From a NASCAR Fan’s View
Say… has it registered with you yet that there are only two more races before the playoffs start? Yeah, that’s right. This season is coming down to the final weeks and it just isn’t clear which of the drivers and teams might have the best chance at walking away with the 2022 Season Championship. I’m serious, after these next two races, the playoffs begin and the next ten races will happen at a speed faster than the lap times at The Glen this year.
There is still one spot left to qualify for to fill the top sixteen and two weeks left to make it. That means a lot to Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney even though it appears Blaney has the upper hand at the moment. Neither of them has a win yet this season and either one of them, or both, could end up with a win either of these next two weeks. (And wouldn’t that make things interesting, depending on which of them wins first and which of them has the most points.)
All of what I just said may not mean a thing if someone else wins for the first time and qualifies to make the playoffs because of that. There is a lot riding on this race at the Glen and the one next weekend at Daytona. We all know that the time is short to qualify and, depending on what happens, the sixteenth spot for the playoffs may not be actually settled until the race is over at Daytona. That’s another thing that could make for a very interesting situation. This has been the kind of season that has been full of unknowns and it could still end up that way, depending on how things go for the next two races and then the playoffs.
I hate to bring this up but, the Toyotas seem to be struggling this weekend. Not to say that they haven’t struggled at road courses for most of the season but one of them needs to win or do extremely well. Of course, that would be Martin Truex Jr. that really needs a good finish tomorrow. Ryan Blaney would much rather things go as they did last weekend and he, at a very minimum, gains more points on Truex Jr. I’m sure it wouldn’t bother him at all if he wins the race and makes it extremely hard for anyone else to gain a spot in the playoffs.
Of course you know what I think about qualifying and how races generally go but, this weekend might be different. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the top qualifiers will run up front all day and there is no way of knowing for sure the Next Gen won’t show up with challenges for strong performing cars. It’s not that we haven’t seen someone lead a bunch of laps and end up either not finishing or having a problem that puts them out of contention. Unfortunately, with this car, there just is no way of knowing whether it can take the grind of the extremely fast road course at the Glen. I’m not thinking there will be any major problems but, judging from past experience with this car, nothing is beyond belief as far as performance goes.
Along with the unknowns of the Next Gen is the matter of strategy. This is likely going to be a race decided by strategy and a lack of errors on pit road by the crews or the drivers. Of all the things that can’t be foreseen, errors on pit road are generally the most damaging to someone’s finish and it can either be a driver error or a crew error.
It is a fact there are nine Chevys starting in the top fifteen. On top of that, four of them are in the top six and three of those are Hendrick Motorsports cars. To top it all off, three of the top four are Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and William Byron. Chase has won twice at the Glen and Kyle won last year’s race. William is looking for his first win at the Glen but he has looked very strong this weekend, not only in Cup practice and qualifying but also in the Xfinity series, until he and Ty Gibbs got together… then it was a race between Kyle Larson and AJ Allmendinger and Kyle pulled off the victory. That may or may not bode well for the competition and, who knows, there could be four Hendrick Cars in the top four at the end of the day.
It is possible Chase Elliott could dominate the day but… I think it’s going to be battle right down to the wire AND it may be a Ford or a Toyota leading the way to the checkered flag. In fact, it could be Ryan’s Blaney’s Ford or Martin Truex Jr’s Toyota. I don’t know about you but, it could be a completely unexpected winner like, say, Michael McDowell…
Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
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Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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