Nascar Racing

Cup Teams Take It To Phoenix Raceway  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There is a difference this weekend as the Cup Teams take to the Phoenix Raceway for the Shriners Children’s 500. For the first time in this regular season, Fords aren’t on the pole. In fact, even though the Chevys have started the year by winning the first three Cup races, it is the Toyotas starting on the front row. So, it begs the question, “Did the changes NASCAR made to the downforce package for all the teams benefit the Toyotas more than the rest?” Or did the changes just fit into the Toyota body changes better?

Well… whatever the case, the Toyotas did show speed when it came to qualifying and even in the extended practice session. Four of the Toyotas are starting in the top ten with two of them starting on the front row. Denny Hamlin was the pole winner with a definite speed advantage over the rest of the qualifiers. That could be an omen to the rest of the field of competitors if his speeds hold up throughout the race.

It is interesting to me that the Fords and Toyotas have shown speed during qualifying every weekend so far but, when it came to the race, they seemed to struggle a bit. I guess you could say that struggle lasted all through the first three races. Yeah, I know there were some circumstances that also affected the eventual winners of the races being Chevys, but still, the Chevys have been the ones to beat every weekend so far.

Now look. I’m a Chevy fan and it is a personal thing. I owned Chevys most all my life. I raced nothing but Chevys and I liked them over Fords and I have my reasons though I won’t go into them here. Suffice it to say, Chevys were good to me, especially in my local short track racing career.

I am also a Hendrick Motorsports fan and have been for a long time, too. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the other Chevy Teams because I do. I’m just partial to HMS. As I’ve mentioned before, Ross Chastain of Track House Racing is from Alva, Florida and that is about thirty some miles from where I live and it is hard not to be a fan of someone from so close to home. RCR is also one of my favorites. In fact, the more I think about it, I guess I’m kinda partial to all of the Chevy teams. Maybe that is why I’m a little biased when it comes to the other makes and them possibly having an advantage.

Of course, all of this has very little to do with the Shriners Children’s 500 today at Phoenix Raceway. It is obvious to this fan that the Chevys are struggling a little for speed this weekend. A quick check back over the last three races didn’t really show them to be the fastest cars on the tracks when it came to qualifying. Except for Kyle Larson’s dominance last weekend, they had to work for their wins.

Most of the talk about Phoenix this weekend is how important it is for all the teams to learn all they can to be prepared for the Championship race here in November. It is true they need to get all the info they can on the new package but I have another question. What are the possibilities that NASCAR will make further changes to the package after this visit to Phoenix? I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time that happened would it? If they do, wouldn’t that throw a wrench into the info gathering from this race? Yeah, that’s what I thought you’d say. And yeah, me too.

I guess my biggest questions for today’s race center around what’s already happened in this early part of the 2024 season. The Fords looked like they were going to be tough in the first races – especially Joey Logano. After Kyle Larson fended off Tyler Reddick’s bid at the end of last week’s race is it really that much of a stretch to see the Toyotas finally showing a little muscle? The rest of that question is this. Even though in those previous races, it looked like the faster qualifiers would be the ones to beat, the Chevys managed to win all three.

Will the same thing happen today at Phoenix? Well… that’s a good question and one I’m not really expecting to be answered to the positive. Denny Hamlin looks awfully strong and the Toyota of Ty Gibbs does too. In fact, it is my opinion most of the Toyotas look to have what it takes to do well today. I guess the question is, “Will they?”

Yeah, you guessed it. I’m still pulling for the Chevys…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 10, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by 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.