From a NASCAR Fan’s View
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The Cup teams take it to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second time in 2021 this Sunday afternoon and many have already decided the winner for the race. Okay, okay… maybe that’s a little of an overstatement but, it is true in a little different way. Many have already decided which of the drivers will win but not all have chosen the same one. In fact, this fan can think of several that could end the day in Victory Lane. Some will agree and some will disagree but, that won’t change my mind either.
One of the first that comes to mind is Ryan Blaney. Since he won in the Spring race many think he has a good chance at finishing first once again on Sunday afternoon. That may be true but this fan isn’t so sure. With the way the Penske teams have been performing lately, it is definitely not a given he will repeat his feat earlier in this 2021 season. As usual, I’m not saying he won’t repeat but I am saying it’s just not likely. Of course I could be surprised and have to eat a little crow but, with the way this season has been going, I think the odds are against a repeat performance for Blaney.
Another thing that makes me wonder about his repeating is how strong the Chevys have been running in recent weeks and I’m not talking about just the Hendrick Chevys. Tyler Reddick is one name I have heard mentioned more than once this last week as to whether or not he might pick up the victory this weekend. I admit, he has been running strong and making some noise performance-wise but, he just hasn’t been able to close the deal when it comes down to the end of a race. That’s not a negative statement about him or his team but it is a fact. As an observer, it is possible he could pull off a victory soon, I’m just not so sure it will be at Atlanta. I realize I could be wrong and if I am, well… that’s okay with me. There are many times drivers have run strong consistently and been unable to close the deal. When they do, it isn’t unexpected and they usually continue on to more.
Just taking a quick look at the starting lineup tells and ominous story of the Fords. Now, understand this is not a condemnation or to say they don’t have a chance. A Ford doesn’t show up until the tenth position in the starting lineup. That just happens to be the Penske Ford of Joey Logano. Sure, I know he has won a race this season but he and all the Fords just haven’t shown a whole lot of strength in this part of the season. Brad Keselowski starts fourteenth and Ryan Blaney starts fifteenth. That doesn’t mean a whole lot at first glance but, it does say something about how they’ve been running in recent weeks.
Another reason I don’t think the race will go Blaney’s way for a repeat is the person he beat for the win back in the Spring. Of course that would be Kyle Larson and we all know how he has been running lately. In fact, if his teammate hadn’t spun him out last weekend at Road America, he may have been starting even further toward the front than he is Sunday. As it is, he starts sixth.
Before I go too much further, I have to mention at least two more Chevys. That would be the Chevys of Kurt Bush and Ross Chastain for Ganassi Racing. Both have shown a lot of strength and either of them could take a trip to Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Both of them have shown great improvement and both have put themselves in good position to continue on to the playoffs. Kurt has made up a lot of ground in recent weeks and Ross is poised to break into them if he continues his charge toward making the playoffs by points or possibly even a win.
Another look at the starting lineup shows another glaring reason I don’t think Blaney will repeat his Spring run. The four JGR teams start in the top five. One of them in particular is, Kyle Bush and his name has come up as a possible winner of Sunday’s race. Of the four JGR teams, he has shown the most speed. That doesn’t mean he is a shew in for taking the win, but it does mean he could. I think it depends on how the race goes. Long green flag runs have hurt the JGR teams and this could be another one with a long green flag at the end. If that happens, I just don’t know whether or not the Toyotas will have enough at the end of the day. I won’t rule them out but, I’m ruling them in either.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, the biggest reason I don’t see Ryan Blaney repeating his Spring victory is the strength I’ve seen from most all the Chevys, especially the Hendrick Chevys. Chase Elliott starts on the pole, Kyle Larson starts sixth followed by Tyler Reddick, Kurt Bush and Ross Chastain. Any one of them could take a trip to Victory Lane at Atlanta and there are several others not so obvious, but they do drive Chevys.
As you can probably tell, I really do think a Chevy is going to win on Sunday afternoon, I’m just not sure which one it will be. What I do know is that the winner of this one is going to deserve it. It’s going to be hot and slick and a typical summer afternoon and early evening at Atlanta Motor Speedway…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 10, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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