Ok… The qualifying has been done. The Duels have been run. It’s two practices later and now it’s time for the 2023 Daytona 500. But wait a minute… you already knew that, didn’t you? Yeah, I guess you did.
My next question is, what did you think of the Duels? Did they really whet your appetite for the 500 or were you kind of disappointed by the lack of exciting competition? Yeah, that’s what I figured. Me too. I was really hoping for a little more pushing of the envelope and more than so much following the leader until the last lap.
But wait a minute… consider this. Which one of the two Duels will end up being an example of how the actual 2023 Daytona 500 will look as it progresses? Will it be like the first Duel with its often, single-file, relatively boring, follow the leader type of race. Or will it be like the second Duel with its often double-file, a little more exciting racing? Sure, I know it will likely be like the second Duel but, IF it is like the first one, I think it might just be the most boring Daytona 500 I’ve will have ever seen in a while.
Hey, I know this may sound a little harsh but, as a fan, I sometimes have to ask the hard questions. Ok, I admit I’m just trying stir up a little bit of emotion and maybe a little intrigue.
You see, I have always been a fan of Super Speedway racing. Well, that is except when NASCAR drivers ventured into tandem racing. Those were some of the most boring races I viewed at the time. Of course, I have to admit I kinda did but kinda didn’t like the races before restrictor plates came along. I guess I’m somewhat partial to that door-handle-to-door handle, bumper to bumper racing. You see, I’ve been around racing and NASCAR racing for a long time. (At least longer than I am willing to say. But I will say I am almost as old as NASCAR.)
The Next Gen car has added a whole new dimension to this race and NASCAR racing in general. One of the most obvious items is the ability of the drivers to lean on one another without putting themselves out for the entire race. Just look at the Clash in LA a couple of weeks ago. It did get a little rough but hardly any of them were put out even with the “aggressive” racing on the part of the drivers. Yeah, I know the cars aren’t indestructible but they can take a lot more abuse than used to be the case. Yes, they still have some weaknesses that can put someone out of contention or out of the race but, for the most part, they have added to the ability for the racing to go on.
Well… let’s get down to the brass tacks of my of opinion for this 2023 Daytona 500.
It does look like the Fords did their homework over the off-season. Judging from what we’ve seen so far this week, they have shown a lot of speed and handling at first glance. They’ve been fast in the Duels – winning both of them – and they have been fast in the practice sessions. They only place they may have shown a little weakness was in qualifying.
Maybe that was their plan. I suppose it could be they’re more interested in the results they get on Sunday’s race. After all, that’s where the real money is. It’s one thing for a single car to run fast for one lap and quite another to run fast running in a pack for 150 miles. One thing is certain from my view; they certainly do run well drafting together will all the other Fords. Some say they think that’s because of the flatter front end they have. I say, that’s a possibility but, it just looks like they have a speed advantage over the others.
Once again this season, the Hendrick Chevys showed the way during qualifying. Three of the four Hendrick teams were the top qualifiers. The one that didn’t quite make it a foursome was Chase Elliott and, honestly, that wasn’t all that big of a surprise to this fan. Lately, and this is my own opinion, he has been struggling to show up to the track ready to run for the win. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know he won five races last season but he just never seemed to be hitting on all eight cylinders for all of last season. Yes, he had a great season but, like several others, he struggled for making a consistent showing.
The RCR camp was impressive with Kyle Bush making his impact since his arrival. He is hungry for a win not only for himself but to bring in that trophy for his new boss, Richard Childress. Just from what I’ve seen so far this week, I think him winning his first Daytona 500 is a real possibility.
I’m hesitant to say what I’m going say next but I’m going to say it anyway and I’m sure there will be several that will disagree with me. The Toyotas are still a question mark in my book. Of course it makes no difference what my book says but I still say they still look to be struggling a little. Martin Truex Jr. is looking for a win at the 500 and the time for him to accomplish winning the prestigious race is ticking away. All eyes are on him to pull it off this year but, this is a tough race for anyone to win and his chances are as good as anyone else’s. Of course there are at least three other Toyota drivers and teams that have the same intention and they just might keep him from accomplishing his goal of a win this year.
Reflecting on what I’ve seen and what I expect to happen on Sunday afternoon, as usual this race could be won by any one of the drivers whether they rookies or veterans. I expect and hope the racing will be exciting and not just a follow the leader type race. Sure, I know there will some laps that they might all fall in line and just knock off some laps. And as usual, I expect the hardest charges will be made with very little laps left to go. My other big question is, Will there be a “Big One” that changes the whole complexion of the race, whether early or late. That, my friends, is the big question we won’t know the answer to until it happens…
Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 18, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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