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The track at Texas is fast… really fast. It is also tricky when it comes to entering the turns, especially when the bumps show up entering into turns one and two. So what does that mean for tonight’s race at TMS? Well… from this fan’s view, it means the one that can consistently run the fastest lap times, deal with the bumps and not have problems in the pits will probably end up in Victory Lane. Oh yeah… and it could turn out to be a fuel mileage and tire management race, too, and that could prove to make it a very interesting night for sure.
Martin Truex Jr will sit on the pole for tonight’s race but this fan wonders whether or not that will actually translate into a victory for Michael Waltrip Racing (or even whether it will translate into a victory for Martin Truex Jr.) As was obvious in qualifying, one fast lap does not (and will not) a race make.
What do I mean by that? Well… many of the cars ran fast on their first qualifying lap but none that I noticed ran as fast, or faster, on their second lap. That makes it fairly obvious that the drop-off in speed with the tires is pretty quick and that should make it interesting when it comes down to the longer green flag runs. That could mean a big difference in which cars start out up front and the ones that actually finish up front.
Of course, one of the big questions is whether or not tonight’s race will mean Rick Hendrick and Hendrick MotorSports gets that 200th Cup win. Once again Kasey Kahne is starting in the top five, but with the way his year has been going, not too many are putting much stock in his chances for a win tonight. That’s not a statement against Kasey’s abilities, it’s just that he hasn’t had the best of finishes even though he has had fast cars every weekend this season.
He and Jeff Gordon are pretty much in the same boat when it comes to their racing luck this year and there are two ways this fan looks at that. Either they are getting all of their bad luck out of the way long before the Chase and are going to finish strong then, or, they just won’t be factors at the end of the year.
I’m sure there are some of you that disagree with me and that’s okay. I’m just as sure there are others of you that figure they are already out of the running and won’t even make the Chase.
Personally, I think it is a little early to start talking about which drivers will and won’t make the Chase. We’re only about one quarter of the way into qualifying for the Chase and there is still a lot of time for others to run into some disappointments before we get there and it may be some of the present front runners, too. I’m not saying that will happen, but I am saying “racing luck” is a finicky beast and can affect anyone at anytime and, unfortunately for some, for extended periods of time.
As far as the other Hendrick teams of Johnson and Earnhardt Jr, well… they are starting in good spots and their chances for ending up in Victory Lane are at least fairly good. I’m not convinced they will, but I have been surprised more than once so far this year.
A quick look at the top of the lineup for tonight is interesting in itself and I am still not convinced starting up front amounts to a hill of beans when it comes to time for the checkered flag to drop. The Roush Fords of Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth look strong and the 1½ mile tracks seem to always be some of their strongest showings. Could that mean either one of them (or even their team-mate, Carl Edwards) takes home the trophy tonight? Yeah, it could but, it may mean nothing other than they do have pretty decent records at the Texas Motor Speedway.
When it comes right down to it, (at least from this fan’s view), there isn’t that much separation in lap times between most of the teams. It’s not how fast you go… its where you finish that makes all the difference and in tonight’s race… well… I’m thinking we’ll all be surprised at who actually wins. The big question is, will Jr Nation be happy at the end of the night… ?
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 14, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Justafansview.com and Nascarfansview.com
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