From a NASCAR Fan’s View
The regular season is quickly winding down to its end and this weekend’s race at Michigan means counting this one, there are only four more races to go for drivers to make the playoffs. Wow! Where did this season go? It seems like just a few weeks ago we started things off at the Coliseum in L.A. Now here we are… just four to go in the regular season and then…The Playoffs!
There is a lot on the line for the Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway this weekend. Those just below the cutline and those just above the cutline desperately want to have a good race and come away with better results in the standings or a win and remove the pressure of qualifying for the playoffs. Like I said… time is short.
Taking an honest look at the real situation, for some their only chance to make the playoffs is to win. For others, they just need a good points day while others above the cut have bad days. For some that is just wishful thinking but judging from previous weeks, it could happen and that is their hope.
Let’s face it. Michigan is big and is fast and there’s lots of room to race. It can also be a bit treacherous just because of the speeds. With the speeds they will be running, if something goes wrong it will go wrong in a hurry and will likely take more than one or two out of contention for the day. That’s another thing about taking an honest look at the race as a whole. Judging from just about every race this season, the aggression will be high and just about every lap will be run as though it is the last lap. If that doesn’t set things up for a possible “Big One” especially on restarts, then this fan doesn’t know what will.
The burning question on everyone’s mind seems to focus on the Fords. Since they have pretty much dominated the last several years, the question is will their dominance continue? Along with that question, many have asked it Kevin Harvick will win another Michigan race and add to the six he already has. That’s a good question and deserves at least a little more of a look at his situation.
In the past Harvick has had strong performances at M.I.S. Although he is quite safe points-wise for making the playoffs, he would like nothing better than to take this win and work off that momentum going into the playoffs and possibly finish off his NASCAR Cup career with another Championship. Although that may be a long shot at this point, just think of the drama if he wins Michigan, goes on to be in the final four in the playoffs and actually wins the 2023 NASCAR Championship. Sound far-fetched? It could happen and it couldn’t happen to a better man than Kevin Harvick. (Think back to his boss, Tony Stewart. A different time but still an interesting story of winning a Championship.)
Of course, there is always a villain in every story. This time it is the Toyotas and the speed they have been showing up to the tracks with lately. The same goes for this week. the Toyotas definitely have been showing good speed off the truck and their performance in the races has been, well… do I dare say spectacular? In particular, the way has been led by Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin and, this weekend, Christopher Bell sits on the pole and will lead the pack to the green and possibly to the final checkered flag.
Ross Chastain may have something to say about the Toyotas or Kevin Harvick taking the victory today at Michigan. He starts outside the pole in his Chevy on the front row and could take his second win for the year.
Therein is the rub for this part of the 2023 NASCAR Cup season. The Chevys started out the season looking to have a leg up over the other two manufacturers. In particular, the Hendrick Chevys of William Byron and Kyle Larson. Add to that the performance of Kyle Bush out of the Richard Childers camp. Now it appears things have changed a bit and the Fords and Toyotas are the expected better performers week in and week out. That usually happens almost every season with one make or another but this time just feels different to this fan. The Toyotas seemed to struggle at the first of the season and now look dominant.
The last thing I will say about today’s race at Michigan is qualifying speeds can be deceptive and, though I know I’ve said this before, they once again may not mean a thing. Today it will be about speed over the expected long green flag runs. Could be that circumstances dictate the winner and it could be someone totally unexpected or one that that needs a win in the worst way. Then again… well… it could be someone completely expected and they could dominate the whole race.
Yeah, that could be but that’s not what I expect…
Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 6, 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