From a NASCAR Fan’s View
The pressure is on. It’s the last race of the 2023 NASCAR cup regular season. Two things are on the line at the same time. First is the regular season Championship. Truex Jr. is number one right now but there is a long shot chance he could lose it to Denny Hamlin. Second, there’s one spot kind of open to make the 2023 playoffs and seventeen drivers and their teams that want that spot. Every one of those seventeen wants to make the playoffs and winning is the key to doing that. Does that sound like there might be just the slightest little bit of drama, aggression and intensity in tonight’s race? Yeah, I agree with you. It’s going to be intense from beginning to end.
Daytona is a race that anyone can win. There are fifteen drivers locked into the playoffs and they have nothing to lose. You can bet they’re going to be pressing the envelope to try and win. There’s one that’s kind of in but could be out depending on which of the other thirty-eight entries might win and that’s Bubba Wallace. He can be in even if he doesn’t win but, it’s not a lock for him. He can still point his way in although a win would make it definite for him.
I’m having trouble figuring out what’s going on with the Chevys this weekend. There is only one Chevy in the top sixteen qualifiers and that would be the Hendrick Chevy of Kyle Larson. Quite often, the Hendrick Chevys lead the way at Daytona – or, at least they usually did. Lately, the Fords have been showing a lot of speed at Daytona this weekend is no different. There are twelve of them in the top sixteen starters and three of them in the top five.
So, here’s a question I don’t have a definite answer for. Did the Chevys choose their setup for the race or did they just flat miss it off the truck? If the first answer is correct, they may have guessed the track conditions for tonight would better match their beginning setups. If the second answer is correct, well… let’s just say they have their work cut out for them. According to the fastest two Fords, they are way off pace. From this fan’s view, I’m not sure which of those might be truer but, either way should make for an interesting four hundred miles.
Two unexpected qualifiers would be Ty Gibbs and Bubba Wallace. Bubba qualified fourth and Gibbs fifth. During qualifying, they both showed themselves to be fairly consistent in speed and they both need and could be contenders for the win tonight. The other three Toyotas didn’t qualify as well and it makes me wonder if their setups were different and more suited for the race rather than qualifying. Or maybe the Toyotas and the Chevys were just trying something different to see how it would work. Any way you look at it, it is different between the top qualifiers and the others.
Now that I’ve said all of that, I do have to bring up how I feel about qualifying laps compared to racing laps. If you’re like me, you know that qualifying, at least these days, mostly only gives us where the pit stall will be for the individual teams. I admit that pit stalls can make all the difference in a race but I also admit that often the top qualifiers drop like rocks when the race starts. Sometimes they recover and move back up in the field, but at other times, they might have been top qualifiers but never even come close to contending for the win. So, once again I am at a loss to guess how the top qualifiers will do in tonight’s race at Daytona.
There are a lot of unknowns going into the race tonight. Will Bubba come out of the night still qualified for the playoffs? Will there be a new winner tonight and force Bubba below the cutline? Can Chase Elliott finally turn things around tonight and come away with a win or will he miss the 2023 playoffs? What about Alex Bowman and the possibility of him winning his way into the playoffs? And then there’s AJ Allmendinger. His only hope is to win and he could do that very thing. The same goes for Austin Dillon, Austin Cindric and a host of others.
So let’s face reality. There are seventeen drivers and teams not qualified for the playoffs. There are seventeen drivers and teams that want to win tonight at Daytona. Some of them have better chances than some of the others and, since this is Daytona, it is anyone’s race to win and anyone’s guess which of them will.
As a fan, I expect tonight’s race to be extremely intense and filled with drama and lots of emotion. It is anyone’s race to win and, unfortunately, it is anyone’s race to lose. Which ever way it goes, the sixteen qualified for the playoffs will be set when this one is over…
Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 26, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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