The Round Of Twelve Starts With The Monster from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There’s a reason why the call it the Monster. Many say it is a short track that thinks it’s a super speedway. Others say it is just a Monster to master and win on. What ever the reason, it has gained the name and reputation of the Monster Mile and not many will disagree with that. It is a one mile oval with high banking and extremely high speeds for its size. No matter how you look at it, it is as demanding as any track and possibly more demanding than some tracks that are bigger.

There is one that will be competing for the win tomorrow that has tamed the Monster eleven times. Even though he didn’t advance to this round of competition for the Cup Championship, Jimmie Johnson has even more incentive to add another win to his record at Dover. He may be out of the playoffs but he’s definitely not ready to fade into the background of NASCAR competition. After his performance last weekend at the Roval, this fan thinks he is even more driven to get the win that eluded him last weekend so close to the checkered flag.

Yeah, I know there are those that think Jimmie Johnson should have just laid back and finished in 2nd place. I also know that if he would have done that he would still be in the playoffs and have another chance this season to go for his eighth Championship BUT, I just don’t see a seven-time NASCAR Cup Champion not going for the win if he has the opportunity to do so. That’s just not the way champions and winners think. (At least that’s the way this fan sees it…)

Go ahead, think about if it was you and you were a seven-time champion that hasn’t won in the last fifty-one races you’ve been in. Would you lay back or would you go for it? I think if you’re honest with yourself (and the rest of us), you would go for it even if it cost you what it cost Jimmie Johnson. After all was said and done, there was a three way tie to move on and Jimmie Johnson came out the loser by the smallest margin imaginable. “What if” he would have passed Martin Truex Jr? “What if” he hadn’t had wheel hop? “What if” Martin Truex Jr. would have gone for the block and missed the turn all together? Wow! For only six letters those two words loom awfully large, don’t they?

Okay, I guess that’s enough of the “what ifing” for now. I don’t think anyone needs to apologize or answer for a seven time champion and I think he already answered the question as to whether or not he would do it again if he had a do over. His answer is that he would and this fan would expect nothing else.

So, what will this first race in the “round of 12” be like? Well, I suppose it could be a race much like the first race in the first round. There was a lot of aggressive driving and many of the top teams struggled that first week. It isn’t hard for this fan to think the Monster Mile won’t be quite the same as Vegas was. After all, Dover is a very fast track and, with the speeds they’ll be running, things can happen fast. It is a track that can have a big one just like at the super speedways. It is especially possible to have a big one on the restarts when everyone is all bunched up and wanting to gain as many spots as they can. That could mean the best of the remaining twelve have every possibility of being taken out by someone or something, not of their own making.

If I had to make a choice which driver I think might win that’s still in the playoffs, I would probably have to pick Kyle Larson. He generally runs good at Dover and, with the way things turned out for him last weekend after being involved in the big pileup near the end of the race, he could be one to watch for going all the way to the final four at Homestead. He has run really well all season but just not put it all together at the end of races. He’s been fast this weekend and this fan thinks he just might tame The Monster.

Of course, I can never leave it at just one choice for taking the win. There are just too many possibilities to make that kind of statement. From this fan’s view, there are several I think could win this one and some are still in the round of 12 and some are not. You see, I think Jimmie Johnson has a great chance at winning again at The Monster. Denny Hamlin is another hungry for a win, even though he isn’t in the playoffs either. Kyle Bush can never be ruled out at the Monster simply because he has won at Dover before. Kevin Harvick could show the way to the rest, even though I’m not so sure he will rise to the occasion this weekend.

I just don’t think there are any givens for this race at the Monster Mile. Any of the ones I mentioned could win or it could be one of the younger guys like Alex Bowman or Chase Elliott. One thing is pretty obvious. Talladega is next week and since anything can happen including one or more “big ones,” you can bet all of those still in the playoffs want to get a win at Dover so they won’t have to worry about a possible disaster happening there. So… you tell me how you think this one’s going to go…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 6, 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

MENCS Teams Take On The Roval Challenge from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It’s not just a road course and it’s not just an oval. It’s both and I guess that’s why the marketing geniuses came up with the name “Roval.” So, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams take on the Roval at Charlotte motor Speedway this weekend and try to move on to the next portion of the playoffs. For those not in the know, that would be the round of twelve.

We all know that everyone has been asking for a road course to be included in the playoffs and NASCAR’s answer was to come up with something new, the Roval and it could prove to be the rise or demise of any one of the drivers in the thirteenth to sixteenth positions in the playoff standings. In fact, it could prove to be a real shake up in the standings of all the sixteen drivers involved in the playoffs’ round of sixteen. That’s not to mention that anyone of those four could be thrust into the round of twelve.

One thing that stands out very clearly, judging from the practice sessions and qualifying, is that this race could be a wreck-fest. Judging from the number of cars that have been torn up trying to make fast times around the Roval this fan thanks it could be erase the tears up many cars. It has definitely been interesting to watch how many drivers – both very experienced and not so experienced – have had their problems traversing this course. Personally, I think it could go either way. I think it will depend on how well all of them can navigate the turns and straightaways in a pack and how or what might happen when someone runs off the course or several someones get together. That could prove to be a disaster for many being cast into situations not even have their own making.

There are places that can only be navigated single file and that’s going to make it very interesting when their side by side. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if there isn’t a slight redesign of the course either before the race on Sunday afternoon or at least when they come back to the Roval next time. I just haven’t figured out, and once again this is this fans opinion, how they’re going to navigate some of the turns especially the one that has been the most damaging do so many cars. Let’s see, that would be the cars of Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones and a host of others at the chicane.

From this fan’s you I have to agree with a lot of people that have compared this to one of the restrictor plate races. Now that’s not because the speeds are so high but because the attrition may be extremely high. All it will take is one pile up in a narrow place and it could take out a bunch of contenders. I think one of the major challenges to this race is going to be finishing. I know I’m not alone in that either because many of the drivers have stated that finishing is probably going to be one of the biggest challenges they will face the whole afternoon in the Bank of America Roval 400.

Of those outside the top twelve, Denny Hamlin has the biggest task ahead of him. At twenty-nine points outside the top twelve, he’s already wrecked one car in practice and he could very well put himself out completely if he wrecks in the race. His only hope is to win. (Well, that’s not his only hope. Perhaps I could better state it as his best hope. In other words and from this fan’s view, his chances are very slim.) Erik Jones is in a similar boat to Hamlin at twenty-one points outside the top twelve. Along with Hamlin, his best chance is to win but they both can’t win so either disaster has to strike, or the chances are pretty much over for the two of them for moving on in the playoffs. I suppose it could happen but, well, I just don’t think it will.

Since this Race has so many unknowns and so many questions included, once again the question of how the Chevys will do rises to the surface. The points are very tight in the ninth to fourteenth positions and we all know that Jimmie Johnson is quite capable of winning this race “IF”. After all, he’s only six points from making the top twelve. Since this is a race where anything can happen and no one knows what’s really going to happen, he could just as likely move on to the round of twelve as anyone else. And, by the way, It wouldn’t be a shock to this fan at all and I would have to admit I would like to see it. I know there are many that will disagree with me but, I just have to tell you my view even if it is a little biased.

So, the big question remains as to whether or not this one race is going to be wreck-fest or just a very interesting road course race with lots of beating and banging, pushing and shoving like a short track. Maybe that’s a little bit of wishful thinking or an overstatement , but maybe it’s just… well… you know…

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

MENCS Playoff Race Two At Richmond from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams take to the track at Richmond for the second race in the playoffs for the 2018 Championship in another “Saturday night under the lights.” Considering how things went at Vegas last weekend, it should prove to be a very interesting race. The pressure is on all 16 teams to perform well and especially those in the 13th to 16th positions. With what’s coming next weekend, this could prove to be the most important race of these 3 races in this first round of the playoffs. For those in those 13th to 16th positions, it is almost imperative that they finish at or near the front and score a lot of points for the weekend.

Now you’re probably wondering why I would say something like this one is more important than the next one. That’s because the “Roval” at Charlotte Motor Speedway is a brand new experience for them and hardly any one of the drivers feels confident about going to next week’s race. That is, if they “have to” have a win in particular at the Roval to advance to the next round.

Now I’m not one to say someone’s in trouble for advancing to the next round but, it doesn’t look good for the Hendrick Chevys or the Chevys in general. (Come to think of it, I am one to say that.) From this Fans view it appears that what I suspected all along is coming to fruition. The Chevys just don’t have enough speed to run with the Fords or Toyotas yet. Look, I know that qualifying doesn’t tell a complete story of what’s going on but I do know the qualifying shows that the Chevys, and in particular the Hendrick Chevys, are not starting in very good positions. That may not mean much as the race progresses and perhaps they will show some strength, but, it just doesn’t look good for them, especially if you’re a Chevy fan.

What does look pretty obvious is that Brad Keselowski is making a statement. He is actually going for 4 in a row after winning over the last 3 weekends. Although the odds are pretty high against that happening, I suppose if anyone can do it Brad can. One thing is pretty obvious. When it comes to money time, Brad is one of the best. There is no doubt in this fans mind that Brad does manage to show a lot of strength when it comes to these intense situations like the playoffs. When it comes to things like the playoffs, he does have a tendency to press harder and leave nothing on the track every race. I won’t say he does that all the time but, I will say that he does shine when it counts.

Even though he had a terrible weekend last weekend, Kevin Harvick won the pole for tonight’s Saturday night race and that could mean another victory for him in this 2018 season. I’m not trying to jump the gun and I do know that anything can happen but, Kevin is another one of those that seems to rise to the occasion when the heat is on. Fortunately for him, he had acquired enough playoff points during the regular season that last week’s poor performance didn’t hurt all that much. He’s not in the same predicament as the ones in the 13th to 16th positions but another bad performance could make next week’s race more important than it is at the moment for him.

From this fan’s view and in my opinion, Jimmy Johnson is probably experiencing the most miserable season he has ever experienced in the Cup series. This has been a season that if it can go wrong it has gone wrong for him and his crew chief Chad Knaus. Going into tonight’s race they find themselves in the 13th position which would mean they’re going to have a hard time advancing to the next round if they don’t win tonight or next week at the Roval. That has to be hard on the 7-time Cup champion but difficult times do come too every multiple championship winner in time. In my opinion, Jimmy Johnson is one of the most level-headed drivers in the series and I’m sure he can handle this adversity as well as he’s handled any others. Besides, there’s always next year. (Well, at least it appears that way.)

There are 2 Toyota drivers that are probably experiencing much of the same pain as Jimmy Johnson him being in those last 4 positions for this playoff segment. Of course that would be Denny Hamlin and Eric Jones. Both of them looked to be having good races last weekend but both of them had very poor finishes and not a whole lot of playoff points to counteract those performances. You can bet that both of them will be pressing for a victory tonight or at least trying to gain stage points and the victory. Otherwise, he could spell trouble for them at the roval next weekend also.

No matter how you look at it there’s going to be a lot of drama and intensity in the race tonight at Richmond. Some can’t afford not to win or at least finish very near the front and gain lots of points and some can’t afford to have a bad night or they will end up at the end of the line also. That’s one thing I like about the playoffs in the NASCAR Cup series. There are no definites and every week leading up to the Championship race holds a lot more intensity and drama than is normal in week to week races. There are a lot of “what ifs” surrounding the race tonight in Richmond. “What if” the top seeds all have a bad night? “What if” there is a total reversal or almost total reversal in the standings for the 16 due to some strange accident or something else? It should prove to be really interesting.

Now, “what if” somebody totally unexpected wins this one…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 22, 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 MENCS Playoffs Begin At Vegas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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OK, the regular season is done and the playoffs have begun. Well, that is, they will begin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon. Considering the way things have been going for the last couple of weeks, this could be an interesting start to the playoffs for 2018. I’m definitely not sure of how things will proceed but, from the looks of the way things have been so far it should be VERY interesting. With Eric Jones starting on the pole, well, that could just be the beginning of how interesting things could really get. I have to admit, this fan didn’t expect Eric would be the one sitting on the pole, though. I thought it more likely it would be some of the others with more experience and more points in the top 16 for the playoffs.

Now, you know I really hate to sound like a broken record but it does appear that the Chevys still have a ways to go and it remains to be seen just how competitive they might be throughout the playoffs. I have to say, at least from my view, that it looks like they may not make it past the first round or two of the playoffs. That’s disappointing when you’re such an avid Chevy fan as I am and it means that some of my favorite drivers I may not be able to root for throughout the whole process. Oh don’t worry, I’m not just a one brand fan and I like a lot of the drivers in the Cup series but, some of my favorite drivers drive Chevys and it has always been that way.

It does appear that the big three of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will do well at least in the early rounds of these playoffs because they still look to be running strong. Actually, with what’s going on with the Furniture Row camp, Martin Truex Jr. might be a little more “iffy” than he seemed to be a month or so ago. Of course, it doesn’t make much difference either positive or negative when I make that kind of statement considering that nothing is a given when it comes to NASCAR and, in particular, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The fact is, anything can happen from the drop of the first green flag to the final checker throughout these next ten races. But I get ahead of myself…

It doesn’t matter how a team has performed up to this point. What matters is how they perform from this point on. I guess that’s what makes this such an interesting format for the race to the Championship. Even though some of them have the advantage of the playoff points they acquired from the regular season races, it doesn’t mean they won’t be beaten or surpassed by others during the playoffs that have the same desire to achieve the same ends – and that would be winning the championship.

I mean, let’s look at the facts. A couple of weeks ago hardly anyone would have believed you if you would have told them Brad Keselowski would have won two races so late in the season. Many had already written him off as one that wouldn’t be a factor in the playoffs. Not only did he win two but he won two of the Crown Jewels in the sport, Darlington and Indy. Personally, I wasn’t one of those people that had written him off but I also wasn’t one that expected him to make it all the way to the final four. I have watched Brad in his time in the Cup series and he has matured and grown and is one of the best drivers in the sport. I won’t say that I always agreed with his attitude but I can’t deny the fact that he knows how to drive a race car. Now he is one of the ones people look at as one of the possible final four in the finale at Homestead in November. I’m not so sure I’ll go that far yet, but I do have to admit he has looked very strong, especially the last couple of weeks in particular.

Over much of the season, one of the drivers that people looked at as almost a definite to be in the final four at Homestead was Kyle Larson. Unfortunately, he hasn’t looked as good as he did several weeks ago or at least leading up to several weeks ago. I do know that he’s quite capable of competing with the Big Three but I’m not sure that the Chevys are capable of competing on the same level as the Toyotas and Fords. Even though I am a big Chevy fan, I’m still not convinced they have the speed to compete on that same level and it could be a struggle for them to make it to the final round no matter who’s driving them. The same holds true for Chase Elliott. He drives a Hendrick Chevy and they have looked good over the last several weeks but the Chevys just haven’t seemed to be able to show up at the front at the right time to claim the victory.

One thing that makes me wonder of how things might go for the favorites in the top 16 is factors involved in the different tracks they face such as the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We all know that the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a tough track and it is also a rough track. One of the things they may have to face all day long is a car that may handle through the bumps down low but not as well when they aren’t in the bumps. Setting up a car to handle the bumps well does not mean that the same setup will work when they choose other grooves on the track. They may be able to run the low groove fast but if they have to move up, it may be totally different.

It is hard to say who may have the actual advantage for this race on Sunday afternoon but if I had to make a choice I would say Kevin Harvick would be my logical choice. Unfortunately, the Toyotas would be the ones that could make that a bad choice.

So, in closing I have one question (or maybe two.) Is it possible that the Hendrick Chevys have been sandbagging all this time and could suddenly show themselves as the ones to beat? Nah, I don’t think so… But… what if ??

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 15, 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

Regular Season Ends At Indy – Who’ll Be In from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The race at Indy this weekend will probably be unique. Because of the rain that has fallen on the track over the last couple of days, the race will be run on Sunday without the teams having any track time at all. There was no practice, no final practice and no qualifying. Those things in themselves are interesting and different but that also means it makes this season ending race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway very unique.

One can’t help but wonder how this race without the usual track time the teams usually have will go. Not that we don’t think they won’t have any idea of how to set up for Sunday’s race because we all know they have plenty of knowledge and notes to go on before they ever show up at any track and unload off the trucks. It just makes this fan wonder if this season ending race will favor the stronger teams or whether we just might have a first-time winner or an unexpected winner that makes it into the playoffs and knocks out one of the ones in before the race starts.

From this fan’s view, there are a lot of things going on this weekend in the sport and it just adds to the stress and drama already present for this final race of the regular season. Some of the most interesting would be the news of Kasey Kahne and his recurring health problem and the news that Furniture Row will be terminating operations at the end of the 2018 season. If you pay any attention at all to the talking heads, you already know all of this. If not, well, then it is news to you and, I have to admit, the Furniture Row thing surprised me the most.

I know they have good reasons but to make the announcement just before going into the playoffs strikes me as strange. I’m just a fan and have no insight into what it takes to own or even financially support a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team but, from my view, it seemed they were just beginning to click and be consistent. Martin Truex Jr.’s team in particular is one that has been considered to be one of this year’s “Big Three.” I just can’t help but wonder if this will motivate or discourage the #78 team going into the playoffs. They have always been able to overcome adversity but this has to be added stress to all of the members of the teams from driver to pit crew. I suppose it could have a positive effect on them as a team, but, it could also affect them negatively in the weeks to come. (I guess time will tell on that one…)

I have to admit, being a Chevy fan, I can’t wait to see how they will do at the Brickyard. Although the Chevys overall have shown improvement in speed, from this fan’s view, they still haven’t found enough to win or even run up front consistently. Of course I know there are a couple of teams that have upped the game a bit, but there is still a long way to go for them. If it weren’t for Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, I wouldn’t even have much to say about their chances of making it past the first round of the playoffs. It is hard to judge how they will do at Indy but I will admit (though cautiously) they might prove to be formidable competitors in The Big Machine Vodka 400. It is awfully hard to say without seeing how they might’ve performed in the practices and qualifying. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see IF they have what it takes to make it very far into the playoffs.

Another thing that adds to the drama of this race is what could happen to the drivers in the fifteenth and sixteenth place in the playoff standings. Jimmie Johnson had a terrible race last weekend and Alex Bowman made some gains on him. Should there be a new winner Sunday afternoon one of those two would be booted from the top sixteen. Whether it would be Jimmie Johnson or Alex Bowman depends on what kind of race they have. If Jimmie has the same kind of race he had last weekend, Alex Bowman could pass him in the standings and, should we have that new winner in 2018, Jimmie would be out and Alex in. (Wow! There probably won’t be many dull moments for those two teams, huh?)

The only way Ricky Stenhouse Jr. can make it in is to win. The same goes for Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Daniel Suarez. Their motivation is to win – of course it is every weekend – but what their situation does is make the race all the more stressful and dramatic for all six of them. This is truly a race that it ain’t over till it’s over. How they finish can make ALL the difference in the way the playoffs go for any of them. For the seven-time Champion, Jimmie Johnson, this could be one of the most rewarding races of his career. It could also be one of the most disappointing. I don’t reckon we’ll know the answer to those two things until the final checkered flag drops…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 08, 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

MENCS Teams Take On Darlington from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It’s another throwback weekend at Darlington on this Labor Day weekend. The MENCS teams take a celebrating look back to their cars and it is definitely interesting to see. All of the choices for the throwback looks are definitely good ones, well, at least form this fan’s view they are. Some of them are more familiar than others but they all bring back memories of days past.

The Southern 500 is a tradition and Darlington is one of the oldest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Rightly called the track “Too Tough To Tame,” it is one tough race track and 500 miles is a challenge for every driver in the garage.

One of the things that makes it such a challenge is it is not a normal oval track. It is basically egg shaped. Turns one and two are completely different than turns three and four. That means the drivers have to concentrate on which turn they’re in every time they go around the track because each of them has to be driven differently. That adds not only to the physical stress they will go through in the 500 miles but also the mental stress. There is nothing about “The Track Too Tough To Tame” that’s easy. It will wear on them throughout the race and, in the heat of the end of summer, it will drain them. Possibly the only saving grace is that the race is run from the evening into the night which will give at least some relief from the heat.

There are other things that make this race even more stressful for the drivers and teams. There are only two races left for some drivers to qualify for the playoffs and this Bojangles Southern 500 is one of them. For most that aren’t in the top sixteen in points already, the only option is to win. In these days of “win and you’re in,” a win can put someone out of the playoffs. with the points the way they are right now, that could spell trouble for Alex Bowman in the #88 Hendrick MotorSports Chevy. Even though he is in by 79 points, a new winner for 2018 would put him out. He will be under more stress than some of the others to either win or at least finish near the front. If there is a new winner, through no fault of his own, he could finish second and be out of the playoffs.

It is hard to look at this race and not want a different winner than the “big three” of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush and Martin Truex Jr. There are several drivers that haven’t won but are still in the top sixteen. If any of them win it won’t necessarily affect the present top sixteen but would be a boost in momentum for them going into the playoffs. There is no need for me to go into a list of them. They can easily be looked up at nascar.com or other places. What I would like to do is mention a couple this fan would like to see win either this weekend or next week at Indy.

Admittedly, I am a Chevy fan so my first choices would be Chevy teams but there are others. Brad Keselowski just hasn’t had a stellar year. In fact, he has had an average year and is without a win although eleventh in points and is locked into the playoffs even though without a win.

Kyle Larson is another. Locked in but without a win and many good finishes. Ryan Blaney pretty much the same. Any of these are in whether they win or not but I am sure they would like to have a win to build momentum going into the playoffs and show they have cars that can compete for the Championship.

Although there are several I really could care less if they win, there are one or two I would like to see win. One of them is Ryan Newman. It has been a while since he’s been in Victory Lane and it would be good to see him there. (I’m sure Richard Childress would like to see him there.) He needs a win to get into the playoffs and you can bet that is his motivation going into Sunday night’s race.

I know you’re probably tired of hearing me talk about Hendrick MotorSports but I just can’t help myself. It has been tough to watch seven-time Cup Champion, Jimmie Johnson, go for so long without a win. We all know the Chevys have been at a slight disadvantage this season while moving to the new Camaro, but it does appear they are getting closer to becoming much more competitive. If that is the case, this fan would really like to see Jimmie Johnson win one of these next two races. Nothing against anyone else, but I would really like to see him be competitive and get his eighth Championship. That may not sit well with a lot of NASCAR fans but I believe he is one of the most underrated drivers in the garage. If the Chevys are beginning to move out of their slump and continue to show more speed, he could win this one either with speed or just good old Darlington experience and/or strategy. Who knows… maybe a little of both.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 1, 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

It’s Bristol Night Racing Time from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Tonight is not just another Saturday night under the lights… this is “Bristol, Baby!” This is the night many NASCAR fans look forward to and it is, and has been, one of the most popular races for NASCAR fans of all ages for a long time. It is a fast half mile track with high banking and there’s no lack of action throughout the race. It is also a race that could be a last chance for some outside the realm of making the playoffs on points to win and knock someone already in on points, out. Then that driver becomes one of the ones needing to win to get in. Man, talk about drama and intensity! There is no lack of it in this 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

Yeah, it’s really beginning to get interesting and there are some big names that are in by points but they could be gone if someone outside the top sixteen wins a race. Well, at least one big name. Just in case you’re wondering which driver I’m talking about, that would be seven-time Cup champ, Jimmie Johnson, currently fifteenth in points. Both he and his teammate, Alex Bowman, are on thin ice if someone outside the top sixteen wins one of the remaining three races, tonight’s included.

Once again the Chevys have a lot to prove and it is possible they could. Now, you know I don’t put a lot of stock in qualifying when it comes to how a driver and team will perform in the race but, there are three Chevys qualified in the top five. Until recently, that just hasn’t been the case. Actually, it did come as a surprise to this fan that it even happened this weekend. I guess I just wasn’t expecting it. Admittedly the Chevys have been showing signs of life recently, but it has been relatively sporadic. Oh sure, I know they actually have shown some speed but not always at the right times on race weekend.

It is interesting to this fan that the younger Chevy drivers seem to be the ones with the improved speed more so than the older ones. Now please, don’t take me wrong. It just seems that Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Bubba Wallace and William Byron seem to be getting the most attention these days when it comes to the Chevy teams and rightly so. From this fan’s view, they have been the ones running near or at the front and it is noteworthy. I’m not knocking the ones that have been around the Cup Series for a longer period of time or their performance. They just don’t seem to be running near the front as often as the younger ones.

Okay, let me give credit where credit is due. Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson have been around the sport a while and they just aren’t showing the same noticeable performance as the younger guys. That doesn’t mean they haven’t shown signs of improvement, but the results at the end of a race just don’t seem to be there.

Another place they seem to be lacking is in qualifying. It appears to this fan they just aren’t qualifying as good as the others. Just look at this weekend’s results in qualifying as an example. Kyle Larson on the pole, Chase Elliott outside pole and William Byron starting fifth. Jimmie Johnson starting thirteenth, Jamie McMurray twentieth and Ryan Newman twenty fourth. That’s just a pretty good example of what I’m talking about and, once again from this fan’s perspective, it likely has very little to do with how any of them will finish out the race.

If Kyle Larson wins tonight, it could mean he swept the weekend since he won the Xfinity race last night. He has looked strong in the practices and qualifying and very well could win this one from the pole. Chase Elliott and William Byron aren’t that far behind in the qualifying speed department and either of them could end up the night with a victory. I’m not expecting anything like that to happen but it could and it would really make a statement about the performance of the Chevys, especially the Hendrick Chevys.

On the other hand, I also see Kyle Bush starting third and Paul Menard starting fourth. It goes without saying either of them could win and what an impact it would make if Menard took the win – he is currently in eighteenth spot in the playoff standings. Along with all of this, just look at the Stewart/Haas teams and how they’ve been running. Kevin Harvick has seven wins and could be considered one of the top contenders tonight. When comparing the qualifying speeds of the top twenty or so, they’re all not that far apart. To this fan, that means it will be hard to pass and hard to pull away.

When it comes down to tonight’s race, I expect to see a lot of passing and repassing simply because the speeds of many of the top qualifiers are so close. I also expect it to be an intense race with a lot of emotion and probably a few temper flare ups. We know there’s going to be bumping and banging and likely a lot of contact with the wall, whether it happens on their own or because they have help. How do I know all of this? Because “it’s Bristol, baby!!”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 18, 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

Speed Is Key For MENCS At Michigan from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams take on Michigan International Speedway Sunday afternoon and speed is the key word at NASCAR’s fastest oval. If things go as usual, anyone lacking speed will quickly fall behind the leaders and probably be lapped more than once before the racing is done. That could spell trouble for any trying to make it into the playoffs either by points or winning.

First… before I get too far into this, I’d like to offer my congratulations to Chase Elliott and the whole #9 team for his first win in MENCS at Watkin’s Glen last weekend. He drove an almost flawless race and showed this fan there is hope for the Chevy Camaro possibly becoming more competitive as the playoffs approach.

Notice I said “there is hope” but I didn’t say anything definite about them returning to being in Victory Lane on a regular basis as the 2018 season continues. I still have concerns of whether or not the Camaros have the speed to win one or two more races before the playoffs or even in the playoffs but I will admit they are making progress. That progress, however, has been relatively slow all season and, on a high-speed track like the Michigan International Speedway, lack of speed can be a losing and disappointing battle on Sunday afternoon.

Think about it. Running down the straights at over 200 miles per hour and entering and driving through the turns at 185 plus miles per hour. That has to be some kind of experience for all of the drivers. They are averaging lap times at, or just below, 200 miles per hour. At those speeds, it doesn’t leave much room for errors. It also doesn’t leave much time for correcting them either. If there is anything that can be said about racing on this high-speed oval, I think it would be, ‘things happen fast.’ You know, that just might be one of the biggest understatements I’ve made in recent months. At those speeds, everything happens fast.

Last week, Denny Hamlin showed a lot of speed and took the pole position. This week he did the same. Last week he made a good showing even though he didn’t win and it remains to be seen if he will have a repeat performance or do even better than he did last weekend. The Toyotas have been showing good speed lately and this could be a good weekend for them, especially the Joe Gibbs Toyotas. There’s Denny Hamlin, Kyle Bush and Erik Jones all with good lap times and either of these three could bring home a victory Sunday afternoon. Daniel Suarez could be a contender and win his way into the playoffs but he did smack the wall in qualifying. There is also that other Toyota driven by Martin Truex Jr. and he could be leading the way when it comes down to race end. At this point, I won’t rule any of these out and it could prove to be interesting when it comes down to the final laps.

Once again, the Fords do look to have a lot of speed and both the Stewart/Haas and Penske camps are going to be tough to beat on Sunday afternoon. After all, according to what they say, Michigan is Ford country.

Brad Keselowski is still looking for his first win this season and Michigan is like a hometown track to him. In this fan’s opinion, there is nothing he would like better than to break into the win column for 2018 at Michigan International Speedway. He is in a pretty good spot as far as points go but, in this fan’s opinion, he would rather enter in with at least one win under his belt. Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and others all could be up front battling for the stage wins and the win and I expect they will be visible as the laps wind down with zero left to go. When it comes to the final black and white checkered flag, well, let’s just say it could be very interesting.

When it comes to the Chevys, it does appear the RCR camp has found a little more speed and Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman could be factors when it comes down to the final laps. The Ganassi teams of Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray both could use a win or at least a very good finish. Whether that will happen I don’t know but, when it comes to Jamie McMurray, he needs a win sooner than later if he wants to make it into the playoffs. Honestly, that’s about the only chance he’s got.

On the Hendrick side of things, Jimmie Johnson just about looks like he’s going to have win this one or one over the next three races. A new winner anywhere other than him just about kills his chances of even making it in on points – he’s getting awfully close to that cutoff spot.

Just looking at the way things are shaping up for the race tomorrow, it looks to this fan that the Chevys are running about one to two miles per hour slower than several of the Fords and Toyotas. Whether that will hold true throughout the race Sunday remains to be seen. It is possible they could still win but it is going to take some real strategy and no mistakes on the track or in the pits. Well, I guess that last statement holds true for just about any of the teams if they want to win this one, huh… (and many are pulling for Chase to make NASCAR history with two in a row.)

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 11, 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

MENCS Teams Road Racing At The Glen from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams take to road racing at Watkins Glen this weekend in a short break from going ‘round in circles. The Glen is one of the more challenging road courses and it is definitely fast and exciting racing from beginning to end.

It’s coming down to crunch time for a number of drivers trying to make it into the playoffs and, for some, this road course may be their ONLY chance of making it. Some of those at the top of the list (other than the usual few) are good road course racers and their chances of winning are better than at most of the remaining tracks. Not that they don’t have a chance after The Glen but the likelihood of out running what are called the big three are much less than this one. From this fan’s view, the pressure is on them and winning can make all the difference in how they approach the coming four weeks after The Glen.

Some of those players hoping to win are, Jamie McMurray, AJ Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Michael McDowell. Now I know one of those names isn’t one you would normally think of as being in the mix for a win but Michael McDowell shouldn’t be over looked. Jamie McMurray just hasn’t had a great year. He has had a good year but not a great one. A win would certainly do a lot for him and his team. He is a very good road racer and given the right set of circumstances, he could end up in Victory Lane.

AJ Allmendinger is one that many say is the most likely to finish up front of the five I just mentioned. This fan thinks he has a good chance but the competition is steep and he will have to work at it all day.

When it comes to Hendrick teammates Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson, well… they need to win but not as badly as the others just mentioned. Presently, they are both in the top 16 with points but all it takes is someone, or a couple of someones, winning that hasn’t won this season and their situation changes completely. All of the sudden they could be in the “must win” situations that others face with some of the most challenging tracks coming in the next four weeks. It could prove to be interesting… That is, unless they win. Then… well hopefully the Chevy teams will find more overall speed for the playoffs and at least be competitive and have a chance at winning the Championship.

The drawback for these I’ve been talking about is that the ones that have won the most races this season are good at road courses too. Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. look good but not nearly as good as Kyle Bush. Any of these three could end up in Victory Lane and of the three, Martin Truex Jr. is looking to repeat his performance of last season. None of these three needs another win other than winning is what racing is all about. With that in mind, any one of them could be the victor at the end of the day.

As a fan, I must admit I’d like to see the unexpected winner in Victory Lane at the end of this one. Taking nothing away from Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Bush and their strong performances this season but I would like to see someone else driving for the win at The Glen on Sunday Afternoon. I have a few favorites I would like to see win but, even more, I would like to see more than just three people racing each other for the wins. Sure, I know it isn’t always them running one-two-three week in and week out but for much of this season, one of them has been celebrating in Victory Lane at the end of a race.

Look, I’m not really complaining about the racing because the racing has been good. In fact, I would go so far as to say it has been some of the best racing to watch in a while. Even more, it has been a long time since three teams have performed in such a dominating way in a season. Kind of reminds me of those days when people won by more than a lap or two, but honestly, that was a long time ago. These days, with the competition so close and tight, it is amazing that the “Big Three” seem to be so far ahead of the rest and have been most all season long.

When it comes to The Glen, a lot of things can go wrong to cost just about anyone a win even when it may appear they have the race locked up. Wheel hopping into a braking point or wildly hopping over curbing and losing control are just two possibilities. Another can be missing a gear and over revving and blowing the engine. If you don’t believe it, just ask AJ Allmendinger from the race at Sonoma. Unless someone is absolutely running away with this one, this fan expects this to be a really great race. During the practice times and qualifying, they race the track. It can get really crowded when they all race for the same real estate on this tight, fast road racing track on race day and they all race each other…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 4, 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

MENCS Returns To Pocono from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes on the Pocono Raceway for the second time this season and it may or may not be a repeat performance of their last stop there. Martin Truex Jr. won the last one and it was pretty much a Toyota and Ford show for much of it. I will admit there were a few Chevys in the top ten but I’m not so sure they were actually contending for the win back in June. Those three in the top ten were Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott. No matter how it ends up this time, the Chevys are still struggling to keep up with the other two makes and it doesn’t look like that will change much in the days and weeks to come.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time lately talking about the plight of the Chevys since they
changed over to the new Camaro in 2018 but I just can’t believe they would choose a car that would be so handicapped in relation to the Fords and Toyotas. Honestly, this fan doesn’t understand how such a thing could happen other than it was the choice of the manufacturer for reasons I don’t want to go into in depth at this moment in time (but could have something to do with selling more Camaros.)

Next season the Fords will move to the Ford Mustang (from this fan’s view, another ploy to sell one of Ford’s most popular models), and it remains to be seen if it will be an equalizing move between Chevys and Fords in the performance area. It is possible the Toyotas could come out ahead in the performance area but they are making their own changes next season, too. From any point of view, next season should prove to be interesting in several ways but I’m not too sure the Chevys are going to recover their previous dominance until they either get a redesigned Camaro or something with better numbers in downforce and other areas of performance.

Well… enough of that for now. Let’s talk a little about Pocono Raceway…

There is a lot of talk surrounding the Pocono Raceway and much of it is hype about the lack of a turn four. They also refer to it as “The Tricky Triangle” and it is that. Look, I don’t have a problem with them advertising their track (which is rather unique) in any way they would like to make it stand out in people’s memories. (After all, that is what it’s all about from a marketing standpoint when you think about it.) I still don’t agree with them about having only three turns. The way I look at Pocono, it has six turns (and I base my opinion on the way we all talk about other race tracks.) At any other track, we say they are running down the back straight, entering turn three and exiting turn four. Of course this is the same way we look at the front straight entering turn one and exiting turn two. Why is it so hard to understand why many of us fans think Pocono Raceway has six turns?

Pocono Raceway is definitely called ‘The Tricky Triangle’ because of the way it is shaped and it does look like one. Ask any of the drivers and they will likely tell you there are at least two things about the track that makes it so. First would be the “Tunnel Turn” and the other would be having to shift because of the long front straight. Both of these have been items that make or break the race for some. Not negotiating the ‘The Tunnel Turn’ along with the bumps during the race and in traffic has cost more than one a victory or even a good finishing position over the years. Missing a shift and the resulting engine damage has resulted in more than a few with the same fate by making a good day go bad in a hurry.

The race on Sunday afternoon will be interesting in several ways. First, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Bush will be starting in the rear because their cars failed post-qualifying inspection. That gave Daniel Suarez, the third fastest qualifier, his first Bush pole and, judging from his performance lately, he could also end up in Victory Lane at the end of the day.

Jimmie Johnson will be making his 600th start and could have a great chance at ending his winless streak. Although the lackluster performance of the Chevys has been evident all season long, the seven time NASCAR champion and his #48 Hendrick team are quite capable of winning at Pocono and it is more than a mere possibility he could end up in Victory Lane at the end of the day. Once again, it isn’t something I expect to happen simply because of the way the Chevys, overall, seem to be at a disadvantage to the Fords and Toyotas. Add to that the fact that both the Fords and Toyotas showed faster speeds in practice and qualifying and it makes a Chevy ending up in Victory Lane an even more remote possibility. Still, that doesn’t mean this Chevy fan wouldn’t like to see it happen and I’ll be watching to see if it does…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 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

MENCS At NHMS from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will take on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway this Sunday afternoon but, from this fan’s view, there’s not a whole lot of anything new to talk about. Well… at least from the standpoint of which drivers and teams are fastest and expected to contend for the win. Probably the only surprise for this fan was that Kurt Bush won the pole. It still remains to be seen whether or not that will make a difference for him at the end of the day when it comes time to take that final black and white checkered flag.

A look at the recent history at New Hampshire would shade the end results towards the Toyotas. They have led a lot of laps at the track and Denny Hamlin, Kyle Bush and Martin Truex Jr. look plenty strong for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 in their Toyotas. Of course it’s never a given for one driver or make to take the victory in any NASCAR cup race. That being said, the Toyotas look as good for the win as any of the others.

Another thing about the Toyotas is how many wins two of the Toyota drivers have this season. With Kyle Bush having five and Martin Truex Jr. having four, well, that adds up to a lot of wins. Add to that the win by Erik Jones and you see just how strong they’ve been over the course of the season. They have won almost half the races so far this year and Martin Truex Jr. is looking a lot like he did last season when he won the Cup Championship.

Look, I’m not making any predictions about this race or which of the drivers might win the Championship, but, the Toyotas do look awfully strong, over all, and they have been looking their best on the season over the last several races. Even Denny Hamlin is threatening to join the mix and could be the winner on Sunday afternoon. I hate to sound cliché, but he is about due to win one and we all know he can (and probably will) win one soon.

I know it looks like I’m saying the Toyotas are the favorites to win on Sunday but I’m not. One look at the Fords and their performance so far this weekend kind of squashes that thinking. With Kurt Bush sitting on the pole and looking at the practice times of the other Stewart/Haas Fords, it does look like it will be another Ford/Toyota matchup for the win. Ryan Blaney isn’t looking too bad in his Ford either. He could be another contender as the laps dwindle down to the final ones and end up in Victory Lane. (Of course you know there’s no way I can rule out another possible win by Kevin Harvick either. He has looked strong almost every weekend and I don’t expect this one to be any different.) And then there’s Clint Bowyer.

The Penske Fords of Brad K. and Joey Logano haven’t made a lot of noise recently but that doesn’t mean they can be counted out when it comes to the final laps. They haven’t looked too dominant but they have shown some strength almost every week even though they haven’t shown up in Victory lane. Of the two, I think Brad would be my choice to take the win. Well… that is ‘IF’ I were picking winners, (which I’m not.)

Okay, I’m guessing you’ve noticed I haven’t said a whole lot about the Chevys. There is a really good reason for that. Mostly it’s because there just isn’t that much to talk about when it comes to the them. They just don’t have the speed of the other two makes. I’m not convinced they’re going to find more speed in the new Camaros they’re working with. From my view and in my opinion, I don’t see much change coming for them, especially by the end of the season. In this fan’s opinion, I really don’t expect to see any Chevys competing for the Championship at the end of the year. There has to be a reason why they are struggling so much and though there have moments they looked like they were making headway, they just haven’t been able to show it at the end of a race.

Personally, unless the Fords switching to the Mustangs next year is as much of a disaster for them as it has been for the Chevys switching to Camaros, I think the Chevy camps are going to have to rethink or redesign what they have. I realize Kyle Larson seems to have consistently been the only real bright moment for the Chevy camps this season but, even he hasn’t been able to win yet.

Yeah, I do remember the Toyotas struggled when they first changed to the Camrys but they didn’t seem to hit a plateau they couldn’t get past and now look at them, especially at New Hampshire. Though it’s true the Chevys have had some bright moments this season (and I stress the word “some”) they just aren’t competing on the same level with the Fords and Toyotas at all.

So far this season, if I’m driving a Chevy, believe me… I just ain’t all that happy…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 21, 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

Another Saturday Night Under The Lights At Kentucky from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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What is it about Saturday night racing? What makes it different and some would say “special” than just another race in NASCAR? Well, from this fan’s view, there are several reasons but none that any race fan hasn’t heard before. The Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway should be another one of those special Saturday nights under the lights. Well… at least that’s the way this fan looks at it…

There are a lot of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series fans that either used to race or still do and Saturday night was – or is – the night many took or take their cars and families to the track to enjoy their favorite past time, race against their competitors and hopefully win more than a few races on a regular basis. In fact, it was – and still is – the night that many people other than just drivers go out to their favorite race track to watch the races.

I know many of you have done the same thing and probably still do when you can. I know I spent many a Saturday night at the races since I was around five years old. (Wow! that was a long time ago.) Those Saturday nights are still some of my fondest memories and times don’t think I’ll ever forget. Between the years I spent just watching and those I spent racing, Saturday nights “under the lights” were the best.

So… what will it be like at Kentucky Speedway tonight? (Well, that’s a good question and I ‘m so glad you asked it…) It should be the usual intense, hard racing that usually takes place in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Although last year, Martin Trues Jr. pretty much dominated the race, this year may be a different story. Sure, I know he won the pole and looks to be fast once again this year but, we all know nothing is ever definite in NASCAR until the final checkered flag drops. Anything can happen in 400 miles and, when it comes to NASCAR, it very likely will. Now that doesn’t mean it will happen to him and keep him from a repeat performance but, it means something could happen to keep him from having a really good night or that repeat performance.

Something else that might make tonight’s race interesting is that there may be a minor feud brewing between Kyle Bush and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Kyle hasn’t wasn’t happy with Stenhouse’s driving at Daytona last weekend and has already made a few statements of how he feels. Personally, from this fan’s view, I really can’t disagree with Kyle’s assessment of Ricky’s driving last weekend. Some would say he was reckless and others say he was overly aggressive, but one thing is certain… His actions on the track did take out about half the field over the course of the night. Many possible contenders were all part of the “Big Ones” caused by his actions and, as is usually the case, he finished better than most even though he also had a rough night.

Because of statements made by Kyle at a media center interview, Ricky took offense at what he said and sort of made it plain Kyle may have to pay close attention if and when they have to race each other in close quarters during tonight’s race. Now I’m not saying he made any threats of what actions – if any – he might take but he did make it known he wasn’t happy with Kyle’s attitude. From this fan’s view, that just might be something making the race even more worth watching if Martin Truex Jr. – or anyone else for that matter – dominates the race and makes it a race for second place for all the rest.

As a fan, I really hate to keep beating the same old drum, but, the Fords and Toyotas look pretty tough for tonight’s Quaker State 400 (presented by Walmart) and the Chevys once again look to be struggling a bit for speed. Now, I’m not saying they won’t make a good showing by the end of tonight’s race, but they haven’t done all that well so far this season and the mile and a half tracks seem to make that point even more obvious.

As someone that raced Chevys when I was racing and owns and still drives Chevys to this day, I long for the days that Chevys are the ones to beat again. Since they made the move to the new Camaro, it has been tough to watch them struggle but I also know that hardly anything stays the same in NASCAR and I’m just as sure the Chevys will begin finding Victory Lane again, and probably sooner than later. Who knows… it could be tonight…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 14, 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