Ahhhh… Daytona restrictor plate racing in July. It is a totally different experience for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 than the 500 in February. Sure, they are both restrictor plate races and of course they are both full of their own set of dramas but the similarity sort of ends there. February in Florida is totally different than July and it only stands to reason the track is totally different too. (And of course, we all know that is definitely the case when it comes to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the two races at different times of the year in Florida.)
Now, before I get too far into the race this weekend at Daytona, I just have to give my opinion of the race everyone has been talking about all week long from last weekend at Chicago. You know what I’m talking about… the finish between the two Kyles, Kyle Bush and Kyle Larson. Some have called it the best finish ever but, I’m not going to say that because I have seen some really good finishes at restrictor plate races over the years and many of them have been at Daytona.
From this fan’s view, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if the race had gone the other way. We all know Kyle Bush is one of the most talented drivers to come into the sport in recent years and he hates to lose and loves to win. We also know he hasn’t taken bump and run or just plain being put out in the past very well, especially when it has cost him the race or a good finish. It has sometimes led to fisticuffs and heated times after the race or incident. In this fan’s opinion – and it’s not that I don’t understand it – Kyle Bush is just not a good loser. When it doesn’t go his way, he simply doesn’t handle it very well at all.
That’s the only reason and why I even bring this up. As I stated, I can’t help but wonder how he would have handled it if Kyle Larson’s contact with him had cost him the race and Larson would have been the winner. Somehow this fan just doesn’t see Kyle Bush handling the situation the same way Kyle Larson did. Kyle Larson is also one of the most talented drivers to come along in recent times and his demeanor and character is quite a bit different than Bush’s. That IS NOT a cut at Kyle Bush. That is an honest evaluation and opinion from this fan’s view of the differences between the two. It is my personal opinion that the attitude after the race would not have been so friendly had Kyle Bush lost rather than win. You see, winning covers over a multitude of emotions that could surface when what happens doesn’t go your way and you lose.
Well, that’s my opinion of last weekend and enough of that (at least for now) and I guess I should get back to the race this weekend at Daytona.
There are reasons I really like restrictor plate racing and the biggest is because of the intensity. There were times it wasn’t as interesting as it is at the present but with each year, there are noticeable differences. In times past, the drivers raced it differently than they do now. Now, with the stages and the tightness of the competition, it appears to this fan they approach these races quite a bit differently. They used to sort of just hang around somewhere in the racing order and not really move forward until late in the race. Now the drivers are much more aggressive throughout the race as they go for stage points and then the win.
The rule for the spoiler is a little different than in February and it seems the Hendrick Chevys are showing a noticeable improvement. Three out of the four HMS teams are starting in the top five. Overall, that is pretty much unusual for much of this season. they just haven’t looked that strong but this weekend is definitely them flexing their restrictor plate muscle and showing some strength once again.
Chase Elliott won the pole and William Byron starts in the second position, outside pole. In the next row are Brad Keselowski and the Hendrick team of Jimmie Johnson. In looking at the top 10 starters, there are five Chevys and five Fords. Ominously missing from the top ten, although not necessarily making any kind of statement, are the Toyotas. As we all know, qualifying on top doesn’t always mean a win but, for Hendrick teams, this could be a good night for them. Of course, anything can happen in a restrictor plate race and the weather could be a deciding factor in tonight’s race, although all of us as fans hope not.
So… will this be the night that a Chevy finally wins again in 2018? I can’t say for sure but I do know, barring the unforeseen the Chevys need and probably will make a really good showing. I’m not picking a winner but this could be the first regular season points paying win for Chase Elliott. One thing is for sure, at least from this fan’s view. I’m going to be watching and, of course, I will be pulling for a Chevy to win and I wouldn’t be at all disappointed if it wasn’t Chase Elliott, even though I am hopeful it will be a Hendrick Chevy. Even more, I hope it is an intense race with lots of action and maybe even a little drama…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 7, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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