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Nascar Racing

Who Will Come Out On Top At Texas Motor Speedway   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There is a real battle going on in NASCAR Cup these days. It isn’t a battle being fought with weapons of war but a battle for which of the top NASCAR Cup teams will come out on top of heap. So far this battle has been mostly between the Hendrick teams and the Toyotas, in particular the Toyotas of the Gibbs and 23XI teams or twenty-three eleven depending on how you look at it. There is a chance even though it is not expected a Ford could come out on top this weekend and show they are ready to join in the fray. Except for a few bright spots, the Fords have really been struggling in this 2024 NASCAR Cup season.

Kyle Larson won his third pole in a row and has quietly driven his way to being the present leader in the points even though two other drivers have multiple wins. Ty Gibbs starts on the front row in his JGR Toyota and he and Larson were the fastest in practice and qualifying. In fact, both have fast cars and both have to figure into the mix to win when the final flag drops today.

But wait a minute. There are other fast cars in the lineup and five of the top ten starters are Toyotas of JGR and 23XI Racing. There are three Fords and two Hendrick Chevys. Of course, those two HMS Chevys are Larson’s and William Byron’s.

The Fords of Chase Briscoe and Ryan Blaney start fifth and seventh respectively and they figure high on my list of those that could win. Austin Cindric is right there with Blaney starting in eighth.

The Toyota teams have shown up with speed once again and they are looking to show not all of their speed shows up just in qualifying but in longer runs, too. That could mean a lot when it comes down to the final laps. Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick are starting in row two and Tyler Reddick did show very good long-run speed. In fact, he was one of the best in fastest long runs. Will he be the one the rest are chasing for the win when it comes down to the final laps? From this fan’s view, that is a very real possibility. Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace, starting ninth and tenth, both have shown they have a good chance at going for the win by past performance and the speed in their Toyotas.

I know I only mentioned the top ten starters in the lineup for starters but there are other fast cars in the eleventh through twentieth starting spots. Denny Hamlin has shown a lot of consistent speed in these opening weeks of the 2024 season and, even though he is starting eleventh today, there is very little doubt he will be pressing for the win when it comes down to the finish.

Ross Chastain starts twelfth and is the first of six Chevys starting in the top twenty. I could go on and on in comparing possible top performers for the race today and even a few dark horses. Not all of them would be from the top performing teams either.

There are those that have been struggling in this early part of the 2024 season but could turn their season around starting today at Texas Motor Speedway. One of those that jumps out at me would be Kyle Bush. It’s true, he has a lot of wins at the Texas track but Richard Childress Racing has just not had much speed or racing luck so far. Kyle has been relatively patient so far but is beginning to show signs of being weary with their lack of speed and accomplishment.

Between lack of having fast enough racecars and bad racing luck, he and his team need a good performance at Texas if for no other reason than to get a little confidence back. Unfortunately, the weekend hasn’t started out very well since he spun and backed himself into the wall in practice. That’s just not the way to start a race weekend no matter how you look at it, especially at a track like Texas Motor Speedway.

Ok, so I’ve left out a lot of drivers and teams in this but, it is important to ask who will come out on top when this one is over this evening. Will it be one of the two starting on the front row? Will it be someone in the top ten or top twenty starters or will it be someone totally unexpected? Well, that my friends is a very good question and I have to admit – as I did last weekend – I’m definitely a little biased in one direction and I’m pulling for one of the two starting on the front row.

I guess you can guess which one, huh?

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 14, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

Taking On The Paperclip At Martinsville 

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There are a lot of things that can and have been said about the short track at Martinsville. For a long time, it was called the paperclip and many still call it that. Others have said it is like two dragstrips and two left turns. It used to be dirt, now it’s concrete and asphalt. Over the years it has gone through changes and still it is one of the most popular tracks on the NASCAR circuit.

One thing hasn’t changed all that much in the last forty years. Forty years ago, in what could have been Rick Hendrick’s last race, his team won and that began the turn around they needed to be what they are today; one of NASCAR Cup’s winningest teams. At Martinsville, they have become the dominant team with laps lead and wins over the forty years. No, they don’t win every time they show up and there has been some heartbreak along the way but Martinsville is a place that Hendrick Motorsports shines. They are now celebrating forty years in the sport and are presently the best team in NASCAR.

Can’t say how the rest of the weekend may go but, three of the four Hendrick teams qualified in the top ten and Kyle Larson won the pole. It was his second consecutive pole and he beat Bubba Wallace’s qualifying time by a whopping one thousandth of a second. I guess you did detect that little bit of sarcasm there. I mention that because, not only is the track tight when it comes to racing but the qualifying times are very tight also. That’s just one of the things that makes Martinsville what it has become – a place for great short track racing with lots of action.

Now that I’ve said all that, I can’t ignore the fact there are some obvious things that could stand in the way of a dominating performance by the Hendrick Teams as they celebrate forty years in NASCAR. It’s pretty obvious the JGR Toyotas have shown up again with speed and there are several Fords also starting in the top ten. Actually, there are a bunch of possible winners in the field and you can bet they aren’t going to make it easy for the fastest qualifiers to just walk away with the coveted Clock trophy.

Although it’s true the Hendrick Chevys are fast and especially motivated for this race, there is no denying the JGR Toyota teams are just as motivated to put a damper on the forty-year Hendrick celebration. It’s not about just spoiling the Hendrick team’s celebration. It’s more about how close Martin Truex Jr. came to winning last weekend and how much speed and consistency they have shown over the last several weeks. I expect Truex would like nothing better than to get the win he felt he was denied last weekend. Admittedly, he was probably denied the win when NASCAR made a judgement call on the final restart when his teammate Denny Hamlin jumped the start. It’s true that he probably could have won but the call – or lack thereof – went against him.

Speaking of JGR teams, Bubba Wallace didn’t miss taking the pole by much and I expect him to be running up front and press for the win when it comes down to the final laps. Can’t ignore Christopher Bell either. He seems to always have something to show when it comes down to the final laps and we all know how the Toyotas have shown they can manage their tires though long green flag runs. When it comes down to it, I believe tire strategy is going to play an important part in the final laps of this one along with the overall strategy for the race in general.

From this fan’s view, it’s hard for me to pick which of the teams might have a possible advantage. Martinsville is one tough race and four hundred laps around the little over half mile paperclip can take its toll physically and emotionally. I expect, in usual fashion for Martinsville, there will be some “disagreements” that could lead to some pretty strong emotions by the time this one is over.

There’s no denying there are a lot of possible winners in the field today. There’s Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney, Chase Brisco, Josh Berry and a whole host of others looking to take home a Grandfather Clock. No one can deny that Kyle Bush knows how to win at this place. Although he hasn’t had the best start to the year so far, I expect him and his team to get it turned around and start performing more like we all expect, soon. I kinda hope he waits until next weekend to make that turn around because, even though I am a little biased, I’m hoping a certain other team wins.

Look, I told you I was a bit biased…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 7, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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Nascar Racing

Cup Teams Night Racing On Easter At Richmond   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Richmond Raceway is one of the oldest tracks on the NASCAR circuit and, though it has gone through a lot of changes over the last seventy plus years, it is still one of the most challenging short tracks the Cup Teams face. Add to that they face it twice a year and one of those times is in the playoffs. This spring race is on Easter and it is at night, under the lights.

This Toyota Owners 400 is already starting off in an interesting way and different than it has been for the last couple of weeks anyway. There are four Chevys starting in the top four and three of them are Hendrick Motorsports teams. The fourth is TrackHouse Racing’s Ross Chastain. I suppose you’ve already noticed that Kyle Larson won the pole and right beside him is Chase Elliott and they were only thousandths of a second apart in qualifying.

In fact, if you were paying attention to those qualifying times, there isn’t a lot of separation in the qualifying times of the field. Of course, I’ve told you numerous times what I think qualifying has to do with how the race will go. Yeah, that’s right, not much more than how the pit selections will go and the faster qualifying times get the better choices. That means Kyle Larson will be taking the first pit stall and the others will take what they think will help them be more competitive as the race progresses and pit stops take place.

The Toyota Owners 400 is four hundred laps and 300 miles. At a track like Richmond Raceway, there is a lot that can happen between that first lap and the last one. This track eats tires pretty quickly and according to many, the drivers will want four tires every chance they get.

So, what does that mean? Well, like we saw a couple of weeks ago at Bristol, tire management will be key and the ones that can do the best job will have a definite advantage, especially late in a green flag run. From this fan’s view, that could be more of a key to which of the drivers will win tonight as opposed to some other things. It will also likely affect the strategy the teams employ as the race progresses.

I can’t help but wonder if the Toyotas are struggling this weekend or if it only appears that way. In past weeks on the shorter tracks, they have managed to be the ones to noticeably be better on the long runs and, whether they have won or not, they have pressed the leader to the final flag. Sure, I know Christopher Bell was pressing William Byron right down to the end of last weeks race but that wasn’t as much of a tire management race as the short tracks before.

The Fords just haven’t shown they have a total grip on their new body style yet and it shows from the way they have finished even when they have qualified on the front row. Ryan Blaney has been the only real bright spot in the Ford camps so far and yet even he seems to be struggling lately. Joey Logano has been fast in qualifying but that hasn’t translated into a win either. In fact, he is having one of his worst years ever so far. I’m not just saying that myself. He has said it in interviews and, honestly, from this fan’s view it has been a bad year for him so far. Of course, some of his poor finishes have had nothing at all to do with him or the Fords not having speed but, he has been a victim of circumstances beyond his control. (In other words and to simplify, bad racing luck…)

What will happen in tonight’s race? Well, that’s a question that this fan can’t answer. I suspect there is a good possibility the Chevys could have a very good night. They certainly look to have the speed but then they have had that look before only to finish as also rans. Of course, Kyle Larson won last year’s spring race at Richmond and he did dominate at Las Vegas just a few weeks ago. I suppose he should be considered as one that could do the same thing again.

Of course, I know anything can happen tonight and it could be someone totally unexpected that walks away with the win. The only thing is there are those pesky Toyotas that have been showing a lot of speed especially on these shorter tracks. In particular, I’m talking about the JGR Toyotas of Ty Gibbs, Martin Truex Jr, and Denny Hamlin. At Bristol, Hamlin proved he knew how to manage tire wear and he got the win. Bubba Wallace in his 23XI Toyota qualified fifth and could lead the way to the checkered flag when all is said and done.

Unfortunately, and I don’t say this lightly; there are a lot of possible winners in the field tonight. Which of them will end up on top is anybody’s guess and I’m not willing to offer mine. I’m just going to watch and wait and see…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 31, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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Nascar Racing

Cup Teams Facing COTA Challenges   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There is always something challenging going on in the NASCAR Cup Series and this weekend is no different. This weekend not only do they face their first road course race of the 2024 season but they also face it with the newest NASCAR short track rules package for the first time. Judging from the practice sessions and the qualifying, it appears things are slightly different than the last time the Cup teams visited COTA. Well, that’s the way it looked from this fan’s view anyway. I don’t think I’ve seen as many people spinning out during practice as I did in these sessions this weekend.

I don’t know how you see it but, it does appear the Toyotas have not only found their speed but they have it hooked up to the track. Once again this weekend they are fast and they could be the ones to beat this afternoon at COTA.

This is just an observation but it does look like the new body changes to the Toyotas agree with them, especially the Gibbs Toyotas. They have been fast since the races have moved from the Superspeedways to the shorter tracks. The number of laps they have led in the last couple of weeks has been outstanding. In fact, they have dominated the field over the last two weeks.

In the first couple of weeks of the season, it looked like the Chevys were going to be running away with at least the first part of the season. Now, it appears that the Toyotas have taken the lead in that. They are obviously getting a grip on their new body style and they are obviously making up for lost time even from what they showed late in the season of last year with speed even before the new body style.

As it stands right now, I have to ask the question – Has the new NASCAR Cup downforce package for the shorter tracks had anything to do with the resurgence of the Toyotas and their grip on leading the field in speed and performance lately?

Well… that is a good question and one I’m not sure I have a grip on yet. It does appear their season began to turn almost immediately the first week this package was introduced.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that is the reason. What I am saying, or asking, is did this new package just fit into where they were at the start of the season or did it actually offer them some advantage over the other two manufacturers?

If we only look at the results from the first races with it, it does appear that it helped them close the gap on the Chevys and especially over the Fords. From my view, it does seem the Chevys still have speed but that speed has been surpassed by The Toyotas. Also from my view, as a whole the Fords appear to be struggling. Well, at least many of them when it comes down to the actual races. Qualifying is a little different part of the story but, except for Ryan Blaney, they don’t seem to be there at the end of a race.

Getting back to the challenges they appear to be facing at COTA this weekend, there have been changes to the track in the form of repaving some areas of the track. There is also a new starting area which may either help or hinder when the race actually starts. That is something that remains to be seen, especially when the entire field enters turn one at the top of the hill on the front straight.

As I mentioned earlier, the Toyotas have shown up with speed again this weekend but, taking a quick look at the front row shows there is a Chevy and a Toyota on the front row. William Byron squeaked by Ty Gibbs for the Pole position by a very, very small margin. Add to that there are six Toyotas starting in the top ten and four Chevys. The Fords don’t show up until eleventh through twentieth and then there are only three there. Not a very strong showing for starting this race at COTA.

Of course, you and I both know qualifying doesn’t always show how the race will go. Just because some cars run fast for one or two laps doesn’t mean they will even be in the top ten when it comes down to the final laps. When it comes down to Road Course racing, well, just about anything can happen by the time the checkered flag drops.

I won’t spend a lot of time talking about how I think the race will go for several reasons. One is the speed of the Toyotas and especially Ty Gibbs. He has been fast every weekend lately and only circumstances have kept him from his first win in the Cup series. It is possible he could get that win today at COTA. It is also possible any of the main Toyota drivers could take it to Victory Lane. The JGR and 23XI teams do look to be tough to beat, considering how they qualified.

Of course, there are several Chevys that could very likely have something to say about that. William Byron, Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain and, yes, even Corey LaJoie. There are several others and I won’t rule them out but the race will probably show a lot of difference between the some of the qualifiers and where they will finish. There are a lot of very good road racers a little back in the field. Remember, the qualifying times don’t show that much separation. I believe this one is going to come down to strategy and tires. Both of these could be affected by the number of cautions.

From what I’ve seen in the practice sessions, there could be more than a few of those but, even I admit it could come down to long green flag runs and that won’t be known until this one is over…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 24, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

The Food City 500 At Bristol  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Finally… the spring race at Bristol is back to concrete. I know there are those that think they should have kept it as dirt again but, in all honesty and from this fan’s view, there were several drawbacks to the Bristol dirt races. I don’t know exactly when I changed, but when I was young and living in Southern Illinois, I grew up around dirt track racing and loved it. I still do to a point but, I would rather watch the dirt races with different the different types of cars and on the shorter, more local tracks and the Cup cars on hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt. Oh, for a time or two it was something different and interesting to watch and see how the NASCAR Cup drivers handled the dirt but, in this fan’s opinion, it was just that… something different not permanent.

So, this spring race at Bristol appears to be different already judging from practice and qualifying. Between the A group practice and the B group, something drastically changed in the track surface – at least the most used low groove – and it showed up in the lap times and the handling first in the B group and then very obviously in the qualifying of the A group. Funny though; Ryan Blaney experienced it at the end of the A group practice session. I can’t say for sure but it may have helped him get the pole for today’s race. He and his team were the first to adjust correctly to the definite and somewhat sudden change in the track surface.

Bristol Motor Speedway has always been a crowd pleaser. It is a tough, intense track and, ask any driver, with hardly any time to breathe. It has been and will be again today, a physically and mentally draining track. The racing is always intense and there will likely be times of high emotions that will be displayed because of that intensity. Well, that and the elevated adrenaline that goes with racing and in particular at Bristol.

In the last two weeks, it seems the Chevys have lost a bit to the Toyotas and Fords. For a while in the first few weeks of the season, it appeared they were going to be the ones to beat every weekend. Even though they weren’t necessarily qualifying on the front row, they were finishing up front, taking home the trophies and racking up the wins. Then suddenly, things turned around for the Toyotas when they went out west. Armed with a new NASCAR rules package for short tracks, they managed to dominate Phoenix leading most of the laps last weekend. I suppose it is possible it could happen again this weekend.

Yeah, you know I haven’t forgotten Joey Logano qualifying on the front row almost every race to begin with but I also haven’t forgotten he didn’t finish all that well for various reasons. He has had a relatively difficult time so far this season. In fact, up till this weekend, the Fords still appeared to be struggling a bit even though they have shown signs of life as this young season has progressed.

Now, it appears the Fords may make a statement at Bristol. Well, at least if Ryan Blaney has anything to say about it. He made a very strong showing in the practice and qualifying sessions yesterday and walked away with the pole as well as good overall performance in the long runs in the practice session. I won’t say for sure but, it could be he will walk away with a trip to Victory Lane today.

Do I think the Toyotas and Chevys won’t have something to say about that? No, absolutely not. I expect there were a lot of late hours spent last night by all the teams trying to figure out how to show up today to be more competitive than yesterday when the resin appeared to break down relatively quickly during the Cup teams practice sessions. It appeared to this fan that the teams were relatively surprised by the sudden change in the track surface and most of them just didn’t have time to adjust to it in the limited time of practice and qualifying.

So, here’s how I think the race today will go. Although it is possible that Ryan Blaney could simply dominate the day, I think all of the teams have had time to think of how to adjust to the change the track went through. That could mean the Toyotas – and even the Chevys – could make it tough on the Fords even though Blaney’s Ford looks to be the one to beat entering into the Food City 500 today. After all, the lap times were very close together in usual Bristol fashion.

Of course, it also depends on what happens with the resin. At the time of this writing, I have not heard of how the track will be treated considering the way it broke down yesterday. I mean I understand why they use the stuff but it doesn’t appear to be the answer in the long run, (no pun intended).

I guess it will all come down to which of the teams have made good changes and continue to make them during the race as the track goes through its changes. They do have a lot of laps to make changes but I believe it will come down to how many cautions and long green flag runs they have. Will the fastest qualifier end up in Victory Lane or will it be one from further back in the field and will it be a Ford, Toyota or a Chevy?

At this point and looking at yesterday’s time on the track for all the teams, I just don’t have any idea…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 17, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

Cup Teams Take It To Phoenix Raceway  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There is a difference this weekend as the Cup Teams take to the Phoenix Raceway for the Shriners Children’s 500. For the first time in this regular season, Fords aren’t on the pole. In fact, even though the Chevys have started the year by winning the first three Cup races, it is the Toyotas starting on the front row. So, it begs the question, “Did the changes NASCAR made to the downforce package for all the teams benefit the Toyotas more than the rest?” Or did the changes just fit into the Toyota body changes better?

Well… whatever the case, the Toyotas did show speed when it came to qualifying and even in the extended practice session. Four of the Toyotas are starting in the top ten with two of them starting on the front row. Denny Hamlin was the pole winner with a definite speed advantage over the rest of the qualifiers. That could be an omen to the rest of the field of competitors if his speeds hold up throughout the race.

It is interesting to me that the Fords and Toyotas have shown speed during qualifying every weekend so far but, when it came to the race, they seemed to struggle a bit. I guess you could say that struggle lasted all through the first three races. Yeah, I know there were some circumstances that also affected the eventual winners of the races being Chevys, but still, the Chevys have been the ones to beat every weekend so far.

Now look. I’m a Chevy fan and it is a personal thing. I owned Chevys most all my life. I raced nothing but Chevys and I liked them over Fords and I have my reasons though I won’t go into them here. Suffice it to say, Chevys were good to me, especially in my local short track racing career.

I am also a Hendrick Motorsports fan and have been for a long time, too. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the other Chevy Teams because I do. I’m just partial to HMS. As I’ve mentioned before, Ross Chastain of Track House Racing is from Alva, Florida and that is about thirty some miles from where I live and it is hard not to be a fan of someone from so close to home. RCR is also one of my favorites. In fact, the more I think about it, I guess I’m kinda partial to all of the Chevy teams. Maybe that is why I’m a little biased when it comes to the other makes and them possibly having an advantage.

Of course, all of this has very little to do with the Shriners Children’s 500 today at Phoenix Raceway. It is obvious to this fan that the Chevys are struggling a little for speed this weekend. A quick check back over the last three races didn’t really show them to be the fastest cars on the tracks when it came to qualifying. Except for Kyle Larson’s dominance last weekend, they had to work for their wins.

Most of the talk about Phoenix this weekend is how important it is for all the teams to learn all they can to be prepared for the Championship race here in November. It is true they need to get all the info they can on the new package but I have another question. What are the possibilities that NASCAR will make further changes to the package after this visit to Phoenix? I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time that happened would it? If they do, wouldn’t that throw a wrench into the info gathering from this race? Yeah, that’s what I thought you’d say. And yeah, me too.

I guess my biggest questions for today’s race center around what’s already happened in this early part of the 2024 season. The Fords looked like they were going to be tough in the first races – especially Joey Logano. After Kyle Larson fended off Tyler Reddick’s bid at the end of last week’s race is it really that much of a stretch to see the Toyotas finally showing a little muscle? The rest of that question is this. Even though in those previous races, it looked like the faster qualifiers would be the ones to beat, the Chevys managed to win all three.

Will the same thing happen today at Phoenix? Well… that’s a good question and one I’m not really expecting to be answered to the positive. Denny Hamlin looks awfully strong and the Toyota of Ty Gibbs does too. In fact, it is my opinion most of the Toyotas look to have what it takes to do well today. I guess the question is, “Will they?”

Yeah, you guessed it. I’m still pulling for the Chevys…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 10, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

The Pennzoil 400 At Vegas   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Once again this weekend, Joey Logano sits on the front row for the start of the race. Of course, there are other benefits to winning the pole but two of the most important are controlling the start of the race and first pick of pit stalls. Joey Logano has had great starting positions over the last three races as well as having one of the fastest cars on the track. Unfortunately, having all that speed hasn’t really helped his racing luck situation. Well, that is at least from this fan’s view in the first two weeks of the 2024 NASCAR Cup season.

I don’t know if it means anything at all for the Pennzoil 400 today but, there are four Fords starting in the top ten. There are also four Toyotas starting in the top ten and only two Chevys.

Of course those two Chevys have been the strongest Hendrick teams of Kyle Larson and William Byron even though they didn’t finish all that well last week at Atlanta. That’s not to say they didn’t have fast racecars. They just didn’t have good finishes because of being involved in accidents. Larson has already had his first DNF of the year because of being involved when he was running right behind Brad Keselowski when Brad’s RFK racing Ford spun in front of him. Byron on the other hand did manage a decent finish considering all the problems he had with being involved in or near the several accidents that damaged all but a few cars in the field. Last weekend at Atlanta saw a lot of torn up cars throughout the field by the time it was finished.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the first test of the Toyotas and Fords on a track that makes up most of the races in the season with their new body styles. It is a one-and-a-half-mile tri-oval and only the Chevys have notes from previous seasons since they didn’t change body styles this season. Will that make a difference? That’s a good question and my answer is that I just don’t know.

It is possible I suppose that the Chevys could have a slight advantage but, with the strength the Fords and Toyotas have shown over the first races of the season, their advantage will likely be small. After all, so far there hasn’t been that much difference in the ability of the three makes to gain much of an advantage over the others. In fact, and I know I’m not the only one saying this, at this point I don’t think there is much difference between one over the other. Competition has never been closer. (At least in all my years of following NASCAR Cup.)

So, how will things shake out in the Pennzoil 400 at Vegas today? Will it have as an exciting close finish like last weekend at Atlanta? Personally, I don’t think so but it is a tough call. Qualifying showed the speeds to be very close even though the Fords and Chevys do seem to be pretty closely matched. So far, the Toyotas have shown they can keep up with the other two makes but they just haven’t been able be in the mix at the drop of the final checkered flag. Well, at least not at the very front, anyway.

As a fan, I’m wondering how much strategy is going to play into this one. Will it be a fuel mileage thing or will it be a tire advantage thing? I just don’t know. I definitely think it will be a race that has a few surprises and I think the strategy for the long run over the short run will be what makes the difference. Of course, that could all change if there are one or more caution flags near the end. Those that might rely on long run speed to get them up front during the race could be adversely affected if they have to fend off the competitors in a short run situation.

Once again this weekend, there is a lot of talk going around on whether or not we could be in for another finish like there was last weekend at Atlanta. This fan thinks that is a little far-fetched. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time he was mistaken, either…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 3, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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Nascar Racing

Cup Teams Take It To Atlanta   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Okay, Daytona is in the rear view and Atlanta is here. Funny that the front row looks almost the same as it did last weekend except for the Fords of Joey Logano and Michael McDowell switching places. I can’t help but wonder if the result will be the same as it was except this week Michael McDowell may have the dominant car. The reason I say that is because in Daytona Joey sat on the pole and pretty much could move about at will in the field. Of course we all know what happened with around ten to go.

Last week, I thought the Toyotas would make a better showing than they did. Instead, the Fords seemed to have the advantage. The Chevys played a better game when it came to strategy and pitting though and when it came down to the final lap – with the help of another caution at the white flag – two Hendrick Chevys ended up first and second.

So, what is the story for Atlanta? Will the Fords dominate? Will the Toyotas finally begin to show their strength? Well, from this fan’s view, I just don’t know.

Atlanta is a tricky place. In reality it is a Super Speedway in the way it drives but it is mile shorter than Daytona. that may not seem like much of a difference but, if you ask the drivers, they’ll tell you it is a difference and some may even say it is a big difference. The draft will still have an effect and two and three wide racing will still happen. I believe there will often be times of up against the wall, single file racing also. Of course, that would be nothing new for racing at Atlanta.

I have to be honest. As a fan, I have my favorites and I have those that I don’t consider to be favorites. I won’t mention any names of my not-so-favorite drivers just yet but, trust me, I am like every other NASCAR fan. I have drivers I would rather not see in Victory Lane. I have what I consider to be good reasons for my lack of placing them on my favorites list and those are likely the very same reasons others put them on their favorites list.

If you’ve been following this “Fan’s View” for very long, I am sure you already know which ones I’m talking about. If not, well… I’m sure it will become obvious over time which ones are which. Admittedly, I have been a fan for a long time and there are those I have changed my opinion of over time. Maybe I changed or, just maybe they matured and changed the things that originally turned me against them as a possible fan. What ever the case, it is sometimes easier just to ignore them and their accomplishments and be just the slightest bit disappointed when they achieve the victory over “my favorites.”

Now that I’ve said all that, I have to say I would like to see the Chevys do the same thing this weekend that they did last weekend. Yeah, it might be a stretch to think they could pull off the same feat two weeks in a row but I have to admit, I’m a Chevy fan. I want to see them win and, although I am in particular a Hendrick fan, I like other Chevy teams also. The RCR teams and Trackhouse Racing Team come to mind. Ross Chastain is from Alva, FL. That is about 30 miles or so from where I live so it is hard for me not to be a fan. Actually, I like the whole mentality of Trackhouse Racing. They aren’t in NASCAR to just be also rans. They came to be a force to be reckoned with and it proves out every weekend. They are aggressive – sometimes overly aggressive – but still they are in it to win.

Maybe, just maybe the Chevys will have what it takes to win this afternoon just like last weekend. After all, William Byron has won two of the last four races at Atlanta. Atlanta is like a home track to Chase Elliott so it is hard to not expect him to want to do well in front of the “home crowd.” This could even be the race where Alex Bowman breaks into the win column. He did finish second at Daytona and almost won.

Since I’m being very straightforward this weekend, I have to say of all the competitors in any of the makes, whether it be Ford, Toyota or Chevy, I would really like to see Kyle Larson win at a Super Speedway. He hasn’t had the greatest of luck at any of the Super Speedways and I would really like to see him get his first win at Atlanta. He did show some speed in qualifying and I only hope he and his team can make all the right choices with their strategies and put him out front at the right time. I know that makes me a little biased but, who knows, Atlanta just might be the place he breaks the barrier and wins…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 25, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

The 2024 Daytona 500   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There’s nothing like a rain delay to ruin plans for a big event. This year’s Daytona 500 is happening a day later and it will not have all of the luster of the way the event was supposed to happen. Oh sure, it will still have some of it but, it will lose something in starting a day later. I’m not saying the stands will be empty and I’m not saying they will be full. There will still be a lot of people there but there will be something missing. Because of the way dates are planned and the way tickets are purchased in advance, some people won’t be able to stay for the race and will have already left or will be leaving by the time this one starts. Oh well, I guess they will be able to watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio as they travel away from the excitement of actually being there…

Oh heck! What am I saying?!? This is Daytona and it is, after all, President’s Day and a lot of people will be off work so they will be able to be in the stands at the race and even more should be able to watch “The Great American Race” live on TV and listen on radio. So much for any drawbacks to a rain delayed race. Besides, anyone that can and will stay around will be treated to two big races on the same day.

One thing that stands out to this fan as the teams take to the track this afternoon is the possibility that the Toyotas could dominate the show. Since both the Fords and the Toyotas have new body styles and, at first glance of the results, it looks like it helped the Toyotas. Now, obviously, we can’t tell a lot by what we have watched transpire on the track so far but, it did appear they had at least a slight advantage over the other two makes. It could be that the Fords will make a better showing during the race today but, at the moment from this fan’s view, it looks the obvious advantage goes to the Toyotas.

So… what about the Chevys?

Well, that’s the question on my mind, too. They did have their bright moments in the Duels and it is possible they could pull off some surprises as the race progresses. I’m just not sure they won’t struggle a bit. Well, that is at least at the start and until a stop or two in the pits.

I find it interesting that the Hendrick Chevys appear to be doing things a little different this 500. Usually one or two of them start on the front row but it appears those spots are taken by other teams this season. Should they be worried? I don’t really think so. Kyle Larson looked very strong in Duel 1 and, if he hadn’t been forced out of the way, would have likely come away with the victory. That’s where the questions come in, at least from this fan’s view. When Tyler Reddick made his run on the last lap of Duel 1, it looked like he was in a different gear than the rest.

Could that have been because of the new Toyota body style? I guess it could be. Or maybe, just maybe, it was just because Larson got loose and didn’t want to have move to a backup car. Reddick was very aggressive on his move to the lead and it could be Larson wasn’t willing to press the issue with him. I know that doesn’t sound like a Kyle Larson kind of thing, but he did manage to not wreck even though it may not be a usual things for him. Usually he is all out all the time. Maybe this will be his year to win the Daytona 500 because of a different approach and maybe not. I guess we will know the answer to that question after about 500 miles at Daytona.

It does appear that the Joe Gibbs Toyotas have the strongest looking cars going into today’s race but, this is the Daytona 500 and, as we all know, the winner isn’t declared until the checkered flag drops…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 19, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

NASCAR 2024 Season Begins  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

You know… I could have easily called this, “An Old Guy Looks At The 2024 NASCAR Season,” but I didn’t. Maybe I’ll wish I did later but I promise… I won’t change it. You see the reason I could is because I’ve been a NASCAR fan since I was very young. I won’t go into how young or how long ago that was but trust me… It WAS a long time ago.

I grew up in Southern Illinois and, as a youngster, we attended the races at our local dirt tracks almost every weekend. Admittedly, it wasn’t a NASCAR track but dirt track racing was very big in our area and people came to race and watch from miles and miles away. Sometimes there was hardly room for the number of cars that showed up to race but, since I was young, I only cared about the racing and the wrecks. It was exciting and my dad and I often talked about building a racecar but just couldn’t afford it. Still, that didn’t keep us from going to the races and it didn’t keep us from dreaming. A lot of people in our hometown built cars and raced and some lived close enough that I could go and look at their cars on my bicycle and dream of the day we might be able to race. Man, those were the days. We did finally get to race after we moved to Florida and, if I do say so myself, we did quire well. (But that’s a story for another day…)

I remember there were two races that were always important to us and we kept up with them by reading about them in the newspaper and magazines and then, finally, on TV. Those two races were the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. For me, stock car racing and the Daytona 500 was what I was most interested in. I remember a lot of the old names many of you have probably never heard of and NASCAR racing has changed a lot over the years but, the Daytona 500 has just gotten bigger and better and something I have stayed interested in since I was around five or so. As I grew older, I always looked forward to February and the big race in Daytona.

I have to admit that I’ve always felt, since The Clash moved to California, it just isn’t the same. I really think it is much more for the drivers than it is for the fans and they are the ones that enjoy it the most. I think the first time it was a novelty and the fans were really into it for the racing but probably more for the performances by the musicians. I may be wrong, and I am sure there are those that will disagree with me but, I have honestly seen more exciting racing at a local track on a Saturday night. It’s just that the names weren’t as well known. (Like I said, I am sure the drivers love it but, as a fan, I don’t and didn’t find it all that great. Don’t get me wrong. It was okay but I just can’t get into it all that much.) Maybe the track itself is just too small for what they race with or maybe the format is wrong. I don’t know why I react to it the way I do, I just know I don’t get all that thrilled about it. Could be it is time to try another venue, at least for me.

So, The Clash is behind us and the weather made things a bit different than the intended plan. The Super Bowl has also come and gone. Now, it is time for the Duels and then the “Big One.” I realize that could be taken more than one way. It could be talking about the Daytona 500 or it could be talking about “The Big One” as in the big wrecks that always seem to show up during races at the Super Speedways and at Daytona in particular.

I do find it interesting when talking about the Daytona 500 how people often seem to mention the fact that NASCAR Cup racing starts off with its biggest race and then follows it up with a season long pursuit for the playoffs and a Championship. It is true. Daytona is one of the most treasured races for a driver to win and it is one that is a game changer for those that have never won it.

The Duels tonight will be the first to show what the changes to the Ford and Toyota bodies have accomplished. Will those changes put the Chevys in a challenge to keep up or will they equalize the three manufacturers even more and make the racing even closer?

To tell the truth, I have no idea what those changes will make. It could be for the better for the Fords and the Toyotas and put the Chevys in catch up mode. Hopefully, and I don’t say this lightly, the changes will make things better for all three and that my friends is what the real story is all about.

All I can say is, the Duels are just the beginning and the real story will be revealed this coming weekend when the NASCAR Cup teams take on the 2024 Daytona 500.

Honestly, I can’t wait for things to really get going whether it rains and delays the big day or not…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 15, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

The Final Four At Phoenix  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Well… we’ve finally arrived to the Championship Race for the 2023 season and there are a lot of questions to be answered as this one progresses. The final four will be racing each other and the rest of the field and that is one thing that makes this race so darn interesting. Not only do they race each other for the Championship but they have to race the rest of the field to see which of them might be declared the winner of the race. Usually, the winner of the race is the winner of the Championship, but not always.

William Byron sits on the pole as of qualifying but Martin Truex Jr starts outside of him on the front row. That could spell trouble for the rest of the field when it comes to the way the race goes. Byron is fast, Truex Jr. is fast but the rows behind them aren’t too shabby either. Kevin Harvick starts third and Kyle Larson starts fourth and both of them could press the two on the front row to have to run harder than they might like.

Pushing those two on the second row to perform or get passed will be Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin starting fifth and sixth. In fact, there are several hard-chargers starting in the top fifteen and two of those are the other two final four drivers vying for the Championship, Christopher Bell starting thirteenth and Ryan Blaney starting fifteenth.

If you ask people how they would like to see the race go they may tell you they would like to see Kevin Harvick at least be the winner of the race even though the Championship isn’t a possibility for him. After all, it is his last race as he moves on to the broadcast booth next season. That also means it is his last chance to exit his Cup career with a win in this 2023 Season.

From my view that seems like a reasonable request, but unfortunately, I honestly don’t see that happening. Now, I’m not saying that it won’t happen but I am saying it is not something I expect to happen. Still, Kevin has run well at Phoenix in the past so, could this be the walk off win for the twenty-plus year NASCAR Cup veteran? I honestly can’t say.

Other than Truex Jr. having a great chance to pull off a race win from the front row, there are two others I think just as much or more able to pull the upset, at least for the race win. Those two would be Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin. Both of their Toyotas have been fast and both have shown enough speed to be there at the end of the day. In reality, I think Denny has a better chance than Bubba but that’s not to say Bubba has no chance. Whether or not either one will be able to pull off the win remains to be seen.

There are several others quite capable of winning the race even though they’re not qualified to win the Championship. I offer up a few of those simply because they have shown they have speed and they are capable of winning. Erik Jones, Ross Chastain, Chris Buescher, Tyler Reddick and Ty Gibbs have all shown speed at one time or another at Phoenix. Daniel Suarez is another that could surprise with a win. I really don’t know what will happen because there are so many possibilities.

Now getting back to the real world and the championship…

The thing that makes this such an interesting race is the fact that it is really two races in one and both are happening at the same time. First, there is a race to win. Second there is a Champ to be crowned. Usually, the race winner is one of the Final Four but, as I mentioned earlier, that isn’t always the case. In the end, the 2023 Champion only has to finish ahead of the others in the Final Four to win the Championship but which of the four will it be? This is going to be an intense day at the races and this fan thinks it just might be full of surprises. As the last several races of the playoffs have shown, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” and as the drama unfolds so will the emotions. This is definitely going to be one to watch…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 5, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

Who Will Be In When Martinsville Is Done

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There are a lot of questions being asked about the race at Martinsville this weekend. The biggest one is “Who will be in the Final Four when this one is done?” There are two spots taken, two remain and six vying for those last two spots. If that doesn’t sound like drama in the making, I don’t know what does.

Two of the possible final four have nothing to lose when it comes to the race today at Martinsville. Of course, you know which two I’m talking about. That’s right, Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson. Both of them can pull out all the stops and run to win without having to worry if their aggression causes them to not run well or even finish. Both of them have fast cars but one of them does seem to have a slight advantage. Well, that is if you think qualifying makes very little difference in how the race goes.

Presently, at least from my view, Christopher Bell may have a slight advantage over Kyle Larson simply because he is driving a Toyota and because the last several weeks he has had the car to beat at the end of the race. I say that is a slight advantage because Kyle has been in position to win several weeks also. I’m not saying either of them will have an advantage today when it comes to the final laps though. That all depends on how it goes with the six trying to win their way into the final Four.

Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. are two drivers desperate to get as many points as they can and both of them want to win their way in. Obviously, they both can’t win and they both sit seventeen points below the cut. For both of them to point their way in would mean at least two other playoff drivers would have to have bad days. Ryan Blaney sits just ten points above the cut and Willaim Byron has a little bit of a cushion sitting thirty points above the cut. Although it is possible either Blaney or Byron could have really bad days, it is hard for this fan to see them both drop to the wayside and both be below the cut.

The other two drivers presently below the cut would be Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher. Buescher is in a must win situation as far as this fan is concerned and Reddick is ten points below the cut. I guess you could say they’re at the top and bottom of those below the cut. Of the two, Reddick has the best chance of making the cut although he has his work cut out for himself. He and his team just cannot afford any mistakes. They’re going to have to be on their ‘A’ game if they want to have any chance at all and still, it may depend on Blaney or Byron having bad days.

I don’t know if it means anything to you but, to me, it looks like a lot could depend on how Byron and Blaney do during the race. Unfortunately, IF qualifying and practice means anything, it looks like Blaney might have a better chance than Byron. Judging from observing the practice and qualifying speeds, the Fords – in particular the SHR Fords – looked to have good speed.

Sure, I realize Byron may have done better qualifying had he not been on the track when Tyler Reddick spun at the end of his second qualifying lap causing Byron to have to abort his already started coming to green moment but, there is no guarantee he would have either. As it stands, he definitely has his work cut out for himself even with his thirty point cushion since he is starting sixteenth. Plus, the Hendrick Chevys all seem to be looking for just a touch more speed. That could spell trouble for Byron if they don’t rectify it as the race progresses.

The problem for the six playoff drivers still contending to move on to the Final Four is the simple fact that there are other, non-playoff drivers quite capable of winning this one. Some in the field just want to finish off the season with a win. You know, drivers like Chase Elliott, Chase Briscoe, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace and a host of others without a win this season. Can’t rule out Ty Gibbs either starting outside pole net to Truex Jr.

I really believe that this is going to be one hard-fought race with any number of challengers pulling out all the stops to win. I know it goes without saying that the eight drivers in the round of eight have the advantage but, I don’t think that will deter the others from trying their best to take the win, even at the risk of making it hard on those six playoff drivers trying to make the cut and adding to the drama.

Any way you look at it, there are going to be hard chargers like Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. doing all they can to make it to the Final Four. Martin Truex won the pole and the number one pit choice. He will have an advantage at the start of the race but, with the way things have been going for him and his team, he may or may not be first to the checkered flag at the end of the day. He doesn’t have to win but winning is his best bet if he wants to move on to the Final Four at Phoenix…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 29, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated.