From a NASCAR Fan’s View
So… round one of the playoffs is in the books and, as unbelievable as it sounds, not one playoff driver won any of the three races in it. Yeah, I know you’ve heard that a lot in the last week or so but, it is worth repeating. I mentioned last week that I didn’t blame everything on the Next Gen car but I do believe it has had a negative influence in a positive way. I know that sounds strange as well but, it has been a hard car for many of the teams to get a grip on and, for whatever reason, it has been difficult for many of the drivers, too. Personally, when it comes to the drivers that have been around for a longer period of time in the Cup series, there has been things they have had to forget or unlearn simply because this car is unforgiving.
What do I mean by that? Well, shifting is different and they had to get used to not having the old H pattern. Before the Next Gen, many of them had several years in the old car and it had different handling characteristics. With the Next Gen they just can’t always save it from the rear getting away from them, even slightly. Tires are the last thing I will bring into this conversation. There have been numerous tire problems and there have been a number of tires just not secured properly. With all of that going on, it has been a race changer at times, depending on where the tires either blow, go flat or simply come off the car.
That’s why I believe the Next Gen car has had a lot to do with how some of the races have gone. I’m not saying it is a bad thing but it has had its impact throughout the year. With this race at Texas, one has to wonder if the Next Gen will have a very visible effect on the outcome or if it just turns out to be a really interesting 500-mile race.
So now we enter into the round of twelve and it could be one of the more dramatic rounds in the whole playoff. These next three races are at some of the more difficult tracks to have a good finish at. Maybe not Texas so much but Talladega and the Roval do have a tendency to be somewhat of a crapshoot. At Talladega, you can be doing everything right and end up in someone else’s mistake or problem and end up in the garage and down in points and suddenly on the outside looking in. At the Roval, well, it’s the Roval and just about anything can happen and probably has in recent times.
Is it any wonder most, if not all of the drivers in the playoffs, want to finish with a lot of points or the win at Texas? They just don’t want to go into Talladega or The Roval needing to win to continue on into the next round of the playoffs. Aside from that fact, there are still several drivers not in the playoffs still very capable of winning any of the three races in this round. The last thing some of the playoff drivers want to see is two or three more drivers that haven’t won yet this season.
Of course, they can’t all win and be less stressed until the round of eight. Only one of them in the entire field can win on any given weekend and it could be a playoff driver or it could be someone outside the playoffs. The hope for the playoff drivers is to end the day with the win and not have to worry about the next two races. It is possible that one of them will and they will get the stress-free ride into the next round. For the rest of them, they will have to press on or, at the very least, hope for stage wins and a big points day.
This is one of the most difficult races to try and pick a winner for because so much is riding on the outcome. Sure, I know I don’t have to pick a winner or even give a prediction of which of them I think will win. I admit the RFK car of Brad Keselowski looks pretty tough and he could be the one that ends up in Victory Lane. Joey Logano has shown speed but he hasn’t been able to deliver recently, even when having a good qualifying run. Chase Elliott has struggled almost every race in the playoffs so far but somehow ends up pressing for the win. The Chevys once again look strong this weekend from both the Hendrick teams and RCR teams. But will they be able to pull off the win? I think it is going to be much too difficult to tell until a bunch of laps are in the book.
Although I’m not sure what will happen Sunday afternoon, I do believe there is going to be a lot of emotion and drama and maybe even some hot tempers. I’m not saying all of that won’t be a good thing but, it sure could mix things up…
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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