From a NASCAR Fan’s View
If there’s one thing about this NASCAR season that doesn’t seem to change much at all, it would be the fact that almost every week is a new track for the Next Gen car. Well… at least for now, anyway. Darlington is another weekend the Cup Teams face a track with no notebook and very little idea what to expect. Will there be situations that haven’t shown up yet? Possibly, but any that haven’t become obvious yet will likely show up at the most inopportune time for those that experience them.
Several have already experienced bad to severe situations and of course you know which ones they are. Kevin Harvick was the first to blow a left rear tire and damage the diffuser. He will be starting near the back of the field. Chase Elliott was another that blew a left rear tire and will be moving to a backup car for the start of the race. William Byron hit the wall in qualifying and may have to start in the rear if the damage was severe enough to require new parts to replace some damaged ones. Those were the most obvious ones but there were others pressing the envelope and making contact with the wall and, depending on the degree of damage inflicted, they may be joining the others near the rear of the field.
It is a shame that Chase hit the wall the way he did and there was no chance he could get the damage repaired. It was pretty obvious he was going to a backup car when we witnessed Allan Gustafson headed for the hauler to get the replacement car almost immediately after Chase’s run-in with the wall. However, it could turn out ok for him since William Byron did the same thing last weekend.
I found the qualifying to be little confusing, at least as far as the speed of the Toyotas. The JGR Toyotas in particular looked very strong. As has been usual so far this season, the qualifying has, as a whole, been quite deceptive as far as race performance has been concerned. Sure, I know that Joey Logano and Kyle Larson will likely start one/two on the front row but, I wonder what the end results will be.
There are some very good cars that will be starting in the middle to the back of the pack. It’s not because they performed so badly, it is because they either had problems or because they just didn’t do well when it was time.
From this fan’s view, I hope it doesn’t turn out to be a problem but it could be as the race progresses. That would be a problem with tires and in particular, the left rear. I’m not saying there will be a problem but I am saying there might be. The two in particular that had problems early on, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott, had problems with the left rear tire. The reason for the failures wasn’t specifically mentioned at the time of this writing but, they both happened at different times. One had hardly any track-time when it let go and the other had around fifteen laps or so.
Now, I admit I am not a tire specialist nor will I try to be one here. I just know there were two tire failures and both of them were associated with the left rear. Will that make a difference in how the teams approach the race tomorrow afternoon? Well… I would say it will be in the back of everyone’s mind at least for a while.
Once again from this fan’s view, I think this could be a long and tedious race for the drivers and crews alike. There will be a lot of tire drop-off amounting to several seconds in lap times. This is going to make decisions for strategies as important as any. Tires could be more critical than fuel and I don’t know for sure that tires won’t become a scarce commodity towards the end of the race. (Well… that is unless NASCAR decides to make changes to their tire rules.)
Now, look. I know it is possible that I could be totally wrong in my assessment of the race at Darlington. It is possible that the biggest problem they all face will be trying to pass to advance through the field. Judging from what I saw in the practice and qualifying was everyone running pretty much the same line to make time in a lap. If that is the case tomorrow, this could be a very interesting race but also quite boring single file laps for much of the time.
Like I said, I could be wrong, BUT…
Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 7, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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