From a NASCAR Fan’s View
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To this fan, this has been a different year all round and it has been a difficult one to figure out. Well, at least in my opinion. I do believe the Next Gen car ahs a lot to do with that but I can’t blame everything I see on the car itself. I know everyone started out at the same place and it appeared some seemed to get up to speed faster than others but, now that we’re in the playoffs, things seemed to have changed again. What I mean by that is, those that seemed to be struggling to get up to speed are now much faster and those that seemed like they had the others covered are struggling to get that little extra bit of speed they need to run up front.
Now that I’ve said that there is no doubt the pressure is ramping up on the sixteen playoff drivers to make up for what they lost last weekend at Darlington. So, Kansas is a make-or-break weekend for at least nine drivers and teams that had bad finishes last weekend.
According to the practice and qualifying, one of those that appears to still be struggling is Chase Elliott. He entered the first race at Darlington with a commanding lead over the field and left Darlington licking his wounds and having to make up a lot ground at Kansas. Another race like the one at Darlington and one has to wonder whether he will even be around for round two let alone the final four.
He wasn’t the only one struggling last weekend. A total of nine of the playoff contenders had problems of some sort. Chase wasn’t the worst of all of them but he did drop from first to ninth just fourteen points above the cut line for making it to the next round. Kevin Harvick’s fire cost him greatly and kind of quenched his momentum from his two wins late in the season. Kyle Larson made up three laps to move into the top ten last week but lost a bunch of spots when they had to pit a second time for a possible loose wheel. Kyle Bush looked to have the race won until his engine blew before the last restart. That’s just a few of the ones that struggled to make points last week.
At one time this season, the Chevys looked to be the ones to beat moving towards the playoffs. Now, the Toyotas and the Ford of Joey Logano are definitely looking like the ones everyone will be chasing, at least for now. I guess that is a fairly bold statement seeing as how we’re only coming to the second race of round one and maybe I am jumping the gun a little bit. After all, Kansas can be tricky and qualifying may not have anything at all to do with the final results of the Hollywood Casino 400.
All of the sudden, the Fords and Toyotas seem to have the upper hand as far as improving their performance compared to the Chevys here at the end of the season and entering into the playoffs. The Chevys are still showing speed but their gains seem to be less than the Toyotas and Fords and everything seems to have tightened up competition-wise.
Does that mean I’m counting the Chevys out? Not at all. I mean just look which driver took the pole. That’s right, Tyler Reddick in a Chevy. Of course, right next to him on the front row is Joey Logano in a Ford. Right after them are Alex Bowman in a Chevy and Christopher Bell in a Toyota.
Admittedly there are three of the Hendrick Teams starting in the top ten but the one missing is the 2022 season champ, Chase Elliott. I’m not counting him out at this point but he is starting in the twenty-second position Sunday afternoon and has a lot of ground to make up IF he wants to move up in the points or even win. At this point, and from my view, it just looks like the number 9 team is struggling a bit. It could be that everything could turn around for Elliott and all the Hendrick teams this weekend but that doesn’t mean it will and it could make next week’s race all the more of a “must win” situation.
So, from this fan’s view, it could be day Tyler Reddick dominates the field since he is starting on the pole and has the number one pit stall. He has been running very consistently at the end of races even when they may have struggled during a race. It could also be a race that those that struggled last weekend have great trouble-free days and the others struggle from lap one to the final lap. I’m not saying it will go that way… I’m just saying it could. There’s just no way of knowing since no one expected what happened last weekend and the way the standings were shaken up.
In the end, there very well could be another non-playoff driver that wins this one and it could mean just another shakeup in the points no matter how they lineup from the qualifying sessions. I’m not really expecting a really unexpected finish or winner but, it could happen and, considering just how the 2022 season has gone, that wouldn’t be unexpected…
Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 10, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated