NASCAR 2020 The Season That Almost Wasn’t

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Since the 2020 NASCAR Cup season is done and the awards have been given out, this fan wanted to close out the year with his thoughts on the many happenings of the year 2020 in NASCAR. It has not been a fun year for any of us but, NASCAR did manage to pull off a complete season and crowned champions in all three of the main series, Trucks, Xfinity and Cup. That in itself was quite a feat and, in the rearview mirror, showed one reason why NASCAR has been reasonably successful over the course of its existence. In fact, they led the way for other sports to at least try to open their seasons. However, it is important to note that the year 2020 was the season for NASCAR that almost wasn’t.

First of all, the year started off much like normal. It seemed it was going to be another year of racing the schedule with the different rule packages and all was well entering into speed weeks at Daytona. The stands were full of fans, the racing was good and everything seemed as though it was going to be a banner year.

Shortly thereafter… well, you know the story. The pandemic hit and the racing stopped, most of the people of the Untied States were forced to stay home and business, sports and a number of other things came to screeching halt. People were forced to become something they really weren’t all in the name of “safety for people” and “control of the virus.” Life changed for most of us for at least two months and, for many of us, it hasn’t changed all that much since, a full eight plus months later.

During that time in the Spring, people were looking for something to do and watch and someone came up with the idea to broadcast iRacing. At first, it was something many hadn’t been exposed to and it was interesting to see how real their platform was and how real the racing looked, even though there were no cars on tracks anywhere other than virtually and the drivers had their rigs set up in their homes. I suppose the decision to broadcast was made by Fox Sports to broadcast at least something to draw their viewing audience back or fill some time with something instead of so many rebroadcasts.

At first it was a novel idea and people, especially non-gamers, were exposed to something they probably didn’t know existed. I know I was and, since I’m not a gamer, I was completely impressed by the look and virtual racing. Of course there were noticeable flaws but they did show they had done everything they could to make it look completely real.

Admittedly, I was impressed the first week and continued watching just to see how things would pan out. Unfortunately, they did things for TV that made it come off as fake, like celebrating a win as though they were in front of real live fans. It became obvious to me they were apparently doing things for the TV audience and that is when I lost interest. It was just too much to take in, knowing it wasn’t real. I do have to admit I did consider buying a rig but soon found they were much more expensive than I could afford and I did talk myself out of it. You see, I’m a racer at heart and I didn’t want to race to finish second. If I was going to do it, I wanted to have the equipment that would give me the possibility of a winning advantage. Sure, I knew if you got fully involved, there was the possibility of winning money and that was the biggest thing. Next to finding a way to race again and not having to worry about fixing wrecked racecars, the possibility of winning big money did have a major draw to it. Fortunately, common sense prevailed that it would not be a good investment of money I didn’t have anyway.

During that time of virtual racing and then the return to the real thing, I felt NASCAR and the network made some pretty political and unfortunate decisions (which they were entitled to do) but I decided not to join the many that either threatened to, or did leave NASCAR because of those decisions. I don’t regret hanging in there and saw some very good racing whether there were fans in the stands or not although I did take some heat here and there for the decision I made to stick it out.

When it comes right down to it, it was a pretty dramatic and intense rest of the year. The playoffs were about as interesting as any in the past, maybe more so and were filled with unexpected happenings and finishes. Probably one of the biggest surprises to me was Kevin Harvick not making the final four. I thought it might be Denny Hamlin that wouldn’t be in but I was proved wrong. When the final four were established and being a Hendrick Motorsports fan, I had high hopes Chase Elliott would win his first Championship but really didn’t expect it to come about. I really thought Joey Logano or Brad K. had a better chance than the other two but, Chase showed he is made of the right stuff and this fan is sure he has just begun to write his legacy.

Possibly the biggest disappointment to me in the NASCAR 2020 season was how the whole pandemic affected the departure of Jimmie Johnson from the sport. He was a true Champion and sure to be a Hall-of-Famer. I know he isn’t totally finished with racing, but he will be missed next season even though you and I both know there will be plenty of other stuff going on and many new faces in places we maybe weren’t expecting them to be.

I know there are a lot of other things this fan could talk about from this last season but that is enough for now. Besides, you’ve heard most everything more than once already. So, until next season, this will likely be the last NASCAR Fan’s View unless something really big happens deserving comment from this Fan’s View. So, from the year that was in NASCAR 2020, this fan is glad it wasn’t the year that wasn’t…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 20, 2020 – 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

Who Will Be The Champ When Phoenix Is Done

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Unlike so many other things in this year of strangeness, we will know the 2020 NASCAR Cup Champ when the race at Phoenix this weekend is done. Can’t say that about a lot of things with such certainty but, this is one that will be known. The problem at the time of this writing is that they have to run the race BEFORE we will know.

2020 has been a year of adapting. It has been a year of, “business not as usual” and trying to make things work even with a bunch of guidelines that had to be followed to the letter or there may be a price to pay. Somehow, NASCAR managed to stick their neck out and try things that hadn’t been tried before – at least not in NASCAR – and even though there are no fans in the stands or, at least very few, the season has progressed to this final weekend of racing for the Cup Championship. In doing so, they led the way for sports to continue even though it was, and is, a slow process. I’m not saying they did everything correctly but they did manage to pull off this season in spite of everything.

So, the question on everyone’s mind is, “Which of the Final four will end up as the Champion?” Any one of the drivers entered in the race can win the race but, which of the Final Four drivers will walk away as the Champion? We all understand that this is one of those weekends where there could be two winners. One could be the winner of the race and the other could be the winner over the other three for the 2020 Cup Championship.

There are many that think Kevin Harvick is the heavy favorite to win the race but, he isn’t in the Final Four. Many expressed their displeasure with the fact he isn’t in the Final Four even though he had the most wins this season. They seem to think there should be some kind of provisional start for him because of his performance throughout the season. Unfortunately, he had a great year but they struggled in the last three weekends of the playoffs and that killed his ability to compete for the Championship. Like it or not, that is the way the season and the playoffs are set up and all involved agreed to those rules and the way the process of elimination works. As Kevin Harvick stated in a post-race interview, at the end of the year, the Championship is won (basically) three weeks at a time. He then admitted their last three races were not good.

As a fan, I have favorites and not-so-favorites in the Final Four and really have no idea which of them might win the 2020 Championship. Performance is one of the keys to their chances but there is also that other important phrase, “Make No Mistakes.”

Without a doubt, it goes without saying they are all going to have to perform. All of them have made mistakes coming up to this weekend BUT, they can’t afford any mistakes this weekend if they want to be the 2020 Cup Champion. This is not a long race and even one mistake in the pits or on the track could be the one thing that kills any chance of being the Champ.

I have heard many say they think the Penske cars have the advantage for this one. Even though Joey Logano hasn’t really had such a stellar season, he has had success at this track before and has had two more weeks to prepare for running in this one than the rest. Of course, I know that doesn’t necessarily mean much when it comes to the race but, it could make a difference for him like it did a couple of years ago. (I just offer that up as a possibility, not a definite.)

Brad Keselowski had a dominating race at Richmond and said he wanted to use the same car at Phoenix. From this fan’s view, that could give him and advantage although that won’t be know for sure until the green flag drops for the start of the race. With him being that confident, it makes me wonder if that may not be an advantage in itself. Personally, I think it will but thinking and doing are two different things and, with the year being what it has been, anything could happen (and probably will.)

The one I am least sure about is Denny Hamlin. Although Denny has had an extremely good year, they have struggled a bit here at the end of the season. As we all know, he was one point ahead of Kevin Harvick and it was right down to the final turn before he knew he had made it to the Final Four. They did have some mistakes and have had some mistakes so that makes me think it is possible he could beat himself when it comes right down to it. Unfortunately, he has done it in the past but, that is in the past. This year he seems quite a bit more confident and he and his team know they have to be as mistake free as humanly possible on Sunday. He has also had success at this track and that could help make him the 2020 Cup Champ when this one is over.

Chase Elliott has shown he can handle the pressure and face adversity when it comes their way at the number nine team. Although they have had some miscues and mistakes over the last few races, they have always seemed to overcome them. Chase has proven himself to be able to handle what ever comes his way and has had some pretty impressive wins when it comes to race day. This is his first trip to the finale but I don’t think that’s going to be a detriment to his chances of getting his first Cup Championship. I think it will more likely be whether or not Allen gives him the car he needs to run ahead of the other three. So far, he has made a lot of good decisions and has left it in the hands of the driver for all the rest. Some think Chase shouldn’t even be in the Final Four but it just goes to show how prepared even the pit crew is for this possible Championship run.

I don’t know who the Champion will be when this one is in the books but I do know we will all know when the race is over. It will likely also be the winner of the race but that isn’t a definite either. After all, this is the year 2020 and anything that can happen, probably will…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 7, 2020 – 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

Martinsville Decides The Final Four from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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This won’t be just another short track race. This will be the race that decides the Final Four for the 2020 NASCAR Championship. Well… one of those spots has already been filled and we all know it’s Joey Logano so actually, three spots remain to be decided. Some will say there is only one left to be decided and they could be correct. The truth is, unless a lot of things go wrong, it does look like the cast is set and not much is different than what most thought it would be like. Well… except for Joey Logano.

After a relatively lack-luster season, Joey Logano once again locked himself into the Final Four by winning a race in the round of eight, but I won’t. This fan wasn’t the only one surprised by that, but it did happen and, once again, he doesn’t have to worry about doing much of anything this weekend but showing up. He’s locked into the Championship race and the pressure is on the rest, not him.

Texas started out looking as though it was going to be a total disaster for a couple of the front runners, namely Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. When the race was delayed, the picture for them looked a little bleak and they would have a lot of ground to make up. Then, after three days of rain delays, the race finally restarted and, just about everything that could go right for them, did go their way and both of them ended up in a great place for going to Martinsville. Had things not turned around for them, this weekend could have looked a whole lot different.

So, let’s face it. Last weekend’s race could have turned out a whole lot different than it did and going into Martinsville this weekend might have looked very different UNLESS Hamlin and Harvick hadn’t finished the way they did. The way it looks from this fan’s view is, unless Kevin Harvick has a really bad day on Sunday, I believe he is pretty much going to be in the Final Four. Well, let me put it this way. He would have to have a major failure early on and someone would have to win their way in. The chances of him having that kind of day are very slim from my view and I just don’t think that’s the way the day is going to go for him and the #4 team. I realize I could be wrong but, I just don’t see him not being there.

So, if things go like I expect they will for Harvick, that means there will only be two spots left to get into the Final Four and that my friends is what is going to make this elimination race at Martinsville one of the most intense and pressure packed races ever. After all, this isn’t just another short track race. This is for making it to the Final Four.

So, I guess this is where we should mention Brad Keselowski as one of the top four when this one is done. Yeah, it would be a great place for that, EXCEPT, this fan isn’t so sure he is going to make the cut. He could be but, I’m just not “feeling” it. With the way the standings look right now and going into Sunday afternoon, it could actually be the Final Four but, there are a lot of things that could happen on a short track and mixing up the possibilities wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman are both presently below the cutline and either one of them could benefit from a couple of the others above the cutline having a really bad day. Just thinking about that could make some of the competitors sick to their stomachs. Don’t take this the wrong way but, if the dominoes fall just the right way, both of them could make it in. That my friends is not at all what I think will happen but I do think the possibility is there that either one or both could make a surprise entry into the Final Four. I admit a lot of things would have to go their way for that to happen but, “What If?”

Since I just brought up a really big “what if,” there are a couple of other “what ifs” to consider. “What if” one of the major contenders has an engine failure, or some other type of disaster early in the race and they lose a bunch of points to the ones not expected to move on? “What if” one of the ones below the cutline wins? “What if” Kurt Bush pulls off the win at Martinsville and moves on to the Final Four?

I suppose I could go on listing more “What ifs,” simply because there are a lot of possibilities but I won’t. It is more likely that the ones that have been running consistently at, or near, the top of the standings will continue to do that and there won’t be anything out of the ordinary happen at all.

When it comes right down to it, this fan doesn’t think anything really unexpected will happen unless maybe just one of those below the cutline could move up into the Final Four and it could be by points or by winning. I just reckon we’ll find out when the back and white checkered flag falls and the day is done…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 31, 2020 – 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

Round Of Eight Race Two At Texas

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There is one person that won’t be the least bit concerned of how the race this weekend turns out, he’s already in. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about – Joey Logano. After managing to pull off a victory at Kansas last weekend, he and his #22 team have two weeks to work on the car they will bring to the Final Four at Phoenix. There are some that think that now gives him an advantage for the Final Four championship race and it could be a repeat of his run for the Championship in 2018. After a relatively lack luster year in 2020 Cup, that could be the biggest surprise to many that had already counted him out of the running for this year’s Championship race, including me.

As I stated last week, I’m not the biggest Joey Logano fan. That doesn’t really matter all that much when it comes to what other fan’s may or may not think but, even I have to admit his winning last weekend was a very big surprise to me. From my view, he just didn’t look like he was going to make it to the Final Four this season. I thought others would have a better shot but, once again, Joey Logano won a race at the absolute best time he could and he will be one of the one ones running for the big prize in a couple of weeks. If he didn’t have the win, he would have less points than Chase Elliott. (Can you believe it? After all the 2020 NASCAR Cup season has negotiated, we’re actually down to the last three races of the year.)

Logano’s win kinda threw a wrench into the works and really changed the look of the upcoming two races as well as the look of the Final Four. His win definitely knocked someone out of contention for moving on to the final round, but which one remains to be seen. Now it’s up to those below the cutline at the present time to win and make sure it’s not them that won’t be in. Which of them that can over the next two weekends will make the final show but, even that isn’t guaranteed if someone unexpected or outside the round of eight wins. This fan believes that will make the racing at Texas and next weekend at Martinsville even more dramatic and intense along with high emotions just in case something out of the ordinary happens.

So… let’s talk about those drivers below the cut before this race starts. Some thought Chase Elliott would be in the top four but, because of Logano’s win, he is in fifth place in the standings. I admit, that surprises me as much as Logano being where he is. Chase hasn’t been running bad at all but he needs to finish at or near the front in the next two races IF he wants to make it but, a win would definitely remove all doubt.

Alex Bowman just about needs a win or the worst to happen to those above him in the standings. Winning would put him in and make it harder for several of the others, including Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott. He has been running consistently but has been lacking track position and speed at times. He could win at Texas or Martinsville but this fan just isn’t sure he is going to make to the Final Four. He is another to watch out for this weekend for taking a win and canceling someone out for moving on.

Kurt Bush needs to win. Without a win I don’t believe there is any way he can make up the gap that opened with his engine failure. He had been running strong and looked and sounded very confident until the engine failure that put him well behind in points. Even though he is still upbeat, like I just said, without a win, he is done for this season a least from this fan’s view.

The two in the most precarious positions are Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski. Depending on how they run this weekend at Texas will dictate just what they have to do next weekend at Martinsville to make the Final Four. Of course, either of them could win this weekend but, there is no guarantee either of them will. I’m not so sure that someone unexpected won’t win this weekend but I’m not going to count either one of these guys out just yet.

I think Martin Truex Jr. this weekend is in the same boat as Joey Logano last weekend. He needs to take a lot of points away from this weekend whether by winning or just winning the stages and finishing in the top three or top five. I find it interesting that two former NASCAR Champions have struggled a bit this season and yet a win has put one of them in the Final Four and the other could be in with a win. (How’s that for drama?)

All of this could become completely out of sync if someone outside the Round of Eight wins and those in the Eight have normal finishes just like any other weekend. Has anyone ever heard of someone named, Jimmie Johnson? He has been known to rule at the Texas track in years past. Oh, that’s right… he hasn’t won in long time and is retiring at the end of this season. I guess that means he doesn’t have a chance of winning this weekend either, huh? Yeah, well, this fan won’t count him out completely just yet…

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© October 24, 2020 – 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

Kansas Starts The Round Of Eight

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There are several questions that come to mind as the NASCAR Cup Series starts the “Round of Eight” in the 2020 playoffs at Kansas this weekend. I’m sure you may have different questions than I do but, these are the first ones that crossed my mind as I began to think about the race this weekend.

I think one of the biggest questions I have is will Chase Elliott be able to carry his momentum from last weekend at the Roval to victory this weekend? He has proven himself to be one of the best on the road courses but will he be able to perform at a higher level than he has on the one and a half mile ovals? Just looking at the playoffs so far shows us he has been one of the better performers in the playoffs. I can’t help but wonder if that momentum won’t continue and carry him into the final four with a very good chance of winning his first Cup Championship or at least making to the final four early on in this round of eight. I may be jumping the gun just a little but, he has had a hot shoe recently and he could easily be in Victory Lane when this one is in the books.

Another question I have is whether or not Denny Hamlin will struggle or get back on track at Kansas? He has had a strong year but, lately he just hasn’t shown the same strength as he did earlier in the season. In the past, Denny has made it into the playoffs and into the final four but not made it all the way to winning his first Championship. This is one of his best years and he is quite capable to take it all the way. He has shown a lot more maturity this season than in seasons past but I still wonder, will this be his year?

Martin Truex Jr. is also on my “what if” list. He has had a good season but it hasn’t been stellar for him lately. I think the first question that comes to my mind about him is, “What if” he doesn’t make the cut for the final four? I am absolutely not saying he won’t make it but I do definitely ask the question, which of the others will if he doesn’t? It could be quite misleading to look at his performance lately and say anything at all but, he and his team have struggled a bit in the playoffs. In fact, I would go so far to say that this may not be his year to make it to the final four but it also begs the question, has he shown the consistency it will take to get there? After all, the Toyotas have been searching a bit for speed, especially in the 2020 playoffs, just ask Kyle Bush…

From this fan’s view, I’m not sure if Kevin Harvick has been a little off his game or if he has just been playing it safe. Maybe he has just been playing it safe but if the opposite is true, the final four could look very different. For much of the 2020 season, he has been one of the top choices to be in the final four and it looks like he could be. Well, that is if the wheels don’t fall off (which even this fan admits isn’t very likely.) The main point is that he just hasn’t shown himself as dominate as he did earlier in the season. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m just asking questions about some of the “what ifs” if things don’t go the way so many have said they would. I admit, he has been one of the strongest competitors this year but, well… “what if?” How many are prepared to accept the fact if he doesn’t make it??

I really just have to throw this out there; “does Brad Keselowski’s performance lately really instill a great deal of confidence he I going to be one of the final four?” At times, I would have to answer yes but, he has had those moments that make me wonder. In this fan’s opinion, I have thought he was undoubtedly going to be there and then there are those other moments that I’m just not sure at all. Yes, it’s true. He did dominate at one of the recent playoff races and wanted to save that car for Phoenix but he has also struggled, perhaps even more than he expected. He may be able to use that car at Phoenix but it may not be for the Championship. In fact, I have expected him to shine more than he has, but then that’s just my observation and some have decided he IS going to be there.

So, let’s see… that leaves us with three hardly anyone has talked about throughout the last of the season; Alex Bowman, Kurt Bush and Joey Logano. Well, actually there has been a lot of talk about Joey Logano so, maybe I shouldn’t include him here with the other two. Let me talk about Joey first and then move on to the other two.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Joey Logano but, I can’t deny his ability and his intensity. He is one of the most hard-charging drivers in Cup, sometimes to his own demise. He has often tried to make things happen when he could have just been a little more patient and let certain things just fall into his lap. I’m really not saying he shouldn’t press the way he does or that he shouldn’t try to get all he can at any given time. I’m just saying he might want to have a little more patience at certain times and it might improve his chances for advancing to the final four this season.

Alex Bowman and Kurt Bush were pretty much written off of making the final four but they have both persevered and here they are, in the round of eight. Whether either one, or both, of them make it any further is one of the greatest unknowns of the 2020 season, (well, at least to this fan.) Either one, or both, of them could win one of the next three races and make the final four and it wouldn’t surprise this fan in the least. In fact, don’t you think that would put a large exclamation point on the year 2020? (Yeah, it probably won’t happen, but… “What If?”)

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 17, 2020 – 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 Roval Question – Rain or No Rain

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The big question from the Cup Series this weekend is, will it rain or will it not? Inclement weather couldn’t come at a more dramatic time in the playoffs since this is the cutoff race for the round of twelve. There are at least four of the twelve drivers that need to win if they want to stay in the playoffs and adding rain to the mix should make for a very interesting afternoon of racing at the Roval in Charlotte.

I realize the implications of rain make the situation a bit more complicated than it normally would but, racing in the rain is a decision NASCAR made several years ago. If memory serves me correctly, they haven’t had to actually do that yet and most of the drivers are concerned about their lack of experience at racing in the rain. In fact, many have expressed that they haven’t raced in the rain ever. That means they will have a large learning curve if the rains do come down, at least until NASCAR thinks it is too dangerous to continue racing because of safety concerns…

As a former small-time stock car racer, I realize there aren’t too many of you that care to hear about my experiences of rain at the track but, I will share a few things anyway. Most of the time the rain was intermittent or light and even when the track was too wet to continue, often we could dry it by all of the classes getting out and driving around the track many times to dry it out. Of course, we were small-time and didn’t have the same means as NASCAR to dry it out but it could be done and the racing continue.

If I can take another moment to express my experience, those were some of the most fun times I can remember from my old racing days. It was unbelievable how slippery the track got with just a little bit of drizzle coming down. Sometimes it would rain really hard for about fifteen or twenty minutes or so and they would clear the track, depending on the time, and wait it out. Those were my only times of driving on a track that drove like the old dirt tracks I grew up around even though it was asphalt. We weren’t actually going fast at those times but we could put our cars in a power slide almost all the way around the track just like driving on dirt. I’m telling you; it may not have been racing for a win but it sure was fun. It seemed it also made us better at handling our cars if some fluid was dumped on the track and that was a plus.

Now, that had nothing to do with what’s going on at the Roval this weekend but I threw it in for free just because I remember those times very vividly and I had a lot of fun along with many of the other people I raced with…

Because of the possible inclement weather at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the door could be opened for someone other than the favorites to show up in Victory Lane at the end of the day. It could also open the door for one of those below the cut line and needing to win to stay in, to make it into the next round. That doesn’t mean the favorites won’t be there fighting it out for the victory, it just opens the door to a whole lot more possibilities.

These days, there are quite a few good road course racers in NASCAR. The days of bringing in road course ringers are long over and, though there may be some that don’t like road courses, most of the drivers do at least make a good showing. I’m not saying all of them do but most of them seem to be able to handle the road courses competitively, whether or not they are running for the win.

The Roval is the breaking point for some and can be one of the most important races of the season for those in the top twelve going in to this one. IF one of those in the ninth to twelfth positions pulls off a win, it can totally wreck someone else’s chances of moving on. If may even be one of the drivers close to the cut line that ends up being knocked out of the playoffs. That’s what will likely make this race so dramatic. The possibilities are, or at least could be, an overwhelming disappointment for someone and a complete turnaround for another.

As a fan, I think it is pretty obvious that emotions will be high and tempers may not flare up immediately but, probably will at sometime during the race. The drama will only increase as the laps wind down and won’t let up until this one is done.

So… will it rain or won’t it? I don’t know but, I reckon we’re fixing to find out when the green flag drops and what ever is going to happen, happens…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 10, 2020 – 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 Pressure Ramps Up At Talladega

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well… it’s that time again. You do know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You know that thing they used to call restrictor plate racing. Yeah, that’s right; at one of the two remaining Super Speedways on the NASCAR circuit. This weekend is another one of those races at Talladega.

Personally, I’ve always liked the races at the Super Speedways. Well… except for the times when they did that tandem thing. You know, that time when they would go two by two, hooking up front and rear bumpers because it was a faster way to get around the track. That was when I thought NASCAR racing became completely boring. Actually, I was happy when they made it where they couldn’t do that anymore. That’s not to say they don’t hook up together in a similar way; It’s just that they don’t do it lap after lap until their radiators need to breathe a little.

As we already know, the race this weekend is the second in the round of twelve and it is important for those wanting to move on to the round of eight to have good finishes. Well, that is all but Kurt Bush. He’s already guaranteed a spot in the next round because of his win last weekend. In all actuality, this is the first of two tough races in a row in the round of twelve. Not necessarily because the tracks are so difficult, although they are a challenge, but because they are hard places to advance in the standings if things don’t go right.

I’m still not convinced that Kyle Bush will actually win a race this season. Maybe I should say, when it actually counts this season, especially for the playoffs. As the points stand right now, he is just outside the cutoff line for the round of eight. It is possible he could fulfill his own prophecy of being eliminated in this round. Sure, I know it was only in a post-race interview and he was relatively frustrated at the time but, from my view, it is possible he might not move on to the next round. He hasn’t had the best luck this season and it is possible he could be eliminated from the playoffs before it turns around. This is another one of those times when it looks like we’ll just have to wait and see.

Actually, a close look at the standings and the two races coming up, shows those in third to twelfth aren’t all that set coming into Talladega and then the Roval. It is hard to predict what the standings could look like after Talladega let alone the Roval. There are only so many points separating third from twelfth and a win by one of those in ninth to twelfth would completely negate the small advantage. Of course, some are more safe than others in that group but having problems over the next two weekends could spell trouble for someone that looks to be quite safe, points-wise, at the present time.

The two remaining Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the playoffs, Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott just don’t look all that safe going into Talladega. All it will take is someone below them winning this weekend or them having a bad finish and losing spots, and then moving them below the cutoff and making next week at the Roval all the more pressure packed. That’s one of the big unknowns about running at Talladega. There is always the chance of getting caught up in someone else’s problem or one of the possible multiple “Big Ones.”

Kevin Harvick is still the one most likely to move on to the final four unless his season turns completely around and everything goes down the tubes over the next several weeks. The chances of that happening isn’t very likely so I’ll just leave it at, he is one of my picks to advance all the way to the Final Four for the Championship for now.

When it comes to Denny Hamlin, well, I’m still not convinced his luck has turned around. Yes, I know he finished third last weekend and is starting on the pole this weekend (barring failure at inspection time.) It is a good spot for him to start at Talladega but it also doesn’t mean he will finish well and, judging from previous races this season and previous years in the run for the Championship, it could be that he doesn’t even make it to the Final Four when all is said and done. His advantage right now is the points he has and that is his only saving grace for now. Otherwise, he would likely be fighting it out with the rest for just moving on to the round of eight.

Something about racing at Talladega, especially in the playoffs. The pressure really ramps up, depending on where a driver is in the standings and you really won’t know who the winner is until one of them actually crosses the finish line ahead of all the rest…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 3, 2020 – 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 Twelve Opens At Vegas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There are a lot of unanswered questions going into this weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Some of them are: Will this be a Bush brothers weekend? Will Kyle Bush break his losing streak? Will Kevin Harvick dominate the field? Will one of the Hendrick teams finally break into the win column? Could the other Stewart/Haas teams steal the show? How will the Penske teams do? Can Denny Hamlin turn his run of “bad luck” around? Will someone totally unexpected win?

Well, those are just a few but, most of them might be answered in one way or another this weekend at Las Vegas. It could be that some have to wait until a later date and we may not know which way the playoffs will turn until we get to the round of eight. This weekend and the next two should prove to be very interesting.

Let’s take a look at the first one.

This is the Bush brothers home track. They want to perform well in front of the home crowd. Oops, wait a minute. There won’t be a crowd present in the stands. So, will that make a difference? Nah… I don’t think so. They’re gonna run the way they run and that’s that. One thing though. I don’t know how Kyle Bush is going to do and I do wonder if he will actually win a race this season.

I’ll skip over Kevin Harvick for now.

Let’s move over to whether or not one of the Hendrick teams will find their way to Victory Lane. Unfortunately, this is a harder question than it might look like at first take. There are four teams running and two of them are actually in the playoffs. For two, winning just means they add a win to their season total. That’s not a bad thing but it won’t make any difference when it comes to the playoffs. For the other two, a win would automatically move them into the next round and make life much easier over the following two races. Both Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman could take the win BUT, the way the Hendrick teams have been running, I’m not going to put down a lot of money on it. This fan just doesn’t think they’ve been running consistent enough, performance-wise, and they have been making costly mistakes. When it comes to them, well…

There are three other Stewart/Haas teams and it IS possible one of them could pull off a victory. The #4 team surely can’t be the only team of the group that can find Victory Lane although they haven’t shown up there in recent times. Of them, my first pick would be Clint Bowyer, but then he hasn’t shown all that much recently either. As for the other two, well, let’s just see if they can pull off the steal.

When it comes to the Penske teams, they are the wild cards this weekend from this fan’s view. Either Logano or Keselowski could win but they aren’t at the top of my list. Blaney is a long shot simply because his season has relatively fallen apart at the seams in my opinion so, when it comes to the Penske teams, I just don’t know…

There are those that say Denny Hamlin is due for a good week and could take the win this weekend. I am not one of those, however. I’m not saying he won’t make a run for it and I am not saying he will have another bad day. What I base my opinion on is what he said in a short interview a couple of weeks ago. When asked if he would end up in the final four, he answered, hopefully. From this fan’s view, that says he has lost some of his confidence from several weeks ago. After all, things haven’t been going all that well for him and his team lately and that does play with you mind, especially at this time in the season. Let’s just say he might, could possibly win and leave it at that for now. After all, he is still in it because of the points he acquired during the regular season.

When it comes to Kevin Harvick, the only thing I can say is that this season of 2020 has definitely been his year. He seems to do well without the practice and qualifying sessions and has definitely been the strongest performer in this latter part of the season. That is not to say he has dominated completely, but he has definitely been in position to take advantage of the many mistakes of others. If he continues as he has, it may not make much difference if he wins or not. He is a very good choice to win but, at this point, I’m not saying whether he will or won’t.

With all of that going on amongst the ones in the playoffs, adding an unexpected winner to the mix would just add a whole lot more intensity to the next two races in the playoffs. Even though Talladega is already what they call a “crap-shoot” that anyone in the field could win, I’m sure one of the top twelve would like to have a win at Vegas and not have to worry about Talladega or the Roval…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 26, 2020 – 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

Another Saturday Night Short Tracking At Bristol from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There is always something different about racing on a Saturday night under the lights, especially at Bristol. If you’ve been listening to the promos for this Saturday night at Bristol, they’ve been spending most of their time trying to get you to know about the beating and banging that Bristol seems to draw out. Personally, I disagree with their premise because I’ve raced at short tracks on a Saturday night, I’ve watched racing on short tracks on a Saturday night and I’ve seen it on TV. The thing I’ve noticed about short track racing under the lights on a Saturday night is it is pretty much beating and banging on any short track, everywhere.

Now that I’ve said that I don’t want you to think that Bristol is like every other short track on a Saturday night because it isn’t. Bristol is a “beast” all its own and it won’t be the usual short track under the lights race. This one is an elimination race for the first round of the 2020 playoffs. That means there will likely be higher emotions and intensity for most, if not all, of the race.

As many expected, last weekend at Richmond proved to be good for some and really bad for others. Brad Keselowski pretty much had the field covered for most of the race. From this fan’s view, I didn’t really see anyone that could run with him or anyone that could catch or keep him behind them. His was a truly dominating performance and may give us a little view of the possibility for the final four. For right now though, the final four is a long way off and there are several that just want to make it to the round of twelve. A close look tells this fan that there are at least six or seven contenders but there only a few ways for them to move into the next round and eliminate those already on the inside.

There are three above the cutline and four below. Of the three above the line, there are only seven points keeping them above the four below. Yeah, I know what you’re gonna say, “aren’t you missing something, Rusty?” Well maybe but, the ones with the biggest task ahead of them are Ryan Blaney and Matt Dibenedetto. Barring the fact one of these two wins or something really unexpected happens to one or two someones above them or the cut line, well, I think they are pretty much out of it.

When it comes to William Byron and Cole Custer, from this fan’s view they are still in it. Byron is just three points below the cut and Custer is only eight. Either one or both of them just need to gain that many more points than the three above the cut and they will both make it to the next round. That is by no means a given but, it is very possible they could be in and two above could be out of the playoffs.

Some seem to think Joey Logano is going to make a big turn around and end up in the final four and possibly even win the 2020 Championship. In my opinion, I am not so sure that he will make it that far. Yeah, I know he’s surprised us in previous times and is more than capable of doing exactly that but, I’m just not sure this is his year to pull that kind of feat off. If he does – and that is a mighty big IF in this fan’s view – I’m more than willing to apologize after he does. The problem is, I just don’t think he will and I can think of no one I would rather not see be the 2020 NASCAR Cup Champ than him. It’s nothing personal. I would just rather see several others do it other than him.

At this point, I’m not even sure Denny Hamlin will make the final cut. the only think keeping him in contention for the moment is because he acquired a lot of points during the regular season. That’s not to say he isn’t capable or that he won’t take it all the way. I just know he has been his own worst enemy when it comes to the playoffs and the final four. I am concerned this might be a repeat of previous years even though he has shown a lot of confidence and ability this season. I reckon this is one of those situations that, “time will tell.”

There are a couple of Hendrick teams that could make it all the way to the final four though I doubt all three HMS teams will make it. A lot would have to happen for that to take place and I just don’t think their performance this season has been good enough to put all of them in the final four. Personally, I think a lot would have to go wrong for the other teams during the playoffs for that to happen.

There’s a lot of talk that Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick will make up part of the final four. From this fan’s view, I don’t have a problem with Kevin Harvick being there but, I’m not so sure about Truex Jr. They have been running good but they have also struggled at times and that makes me think maybe they will or maybe they won’t. It is up to them and that thing called “Racing Luck… ”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 19, 2020 – 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

NASCAR Cup Playoffs Continue At Richmond From a NASCAR Fan’s View

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This might sound a bit repetitive but the playoffs continue tonight at Richmond. Sure, I know everyone that has any interest at all in how the playoffs will progress knows that as the second race of the Round of Sixteen takes place but there are some that just don’t care anymore. I can’t say that I blame them. NASCAR has made some – how shall I put this – questionable decisions since they picked the season back up after having to interrupt it for the pandemic.

It is this fan’s opinion some of the decisions NASCAR made were the right ones. It is also this fan’s opinion that most of those had to do with competition and safely bringing the teams back to the tracks without practice and qualifying to keep the drivers and team members safe. They have also worked hard to safely bring fans back into the stands. In doing what they did to get back to racing, this fan thinks they set the precedent for how other sports could return to competition themselves.

Now, without getting into the politics of some of the decisions they made, it is obvious that many are not happy with NASCAR and have decided to punish them by leaving them. As I said in my article/blogcast last weekend, I am not one that has left NASCAR but I also said I did not agree with some of the decisions they’ve made. Although I have not been necessarily vocal with my thoughts on those decisions, that, in itself, does not mean I do not have strong opinions about them. I won’t go into them here and now but, I will reserve the right to talk more about it at the end of the season if I think there is any value in bringing it up. I mean, after all, there have been plenty of opinions expressed and I can’t say that I have not heard my opinions expressed by others. The problem is I don’t agree with some of those decisions but I am willing to leave them on the sideline for now and see how NASCAR might deal with the decisions they’ve made after some time has passed. In other words, “time will tell” and I will be watching for now.

Just a few short thoughts from this fan’s view on last week’s race at Darlington. I’m sure some will agree with me and others disagree but, Darlington is a race that isn’t boring but is one that can become tiring to watch. I know it is intense for the drivers and teams simply because it is a challenging track that requires concentration and keeping up strategy-wise with the tire wear and changing conditions of the track. To watch as a viewer and fan, it is mostly waiting for the last fifty laps or so, kinda like Daytona or Talladega. Sure, the stages are more intense and interesting when it comes to the drivers wanting to gain points, but mostly it is the end result that matters.

Kevin Harvick probably shouldn’t have won last weekend. It likely would have been either Martin Truex Jr. or Chase Elliott had they not gotten together and basically took each other out of contention for the win. Kevin Harvick did win mostly because of that incident and I think he may be the latest recipient of what he claimed Jimmie Johnson once owned (according to Harvick.) I won’t restate it here but it has something to do with a Golden Horseshoe…

Once again, at least in my opinion, “the talkers” lucked out in spending most of their time talking about Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin being the ones to watch for being in the final four. They may be correct in that but, in the playoff race at Darlington some things changed drastically for some and the same thing can happen over the next two races, including this one tonight at Richmond.

Denny Hamlin is one of those that has been in the hunt several times when we get to this point in the season but has often managed to “choke” at some point in the quest for the Championship. His chances are better than ever that he will be in contention at Phoenix for the final four but, some are watching to see if he or his team manage to blow a great chance at being the 2020 NASCAR Cup Champion. As for my view about it, well, I think I’m one of those.

Tonight at Richmond will offer a bit more information about those that will likely move on to the round of twelve. Last weekend showed some improving their chances to move on and others struggling to find the consistency to do what needs to be done to move on. I’m not going to pick on any one driver or team but, it is obvious some just don’t appear to be up to the task.

When it comes down to this time of the season, the intensity goes up and sometimes the reaction to that is laden with mistakes from both the drivers and the teams. Mistakes by either could prove to be the deciding factor in how the rest of the season goes for any of the teams not solidly in the standings with points or wins. All we really know at the moment is that there are those that need to perform much better than they did last weekend and they need to do so over the next two weekends if they hope to stay in contention for the final four. What will happen? I’m not willing to make any predictions yet but, I will say some really have their work cut out for them…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 12, 2020 – 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 Playoffs Begin At Darlington from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Remember… this is the year 2020. What begins this weekend at Darlington many thought would never happen this year. After all, everyone had to take a break for the shut down and NASCAR was not exempt from that either. Some will point to the fact that NASCAR was the first to resume their racing schedule (even though it was altered from the norm) and managed to bring their racing schedule up to date as of this weekend. Of course I, and many others, have our own opinion of some of the decisions made by NASCAR during the process, they still managed to get all twenty six races in before this weekend. So… no matter what your opinion, the playoffs start this weekend, right on schedule.

There have been many setbacks in this season and I’m sure we all realize some have departed the NASCAR scene for good. If you’re reading this, it is likely you’re not one of them as well as I. I admit I am taking this opportunity to get some things off my chest and make my view clear. I didn’t agree with several things NASCAR did over the last several months but I made the decision to continue with my articles and blogcast even though I had very strong thoughts and concerns about several things. I don’t blame people for the decisions they’ve made or expressing themselves in the ways they have but, I made my decision and that’s why I’m still here. (Support me if you will, hate me if you must. I definitely won’t hold it against you. I appreciate you being here whatever the case.) I offer my view as what it is, my opinion, and I will not be intimidated in either direction for expressing it.

Now, if you’ve been listening to those talking about the playoffs over the last week, you’ve probably noticed they’ve already decided the outcome and which ones will be in the final four at Phoenix. From this fan’s view, according to them, the whole playoff picture revolves around only two competitors and those would be, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. Well… at least to many of those “analysts” I mentioned in bulk earlier. Actually, I prefer to call them “the talkers” rather than “analysts” simply because they do a lot of talking (just like politicians) and we’re supposed to take their opinions as gospel whether they’re right or wrong. Much like the afore mentioned politicians, they hope we’ll forget what they said if they are wrong or if someone other than the ones they’ve already crowned don’t win. (Oh well, I guess my opinion doesn’t really matter that much either, but I’ve given it anyway.)

Okay, I think I’m ready to get off that tangent and get back on the track…

Probably one of the biggest reasons I’ve chosen to talk about the things I have today is because, there really isn’t that much to talk about for the race this weekend. Other than this being the first race of three and the third being an elimination race for which drivers and teams will make it to the round of twelve, there’s not much difference in this race than any other race on a typical weekend in NASCAR. Yeah, I know if you listen to “the talkers,” there’s a lot riding on this first race of the playoffs; BUT from this fan’s view, it’s just another race until the results are in. The winner, if in the top sixteen, automatically moves on to the next round whether they are listed as number one or number sixteen when the race starts. If someone outside the top sixteen wins, well, that just means the drama becomes a little more intense and makes the next two races more important for those wanting to move on to the round of twelve.

One thing “the talkers” have brought out and seem to agree on is the fact that Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have won half the races of the twenty-six in the regular season. For some reason it seems that means their performance will continue all the way to the end at the Championship race at Phoenix and that is where I might disagree. One thing I’ve learned about racing, whether in observing or participating is, there are times racing luck turns against someone and it can last for more than one race. Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen. I’m just saying it has happened and could happen again to those that are the favorites. Look, parts break, engines blow and accidents happen. It can happen to anyone, no matter whether they are the favorites to win it all or the ones expected to lose. It can also happen multiple times in a row. Once again, I am not saying it will… I’m just saying it could.

I guess one thing should be included before I sign off for this week. One of the most prevalent discussions “the talkers” have brought into the conversation but it wasn’t unexpected by this fan. They’ve been asking all week which of the sixteen might have the advantage in the playoffs. Of course, their discussions usually ask whether it will be the older more experienced drivers or the newer, young guns. Yes, they do have a point in saying Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick have the advantage, if for no other reason than they have the most wins this season and have shown up ready to perform well almost right off the truck and able to adjust to the track conditions relatively quickly. They also mention Martin Truex Jr. as the likely third strong contender along with Kyle Bush finally winning a race this season and moving into the final four.

Well… I honestly have no idea if it will be the old, experienced drivers and teams or the young ones looking to make their mark in the future of NASCAR. What I do know is the younger drivers may not have the experience but they do have the desire. That alone could be the deciding factor when all is said and done; or… maybe not…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 5, 2020 – 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

Last Chance For Some At Daytona Under The Lights

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Aaaahhhh… just another Saturday night under the lights. Except… this one is a lot different than many Saturday nights at any racetrack. First, this one is at Daytona. Second, this is a Super Speedway under the lights. Third, this is a race that is the last chance for one or some to qualify for the NASCAR Cup playoffs and move into the play-off rounds to try and win the NASCAR Cup Championship for the 2020 season.

First off, let’s talk about the obvious. There are three drivers sitting right on what is commonly referred to as the “bubble” and they are the three being closely watched for how the race pans out for them. Of course, everyone already knows those three would be, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron and seven-time Cup Champ, Jimmie Johnson. Nine points separate DiBenedetto and Johnson and four points separate Byron and Johnson. That alone should make the entire 400 miles about as dramatic as can be BUT, that isn’t the only storyline that might take place.

Since this is a superspeedway and they limit the amount of horsepower and downforce, there’s nothing about this race that is normal. As everyone knows, this is the most equalizing race the drivers face. Pretty much anyone in the field can win this one. That makes for a very interesting, drama filled day, or night, if you insist.

Since just about anyone can win this one, that means focusing on just the three we’ve already mentioned Could be the wrong thing. Since there are those they can’t point their way in, there are those that can win the race and mess up the three that are hovering around the bubble area. I mean, this could be a very complicated day.

First of all, let’s just say that Matt DiBenedetto has a bad day similar to what he has had the last several races and Jimmie Johnson and William Byron finish ahead of him by more than nine points. Assuming that he doesn’t get any stage points or any extra points that would mean that he is out in both the 24 and 48 Hendrick cars are in. I don’t know what the likelihood of that happening is, but it could be that it does happen. I mean when you look at this and the possibilities, there are so many different scenarios that could happen for a lot of reasons. One would be that it’s a superspeedway and there can always be the “Big One” and there can always be something that happens to one or even all three and they are all out.

Not trying to make this really complicated but it is a complicated situation if you look at it really closely. There are those that can win this race and they’re close to the bubble area and, depending on what happens to the rest of the ones trying to get into the top sixteen, things could look totally different in the top sixteen. Seriously, it is possible that the Hendrick cars of Johnson and Byron could both be in, DiBenedetto be out and that would put all four Hendrick cars in the playoffs. (Remember, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman are in by wins.) Now, wouldn’t that be something to see? I don’t think it would make DiBenedetto happy and I’m sure it would be extremely disappointing but, it is one of the possibilities. In the same line of thinking, it could also be that Jimmie Johnson is out and his chances for being in the playoff and the championship would be over. That would just add to the disappointment that this year would be or has been for him.

There are some harsh realities that need to be faced on Saturday night at Daytona. One of those harsh realities is that Jimmie Johnson may not advance into the playoffs and may not end this year with a chance for an eighth Cup Championship. I do realize that would be a really long shot, especially the way that Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have been running. It may be a long shot, but it would be interesting if he takes it right down to the final four and has a shootout with the three that are in the final four with him. I know, I know; you’re saying this old guy is just a dreamer. Well, that may be true but, I have to say that it would still be interesting if it did happen that way.

Another harsh reality could be that someone totally unexpected wins this race and completely messes up the top sixteen because the three that are on the bubble in particular are either involved in an accident or some other reason takes them out. No matter how you look at it, it is highly likely that one of the three that I’ve talked about most here will be in the top sixteen and in the playoffs. The question is which of those three will it be?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 29, 2020 – 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