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The Enjoy Illinois 300 Is Next  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

What a week it’s been for NASCAR. Chase Elliott suspended for putting Denny Hamlin into the wall at Charlotte. Chase Briscoe and his team docked a bunch of points, suspensions for crew members and money for a counterfeit part on the number fourteen Stewart-Haas. In general, it’s been an interesting week for the NASCAR cup teams.

So… what’s going on? Things have been pretty dicey this season and, as usual, I have my own opinion of why things seem to be so intense.

With the Next-Gen car, NASCAR has achieved a parity in the Cup series like never before in the series. (Well… at least as far back as I can remember; and believe me, that’s a pretty long time.) From this fan’s view, the teams are getting a handle on the car and, even though not all have found as much speed as some of the top teams, the racing is tight and the car is tough.

It’s that second part that has changed the game in some ways. The car being able to take somewhat of a licking and keep on ticking has made for even more aggressive driving than even last season. All of the manufacturers are beginning to show up very competitive to the tracks and, with the tighter competition, the parity has brought about a different mindset from the drivers. (Well, once again, at least that’s my opinion.)

I’m sure there will be those that disagree with me but, honestly, that doesn’t bother me at all. I’m going with what I see week in and week out and there has been a difference in attitude and the way the drivers compete with each other. Now, look. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but it is different.

Before the Next-Gen, the previous car couldn’t take much abuse. Maybe a little pushing and bumper tag but the drivers had to be much more careful of how hard they could lean on someone or pay a big price in performance and usually a trip to the pits for repairs. Now, it has become pretty obvious that, with the toughness of the car and the parity between them, life in the fast lane is about as intense as it can get. The drivers aren’t nearly as “nice” to their competitors because the car can take more. To make a long story short, it reminds me of older days and times when you might hear someone say, “Look cotton-bloomer! I tried you high and I tried you low and then, it was time for you to go!!”

One last thing about all this. In these recent times, have you noticed how crowding a driver into the wall has become more common than in the past? Yeah, that’s what I thought… me, too.

So… considering all of that, how do you think this race will go this weekend at St. Louis? Will it be a dogfight or will it be a bit more tame than recent races? You see, those are good questions and I’m not sure I have the answer. I know the track is basically a flat track and can be a challenge to manage the turns lap after lap. I also know there are those that need to get a win – although those numbers are dwindling a bit – and I believe that is going to add to the aggressiveness of the drivers.

Judging from the practice and qualifying sessions, the Fords and Toyotas have closed the competitive gap on the Chevys. Yeah, I know there are three Chevys in the top ten starters but there are also three Toyotas and four Fords and one of them is last week’s winner, Ryan Blaney. Of course, that raises the question, will he make it two in row?

The top ten starters are some of the strongest teams in the field and anyone of them could end up in Victory Lane. Just look at the strength of those in the top ten starting positions. Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr, Joey Logano, William Byron and Ross Chastain.

Need I go on? I could but just let me add this. There are several starting further back that I just can’t rule out of taking the win. Stenhouse, Suarez, Gibbs, Bell and Bowman. Anyone of them could pull off a not-so-surprising win. Of course, I just can’t rule out Kyle Larson even though he is starting twenty-second. Between him and crew chief, Cliff Daniels, there are too many times it has looked like they don’t have a chance and yet, they manage to either run up close to the front or at the front when it comes to the last. After all is said and done, I think this is going to be one whale of a race. Well… that is unless one of the thirty-six entrants dominates and leaves the rest in the dust…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 4, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.