this fan would like to see someone other than a Ford driver in Victory Lane but, that just may not happen. Well… at least not yet…


Now perhaps the return of horsepower along with the increased downforce available this weekend at Phoenix could make everyone happier. The drivers seem to be happier to have the horsepower back along with the increase in downforce and maybe they will gripe less and pass more without so much whining. (Hey, I’m just saying…)

Now that I’ve said all of this, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Chevys prove me wrong. Chase Elliott looked very good in practice and qualifying and could be the first Chevy to win in 2019. Of course, there’s Kyle Larson along with him and he is a likely competitor as well. I can’t discount the RCR teams either since they have also shown strength in the last couple of weeks. One thing to consider is there is a very good possibility there could be an unexpected winner this weekend and even more as the season continues. Personally, this fan would like to see someone other than a Ford driver in Victory Lane but, that just may not happen. Well… at least not yet…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 9, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Takes It To Las Vegas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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This is week three of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and it is the third week of changes to the cars. Beyond that, it is the first week of the full aero package we’ll see for the remainder of the season, depending on which tracks they’re at. From listening to all the buzz, many say this is the first real race of the season. Daytona is uniquely Daytona and Atlanta is looked at as one of a kind so, maybe what they say about Las Vegas being the first real race – or test of the new rules package – is true. It is also true that this is week one of three races out west.

Before I talk about the race this weekend at Vegas, let’s take a quick look back at last weekend at Atlanta. There are several things I’ve heard mentioned since the race at Atlanta and, although I understand what they’re talking about, I have a different opinion than those I heard offering their opinion on a couple of those things.

First, I have to bring up my concerns about the Chevy Camaros. From this fan’s view, it still appears the Chevys still don’t perform as well as the Fords even though the Fords are running their new Mustang body style. With the performance of the Hendrick Chevys at Daytona, it did appear they had made headway in speed and handling but, Atlanta proved to be a totally different story for them.

Sure, I know Kyle Larson led many laps in his Camaro but, he had that pit road problem and just couldn’t make it back to the front. I have heard many say that they don’t think it is a Camaro problem it is a Hendrick problem but I ‘m just not so sure I agree. I think Larson’s performance (with Hendrick Power under the hood) showed it’s not just Hendrick but the Camaros being so aero dependent that, when they get back in the pack a bit, they just don’t handle as well as the Fords (or the Camrys for that matter.) Like I said, that’s the way it looks from my view and I could be wrong but, they still look to be a little disadvantaged compared to the others.

My second point of disagreement is (and maybe it’s just me) but, it does seem we have a few “whiners” rising up in the ranks. In particular, two that stand out in my mind would be Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. I know there will be many that disagree with me – or probably don’t see it the same as I do – but over the first two races of the season, both of them have been heard criticizing people that didn’t make it easier for them to pass them or didn’t get help from them as they felt they should.

Two incidents that stand out in my mind would be Joey Logano and Michael McDowell and Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. For whatever reason, these two past champions think everyone is supposed to just move over and let them go by or push them to the win. It is pretty obvious, not every driver agrees with them. My one question to them would be, “What ever happened to having to race for the win?” Just because someone doesn’t want to make it easy for them doesn’t really mean a whole lot to me. (I think of the reputation of being hard to pass Ryan Newman has acquired over the years. There are very few instances he will just move over to let someone pass him.)
Naturally, in usual fashion, that also reminds me of a line from a story someone told when I was racing. It goes like this (edited version, of course.) “Look cotton-picker, I tried you high and I tried you low and then it was time for you to go…” Whether you and I like it or not, the chrome bumper is a tool in the racer’s toolbox…

I could go on but I’ll save some of my thoughts for another time. Right now, it’s back to Vegas.

The race this weekend at Vegas is going to be unique in the sense that the changes made to the cars are going to be applied over more than just one weekend. In some ways, the teams’ notebooks don’t really have much to refer to. We all know the drivers and their teams learn fast but, we as fan’s will probably be in for more than a few surprises. I’m not sure what those surprises will be but I do know they will be there.

At the time of this writing, the first MENCS Saturday practice was rained out and the lack of track time could prove to make Sunday’s race even more interesting. I’m not sure if this could be the start of making the racing more interesting and intense or whether it will be a time when certain drivers begin to shine either for the first time or where the “old veterans” begin to shine again. I’m not picking any favorites for this one but I’m not ruling anyone out either. In this, the first race of the three races out west, I do think the drivers and teams are going to learn a lot about what they will face over the two that follow this one as well as for the races ahead in the season.

So… rather than ask what driver you think will win, I would rather ask you (and myself, too), which brand do you think is going to perform and come away with the most wins over the next three races? Will it be the Fords? The Camrys? Oh come on, please, won’t someone stick their neck out and say the Chevys…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 2, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Takes It To Atlanta from a NASCAR Fan’s View


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Wow! Less horsepower, more downforce and very little difference in speed. Well, at least that is the first impression of this NASCAR fan. I don’t know about you but I was more than a little surprised at the results so far for the new car and engine specs for the MENCS teams. Although there are still a lot of unknowns about how things will go, from this fan’s view, it looks like this will likely be the usual race for the Atlanta track.

Before I talk more about my view of this Atlanta race, I have to make a few comments about the race last weekend at Daytona. You may remember I was concerned that it might be a race of single file, follow the leader type race and the only thing that might break up the monotony of the 500 miles would be the stages and the final laps of all three. Since the race finished, many have talked about how exciting of a race it was. I’m sorry, but from my view, it wasn’t anything more than what I thought it might be.

Okay, so instead of running single file, they ran two wide and sometimes three but there wasn’t a lot of action until the final lap or two of the first and second stages. I have to say, and this is my view, it was like watching paint dry for many laps throughout much of the race. If it hadn’t been for the “Big One” and a few other skirmishes in the final stage, this might have been the most unexciting Daytona 500 I remember in recent times.

Another thing that kinda griped me was made quite obvious by Joey Logano’s attitude when Michael McDowell chose to go with Kyle Bush in a Toyota rather than him in Ford on the final lap, as though it was all about him and him winning. Admittedly I’m not that much of a Joey Logano fan, but NASCAR is not just about what is best for him and I don’t think he deserves any special privileges just because he is last year’s Champion. I don’t fault McDowell at all and I can’t help but wonder if the roles were reversed what decision Logano may have made. Oh, and by the way, I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I’m not so sure how I like or dislike the Ford’s with Ford’s, Toyotas with Toyotas or Chevys with Chevys. Sure, I admit the brands of the cars are important, but for me, I follow the drivers much more than the brands (even though I am a big Chevy fan and always have been.) To be clear, I like other drivers than just the ones in Chevys.

Oh well, enough about last week at Daytona and back to Atlanta this weekend.

I think this race at Atlanta this weekend might be the same and yet different than the normal or usual one. With the new rules package and the way some of the drivers and teams have stepped up their games, this could be a breakout race for some that aren’t mentioned that much. I do expect the usual teams will be making themselves visible but I also think some of the relative unknowns could also begin to shine this weekend. Which ones am I talking about? Well, that’s a great question and I’m glad you asked it.

Drivers like Michael McDowell, Matt Dibenedetto, David Ragan and Ryan Preece have all made a few waves over the last couple of weeks. That’s not to say they have arrived, but it does say there is an elevation of competition in some of the smaller teams associated with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. I know you’ve heard at least three of these names before, but we may be hearing more about them as the season progresses along with some others.

Still, it is hard to go against the proven old veterans and high performers at Atlanta. I can’t argue with the performance of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush, Jimmie Johnson or several others over the last several years at this track. They all have to be considered as contenders when it comes down to the final laps because they are usually there. That’s not to say one of them will win but we all know one of them could.

I’m not about to try and pick a winner in this one, (well, not the time of this writing anyway.) There are a few names I haven’t mentioned yet but they could take the win. Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and, yes, even Joey Logano should be considered contenders for this one. In fact, I would go so far as to say there could be a surprise winner for the “Folds of Honor – Quik Trip 500” if for no other reason than the horsepower and downforce changes instituted for the first time this weekend. Then again, well, it could just be another race at Atlanta… reckon we’ll have to watch to find out, huh…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 23, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated