Four Are In And One Will Win from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well… this is it. This is for all the marbles in 2018. This is for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship and only four drivers are qualified to win it. Only one of them will.

There is something unique about the NASCAR Cup Championship. Many cars will be running the race but only four will be running the race to win the Championship. All of the others will be trying to win also but they cannot win the Championship. That’s what’s different about the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It is actually a race where it is possible to have two winners. One will win the Championship but that one only has to beat the other three qualified for the Championship four not the race. That means there can actually be two different winners by Sunday evening – one winning the Championship and one winning the race. Wow! That really sounds complicated but, at the same time, it sounds exciting and dramatic.

There has been a lot of talk about which of the four is the favorite to win. Maybe I should clarify by saying the one expected to win. If you ask Joey Logano, he will tell you he is the favorite. As for the others, well… since they’ve been there before, they will tell you they feel good about their chances but it is a long race.

Now, I’m not so sure I agree with Joey Logano’s assessment of himself and his chances but it is a long race and someone will step up to the plate and show why they deserve to be the Monster energy NASCAR Cup Champion for 2018 and it could be him. All four of the contenders know they have to beat the other three to be named the 2018 Champion and you and I both know it is all about winning for them.

Where the wrench in the works comes into play is because of all the other drivers and teams able to run for the race win. With this format, the Champion is determined by a race within a race and even though the four Championship contenders can win, there are a number of other drivers that can win or cause and accident or cause problems for the four contenders in some form or other.

For just a minute, let’s just consider some of the ones that could win the race Sunday afternoon but aren’t qualified to win the Championship.

First on the list for me would be Kurt Bush. After his disappointment last weekend, he is very motivated to win this weekend. He has the speed and he knows how to be there when it counts and he has to be considered as a possible winner of the race. Another would be Brad Keselowski. He is another that showed good speed in practice and could also contend for the win.

How about Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott? (Wow! That sounds strange to be talking about Chevys amongst all the Fords as possible winners of the Ford Ecoboost 400 especially with the way the Fords have performed this season. I only mention it because the Chevys have struggled so much during the regular season this year.) The best reason I can give for mentioning these two is because they have been the strongest running Chevys in the latter part of the season and it is possible one of them could win the race when it’s over Sunday night. Probably kinda long shots at best but still possible.

Along with all of those are Aric Almirola, Eric Jones, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and a host of others. Any one of these can win the race – not the Championship – and still finish off the year with motivation for next year. Two of them are trying to continue their streak of winning at least one race every year and that would be Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin. You know for sure they intend to do everything they can to continue that streak. I have to admit, in this fan’s opinion I would like to see one of them do so and – I’m just being honest here – I’m pulling for it to be Jimmie Johnson over Denny Hamlin but I do admit, he has his work cut out for him.

No matter how you look at it, this Championship race is going to be full of all kinds of drama and most assuredly high emotions. All sentimentality aside, the winner of the race is most likely going to be one of the four contenders, either Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush, Martin Truex Jr. or Joey Logano. I have no idea how it will turn out, only my hope of how it will turn out.

In usual fashion, the final race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 2018 season is for everything being on the line whether it’s someone unexpected winning the race or to crown the Champ for 2018. I’m sure it will be an intense race with lots of unkowns and plenty of drama. There could be two winners but only one Champion and we will know the name of that person when the final checkered flag is dropped declaring the winner Sunday night…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 17, 2018 – 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

One Is In But Who Will Win At Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It is amazing how quickly things can change at times. After the race last weekend at Texas, two were in by winning. Now, only one is in by winning and one that appeared to be in by winning is now on the edge of not being able to make it to the finale at Homestead next weekend. I know, I know, you’ve already heard the story and why Kevin Harvick and the #4 team aren’t guaranteed a spot in the final four.

I’ve definitely heard of pressing the envelope but a question or two does come to mind about why? Why would the #4 team take such a chance at a rule infraction knowing how much success they’ve already had in this season? Didn’t they have confidence that what they’d been doing all season would carry them through? Of course, I’m just a fan and have never been in their shoes at such a level but it does seem like a big gamble to me. I don’t know, maybe they just thought they wouldn’t get caught.

It is no secret the format for the NASCAR series playoffs and Championship race has made for increased intensity and a, “Do whatever it takes to win” attitude. As best as this fan can remember, it has always been about winning. Now it seems the stakes are higher than ever and what someone will do to win has also become different. The ‘bump and run’ has always been there and leaning on someone’s door to get an advantage has too – as the old saying goes, “eight tires are better than four.” It just seems that both the bumping and leaning is harder than it used to be.

Hey, I used to race at our local short tracks and I understand what goes on inside the driver’s head when it comes down to the final laps and there is someone keeping you from winning. One of may favorite stories a racing friend told me years ago ended like this. First driver, “Hey! Why did you spin me out?” Second driver, “Look ‘cotton picker’, I tried you high and I tried you low and then, it was time for you to go…” So, I get it. Winning is what it’s all about and many will stop at nothing to do so. My biggest question is, Kevin Harvick and the #4 team have been a force to be reckoned with all season, why take such a big gamble with so much on the line? I just don’t have the answer to that particular question.

So, the race at Phoenix this weekend went from two guaranteed to be in because of winning races in the round of eight to one, Joey Logano. In usual NASCAR fashion, Kevin Harvick was allowed to keep his win but it couldn’t be used to guarantee his spot in the finale. He also lost points and is also only 3 points above the cut line for making it to Homestead as one of the final four. That means there are seven drivers and teams vying for the three remaining positions in the final four. Because of the decision made to the press the rules, he could be one of the four that doesn’t make the cut.

From this fan’s view there is one person other than Joey Logano that will likely make it in on points if he doesn’t win and that would be Kyle Bush. He has been fast even though he and his team have struggled a bit. Unless disaster strikes them, I do think he will be one of the final four. Martin Truex Jr. is in a precarious position and, after the way things have gone for him and his team over the last two weeks in particular, he does have his work cut out for him. The #78 teams cannot afford to have another bad day or this fan thinks their chances are shot to make the finale.

One that stands out as a possible dark horse would be Kurt Bush. He could win his way in but he is only three points below the cutline. If neither he or Harvick wins and Kurt outscores Kevin, well, I think you know how that story goes.

Chase Elliott has a good chance to make it in by points or by winning. The challenge for him is that he needs to get a lot of points in the stages and hopes that one of the others faulters or has trouble. That would make it easier for him but he is going to have to run up front all race long and hopefully win. If he is going to win, his biggest challenge is to beat Kevin Harvick. That may not be easy but he is capable and there is always the chance Harvick could have trouble. It has happened before this season.

The only way for Clint Bowyer or Aric Almirola to make it in is to win. I’m not saying one of them won’t but they do have a high mountain to climb.

One thing stands out to this fan. Although the playoff races have all had a higher level of intensity, this Sunday’s race is going to be about as intense as any we’ve ever seen. All of the challengers have already made it know they will do whatever it takes to win and that means the competition will be intense and emotion packed. Someone is going to win and four of the seven left will move on to the final four at Homestead. So, I leave you with the question in the title. One is in BUT who WILL win at Phoenix…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 10, 2018 – 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

Texas Makes It Two To Go To Make The Show from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are getting intense. There are three places left to make the show at Homestead and only two races left for someone to make it in other than by points. At the present there are eight drivers hoping to make the finale at Homestead. One, Joey Logano, is already qualified and three already have enough points to make it in. The problems arise when, and if, someone other than the top three wins a race, whether at Texas or next weekend at Phoenix. Then things get even more intense than they already are.

There are a lot of “ifs” facing those still qualified in the round of eight. What happens “if this” or what happens “if that” and for each of the remaining seven it is more about winning – which they say it is every weekend – than just running for position. As just a NASCAR fan, I understand the winning part, but… well… let’s just say when it comes down to these final two races, there is hardly anything other than winning. That is if you want to advance to the final four at Homestead.

It is interesting to this fan that Kevin Harvick hasn’t done better in the Playoffs than he has. He is a former Cup Champion and he has had a stellar year but his performance in the playoffs just hasn’t been great. It has been mediocre to good but he just hasn’t shown the consistency he did earlier in the season. Both he and Kyle Bush have struggled at times. Both of them had acquired a lot of points over the regular season and both have been able to sustain their advantage much because of winning all those races. It may be just me that thinks this but, I really did expect them to show more than they have during the playoffs.

When it comes to Martin Truex Jr., I just have to express my NASCAR fan opinion about what happened to him last weekend at Martinsville. He was robbed. That will probably raise a few people’s blood pressure and I know there are those that will vehemently disagree with me. That’s okay, I can take it. You have your opinion and I have mine and I don’t seem to agree with many that have assessed what happened in the closing laps last weekend.

I realize many people think racing is win at any cost and the higher the stakes, the more that may be true. Well, at least if you listen to much of the chatter since last weekend’s race. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Well, that’s just short track racing. That’s what it’s all about.”

I just don’t agree with that. Well, at least, not completely. I’ve been a driver and I’ve been on the receiving side of that type action and I do understand both sides of the issue. I don’t remember dishing it out. That doesn’t mean I’ve never put a bumper to someone, to, uh, let them know I’m there and probably faster than them. I know that sounds a little contradictory but there are differences to what I saw Logano do to Truex Jr. I never remember moving someone out of the way just to pass or win a race. I may have but I don’t remember it. I do know it happens and everyone likes a good intense race between competitors.

I just don’t think Joey Logano is some kind of hero because he decided to do what he did. That seems to be the consensus from many though. Logano did what he had to do to win. It didn’t matter to him that Truex Jr. gave him plenty of room and basically ran him hard but clean. If he was going to move on to the final four, it was win at any cost. Joey has a different set of values than Martin Truex Jr. He did what he could and still sleep at night. That doesn’t make him a hero in my book. What it does do is remind me of why Matt Kenseth put him into the wall a couple of years ago or so, killing his chances at moving on to race for a championship. Believe me when I say this… you reap what you sow and this will come back to haunt Joey in the races ahead.

Oh well, back to Texas.

Texas is a fast, challenging track and that will only add to the intensity of the race Sunday afternoon. From this fan’s view, the Fords look very strong but that doesn’t mean they will walk away with the win and the trophy. In my opinion, the best thing that could happen at Texas is for someone unexpected to win. You know, someone like Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski or a relative unknown this season like, David Ragan. I think If I had my druthers, I’d pick Chase Elliott but then, well, you know… that’s just this fan’s view…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 3, 2018 – 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

The Round Of Eight Begins At Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Now it gets interesting. There are eight drivers and teams competing to make the final four and they have three races to do so. That means half of the ones previously competing to make the final four are now competing for the win at each of the next three tracks, Martinsville included. And then… there are the rest of the competitors that want to win.

One of the things that makes Martinsville interesting, especially in these playoff races, is that it’s a short track race and with all those cars on the track it’s hard to pass. That means track position is going to be as important as ever and the pits are going to be a place that can affect the outcome either positively or negatively. That puts added pressure on the drivers and the pit crews. The drivers because they cannot afford to get speeding penalties assessed to them. The pit crews because there are a lot of little things that can go wrong and cost them big time. From things like loose lug nuts to uncontrolled tires to running over air hoses or leaving an adjusting tool in or on the car. For all of the teams it is important to not mess up. For those in the Round of Eight, well, let’s just say they’ll be thinking about it the whole time.

For some, Kyle Bush is the favorite to win this one. For me however, well, I like to think of all the possibilities and he is only a small part in my thinking. There are way too many drivers not qualified for the Round of Eight that could win this one and some of them just barely failed to make the cut last weekend.

From this fan’s view, there are a couple of drivers looking for a win this season that have had at least one win every year since joining Cup racing. One of those has a very good record at Martinsville. Of course I know you know I’m talking about seven time Cup Champ, Jimmie Johnson. Yeah, I know it has been a rough year for him and the #48 team but I also know he is quite capable of winning at Martinsville. He has a lot of wins here already and I’m sure he and crew chief, Chad Knaus, would like nothing better than to get a win (especially since it has been so long since his last win.) Besides, the Chevys have been showing more speed lately and it is important to note, except for bad luck he’s had very little at all.

Another one that could throw a wrench into the works for those in the Round of Eight is Brad Keselowski. He may not have made it into this round of the playoffs but he is still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to winning at Martinsville. Should he win, it will make it just that much harder for one of the Round of Eight drivers to advance to the final at Homestead by winning. If they don’t have the points racked up, well, their only chance of moving into the final is by winning and there aren’t that many chances left to accomplish that.

Gee… did I almost forget mentioning Denny Hamlin? He is in the same boat as Jimmie Johnson. He is another of those that has won at least one race since entering Cup competition and he is also another one of those that has a very good record at Martinsville. As it stands and even though he isn’t qualified for the Round of eight, his chances are as good as anyone’s and, it is this fan’s opinion, he could be fighting for the win as the laps dwindle down to none. I won’t say he is one of my favorite drivers to win this one but I will say he’s got as good a chance as anyone.

Judging from his performance recently, I would almost say Martin Truex Jr. is one that either needs to show some strength that he and his team haven’t shown for while or he needs to win. Oh sure, they managed to make it into the Round of Eight but they only squeaked in. If there are any of this season’s “Big Three” that might have a problem moving on to the final, he would be my likeliest choice. Well… at least for the present.

When it comes to Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Bush or Aric Almirola, honestly, anyone of them could take the win on Sunday afternoon. The Stewart Haas teams have looked very good over the course of the playoffs and, from this fan’s view, it is possible they could all advance to the final at Homestead. Of course this fan doesn’t really think that will happen. I just bring it up because others have mentioned that possibility and it is there whether I think it can happen or not.

So… does anyone think Chase Elliott can make it four wins in the last twelve races? I have to admit, it is a long shot even though he does know how to get around the Martinsville Speedway. If he does win, that would really say something about how the Final Four will shape up and I don’t think anyone really expected that possibility. I don’t know if he will win, BUT if he does…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 27, 2018 – 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

Which Eight Will Remain After Kansas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There is a definite difference in the feel and approach to this Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. In some ways the tension is so thick it can be cut with a knife. In other ways, it is just the look on the faces of the drivers and teams trying to make it to the next round. For some it is simply a matter of being consistent and having at least a reasonable finish. For others… well… to put it bluntly, they either win or they’re done. Well, at least until next season if they want to be a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion.

From this fan’s view, this has been one race weekend that has shown just how serious the round of twelve teams take making it to the next round. For some, their only answer has been, “we’ve got to win.” The problem at least five of them face is that only one can win the race. If one of the four in ninth to twelfth place wins that will likely move one of the top eight into that “also ran” category and they will sit out competing for the 2018 Cup Championship until next season.

There are a lot of ways to look at this race, at least from a fan’s view, and the race on Sunday afternoon should have an elevated intensity for two important reasons. First, there are four drivers that need to win and, second, there are all the others. Although there are favorites and drivers and teams relatively safe from not being able to move to the next round, anything can happen to those close on points. If nothing else has been obvious this season, and especially during the playoffs, there is no guarantee any of them won’t have a bad day. Four or five of them can handle a bad day either by points or wins but the rest, well let’s just say it could get very interesting.

Aric Almirola and Chase Elliott are already in the next round since they both have wins. Kevin Harvick is in simply because of his accumulated points along with Kyle Bush. Realistically there is no way they can’t move on to the next round simply because of their points. That makes four spots already filled in the coming round of eight. Joey Logano is pretty safe unless disaster strikes and, since he is sitting on the pole, this fan thinks he will fill that fifth spot without question.

Now, sixth place is where it begins to get a bit interesting. Kurt Bush could be safe unless something totally unexpected happens and he finishes last or very near last place. That isn’t likely but the possibility is there and if it could happen to anyone, in this fan’s opinion, it could happen to Kurt.

(Look, I didn’t say it would happen, I just said it could.)

After that, well… that leaves two available spots and the question is, depending on what happens overall, which of the remaining will qualify?

Both Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. can’t afford to have a bad race. Either one of them is capable of winning but neither of them is guaranteed to win even though Truex does appear to have a better chance because of his 1.5 mile track stats. When it comes to the Kansas Speedway and even though it is considered to be his home track, Bowyer hasn’t really performed all that well in his recent visits here.

Speculation this week has been rampant about which will advance and which will become the “also rans” but some things are just plain evident. The only way for Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman to guarantee themselves moving on to the Round of Eight is to win. Since only one of them can win, (like I stated earlier), their chances are slim and it is going to take everything going their way for that to happen. That means no mistakes, no miscues and no penalties in the pits. Strategy could play a role but it is going to have to be great strategy. Otherwise… S

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 20, 2018 – 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

Taking On Talladega from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There’s a reason why they call it a “Wild Card” race but this time it isn’t as much of a Wild Card as it has been in the past. Oh, there is still the fact that someone can, by winning, move on to the next round that just doesn’t have the points, but it really doesn’t matter that much to those at the top of the points already. Some may be wondering how I can say that but, most already know of the big three, only one has to finish several spots ahead of last place. For the other two, well, they could finish dead last at Talladega and it might hurt but it won’t keep them from moving on by points. Well… that is unless they do the same again next weekend.

Martin Truex Jr. is the one that would be greatly affected by having an early exit from the Talladega race and it could mean he would have to really be careful the following week at Kansas. As a fan, I don’t think that will happen but, with the Wild Card of Talladega and a poor finish, it is possible. The only two relatively safe (and I stress “relatively safe”) are Kyle Bush and Kevin Harvick. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying disaster WILL strike. I’m just saying it COULD happen IF circumstances present themselves by two really bad finishes in a row, one at Talladega and one at Kansas.

So, what is it about restrictor plate racing? Why is it so popular with some and with others not so much? You see, I guess I’m a little bit biased when it comes to restrictor plate racing – I like it. Some of my fondest memories of racing as a driver were those times we ran in a pack door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper. In fact, I would go so far as to say I get a little bored when they run single file for many laps just killing time until the last 50 miles or so. Maybe that’s why I am also glad there are stages and points to be gained by doing more than just running along until the end of the race.

I may have a different opinion than some, but I do sometimes loose a little interest when it becomes a race of aerodynamics and it being hard to pass when a driver is out front. That is the case in the usual oval track, no matter which one they visit, (at least these days.) Oh sure, I know “back in the day” it was the same when someone would win buy many laps over the rest. Maybe that’s another reason why I’m thankful for some of the changes NASCAR has made to keep things more interesting. Things like the wave around and the ability to make up a lap if you’re the first one a lap down have added to the mix and made things a little more interesting. (That could be an understatement because there have been times when it made things A LOT more interesting.)

I find it interesting how much criticism there is of some of the rules NASCAR puts forth. Admittedly, it does seem they sometimes make or take a step backwards but usually their decision has proven to be the right one. I haven’t taken a close look at the rule changes put forth for next season but I have heard a lot of comments on the subject. I don’t intend to go into any of them here but I will say this; “time will tell.” From this fan’s view, with NASCAR it always has.

From my view, I think I will be watching this Talladega race more to see if there are negative results for the ones that have dominated the season so far. I’m not hoping for anything bad to happen to any of the three but I do know that restrictor plate races can be some of the most unpredictable of any race they run. After all, all we have heard for much of this season is how there are only three (plus one unknown) that will likely be in the final four at Homestead. They may be right but in NASCAR anything can happen and generally does in some fashion or other.

Can you imagine how things could be shaken up IF the “Big Three” do have a couple of bad weeks over these next two races? It could happen you know. Any one or all three of them could have string of bad luck over the next few races and completely change the look of the final four at the Championship at Homestead. It may not affect them making it into the “Round of Eight” but it could affect them making the final four. I know you think I’m really out there on this, but, just think of the possible ways it could all turn around over the next few weeks, IF.

Look. I really like restrictor plate racing and always have. I know it is a chess match for the drivers and one of the most stressful races they run all year. I know none of these things will likely happen but I will be watching just to see what does happen. Talladega could be a turning point that can affect the look of the final four completely. I’m not saying it will, I’m just saying…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 13, 2018 – 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

The Round Of Twelve Starts With The Monster from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There’s a reason why the call it the Monster. Many say it is a short track that thinks it’s a super speedway. Others say it is just a Monster to master and win on. What ever the reason, it has gained the name and reputation of the Monster Mile and not many will disagree with that. It is a one mile oval with high banking and extremely high speeds for its size. No matter how you look at it, it is as demanding as any track and possibly more demanding than some tracks that are bigger.

There is one that will be competing for the win tomorrow that has tamed the Monster eleven times. Even though he didn’t advance to this round of competition for the Cup Championship, Jimmie Johnson has even more incentive to add another win to his record at Dover. He may be out of the playoffs but he’s definitely not ready to fade into the background of NASCAR competition. After his performance last weekend at the Roval, this fan thinks he is even more driven to get the win that eluded him last weekend so close to the checkered flag.

Yeah, I know there are those that think Jimmie Johnson should have just laid back and finished in 2nd place. I also know that if he would have done that he would still be in the playoffs and have another chance this season to go for his eighth Championship BUT, I just don’t see a seven-time NASCAR Cup Champion not going for the win if he has the opportunity to do so. That’s just not the way champions and winners think. (At least that’s the way this fan sees it…)

Go ahead, think about if it was you and you were a seven-time champion that hasn’t won in the last fifty-one races you’ve been in. Would you lay back or would you go for it? I think if you’re honest with yourself (and the rest of us), you would go for it even if it cost you what it cost Jimmie Johnson. After all was said and done, there was a three way tie to move on and Jimmie Johnson came out the loser by the smallest margin imaginable. “What if” he would have passed Martin Truex Jr? “What if” he hadn’t had wheel hop? “What if” Martin Truex Jr. would have gone for the block and missed the turn all together? Wow! For only six letters those two words loom awfully large, don’t they?

Okay, I guess that’s enough of the “what ifing” for now. I don’t think anyone needs to apologize or answer for a seven time champion and I think he already answered the question as to whether or not he would do it again if he had a do over. His answer is that he would and this fan would expect nothing else.

So, what will this first race in the “round of 12” be like? Well, I suppose it could be a race much like the first race in the first round. There was a lot of aggressive driving and many of the top teams struggled that first week. It isn’t hard for this fan to think the Monster Mile won’t be quite the same as Vegas was. After all, Dover is a very fast track and, with the speeds they’ll be running, things can happen fast. It is a track that can have a big one just like at the super speedways. It is especially possible to have a big one on the restarts when everyone is all bunched up and wanting to gain as many spots as they can. That could mean the best of the remaining twelve have every possibility of being taken out by someone or something, not of their own making.

If I had to make a choice which driver I think might win that’s still in the playoffs, I would probably have to pick Kyle Larson. He generally runs good at Dover and, with the way things turned out for him last weekend after being involved in the big pileup near the end of the race, he could be one to watch for going all the way to the final four at Homestead. He has run really well all season but just not put it all together at the end of races. He’s been fast this weekend and this fan thinks he just might tame The Monster.

Of course, I can never leave it at just one choice for taking the win. There are just too many possibilities to make that kind of statement. From this fan’s view, there are several I think could win this one and some are still in the round of 12 and some are not. You see, I think Jimmie Johnson has a great chance at winning again at The Monster. Denny Hamlin is another hungry for a win, even though he isn’t in the playoffs either. Kyle Bush can never be ruled out at the Monster simply because he has won at Dover before. Kevin Harvick could show the way to the rest, even though I’m not so sure he will rise to the occasion this weekend.

I just don’t think there are any givens for this race at the Monster Mile. Any of the ones I mentioned could win or it could be one of the younger guys like Alex Bowman or Chase Elliott. One thing is pretty obvious. Talladega is next week and since anything can happen including one or more “big ones,” you can bet all of those still in the playoffs want to get a win at Dover so they won’t have to worry about a possible disaster happening there. So… you tell me how you think this one’s going to go…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 6, 2018 – 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 Teams Take On The Roval Challenge from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It’s not just a road course and it’s not just an oval. It’s both and I guess that’s why the marketing geniuses came up with the name “Roval.” So, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams take on the Roval at Charlotte motor Speedway this weekend and try to move on to the next portion of the playoffs. For those not in the know, that would be the round of twelve.

We all know that everyone has been asking for a road course to be included in the playoffs and NASCAR’s answer was to come up with something new, the Roval and it could prove to be the rise or demise of any one of the drivers in the thirteenth to sixteenth positions in the playoff standings. In fact, it could prove to be a real shake up in the standings of all the sixteen drivers involved in the playoffs’ round of sixteen. That’s not to mention that anyone of those four could be thrust into the round of twelve.

One thing that stands out very clearly, judging from the practice sessions and qualifying, is that this race could be a wreck-fest. Judging from the number of cars that have been torn up trying to make fast times around the Roval this fan thanks it could be erase the tears up many cars. It has definitely been interesting to watch how many drivers – both very experienced and not so experienced – have had their problems traversing this course. Personally, I think it could go either way. I think it will depend on how well all of them can navigate the turns and straightaways in a pack and how or what might happen when someone runs off the course or several someones get together. That could prove to be a disaster for many being cast into situations not even have their own making.

There are places that can only be navigated single file and that’s going to make it very interesting when their side by side. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if there isn’t a slight redesign of the course either before the race on Sunday afternoon or at least when they come back to the Roval next time. I just haven’t figured out, and once again this is this fans opinion, how they’re going to navigate some of the turns especially the one that has been the most damaging do so many cars. Let’s see, that would be the cars of Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones and a host of others at the chicane.

From this fan’s you I have to agree with a lot of people that have compared this to one of the restrictor plate races. Now that’s not because the speeds are so high but because the attrition may be extremely high. All it will take is one pile up in a narrow place and it could take out a bunch of contenders. I think one of the major challenges to this race is going to be finishing. I know I’m not alone in that either because many of the drivers have stated that finishing is probably going to be one of the biggest challenges they will face the whole afternoon in the Bank of America Roval 400.

Of those outside the top twelve, Denny Hamlin has the biggest task ahead of him. At twenty-nine points outside the top twelve, he’s already wrecked one car in practice and he could very well put himself out completely if he wrecks in the race. His only hope is to win. (Well, that’s not his only hope. Perhaps I could better state it as his best hope. In other words and from this fan’s view, his chances are very slim.) Erik Jones is in a similar boat to Hamlin at twenty-one points outside the top twelve. Along with Hamlin, his best chance is to win but they both can’t win so either disaster has to strike, or the chances are pretty much over for the two of them for moving on in the playoffs. I suppose it could happen but, well, I just don’t think it will.

Since this Race has so many unknowns and so many questions included, once again the question of how the Chevys will do rises to the surface. The points are very tight in the ninth to fourteenth positions and we all know that Jimmie Johnson is quite capable of winning this race “IF”. After all, he’s only six points from making the top twelve. Since this is a race where anything can happen and no one knows what’s really going to happen, he could just as likely move on to the round of twelve as anyone else. And, by the way, It wouldn’t be a shock to this fan at all and I would have to admit I would like to see it. I know there are many that will disagree with me but, I just have to tell you my view even if it is a little biased.

So, the big question remains as to whether or not this one race is going to be wreck-fest or just a very interesting road course race with lots of beating and banging, pushing and shoving like a short track. Maybe that’s a little bit of wishful thinking or an overstatement , but maybe it’s just… well… you know…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 29, 2018 – 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 Playoff Race Two At Richmond from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams take to the track at Richmond for the second race in the playoffs for the 2018 Championship in another “Saturday night under the lights.” Considering how things went at Vegas last weekend, it should prove to be a very interesting race. The pressure is on all 16 teams to perform well and especially those in the 13th to 16th positions. With what’s coming next weekend, this could prove to be the most important race of these 3 races in this first round of the playoffs. For those in those 13th to 16th positions, it is almost imperative that they finish at or near the front and score a lot of points for the weekend.

Now you’re probably wondering why I would say something like this one is more important than the next one. That’s because the “Roval” at Charlotte Motor Speedway is a brand new experience for them and hardly any one of the drivers feels confident about going to next week’s race. That is, if they “have to” have a win in particular at the Roval to advance to the next round.

Now I’m not one to say someone’s in trouble for advancing to the next round but, it doesn’t look good for the Hendrick Chevys or the Chevys in general. (Come to think of it, I am one to say that.) From this Fans view it appears that what I suspected all along is coming to fruition. The Chevys just don’t have enough speed to run with the Fords or Toyotas yet. Look, I know that qualifying doesn’t tell a complete story of what’s going on but I do know the qualifying shows that the Chevys, and in particular the Hendrick Chevys, are not starting in very good positions. That may not mean much as the race progresses and perhaps they will show some strength, but, it just doesn’t look good for them, especially if you’re a Chevy fan.

What does look pretty obvious is that Brad Keselowski is making a statement. He is actually going for 4 in a row after winning over the last 3 weekends. Although the odds are pretty high against that happening, I suppose if anyone can do it Brad can. One thing is pretty obvious. When it comes to money time, Brad is one of the best. There is no doubt in this fans mind that Brad does manage to show a lot of strength when it comes to these intense situations like the playoffs. When it comes to things like the playoffs, he does have a tendency to press harder and leave nothing on the track every race. I won’t say he does that all the time but, I will say that he does shine when it counts.

Even though he had a terrible weekend last weekend, Kevin Harvick won the pole for tonight’s Saturday night race and that could mean another victory for him in this 2018 season. I’m not trying to jump the gun and I do know that anything can happen but, Kevin is another one of those that seems to rise to the occasion when the heat is on. Fortunately for him, he had acquired enough playoff points during the regular season that last week’s poor performance didn’t hurt all that much. He’s not in the same predicament as the ones in the 13th to 16th positions but another bad performance could make next week’s race more important than it is at the moment for him.

From this fan’s view and in my opinion, Jimmy Johnson is probably experiencing the most miserable season he has ever experienced in the Cup series. This has been a season that if it can go wrong it has gone wrong for him and his crew chief Chad Knaus. Going into tonight’s race they find themselves in the 13th position which would mean they’re going to have a hard time advancing to the next round if they don’t win tonight or next week at the Roval. That has to be hard on the 7-time Cup champion but difficult times do come too every multiple championship winner in time. In my opinion, Jimmy Johnson is one of the most level-headed drivers in the series and I’m sure he can handle this adversity as well as he’s handled any others. Besides, there’s always next year. (Well, at least it appears that way.)

There are 2 Toyota drivers that are probably experiencing much of the same pain as Jimmy Johnson him being in those last 4 positions for this playoff segment. Of course that would be Denny Hamlin and Eric Jones. Both of them looked to be having good races last weekend but both of them had very poor finishes and not a whole lot of playoff points to counteract those performances. You can bet that both of them will be pressing for a victory tonight or at least trying to gain stage points and the victory. Otherwise, he could spell trouble for them at the roval next weekend also.

No matter how you look at it there’s going to be a lot of drama and intensity in the race tonight at Richmond. Some can’t afford not to win or at least finish very near the front and gain lots of points and some can’t afford to have a bad night or they will end up at the end of the line also. That’s one thing I like about the playoffs in the NASCAR Cup series. There are no definites and every week leading up to the Championship race holds a lot more intensity and drama than is normal in week to week races. There are a lot of “what ifs” surrounding the race tonight in Richmond. “What if” the top seeds all have a bad night? “What if” there is a total reversal or almost total reversal in the standings for the 16 due to some strange accident or something else? It should prove to be really interesting.

Now, “what if” somebody totally unexpected wins this one…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 22, 2018 – 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

The MENCS Playoffs Begin At Vegas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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OK, the regular season is done and the playoffs have begun. Well, that is, they will begin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon. Considering the way things have been going for the last couple of weeks, this could be an interesting start to the playoffs for 2018. I’m definitely not sure of how things will proceed but, from the looks of the way things have been so far it should be VERY interesting. With Eric Jones starting on the pole, well, that could just be the beginning of how interesting things could really get. I have to admit, this fan didn’t expect Eric would be the one sitting on the pole, though. I thought it more likely it would be some of the others with more experience and more points in the top 16 for the playoffs.

Now, you know I really hate to sound like a broken record but it does appear that the Chevys still have a ways to go and it remains to be seen just how competitive they might be throughout the playoffs. I have to say, at least from my view, that it looks like they may not make it past the first round or two of the playoffs. That’s disappointing when you’re such an avid Chevy fan as I am and it means that some of my favorite drivers I may not be able to root for throughout the whole process. Oh don’t worry, I’m not just a one brand fan and I like a lot of the drivers in the Cup series but, some of my favorite drivers drive Chevys and it has always been that way.

It does appear that the big three of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will do well at least in the early rounds of these playoffs because they still look to be running strong. Actually, with what’s going on with the Furniture Row camp, Martin Truex Jr. might be a little more “iffy” than he seemed to be a month or so ago. Of course, it doesn’t make much difference either positive or negative when I make that kind of statement considering that nothing is a given when it comes to NASCAR and, in particular, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The fact is, anything can happen from the drop of the first green flag to the final checker throughout these next ten races. But I get ahead of myself…

It doesn’t matter how a team has performed up to this point. What matters is how they perform from this point on. I guess that’s what makes this such an interesting format for the race to the Championship. Even though some of them have the advantage of the playoff points they acquired from the regular season races, it doesn’t mean they won’t be beaten or surpassed by others during the playoffs that have the same desire to achieve the same ends – and that would be winning the championship.

I mean, let’s look at the facts. A couple of weeks ago hardly anyone would have believed you if you would have told them Brad Keselowski would have won two races so late in the season. Many had already written him off as one that wouldn’t be a factor in the playoffs. Not only did he win two but he won two of the Crown Jewels in the sport, Darlington and Indy. Personally, I wasn’t one of those people that had written him off but I also wasn’t one that expected him to make it all the way to the final four. I have watched Brad in his time in the Cup series and he has matured and grown and is one of the best drivers in the sport. I won’t say that I always agreed with his attitude but I can’t deny the fact that he knows how to drive a race car. Now he is one of the ones people look at as one of the possible final four in the finale at Homestead in November. I’m not so sure I’ll go that far yet, but I do have to admit he has looked very strong, especially the last couple of weeks in particular.

Over much of the season, one of the drivers that people looked at as almost a definite to be in the final four at Homestead was Kyle Larson. Unfortunately, he hasn’t looked as good as he did several weeks ago or at least leading up to several weeks ago. I do know that he’s quite capable of competing with the Big Three but I’m not sure that the Chevys are capable of competing on the same level as the Toyotas and Fords. Even though I am a big Chevy fan, I’m still not convinced they have the speed to compete on that same level and it could be a struggle for them to make it to the final round no matter who’s driving them. The same holds true for Chase Elliott. He drives a Hendrick Chevy and they have looked good over the last several weeks but the Chevys just haven’t seemed to be able to show up at the front at the right time to claim the victory.

One thing that makes me wonder of how things might go for the favorites in the top 16 is factors involved in the different tracks they face such as the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We all know that the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a tough track and it is also a rough track. One of the things they may have to face all day long is a car that may handle through the bumps down low but not as well when they aren’t in the bumps. Setting up a car to handle the bumps well does not mean that the same setup will work when they choose other grooves on the track. They may be able to run the low groove fast but if they have to move up, it may be totally different.

It is hard to say who may have the actual advantage for this race on Sunday afternoon but if I had to make a choice I would say Kevin Harvick would be my logical choice. Unfortunately, the Toyotas would be the ones that could make that a bad choice.

So, in closing I have one question (or maybe two.) Is it possible that the Hendrick Chevys have been sandbagging all this time and could suddenly show themselves as the ones to beat? Nah, I don’t think so… But… what if ??

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 15, 2018 – 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

Regular Season Ends At Indy – Who’ll Be In from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The race at Indy this weekend will probably be unique. Because of the rain that has fallen on the track over the last couple of days, the race will be run on Sunday without the teams having any track time at all. There was no practice, no final practice and no qualifying. Those things in themselves are interesting and different but that also means it makes this season ending race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway very unique.

One can’t help but wonder how this race without the usual track time the teams usually have will go. Not that we don’t think they won’t have any idea of how to set up for Sunday’s race because we all know they have plenty of knowledge and notes to go on before they ever show up at any track and unload off the trucks. It just makes this fan wonder if this season ending race will favor the stronger teams or whether we just might have a first-time winner or an unexpected winner that makes it into the playoffs and knocks out one of the ones in before the race starts.

From this fan’s view, there are a lot of things going on this weekend in the sport and it just adds to the stress and drama already present for this final race of the regular season. Some of the most interesting would be the news of Kasey Kahne and his recurring health problem and the news that Furniture Row will be terminating operations at the end of the 2018 season. If you pay any attention at all to the talking heads, you already know all of this. If not, well, then it is news to you and, I have to admit, the Furniture Row thing surprised me the most.

I know they have good reasons but to make the announcement just before going into the playoffs strikes me as strange. I’m just a fan and have no insight into what it takes to own or even financially support a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team but, from my view, it seemed they were just beginning to click and be consistent. Martin Truex Jr.’s team in particular is one that has been considered to be one of this year’s “Big Three.” I just can’t help but wonder if this will motivate or discourage the #78 team going into the playoffs. They have always been able to overcome adversity but this has to be added stress to all of the members of the teams from driver to pit crew. I suppose it could have a positive effect on them as a team, but, it could also affect them negatively in the weeks to come. (I guess time will tell on that one…)

I have to admit, being a Chevy fan, I can’t wait to see how they will do at the Brickyard. Although the Chevys overall have shown improvement in speed, from this fan’s view, they still haven’t found enough to win or even run up front consistently. Of course I know there are a couple of teams that have upped the game a bit, but there is still a long way to go for them. If it weren’t for Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, I wouldn’t even have much to say about their chances of making it past the first round of the playoffs. It is hard to judge how they will do at Indy but I will admit (though cautiously) they might prove to be formidable competitors in The Big Machine Vodka 400. It is awfully hard to say without seeing how they might’ve performed in the practices and qualifying. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see IF they have what it takes to make it very far into the playoffs.

Another thing that adds to the drama of this race is what could happen to the drivers in the fifteenth and sixteenth place in the playoff standings. Jimmie Johnson had a terrible race last weekend and Alex Bowman made some gains on him. Should there be a new winner Sunday afternoon one of those two would be booted from the top sixteen. Whether it would be Jimmie Johnson or Alex Bowman depends on what kind of race they have. If Jimmie has the same kind of race he had last weekend, Alex Bowman could pass him in the standings and, should we have that new winner in 2018, Jimmie would be out and Alex in. (Wow! There probably won’t be many dull moments for those two teams, huh?)

The only way Ricky Stenhouse Jr. can make it in is to win. The same goes for Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Daniel Suarez. Their motivation is to win – of course it is every weekend – but what their situation does is make the race all the more stressful and dramatic for all six of them. This is truly a race that it ain’t over till it’s over. How they finish can make ALL the difference in the way the playoffs go for any of them. For the seven-time Champion, Jimmie Johnson, this could be one of the most rewarding races of his career. It could also be one of the most disappointing. I don’t reckon we’ll know the answer to those two things until the final checkered flag drops…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 08, 2018 – 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