ACS In Southern California Is Next Up from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The last stop for this western sweep of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is at the Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. If qualifying gives us any idea of what Sunday’s race will be like then… well… let’s just say it could be very different than the norm. I’m not saying it will be strange or weird but, it could be very different than what we as fans have come to expect from the racing at the speedway.

Just in case you missed it, the third round of qualifying basically didn’t happen. Because of the way qualifying is done these days, nobody made it around to take the green flag in time to beat the clock. Everyone waited until too late and qualifying reverted back to the way they finished in the second round giving Austin Dillon the pole. In all honesty, from this fan’s view it was much more frustrating than it was exciting and really quite a let down. (At least to this fan it was.)

It’s not that I don’t like the way qualifying takes place, it’s just that I don’t see the purpose of even having qualifying if no one wants to be the first one on the track. Their reasoning was they needed to be able to draft to get their top speed and actually go for the pole. In my opinion, they might as well go back to having single car, three hour qualifying sessions or just line up according to points position and see how that goes. Can’t be much different than it was this time.

Naturally, at this time is when I go into my minor “rant mode” and I still want to give my opinion of last week’s race at Phoenix even though my overall opinion hasn’t changed all that much yet.

To be honest, as a fan I have been relatively disappointed with the racing so far this season. I can’t really point to any one reason but I do know it has been tough to stay interested when most of the real racing happens during the starts and restarts after cautions or the end of the stages. One thing that bothers me week in and week out is how the talking heads keep saying how exciting the racing has been this season. There have been times I really don’t think they are watching the same races I am. When they were in Vegas there was talk of how exciting the restarts would be. The only problem was they only had restarts after the stages were done and that wasn’t very exciting, (at least not to me.)

Last weekend at Phoenix they had a plethora of cautions and plenty of restarts. According to some, that made the race really exciting. (Well, at least for a few laps at those times anyway.) That’s not necessarily the way I saw it and I wasn’t alone. In fact, I had a conversation with a customer/acquaintance and we basically agreed on the quality of racing this season. He said there just isn’t the same intensity as in years past. (Hey, he brought it up first, it wasn’t just me thinking out loud.) We both agreed it doesn’t have to do with the new rule changes for this season. It just seems that something is different but neither of us could put our finger on what it is exactly. Oh, and by the way, we both agreed there seems to be a lot whining going on this year.

Anyway, this weekend might be just a little different. Everyone seems to be wondering if Kyle Bush is going to win another one. Whether he ties or surpasses Richard Petty’s 200 victories this weekend isn’t all that important to me. Records are made to be broken and he is a very talented driver. I don’t really compare the two and their number of wins. They were, and are, great drivers and both have made a definite impact on the sport, they were just in different eras. The times and technology may change but talent is talent.

Probably the biggest question in my mind for this weekend is, “Will this be the weekend that the Chevys begin to actually show up at the end of a race?” This may be a new year, new season and new rules but their struggle continues. The Fords and the Toyotas seem to have picked up where they left off last season (even with the new rules changes) and I guess you could say the same thing about the Chevys. They just haven’t shown the same results as the other two makes and, as I said last season and still say this season, the Camaro just hasn’t proved to be a good choice for some reason or another. Not that they haven’t shown speed at times, but they just haven’t shown it when it counts – like when the checkered flag drops at the end of the race, declaring the Victor.

I don’t know… maybe the racing to this fan just isn’t as good as it was because the Chevys aren’t winning (or even showing they can win.)

Wait a minute! Does that sound like I’m whining…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 16, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer – © March 16, 2019 – all rights reserved Rusty Norman is PodCastNorm

Week Two Of The Swing Out West Is At Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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No matter how you look at it, the season for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has been filled with changes. From the first weeks in Daytona to the ISM Raceway at Phoenix, there have been changes to the horsepower, the downforce and other things, making it a very interesting time for the MENCS teams. It has to have been a real stressful and trying time for the crew chiefs and engineers in particular with every weekend being just a little different. I guess we could also include the drivers along with them since they have had to adapt to the new feel and horsepower changes to their driving style. All of it has made life very interesting for all of them I’m sure.

Before getting in to the talking about this weekend’s race, I just have to mention a few thoughts about last weekend at Vegas.

Without being too critical of the racing so far this season, I have to admit I don’t see it the way many of the talking heads and others do. All of the changes to the cars this season were supposed to make the racing better and closer but, at least so far, I haven’t seen all that much change. If you listen to some, they say how exciting the racing has been even going so far as to say it has never been better. Others give their opinion of the overall race and still talk about how “exciting” and close it has been.

Look… I’m not trying to cause a ruckus, be overly critical or anything like that but, I just haven’t been impressed by the racing all that much so far. Oh sure, there have been moments that could be considered “exciting,” but for the most part, (at least from this fan’s view), I just haven’t seen it. Yeah, they still press to get points near the end of the stages and still want to win at the end but, at least from my view, the races have been relatively lack-luster. Not that there haven’t been moments. It’s just that it’s been quite a bit different than even last season. It seems that the intensity is missing, (except may be at the restarts.)

Now maybe it’s just me but I have seen a lot of griping and complaining about how some drivers just won’t get out of the way of one driver or another and they just can’t pass or they’re being held up from being able to chase down the leader. I mean, come on! Isn’t that why we call it racing? Isn’t the idea supposed to be about finding a way to move past those holding a driver (or drivers) up.

I realize that may sound like I’m talking about bumper cars but, I’m not. There are ways to let a slower driver know your intentions and, like I said in last week’s article, there’s always the, “I tried you high, I tried you low and them it was time for you to go.” Eventually it comes down to out-driving or moving someone. That doesn’t mean a driver has to wreck another one. It does mean they have to use measured aggression, knowing full well that they will be raced the way they race. That may be a fine line and, once it’s crossed, it usually opens up a whole new can of worms (or, it could start a whole new set of rivalries. Who knows?)

(Well, now that I’ve made that point, let me move back to ISM Raceway at Phoenix.) It was my hope that the Ford’s moving to the Mustangs might be a little bit of an equalizing factor with the Chevys and, to a lesser degree, the Toyotas. As it turns out, that hasn’t been the case and the Fords have picked up right where they left off last season. From this fan’s view, the Fords appear to have an advantage, at least for the present, and that may or may not make things hard for Chevy fans wanting to see a Chevy in Victory Lane.
If there are any signs of how the race Sunday afternoon might go, it would be that the Fords (and Toyotas for that matter) will likely finish ahead of the Chevys again. Now I am not making a definite prediction but, I am saying there are several drivers looking very strong going into Sunday’s race and unfortunately, they aren’t in Chevys.

Now perhaps the return of horsepower along with the increased downforce available this weekend at Phoenix could make everyone happier. The drivers seem to be happier to have the horsepower back along with the increase in downforce and maybe they will gripe less and pass more without so much whining. (Hey, I’m just saying…)

Now that I’ve said all of this, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Chevys prove me wrong. Chase Elliott looked very good in practice and qualifying and could be the first Chevy to win in 2019. Of course, there’s Kyle Larson along with him and he is a likely competitor as well. I can’t discount the RCR teams either since they have also shown strength in the last couple of weeks. One thing to consider is there is a very good possibility there could be an unexpected winner this weekend and even more as the season continues. Personally, this fan would like to see someone other than a Ford driver in Victory Lane but, that just may not happen. Well… at least not yet…


Now perhaps the return of horsepower along with the increased downforce available this weekend at Phoenix could make everyone happier. The drivers seem to be happier to have the horsepower back along with the increase in downforce and maybe they will gripe less and pass more without so much whining. (Hey, I’m just saying…)

Now that I’ve said all of this, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Chevys prove me wrong. Chase Elliott looked very good in practice and qualifying and could be the first Chevy to win in 2019. Of course, there’s Kyle Larson along with him and he is a likely competitor as well. I can’t discount the RCR teams either since they have also shown strength in the last couple of weeks. One thing to consider is there is a very good possibility there could be an unexpected winner this weekend and even more as the season continues. Personally, this fan would like to see someone other than a Ford driver in Victory Lane but, that just may not happen. Well… at least not yet…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 9, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Takes It To Las Vegas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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This is week three of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and it is the third week of changes to the cars. Beyond that, it is the first week of the full aero package we’ll see for the remainder of the season, depending on which tracks they’re at. From listening to all the buzz, many say this is the first real race of the season. Daytona is uniquely Daytona and Atlanta is looked at as one of a kind so, maybe what they say about Las Vegas being the first real race – or test of the new rules package – is true. It is also true that this is week one of three races out west.

Before I talk about the race this weekend at Vegas, let’s take a quick look back at last weekend at Atlanta. There are several things I’ve heard mentioned since the race at Atlanta and, although I understand what they’re talking about, I have a different opinion than those I heard offering their opinion on a couple of those things.

First, I have to bring up my concerns about the Chevy Camaros. From this fan’s view, it still appears the Chevys still don’t perform as well as the Fords even though the Fords are running their new Mustang body style. With the performance of the Hendrick Chevys at Daytona, it did appear they had made headway in speed and handling but, Atlanta proved to be a totally different story for them.

Sure, I know Kyle Larson led many laps in his Camaro but, he had that pit road problem and just couldn’t make it back to the front. I have heard many say that they don’t think it is a Camaro problem it is a Hendrick problem but I ‘m just not so sure I agree. I think Larson’s performance (with Hendrick Power under the hood) showed it’s not just Hendrick but the Camaros being so aero dependent that, when they get back in the pack a bit, they just don’t handle as well as the Fords (or the Camrys for that matter.) Like I said, that’s the way it looks from my view and I could be wrong but, they still look to be a little disadvantaged compared to the others.

My second point of disagreement is (and maybe it’s just me) but, it does seem we have a few “whiners” rising up in the ranks. In particular, two that stand out in my mind would be Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. I know there will be many that disagree with me – or probably don’t see it the same as I do – but over the first two races of the season, both of them have been heard criticizing people that didn’t make it easier for them to pass them or didn’t get help from them as they felt they should.

Two incidents that stand out in my mind would be Joey Logano and Michael McDowell and Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. For whatever reason, these two past champions think everyone is supposed to just move over and let them go by or push them to the win. It is pretty obvious, not every driver agrees with them. My one question to them would be, “What ever happened to having to race for the win?” Just because someone doesn’t want to make it easy for them doesn’t really mean a whole lot to me. (I think of the reputation of being hard to pass Ryan Newman has acquired over the years. There are very few instances he will just move over to let someone pass him.)
Naturally, in usual fashion, that also reminds me of a line from a story someone told when I was racing. It goes like this (edited version, of course.) “Look cotton-picker, I tried you high and I tried you low and then it was time for you to go…” Whether you and I like it or not, the chrome bumper is a tool in the racer’s toolbox…

I could go on but I’ll save some of my thoughts for another time. Right now, it’s back to Vegas.

The race this weekend at Vegas is going to be unique in the sense that the changes made to the cars are going to be applied over more than just one weekend. In some ways, the teams’ notebooks don’t really have much to refer to. We all know the drivers and their teams learn fast but, we as fan’s will probably be in for more than a few surprises. I’m not sure what those surprises will be but I do know they will be there.

At the time of this writing, the first MENCS Saturday practice was rained out and the lack of track time could prove to make Sunday’s race even more interesting. I’m not sure if this could be the start of making the racing more interesting and intense or whether it will be a time when certain drivers begin to shine either for the first time or where the “old veterans” begin to shine again. I’m not picking any favorites for this one but I’m not ruling anyone out either. In this, the first race of the three races out west, I do think the drivers and teams are going to learn a lot about what they will face over the two that follow this one as well as for the races ahead in the season.

So… rather than ask what driver you think will win, I would rather ask you (and myself, too), which brand do you think is going to perform and come away with the most wins over the next three races? Will it be the Fords? The Camrys? Oh come on, please, won’t someone stick their neck out and say the Chevys…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 2, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Takes It To Atlanta from a NASCAR Fan’s View


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Wow! Less horsepower, more downforce and very little difference in speed. Well, at least that is the first impression of this NASCAR fan. I don’t know about you but I was more than a little surprised at the results so far for the new car and engine specs for the MENCS teams. Although there are still a lot of unknowns about how things will go, from this fan’s view, it looks like this will likely be the usual race for the Atlanta track.

Before I talk more about my view of this Atlanta race, I have to make a few comments about the race last weekend at Daytona. You may remember I was concerned that it might be a race of single file, follow the leader type race and the only thing that might break up the monotony of the 500 miles would be the stages and the final laps of all three. Since the race finished, many have talked about how exciting of a race it was. I’m sorry, but from my view, it wasn’t anything more than what I thought it might be.

Okay, so instead of running single file, they ran two wide and sometimes three but there wasn’t a lot of action until the final lap or two of the first and second stages. I have to say, and this is my view, it was like watching paint dry for many laps throughout much of the race. If it hadn’t been for the “Big One” and a few other skirmishes in the final stage, this might have been the most unexciting Daytona 500 I remember in recent times.

Another thing that kinda griped me was made quite obvious by Joey Logano’s attitude when Michael McDowell chose to go with Kyle Bush in a Toyota rather than him in Ford on the final lap, as though it was all about him and him winning. Admittedly I’m not that much of a Joey Logano fan, but NASCAR is not just about what is best for him and I don’t think he deserves any special privileges just because he is last year’s Champion. I don’t fault McDowell at all and I can’t help but wonder if the roles were reversed what decision Logano may have made. Oh, and by the way, I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I’m not so sure how I like or dislike the Ford’s with Ford’s, Toyotas with Toyotas or Chevys with Chevys. Sure, I admit the brands of the cars are important, but for me, I follow the drivers much more than the brands (even though I am a big Chevy fan and always have been.) To be clear, I like other drivers than just the ones in Chevys.

Oh well, enough about last week at Daytona and back to Atlanta this weekend.

I think this race at Atlanta this weekend might be the same and yet different than the normal or usual one. With the new rules package and the way some of the drivers and teams have stepped up their games, this could be a breakout race for some that aren’t mentioned that much. I do expect the usual teams will be making themselves visible but I also think some of the relative unknowns could also begin to shine this weekend. Which ones am I talking about? Well, that’s a great question and I’m glad you asked it.

Drivers like Michael McDowell, Matt Dibenedetto, David Ragan and Ryan Preece have all made a few waves over the last couple of weeks. That’s not to say they have arrived, but it does say there is an elevation of competition in some of the smaller teams associated with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. I know you’ve heard at least three of these names before, but we may be hearing more about them as the season progresses along with some others.

Still, it is hard to go against the proven old veterans and high performers at Atlanta. I can’t argue with the performance of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush, Jimmie Johnson or several others over the last several years at this track. They all have to be considered as contenders when it comes down to the final laps because they are usually there. That’s not to say one of them will win but we all know one of them could.

I’m not about to try and pick a winner in this one, (well, not the time of this writing anyway.) There are a few names I haven’t mentioned yet but they could take the win. Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and, yes, even Joey Logano should be considered contenders for this one. In fact, I would go so far as to say there could be a surprise winner for the “Folds of Honor – Quik Trip 500” if for no other reason than the horsepower and downforce changes instituted for the first time this weekend. Then again, well, it could just be another race at Atlanta… reckon we’ll have to watch to find out, huh…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 23, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

The 2019 Daytona 500 Kicks Off the New Season from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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This Sunday afternoon the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series kicks off it’s new season. It isn’t billed as, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” – that honor belongs to The Indianapolis 500. It is big though and some say it is even bigger than the Championship Race at Homestead in November. Now, I’m not going to get into that here but, the Daytona 500 is without question one of the biggest NASCAR events of the whole season.

Look, I’m not saying other races aren’t important, but many times people spend a lot more time talking about this couple of weekends of the season than they do about most any race of the regular season. After all, it does kick off the season for the Gander Outdoor Series Trucks, the Xfinity Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and all in one place.

I won’t bore you with a long dissertation on the importance, or the lack thereof, of the Daytona 500 or any of the other series’ races; the talking heads have covered just about every aspect of these races we can think of. That isn’t a cut or negative statement about the coverage so far, most of it has been interesting or at the very least, entertaining. what I would like to do is give you a couple of things I have been thinking or wondering about as I have watched many of the events so far this week. Believe me, this won’t take long…

First, it looks like the Ford camps are picking up where they left off last season. They do look plenty strong even though they have a new Mustang body to work with. In this fan’s opinion, (and that’s all it is, my opinion), they seem to have done a better job of picking a body style than the Chevy camps did last year. As a Chevy fan, I hoped they might have a little more trouble and it would be more of an equalizing factor. Apparently, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with again this season.

Second, along with their performance so far in the Duels and practices this week, they seem to be determined to work together to make sure a Blue Oval ends up in Victory Lane at the end of the day. That may change for both the Toyotas and Chevys when it comes to race day but we won’t really know much about that until the 500 is in the books.

Just to keep this short and to the point, my biggest concern is that there is going to be lot of single file, follow the leader type racing rather than what we have become more accustomed to in recent times on a restrictor plate track. From this fan’s view, one of the things about restrictor plate racing is the door to door and bumper to bumper racing. Although I have mixed thoughts on the Duels and how exciting or unexciting they were, I see pretty much the same thing happening during the 500. The only thing that will break up the monotony of single file, wait till the last couple of laps to make a move will be the stages. At least that will mean three times during the race when the competition might heat up a bit. I hope I’m wrong, but from my view so far, I think I just may be right.

I do expect there will be at least one Big One and will be greatly surprised if one or more doesn’t happen. I won’t be disappointed if the Big One doesn’t happen but I do hope the racing is better than I saw in the Duels and that there is more action more often.

Hey, I’ve been a NASCAR fan for a long time and I will say this. Whatever happens, I will be watching…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 16, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Four Are In And One Will Win from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well… this is it. This is for all the marbles in 2018. This is for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship and only four drivers are qualified to win it. Only one of them will.

There is something unique about the NASCAR Cup Championship. Many cars will be running the race but only four will be running the race to win the Championship. All of the others will be trying to win also but they cannot win the Championship. That’s what’s different about the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It is actually a race where it is possible to have two winners. One will win the Championship but that one only has to beat the other three qualified for the Championship four not the race. That means there can actually be two different winners by Sunday evening – one winning the Championship and one winning the race. Wow! That really sounds complicated but, at the same time, it sounds exciting and dramatic.

There has been a lot of talk about which of the four is the favorite to win. Maybe I should clarify by saying the one expected to win. If you ask Joey Logano, he will tell you he is the favorite. As for the others, well… since they’ve been there before, they will tell you they feel good about their chances but it is a long race.

Now, I’m not so sure I agree with Joey Logano’s assessment of himself and his chances but it is a long race and someone will step up to the plate and show why they deserve to be the Monster energy NASCAR Cup Champion for 2018 and it could be him. All four of the contenders know they have to beat the other three to be named the 2018 Champion and you and I both know it is all about winning for them.

Where the wrench in the works comes into play is because of all the other drivers and teams able to run for the race win. With this format, the Champion is determined by a race within a race and even though the four Championship contenders can win, there are a number of other drivers that can win or cause and accident or cause problems for the four contenders in some form or other.

For just a minute, let’s just consider some of the ones that could win the race Sunday afternoon but aren’t qualified to win the Championship.

First on the list for me would be Kurt Bush. After his disappointment last weekend, he is very motivated to win this weekend. He has the speed and he knows how to be there when it counts and he has to be considered as a possible winner of the race. Another would be Brad Keselowski. He is another that showed good speed in practice and could also contend for the win.

How about Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott? (Wow! That sounds strange to be talking about Chevys amongst all the Fords as possible winners of the Ford Ecoboost 400 especially with the way the Fords have performed this season. I only mention it because the Chevys have struggled so much during the regular season this year.) The best reason I can give for mentioning these two is because they have been the strongest running Chevys in the latter part of the season and it is possible one of them could win the race when it’s over Sunday night. Probably kinda long shots at best but still possible.

Along with all of those are Aric Almirola, Eric Jones, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and a host of others. Any one of these can win the race – not the Championship – and still finish off the year with motivation for next year. Two of them are trying to continue their streak of winning at least one race every year and that would be Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin. You know for sure they intend to do everything they can to continue that streak. I have to admit, in this fan’s opinion I would like to see one of them do so and – I’m just being honest here – I’m pulling for it to be Jimmie Johnson over Denny Hamlin but I do admit, he has his work cut out for him.

No matter how you look at it, this Championship race is going to be full of all kinds of drama and most assuredly high emotions. All sentimentality aside, the winner of the race is most likely going to be one of the four contenders, either Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush, Martin Truex Jr. or Joey Logano. I have no idea how it will turn out, only my hope of how it will turn out.

In usual fashion, the final race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 2018 season is for everything being on the line whether it’s someone unexpected winning the race or to crown the Champ for 2018. I’m sure it will be an intense race with lots of unkowns and plenty of drama. There could be two winners but only one Champion and we will know the name of that person when the final checkered flag is dropped declaring the winner Sunday night…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 17, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

One Is In But Who Will Win At Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It is amazing how quickly things can change at times. After the race last weekend at Texas, two were in by winning. Now, only one is in by winning and one that appeared to be in by winning is now on the edge of not being able to make it to the finale at Homestead next weekend. I know, I know, you’ve already heard the story and why Kevin Harvick and the #4 team aren’t guaranteed a spot in the final four.

I’ve definitely heard of pressing the envelope but a question or two does come to mind about why? Why would the #4 team take such a chance at a rule infraction knowing how much success they’ve already had in this season? Didn’t they have confidence that what they’d been doing all season would carry them through? Of course, I’m just a fan and have never been in their shoes at such a level but it does seem like a big gamble to me. I don’t know, maybe they just thought they wouldn’t get caught.

It is no secret the format for the NASCAR series playoffs and Championship race has made for increased intensity and a, “Do whatever it takes to win” attitude. As best as this fan can remember, it has always been about winning. Now it seems the stakes are higher than ever and what someone will do to win has also become different. The ‘bump and run’ has always been there and leaning on someone’s door to get an advantage has too – as the old saying goes, “eight tires are better than four.” It just seems that both the bumping and leaning is harder than it used to be.

Hey, I used to race at our local short tracks and I understand what goes on inside the driver’s head when it comes down to the final laps and there is someone keeping you from winning. One of may favorite stories a racing friend told me years ago ended like this. First driver, “Hey! Why did you spin me out?” Second driver, “Look ‘cotton picker’, I tried you high and I tried you low and then, it was time for you to go…” So, I get it. Winning is what it’s all about and many will stop at nothing to do so. My biggest question is, Kevin Harvick and the #4 team have been a force to be reckoned with all season, why take such a big gamble with so much on the line? I just don’t have the answer to that particular question.

So, the race at Phoenix this weekend went from two guaranteed to be in because of winning races in the round of eight to one, Joey Logano. In usual NASCAR fashion, Kevin Harvick was allowed to keep his win but it couldn’t be used to guarantee his spot in the finale. He also lost points and is also only 3 points above the cut line for making it to Homestead as one of the final four. That means there are seven drivers and teams vying for the three remaining positions in the final four. Because of the decision made to the press the rules, he could be one of the four that doesn’t make the cut.

From this fan’s view there is one person other than Joey Logano that will likely make it in on points if he doesn’t win and that would be Kyle Bush. He has been fast even though he and his team have struggled a bit. Unless disaster strikes them, I do think he will be one of the final four. Martin Truex Jr. is in a precarious position and, after the way things have gone for him and his team over the last two weeks in particular, he does have his work cut out for him. The #78 teams cannot afford to have another bad day or this fan thinks their chances are shot to make the finale.

One that stands out as a possible dark horse would be Kurt Bush. He could win his way in but he is only three points below the cutline. If neither he or Harvick wins and Kurt outscores Kevin, well, I think you know how that story goes.

Chase Elliott has a good chance to make it in by points or by winning. The challenge for him is that he needs to get a lot of points in the stages and hopes that one of the others faulters or has trouble. That would make it easier for him but he is going to have to run up front all race long and hopefully win. If he is going to win, his biggest challenge is to beat Kevin Harvick. That may not be easy but he is capable and there is always the chance Harvick could have trouble. It has happened before this season.

The only way for Clint Bowyer or Aric Almirola to make it in is to win. I’m not saying one of them won’t but they do have a high mountain to climb.

One thing stands out to this fan. Although the playoff races have all had a higher level of intensity, this Sunday’s race is going to be about as intense as any we’ve ever seen. All of the challengers have already made it know they will do whatever it takes to win and that means the competition will be intense and emotion packed. Someone is going to win and four of the seven left will move on to the final four at Homestead. So, I leave you with the question in the title. One is in BUT who WILL win at Phoenix…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 10, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Texas Makes It Two To Go To Make The Show from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are getting intense. There are three places left to make the show at Homestead and only two races left for someone to make it in other than by points. At the present there are eight drivers hoping to make the finale at Homestead. One, Joey Logano, is already qualified and three already have enough points to make it in. The problems arise when, and if, someone other than the top three wins a race, whether at Texas or next weekend at Phoenix. Then things get even more intense than they already are.

There are a lot of “ifs” facing those still qualified in the round of eight. What happens “if this” or what happens “if that” and for each of the remaining seven it is more about winning – which they say it is every weekend – than just running for position. As just a NASCAR fan, I understand the winning part, but… well… let’s just say when it comes down to these final two races, there is hardly anything other than winning. That is if you want to advance to the final four at Homestead.

It is interesting to this fan that Kevin Harvick hasn’t done better in the Playoffs than he has. He is a former Cup Champion and he has had a stellar year but his performance in the playoffs just hasn’t been great. It has been mediocre to good but he just hasn’t shown the consistency he did earlier in the season. Both he and Kyle Bush have struggled at times. Both of them had acquired a lot of points over the regular season and both have been able to sustain their advantage much because of winning all those races. It may be just me that thinks this but, I really did expect them to show more than they have during the playoffs.

When it comes to Martin Truex Jr., I just have to express my NASCAR fan opinion about what happened to him last weekend at Martinsville. He was robbed. That will probably raise a few people’s blood pressure and I know there are those that will vehemently disagree with me. That’s okay, I can take it. You have your opinion and I have mine and I don’t seem to agree with many that have assessed what happened in the closing laps last weekend.

I realize many people think racing is win at any cost and the higher the stakes, the more that may be true. Well, at least if you listen to much of the chatter since last weekend’s race. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Well, that’s just short track racing. That’s what it’s all about.”

I just don’t agree with that. Well, at least, not completely. I’ve been a driver and I’ve been on the receiving side of that type action and I do understand both sides of the issue. I don’t remember dishing it out. That doesn’t mean I’ve never put a bumper to someone, to, uh, let them know I’m there and probably faster than them. I know that sounds a little contradictory but there are differences to what I saw Logano do to Truex Jr. I never remember moving someone out of the way just to pass or win a race. I may have but I don’t remember it. I do know it happens and everyone likes a good intense race between competitors.

I just don’t think Joey Logano is some kind of hero because he decided to do what he did. That seems to be the consensus from many though. Logano did what he had to do to win. It didn’t matter to him that Truex Jr. gave him plenty of room and basically ran him hard but clean. If he was going to move on to the final four, it was win at any cost. Joey has a different set of values than Martin Truex Jr. He did what he could and still sleep at night. That doesn’t make him a hero in my book. What it does do is remind me of why Matt Kenseth put him into the wall a couple of years ago or so, killing his chances at moving on to race for a championship. Believe me when I say this… you reap what you sow and this will come back to haunt Joey in the races ahead.

Oh well, back to Texas.

Texas is a fast, challenging track and that will only add to the intensity of the race Sunday afternoon. From this fan’s view, the Fords look very strong but that doesn’t mean they will walk away with the win and the trophy. In my opinion, the best thing that could happen at Texas is for someone unexpected to win. You know, someone like Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski or a relative unknown this season like, David Ragan. I think If I had my druthers, I’d pick Chase Elliott but then, well, you know… that’s just this fan’s view…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 3, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

The Round Of Eight Begins At Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Now it gets interesting. There are eight drivers and teams competing to make the final four and they have three races to do so. That means half of the ones previously competing to make the final four are now competing for the win at each of the next three tracks, Martinsville included. And then… there are the rest of the competitors that want to win.

One of the things that makes Martinsville interesting, especially in these playoff races, is that it’s a short track race and with all those cars on the track it’s hard to pass. That means track position is going to be as important as ever and the pits are going to be a place that can affect the outcome either positively or negatively. That puts added pressure on the drivers and the pit crews. The drivers because they cannot afford to get speeding penalties assessed to them. The pit crews because there are a lot of little things that can go wrong and cost them big time. From things like loose lug nuts to uncontrolled tires to running over air hoses or leaving an adjusting tool in or on the car. For all of the teams it is important to not mess up. For those in the Round of Eight, well, let’s just say they’ll be thinking about it the whole time.

For some, Kyle Bush is the favorite to win this one. For me however, well, I like to think of all the possibilities and he is only a small part in my thinking. There are way too many drivers not qualified for the Round of Eight that could win this one and some of them just barely failed to make the cut last weekend.

From this fan’s view, there are a couple of drivers looking for a win this season that have had at least one win every year since joining Cup racing. One of those has a very good record at Martinsville. Of course I know you know I’m talking about seven time Cup Champ, Jimmie Johnson. Yeah, I know it has been a rough year for him and the #48 team but I also know he is quite capable of winning at Martinsville. He has a lot of wins here already and I’m sure he and crew chief, Chad Knaus, would like nothing better than to get a win (especially since it has been so long since his last win.) Besides, the Chevys have been showing more speed lately and it is important to note, except for bad luck he’s had very little at all.

Another one that could throw a wrench into the works for those in the Round of Eight is Brad Keselowski. He may not have made it into this round of the playoffs but he is still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to winning at Martinsville. Should he win, it will make it just that much harder for one of the Round of Eight drivers to advance to the final at Homestead by winning. If they don’t have the points racked up, well, their only chance of moving into the final is by winning and there aren’t that many chances left to accomplish that.

Gee… did I almost forget mentioning Denny Hamlin? He is in the same boat as Jimmie Johnson. He is another of those that has won at least one race since entering Cup competition and he is also another one of those that has a very good record at Martinsville. As it stands and even though he isn’t qualified for the Round of eight, his chances are as good as anyone’s and, it is this fan’s opinion, he could be fighting for the win as the laps dwindle down to none. I won’t say he is one of my favorite drivers to win this one but I will say he’s got as good a chance as anyone.

Judging from his performance recently, I would almost say Martin Truex Jr. is one that either needs to show some strength that he and his team haven’t shown for while or he needs to win. Oh sure, they managed to make it into the Round of Eight but they only squeaked in. If there are any of this season’s “Big Three” that might have a problem moving on to the final, he would be my likeliest choice. Well… at least for the present.

When it comes to Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Bush or Aric Almirola, honestly, anyone of them could take the win on Sunday afternoon. The Stewart Haas teams have looked very good over the course of the playoffs and, from this fan’s view, it is possible they could all advance to the final at Homestead. Of course this fan doesn’t really think that will happen. I just bring it up because others have mentioned that possibility and it is there whether I think it can happen or not.

So… does anyone think Chase Elliott can make it four wins in the last twelve races? I have to admit, it is a long shot even though he does know how to get around the Martinsville Speedway. If he does win, that would really say something about how the Final Four will shape up and I don’t think anyone really expected that possibility. I don’t know if he will win, BUT if he does…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 27, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Which Eight Will Remain After Kansas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There is a definite difference in the feel and approach to this Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. In some ways the tension is so thick it can be cut with a knife. In other ways, it is just the look on the faces of the drivers and teams trying to make it to the next round. For some it is simply a matter of being consistent and having at least a reasonable finish. For others… well… to put it bluntly, they either win or they’re done. Well, at least until next season if they want to be a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion.

From this fan’s view, this has been one race weekend that has shown just how serious the round of twelve teams take making it to the next round. For some, their only answer has been, “we’ve got to win.” The problem at least five of them face is that only one can win the race. If one of the four in ninth to twelfth place wins that will likely move one of the top eight into that “also ran” category and they will sit out competing for the 2018 Cup Championship until next season.

There are a lot of ways to look at this race, at least from a fan’s view, and the race on Sunday afternoon should have an elevated intensity for two important reasons. First, there are four drivers that need to win and, second, there are all the others. Although there are favorites and drivers and teams relatively safe from not being able to move to the next round, anything can happen to those close on points. If nothing else has been obvious this season, and especially during the playoffs, there is no guarantee any of them won’t have a bad day. Four or five of them can handle a bad day either by points or wins but the rest, well let’s just say it could get very interesting.

Aric Almirola and Chase Elliott are already in the next round since they both have wins. Kevin Harvick is in simply because of his accumulated points along with Kyle Bush. Realistically there is no way they can’t move on to the next round simply because of their points. That makes four spots already filled in the coming round of eight. Joey Logano is pretty safe unless disaster strikes and, since he is sitting on the pole, this fan thinks he will fill that fifth spot without question.

Now, sixth place is where it begins to get a bit interesting. Kurt Bush could be safe unless something totally unexpected happens and he finishes last or very near last place. That isn’t likely but the possibility is there and if it could happen to anyone, in this fan’s opinion, it could happen to Kurt.

(Look, I didn’t say it would happen, I just said it could.)

After that, well… that leaves two available spots and the question is, depending on what happens overall, which of the remaining will qualify?

Both Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. can’t afford to have a bad race. Either one of them is capable of winning but neither of them is guaranteed to win even though Truex does appear to have a better chance because of his 1.5 mile track stats. When it comes to the Kansas Speedway and even though it is considered to be his home track, Bowyer hasn’t really performed all that well in his recent visits here.

Speculation this week has been rampant about which will advance and which will become the “also rans” but some things are just plain evident. The only way for Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman to guarantee themselves moving on to the Round of Eight is to win. Since only one of them can win, (like I stated earlier), their chances are slim and it is going to take everything going their way for that to happen. That means no mistakes, no miscues and no penalties in the pits. Strategy could play a role but it is going to have to be great strategy. Otherwise… S

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 20, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Taking On Talladega from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There’s a reason why they call it a “Wild Card” race but this time it isn’t as much of a Wild Card as it has been in the past. Oh, there is still the fact that someone can, by winning, move on to the next round that just doesn’t have the points, but it really doesn’t matter that much to those at the top of the points already. Some may be wondering how I can say that but, most already know of the big three, only one has to finish several spots ahead of last place. For the other two, well, they could finish dead last at Talladega and it might hurt but it won’t keep them from moving on by points. Well… that is unless they do the same again next weekend.

Martin Truex Jr. is the one that would be greatly affected by having an early exit from the Talladega race and it could mean he would have to really be careful the following week at Kansas. As a fan, I don’t think that will happen but, with the Wild Card of Talladega and a poor finish, it is possible. The only two relatively safe (and I stress “relatively safe”) are Kyle Bush and Kevin Harvick. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying disaster WILL strike. I’m just saying it COULD happen IF circumstances present themselves by two really bad finishes in a row, one at Talladega and one at Kansas.

So, what is it about restrictor plate racing? Why is it so popular with some and with others not so much? You see, I guess I’m a little bit biased when it comes to restrictor plate racing – I like it. Some of my fondest memories of racing as a driver were those times we ran in a pack door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper. In fact, I would go so far as to say I get a little bored when they run single file for many laps just killing time until the last 50 miles or so. Maybe that’s why I am also glad there are stages and points to be gained by doing more than just running along until the end of the race.

I may have a different opinion than some, but I do sometimes loose a little interest when it becomes a race of aerodynamics and it being hard to pass when a driver is out front. That is the case in the usual oval track, no matter which one they visit, (at least these days.) Oh sure, I know “back in the day” it was the same when someone would win buy many laps over the rest. Maybe that’s another reason why I’m thankful for some of the changes NASCAR has made to keep things more interesting. Things like the wave around and the ability to make up a lap if you’re the first one a lap down have added to the mix and made things a little more interesting. (That could be an understatement because there have been times when it made things A LOT more interesting.)

I find it interesting how much criticism there is of some of the rules NASCAR puts forth. Admittedly, it does seem they sometimes make or take a step backwards but usually their decision has proven to be the right one. I haven’t taken a close look at the rule changes put forth for next season but I have heard a lot of comments on the subject. I don’t intend to go into any of them here but I will say this; “time will tell.” From this fan’s view, with NASCAR it always has.

From my view, I think I will be watching this Talladega race more to see if there are negative results for the ones that have dominated the season so far. I’m not hoping for anything bad to happen to any of the three but I do know that restrictor plate races can be some of the most unpredictable of any race they run. After all, all we have heard for much of this season is how there are only three (plus one unknown) that will likely be in the final four at Homestead. They may be right but in NASCAR anything can happen and generally does in some fashion or other.

Can you imagine how things could be shaken up IF the “Big Three” do have a couple of bad weeks over these next two races? It could happen you know. Any one or all three of them could have string of bad luck over the next few races and completely change the look of the final four at the Championship at Homestead. It may not affect them making it into the “Round of Eight” but it could affect them making the final four. I know you think I’m really out there on this, but, just think of the possible ways it could all turn around over the next few weeks, IF.

Look. I really like restrictor plate racing and always have. I know it is a chess match for the drivers and one of the most stressful races they run all year. I know none of these things will likely happen but I will be watching just to see what does happen. Talladega could be a turning point that can affect the look of the final four completely. I’m not saying it will, I’m just saying…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 13, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated