Nascar Racing

Sprint Cup Teams Take On Phoenix


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If you ask a lot of the Sprint cup drivers you’ll find that they consider Phoenix to actually be the first real race of the year. I guess that’s because they don’t consider the Super Speedway at Daytona to be anything more than a restrictor plate race and we all know restrictor plate races are a type all their own. It’s true, Daytona and Talladega are different types of races and I guess that means they could qualify as a whole different category.

As for the track at Phoenix, the cup teams always seem to make a good show there and judging from the way things went in qualifying the Fords just may be a little tougher this year than they’ve been in the recent past.

Speaking of qualifying, it really went much better than I expected it would but I can also see that there is a learning curve to it for the drivers and teams. From this fan’s view it is apparent that there will be a little bit of trial and error going on as they adapt to the new qualifying procedure over the next several weeks. It’s pretty obvious, looking at this first experience of the new qualifying procedure, that some things might have to change and the approach will definitely have to change for many of the teams and drivers. In fact, is very possible that the sanctioning body will have to make some changes to how they go about the qualifying sessions without dictating how they think the cars should approach it.

Well, no matter how you look at it (at least from this fan’s view) qualifying will take a little getting used to for all of us. I’m not sure what you thought of it but, it was interesting and except for the short delay after Justin Allgaier hit the wall, it seemed as though qualifying progressed quite quickly and didn’t take a couple of hours or so.

Once again it comes down to this fan’s opinion about qualifying. Although it’s true that the Penske Fords will be starting on the front row, this fan is not so sure that it’s going to be a Penske Ford finishes in Victory Lane. In fact, if you just look at the practices on Saturday afternoon (Eastern time, that is) you’ll see that the Chevys didn’t do too bad. Kevin Harvick dominated the earlier practice on Saturday for the cup teams and this fan firmly expects he will be one to contend with tomorrow if someone other than him wants to end up in Victory Lane.

Getting back to the Fords for a second or two, all of the Fords were looking very good as far as speed goes when it comes to the main teams. Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano all looked strong in qualifying and practice for this weekend. I’m not saying that any one of those four is going to win but it is very noticeable that their stock has improved quite a bit so far this year. If this fan had to pick one of the Fords to win it would definitely be between Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards with Greg Biffle running close behind. For some reason I’m just not convinced that Joey Logano, will do all that well this weekend. (It’s probably precisely for that reason that I may have to eat crow when Monday morning comes around.)

It’s interesting to me that the Joe Gibbs Toyotas seem to be getting a slow start even though they didn’t do all that poorly at Daytona last weekend. It seems like they’re searching for something. Now I know that’s pure speculation on the part of this fan but even though Denny Hamlin almost swept the weekend last weekend, he just hasn’t looked that strong to me this weekend and it looks as though the JGR Toyotas are struggling slightly. Of course as we all know, that could change drastically when it comes to race time Sunday afternoon.

The Hendrick Chevys whether it be the regulars or the Stewart Haas teams, appeared to be looking for some handling but I expect they will all be pressing the issue when it comes down to taking the checkered flag. In case you don’t know what I mean by that statement, I’m expecting that any one of them could be taking the checkered flag and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it happened.

The Richard Childress teams have been running under the radar this weekend or at least, they haven’t been making much noise like last week at Daytona when Austin Dillon brought the number three back to Sprint Cup racing. Just as a side note, this fan thinks it’s good to see the number three back on the track in Sprint Cup and I don’t think that it does anything but enhance the memory of the “Intimidator” and that is a good thing for NASCAR and Earnhardt fans everywhere.

Well… It’s a brand-new season with brand-new rules for the cars and new challenges for the drivers, crew Chiefs and teams alike. There aren’t a lot of visible changes to the cars, at least not things that are easily recognizable without taking a real close look but, there have been a lot of changes and that means a lot of things to learn for all the teams and drivers in Sprint cup. So what does that mean for us as fans? Well, in this fan’s opinion, that means that the Phoenix race should be a very exciting and interesting race even though it will probably turn into a fuel mileage and strategy race by the time it’s over…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 25, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.