This week, Nascar takes on the Monster Mile at Dover International Speedway and, if qualifying says anything about how things will go, it could prove to be a tough day for more than a few. The Monster can reach out and ruin a day faster than you blink and it has already proven it is hungry.
Hi, everyone…Just A Fan’s View takes a look at this weekend’s Sprint Cup Race at the Monster Mile and, somehow, it doesn’t look pretty for some of the competitors so far.
Jeff Gordon took a hard hit into the wall in his qualifying run and gets to start way in the back. Dover is not a place to give anyone an advantage and he has a lot of ground to make up if he wants to make a visit to Victory Lane this weekend. I’m not saying he can’t win, but I am saying he has made the job of taking his second points race victory this year quite a bit more difficult.
It should be an interesting race for more than few reasons this weekend. There is a lot going on. Probably the biggest news is the crew chief change for Dale Earnhardt Jr starting this weekend. There has been a lot of pressure put on Tony Eury Jr this year and now, the pressure is back on Dale Jr, (but we’ll talk more about that in a bit).
One of the other hot topics for the weekend are the lack-luster performances of the Roush teams for most of the year so far and how they hope to turn it all around at DIS. Their expectations should be fairly high since their last time there they did finish well. I’m just not so sure they have the advantage on the C.O.T. handling this year that they had last year. Although this could be their week for a turnaround, I’m just gonna wait and see how things pan out. I just don’t think they’ve turned the corner yet.
Another hot topic is the performance of David Reutimann. This is a track that he has performed well at in the past and it looks as though he is ready for it again this year. As I’ve said many times, I don’t generally take the qualifying times as a guide for who might win or run well, but David also showed some strength in the first practice, too. He, and MWR, may have something to prove to everybody since so many think last week was a gift. Personally, I think they put themselves in the position to win and the circumstances worked out well for them last week. This week they might just show us all they have turned the corner and are ready to win a few more before they’re through.
As strong as the Hendrick and Hendrick associated teams have been this year, it appears they are running into a bit of a headwind lately. They are still the ones to beat, but there are signs that the struggle is equalizing. Jeff Gordon has had some similar luck to Mark Martin’s early season and all the talk about his back problems makes everyone (except me) look at him as though it’s all but over. I think he is still positioned to be a very strong contender for the Sprint Cup Championship this year. He is just having a little bit of a struggle early this year. (Usually he waits until almost Chase time to have a bad run or two. Maybe this will get it out of the way and he’ll be able to take the lead all the way to Homestead.)
Jimmy Johnson has yet to show us he is going to win his fourth championship in a row, but he can’t be counted out yet, either. It is way too early to tell but there are a few signs of weakness and he has had a little more bad luck so far this year.
Mark Martin is running up front a lot and is thoroughly enjoying his success this year. I think it is great to see him doing so well and, personally, it wouldn’t bother me a bit if he took his first Cup Championship of his long career this year. I don’t think there would be a lot disappointed fans either.
That brings us back to the Dale Jr story. I could be the one that’s most surprised this weekend, but I don’t think he is going to run that much better than he has in the past couple of weeks. I could be wrong, but I just think there is something else going on inside his head. Nothing bad, maybe it’s just he is too busy with all that his popularity requires of him. Look out though, when it turns around for him and the 88 team, it could mean several wins in a row or, at least, several more before the end of the year.
I know that’s saying, and possibly expecting, a lot but, I do think things are going to change for them soon. One thing more about this whole situation … Now, it’s just my opinion, but I think Tony Eury Jr is going to be sleeping a whole lot better and enjoying working at HMS more than he has had the opportunity to do since arriving there last year.
Okay, the last hot topic I want to talk about for this week is everyone’s opinion of how Nascar’s Tv ratings are down and the stands aren’t completely full every week. My opinion for the moment is… “give it a rest.”
I’ve heard all the statements and arguments and I just don’t see it the same way as many do. The last time I checked, Nascar was second only to the NFL as far as Tv sports viewing popularity. Let’s give it some time before we declare the imminent decline and death of Nascar. Things are changing and it will all balance out in the future.
The faces of the drivers are changing and it will take some time to build up the fan base for the newer ones. Some of the guys I used to pull for in the recent past aren’t even racing anymore. I haven’t just completely given up and gone away, though. I’ve just decided to wait, watch and see who catches the attention of the fans in the future. Right now, I have more favorites than I’ve ever had and that is a good thing. (But I also have to admit, I do have a couple of favorites that I like to see win more than others.)
In the mean time, let’s enjoy the sport we love, quit knocking it so much and support it. It is way ahead of anything else in motor-sports, in my opinion, and I still look forward to it every week.
(And, by the way, I haven’t watched that much NFL football since Dan Marino and Jim Kelly retired, so I do understand some of the old favorites not being there. I check in now and again just to see if there is anyone that can take their place. So far, I haven’t seen it.)
Well, that brings us to the part that gets harder and harder each week. That would be who we think is going to win this week in Dover. I haven’t talked much about the Gibbs teams and they are looking pretty tough, especially Kyle Bush. This is his kind of track and I really think he has a good chance to take the checkered flag and the trophy, but I still think David Reutimann and even Matt Kenseth or Jamie McMurray have a good chance too, (yeah, I know those last two are Roush cars.)
I think this weeks race is going to come down to a race between Kyle Bush and David Reutimann. Who actually wins will be determined by who is in front at on the last few laps. If it’s Reutimann with Kyle on his bumper, look out, it could be someone totally unexpected because I think they’re both gonna to be going for it. Frankly, I’m looking for a victory by Kyle Bush this weekend…
See ya next time…
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
© May 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman