There are a lot of things going on in NASCAR these days and the race at Michigan is only one of them. Between NASCAR experimenting with reduced down force for the future, crew chiefs being suspended and then put on probation for the rest of the year and others being fined for speaking their minds, this fan doesn’t remember so many things going on and changing so much in recent years. Why Goodyear even brought a tire more suited for the reduced down force and it remains to be seen how that works out for the Cup teams. It has truly been interesting so far and I don’t really think it’s going to be much different in the days ahead. It truly appears to be an interesting time of what some would call testing (although I call it experimentation) for the future of close, intense and interesting racing for NASCAR in general so the fans don’t lose interest.
It is interesting to this fan that NASCAR seemed to suddenly take an interest in lug nuts and decided to keep closer track of them over the last few weeks. I think the first thing I noticed and find interesting is that they seemed to have renewed interest in them only after Tony Stewart made mention of them in an interview and they fined him a large amount of money for bringing it up. I am of the opinion either they were already going to start policing the lug nut issue around the time of his interview statements or they didn’t like a driver bringing up safety features without consulting them, (or maybe I should say at least slightly embarrassing them in an interview.)
I have to admit, I shared the same feelings Tony stated and wondered how reducing the number of lug nuts could be safe and why the sanctioning body wasn’t doing anything about it. Look, I know no one cares about my old racing days but I do remember one night in particular that I had an issue with lug nuts. I had an axle break in one of the heat races but the spare axle we had with us didn’t have all the lugs in it. In fact, it only had one and it was the standard sized lug that came with it. Our usual axles had larger lugs to give more strength. Since we were short lugs but wanted to try and run the feature race, we decided to borrow lugs from the front left. Unfortunately, we could only sacrifice two from it and put them in the replacement axle.
Needless to say, it was a decision made under duress and it turned out to be a bad one as well. To test it out before being in the heat of the battle of the race, I decided to do a burnout when I pulled out on the track for the lineup. Immediately all three lugs broke off the left rear and we missed the feature anyway. Hey, I know racing at my local track has very little to nothing to do with racing at the NASCAR level but I think it shows how important it is to have all lug nuts on and tightened in the proper manner for safety’s sake.
I guess I am saying all this to say I agree with NASCAR and the way they a stressing the importance of the lug nut issue although I may not agree with the punishments being doled out. I do think they are making the point that they don’t intend to put up with infractions such as missing and loose lug nuts and the point cannot be overlooked when people are suspended from events and put on probation. Like Tony mentioned in his interview, “Please save us from ourselves.)
Once again this weekend, Joey Logano was in the final segment of qualifying sitting on top and waiting to see if someone was going to take the pole from him but no one did. He will start from the pole position and lead the field to take the green flag for the FireKeepers Casino 400 Sunday afternoon. The last two races he has started second and this is another race he will be starting on the front row. Just because he is starting on the front row does not mean he is a lock to win the race but, as much as this fan may hate to admit it, he very well could win it or, at the very least, be contending for the win at the end of 400 miles.
Once again of course this fan doesn’t put a lot of stock in the qualifying session for this race. Even though the weather cooperated this weekend, I just don’t think the qualifying is a good measure for what the racing will be like at all. The drivers and their teams were still adapting to the reduced down force and Goodyear’s latest tire combination while trying to qualify. The track does have good grip but with the reduced down force the drivers will be challenged more than usual at Michigan.
So you may be asking, “Why did NASCAR decide to reduce the down force?” Well, contrary to popular opinion they didn’t just think of it and they did let everyone know they were going to go with reduced down force this weekend. It is not the first time they have done it and it won’t be the last. In this fan’s opinion, it just might make the racing a bit more interesting than is usual at Michigan. Michingan has always been a fast two mile oval and at times has been a bit monotonous, at least in this fan’s opinion.
I still think the Fords are struggling a bit right along with the Hendrick Chevys even though Logano is sitting on the pole and will likely pull away from the field at the beginning of the race, in particular because of being out in clean air. Of course that also depends on whether he does pull out into clean air or drop like a rock through the field as he has done a time or two before. Don’t forget Tony Stewart is starting third and has a real incentive to win this one as he tries to qualify for the Chase in this, his final year of competition in the Cup Series.
Say what you will but this fan thinks this will be a fuel mileage race much like the one at Pocono was last weekend. Fuel mileage has a way of equalizing the competition in any race it becomes a factor as was proven by Kurt Bush last weekend. I’m still not ruling out the possibility of one of the Joe Gibbs Toyotas ending up in Victory Lane simply because of the dominance they have displayed during much of this first part of the season. If it is a JGR Toyota that takes the checkered flag my thinking is it will be Carl Edwards but, then again it could be someone like Ryan Blaney or Chase Elliott, I just don’t know for sure…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 11, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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