The Monster Energy Cup Teams take on the 2 mile oval at Fontana and the big question being asked this weekend is, “Will Kevin Harvick make it four in a row?” Or… maybe the better question could be, “Is there anyone that can beat Kevin Harvick and the #4 SHR team?”
Well… ok… maybe that’s a little bit of an oversimplification to start off with but, so far, Kevin Harvick and the #4 team have proven to be hard to beat when it comes down to taking the checkered flag at the end of the day. Over the last three weeks, no one has been able to, but… this weekend could be different and for more than one reason.
From this fan’s view and after observing the practice and qualifying sessions, I see several possibilities and some of them actually include Chevys seizing the day. Now I’m not making any predictions but it would be nice to see them actually challenge for the win. Unfortunately the Toyotas also look pretty strong this weekend, too. With Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Bush qualified on the front row, it does tend to make them look like contenders this weekend. Oh, and did I mention, none of the Hendrick Chevys made it to qualifying. They just couldn’t pass the Scan test at all and were dumbfounded as to why they would be so far off – well… at least that’s what they said.
There was a lot of hope at the start of the season when the Chevys changed from the SS to the Camaro even though they knew there would be challenges ahead. I don’t know how they go about choosing the body style they do for the individual makes but I’m sure it has a lot to do with potential when aerodynamics and other items are considered. From this fan’s view, the Camaros look very similar to the Camrys and it is this fan’s opinion they were hoping for the same or similar results the Camrys enjoyed last season.
The Camrys were very strong last season and one could expect the same or at least similar strength from the Camaros this season. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on whom you talk to), NASCAR changed a few things concerning downforce since last season and it appears, at least to this fan, those changes gave unexpected advantage to the Fords. I don’t think it was intentional as some of the conspiracy theorists have claimed, but the Fords – at least the Stewart/Haas Fords – appear to have an advantage over the other two makes. The new rules seem to fit the Fords a bit better than the Chevys or Camrys, at least so far.
Sure… I know it’s still early in the 2018 season but the Fords have definitely shown themselves to be the ones to beat. Let me insert this disclaimer right here; The Stewart/Haas Fords have shown they are the ones to beat when all of the teams have shown up at the track for the last three weekends. Since this is only the fifth week of competition for 2018, it is difficult to say whether or not their dominance will continue but, for the present, it does look as though they are in control until the others catch up. From this fan’s view (and knowing NASCAR as I do) that probably won’t be this weekend even though the Toyotas look like they are moving in the right direction.
I’m not so sure about the Hendrick Chevys being extreme favorites yet. Even the Ganassi Chevys look stronger than Hendrick so far and that says something about the job Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray and their teams are doing this year. I guess I just expected the Hendrick teams to be showing more in all areas than they are right now. I realize my bias is a bit shaded in the Hendrick direction but, to be honest, I just expect more from them. Over the years, they have often been the ones to beat every weekend and it is just little hard to adjust to not talking about them much, at least so far this season. Maybe I should qualify that statement by saying, talk positively about them this season as opposed to all the negatives they are facing so far this year. It’s just different is all I can say.
So the questions still remain in this fan’s mind as to whether or not Kevin Harvick is going to make it four in a row or if someone is going to interrupt his win streak? If someone other than him wins, will it be the driver of a Camry and a familiar name to all of us or someone totally unexpected? Is this the week Jimmie Johnson pulls victory out of another bad showing so far this weekend? He’s not by himself on the Hendrick side either. None of the four passed inspection and therefore didn’t qualify. That doesn’t sound like a good scenario for them to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but then again, we have seen stranger things happen.
Personally, I think it is going to be a Camry taking the win this weekend, probably piloted by Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Bush, but it could be Kevin Harvick or one of the other Fords at SHR or Penske. A Chevy in Victory Lane this weekend? Well maybe, but I don’t think it will be a Hendrick Chevy…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 18, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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