The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup All Star race at Charlotte just may be the one that shows why they are called the All Stars. It has been an interesting weekend so far and there are a lot of reasons why I would say that.
The first is that NASCAR decided to use this race as a further experiment on trying to make the racing better. It’s not new news what they have done to make this happen but what is news is that the weather didn’t cooperate. Other than qualifying, the MENCS teams didn’t get hardly any time to work with the setups or how the cars will actually respond in the in pack racing. When they actually start the races tonight is probably going to be when they learn just how big or small a difference the mandated changes NASCAR made will have on the racing. From this fan’s view, it is quite unknown how long it will take them to adapt to the differences. (Hey… isn’t that why they call them the All Stars?)
I’m sure you know about the big spoiler on the rear deck, the air ducts just above the splitter to direct airflow out the right and left front wheel wells and the restrictor plates added to the engines. All of these were introduced to the Cup cars for the first time this weekend. As far as we know it is only for this weekend, well, at least for the present. It is supposed to make passing more of a reality aerodynamically. What remains to be seen is if it really does what it is supposed to. After all, it was used once before with the Xfinity Series at Indianapolis last year. The results there were positive and the hope is, at least as this fan understands it, they will be as good or better with the MENCS cars.
One thing I really haven’t totally understood with the changes NASCAR made for this weekend is the restrictor plate they chose for the engines. According to the reports I heard about them is they take away over 300 horsepower. Added to that is that these are put on engines that aren’t really restrictor plate engines but usual engines with the plates added. I find that interesting and shows another reason why these are called All Stars. this is just another item that shows that these are race “teams” and not just drivers with crews. For them to be successful tonight, it will have to be a team effort (which it usually is anyway) and success will rely on the engine builders, the car chiefs, crew chief and crews as well as the drivers.
One thing I’ve noticed so far (and only have qualifying to make the comparisons) is how fast the Fords are. Whether looking at the Stewart/Haas Fords, the Penske Fords or the Roushe/Fenway Fords; they all look to be faster than the Toyotas and Chevys. I believe they have an advantage for several reasons and one of them is they are still using the same body style they’ve been using for several years. From this fan’s view, the difference may be slight but working with the same body style allows for more tweaking without having to gather all new information aerodynamically. Also from my view, the Toyotas have had an extra year to work with their body style and that makes a difference. It is my opinion that is why the Chevys look to be struggling a bit this season, because it is a new body style to them and there is so much to learn over the previous one.
So… I guess you’re going to ask me why the Chevy of Kyle Larson appears to be so much faster than the other Chevy teams, even his own teammate, Jamie McMurray? Or, why does it seem that Chase Elliott is faster than his own Hendrick teammates? I think it has more to do with the way the cars match up to the driving style of the drivers and it is only a matter of time until the others get the balance and feel they want from these cars, OR, the rules change and it suits their driving style better than the others. (I stress here that this is my opinion and not based on any scientific data of any kind…)
Let’s face it, Kyle Larson presently shows he is in his own universe when it comes to his driving style and the way he performs week in and week out. What he demonstrates to this fan almost every week is, the Chevys have speed. The individual Chevy drivers just have to find a way to make it work and fit their driving styles. When that happens, look out! You will see a Chevy in Victory Lane on a much more regular basis.
Since this is the All Star race and it is all about winning the million dollars or nothing, I find it interesting of how this weekend has gone. Tonight’s Open and All Star races will be no holds barred and whatever it takes to win. That means excitement, action and drama and this fan believes it will be a special one for the books in many ways. Personally, I can’t wait to see how it goes and I expect it will likely be a “slug-fest.” Well, I don’t necessarily mean fisticuffs, BUT, who knows…?
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 19, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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