Fontana is a track that garners mixed emotions from the fans and here at Just A Fan’s View. On the one hand it is a fast track with turn entry speeds of around 200 mph and on the other it is a place that can either breed boredom over much of the 500 miles or complete dominance by one driver as was proved thus far by Kyle Bush.
It isn’t always a race that holds the attention of the fan from beginning to end. Most of the fans I have talked to recently watch the start of the race and the first 20 or so laps and then basically half listen to it on their TVs or radios while they do other things close by. Of course the fans that are traveling while they listen on Sirius/XM probably pay the closest attention because they can travel a lot of miles while the race progresses.
So far, this has been an interesting beginning to the 2009 season. We saw some great racing during several of the events of Speed Weeks at Daytona, FL and then experienced a slight let down at the finish of the Daytona 500 because of rain. Overall, the consensus of the fans coming out of Daytona has been good with many looking forward to the racing this week.
There has been a little debate sparked because of the no-testing rules and some even think that is why the race at Daytona was so interesting and close. (Personally, I think the racing at Daytona is interesting more because of the restrictor plate than anything else.) Some even think that this week’s race will tell more about how this season will pan out. Fontana is what many call the real beginning of the season.
From my view, this week could prove to be a follow-the-leader type of race if it turns out that one teams has better figured out the setup than the rest. I hope this is not the case because the thing I like most about Nascar racing is the close competition in running for the victory. I really don’t much care for watching a race to see who will finish second. I like those down to the wire, beatin’ and bangin’, don’t know whose gonna win until they cross the finish line races.
In observing the practice sessions, it’s obvious there are few really strong teams looking to get out front as far as they can and lead as many laps as possible. I expect at least one third of the field to finish at least one lap down behind the leaders. I don’t think there will be quite as much drama as there was at Daytona but I do know this is a 500 mile race and anything…let me stress that…anything can happen.
So that brings us to who I think will win this weekend in Fontana.
- Although Kyle Bush looks very strong and I do think he will be a factor, I don’t think he will win the race.
- Carl Edwards can’t be ruled out as a contender but he isn’t my choice for first place either. I do think he will definitely finish in the top 10, perhaps even in the top five, but I just don’t know if they have a good grip on the track as they did last year.
- Mark Martin looks good and is as confident as I have seen him in recent years, but he’s not my pick for the win. I do think he is going to finish in the top 5 though.
- Tony Stewart is strong but I am not sure he is strong enough to win. We have to remember, he is running Hendrick equipment and they do look strong this week.
- Jeff Gordon is also strong this week and was last week also. The question is, can he beat Jimmy Johnson to the line for the win? I’m just not sure.
- Jamie McMurray seems to have things clicking this year and has been on track to be leading at the end of the race. I don’t know that he is going to lead the field across the stripe for the win, but he is looking very strong.
- Jimmy Johnson is my pick for the win this weekend. His team has looked strong in practice and qualifying. I do think it is going to depend on how his equipment holds up and how things go near the end with pit-stops and who has the freshest set of tires.
It is my opinion that tires are going to make the biggest difference at the end of the race and, of course, there is always that “fuel mileage” thing that always seems to work its way into the mix at Fontana. If it comes down to fuel mileage, it could be anybody’s race but I still think the Hendrick teams look strong all around.
Well, that’s the way I see it for this week…
See ya next time…
© February 2009 – Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman