It’s another throwback weekend at Darlington on this Labor Day weekend. The MENCS teams take a celebrating look back to their cars and it is definitely interesting to see. All of the choices for the throwback looks are definitely good ones, well, at least form this fan’s view they are. Some of them are more familiar than others but they all bring back memories of days past.
The Southern 500 is a tradition and Darlington is one of the oldest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Rightly called the track “Too Tough To Tame,” it is one tough race track and 500 miles is a challenge for every driver in the garage.
One of the things that makes it such a challenge is it is not a normal oval track. It is basically egg shaped. Turns one and two are completely different than turns three and four. That means the drivers have to concentrate on which turn they’re in every time they go around the track because each of them has to be driven differently. That adds not only to the physical stress they will go through in the 500 miles but also the mental stress. There is nothing about “The Track Too Tough To Tame” that’s easy. It will wear on them throughout the race and, in the heat of the end of summer, it will drain them. Possibly the only saving grace is that the race is run from the evening into the night which will give at least some relief from the heat.
There are other things that make this race even more stressful for the drivers and teams. There are only two races left for some drivers to qualify for the playoffs and this Bojangles Southern 500 is one of them. For most that aren’t in the top sixteen in points already, the only option is to win. In these days of “win and you’re in,” a win can put someone out of the playoffs. with the points the way they are right now, that could spell trouble for Alex Bowman in the #88 Hendrick MotorSports Chevy. Even though he is in by 79 points, a new winner for 2018 would put him out. He will be under more stress than some of the others to either win or at least finish near the front. If there is a new winner, through no fault of his own, he could finish second and be out of the playoffs.
It is hard to look at this race and not want a different winner than the “big three” of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush and Martin Truex Jr. There are several drivers that haven’t won but are still in the top sixteen. If any of them win it won’t necessarily affect the present top sixteen but would be a boost in momentum for them going into the playoffs. There is no need for me to go into a list of them. They can easily be looked up at nascar.com or other places. What I would like to do is mention a couple this fan would like to see win either this weekend or next week at Indy.
Admittedly, I am a Chevy fan so my first choices would be Chevy teams but there are others. Brad Keselowski just hasn’t had a stellar year. In fact, he has had an average year and is without a win although eleventh in points and is locked into the playoffs even though without a win.
Kyle Larson is another. Locked in but without a win and many good finishes. Ryan Blaney pretty much the same. Any of these are in whether they win or not but I am sure they would like to have a win to build momentum going into the playoffs and show they have cars that can compete for the Championship.
Although there are several I really could care less if they win, there are one or two I would like to see win. One of them is Ryan Newman. It has been a while since he’s been in Victory Lane and it would be good to see him there. (I’m sure Richard Childress would like to see him there.) He needs a win to get into the playoffs and you can bet that is his motivation going into Sunday night’s race.
I know you’re probably tired of hearing me talk about Hendrick MotorSports but I just can’t help myself. It has been tough to watch seven-time Cup Champion, Jimmie Johnson, go for so long without a win. We all know the Chevys have been at a slight disadvantage this season while moving to the new Camaro, but it does appear they are getting closer to becoming much more competitive. If that is the case, this fan would really like to see Jimmie Johnson win one of these next two races. Nothing against anyone else, but I would really like to see him be competitive and get his eighth Championship. That may not sit well with a lot of NASCAR fans but I believe he is one of the most underrated drivers in the garage. If the Chevys are beginning to move out of their slump and continue to show more speed, he could win this one either with speed or just good old Darlington experience and/or strategy. Who knows… maybe a little of both.
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 1, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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