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Nascar Racing

Round Of Twelve For 2023 Begins At Texas  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Well… it’s time for the Round of Twelve to begin and it begins at Texas. This isn’t just another race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, it is the beginning of even more pressure and intensity as the Cup playoff drivers try to establish themselves as contenders for the final four. Of course there are still six races to go before that happens but, a good day at Texas could be the beginning of making that happen and a win could shorten the trip even more.

I know it may not make a whole lot of difference for how the race will go today but, the starting lineup is a little bit different than I expected it to be. The three winners of races from the last round are starting tenth of worse and there are some playoff drivers mixed in with some non-playoff drivers and it could make it a very interesting day.

Is it possible the whole momentum of the run for the Championship could change starting at today’s race? Well, although it could, from this fan’s view I expect by the end of the race things just might look pretty much the same momentum-wise. What I mean is, qualifying seldom tells the whole story of how the race will go. It is definitely important for pit stall selections but it doesn’t tell much about the lap after lap changes or just how the long runs compare to the short ones.

You know as well as I do, top qualifiers can drop like rocks when the race starts or one little mistake on a pit stop can change a good day into a bad one really quickly. If you don’t think so, just look at Christopher Bell’s performance so far. He is the pole winner in the three Round of Sixteen races and his best finish was third and that was last weekend at Bristol. If qualifying on the pole was all that important most weekends, the finishing orders would be completely different. As it stands from this fan’s view, winning the pole is only part of the equation for finishing up front and taking a win. That’s not to say it never makes a difference but it usually doesn’t.

So, am I saying Bubba doesn’t have a chance of winning even though he is the pole winner? Nope, that’s not it at all. What I’m saying is winning the pole doesn’t guarantee that driver a win. A lot can happen in four hundred miles and that is the part that is hard to predict, especially at Texas Motor Speedway. He has a fast car, proven by his qualifying lap but there are lot of fast cars in the lineup.

Lining up with Bubba on the front row is Chris Buescher and he, along with his teammate Brad Keselowski starting third in Fords, have looked to be strong contenders for several weeks now. Ty Gibbs, also in a Toyota like Bubba, finishes out the starting top four and he has shown himself to be a contender for a win but he isn’t in playoffs. If he wins today, he would be the first non-playoff driver to mix things up for the Round of Twelve.

There is a mixture of playoff and non-playoff drivers starting in the top ten and any one of them could contend for the win today. If Ross Chastain takes it, it could change his trajectory in his quest to make the final four at Phoenix in November. Even though there is a long way to go before Phoenix, Ross can be a contender for moving on to the Round of Eight and beyond even without a win at Texas.

Even though there are those that surprised me, probably the ones that kind of surprised me most with their qualifying were the three winners of the Round of Sixteen races. Of course that would be Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson. They qualified and will start ninth, tenth and eleventh. As a fan, I can’t really see them being happy with running anywhere but at the front contending for the win. Even though I don’t want to make any rash predictions this early in the playoffs, these are three drivers I expect to see in the final four, running for the Championship. Yeah, I realize it is early to be making any predictions, but still, that’s the way I’m thinking right now.

This is the beginning of probably one of the toughest, or the toughest, rounds in the playoffs. This could be one of the three toughest races in the playoffs and could say a lot about how the rest of the playoffs could pan out. Then again, in this round there could be three non-playoff drivers and teams that win and wouldn’t that shake things up for moving on for the next round? I mean, no playoff drivers with a win in the Round Of Twelve? Yeah, that’s something to think about as the season progresses isn’t it…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 24, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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Nascar Racing

Round One Cutoff Race At Bristol Under The Lights

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

This race at Bristol is more than just another Saturday night under the lights. There is a lot riding on this one and there are more than four drivers and teams that just can’t afford to have a bad Saturday night at the races. The four in harms way when the race starts are Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael McDowell. Three of them have at least a chance to move on IF some of those just above the cutline have big problems but Michael McDowell’s only real chance is to win.

I don’t know about you but I’m beginning to see pattern emerging in this year’s playoffs. The first one to win a playoff race was Kyle Larson. Tyler Reddick won the second one. Now, Christopher Bell has won the first three poles. Could it be that the third time is the charm for him. After all the first two poles didn’t really help him all that much and he didn’t end up in Victory Lane in those first two races.

I mean, just think about it. If he wins this race at Bristol, he would be the third driver to win a race in this first round of 2023 that came from a dirt track sprint car background. Seriously, Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick are both from the sprint car side of things where they drive up within inches of the wall. Like I said, IF Bell wins at Bristol tonight, the precedent will have been set. All of the first-round winners would be from dirt track, sprint car backgrounds.

Now, I guess you’re wondering why I would even bring it up. Well… in all honesty, I find it interesting to say the least. Could it be that simple? Could it be that we will witness a playoff that ends up being between some of the best drivers to come from that dirt track sprint car background?

In the meantime, there are some veterans that would like to show that they still have what it takes to win the NASCAR Cup Championship. You know their names. Names like Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Michael McDowell.

Being as this is his final year, Kevin Harvick is one that would like to move to the final four and leave his NASCAR career with a Championship. First, he must make it to round two. Going into tonight’s race he is in but, only by seven points and that isn’t much considering the track and its challenges. He can’t afford to have a bad night and, at Bristol, it doesn’t even have to be his mistake or his fault that could cost him moving on to round two. He could get caught up in someone else’s problem and it could totally change his opportunities.

Martin Truex Jr. is a big question mark for moving on. As the old song goes, “If it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.” That’s been the story for his first two races in the round of sixteen. Whether or not his racing luck changes in tonight’s race could make a world of difference in whether or not he advances even to the round of twelve. Another bad race and he is done for this season’s playoffs.

As I said earlier, Michael McDowell needs to win if he wants to move on to the next round. He can do it but, from this fan’s view, the deck is really kinda stacked against him. I’m not saying he won’t win. I’m just saying if he does, it would be the biggest surprise and story for the 2023 season to this fan and many others I am sure.

Getting back to Christopher Bell taking his third pole in a row and his chances of a win tonight, I’ll take a wait-and-see attitude. It’s really hard to see him having the fastest qualifying time for the third straight weekend and not having at least a little change is his luck. He and his team made their own mistakes the last two races and I am sure they have beaten themselves up over them all week. There is one thing I will say though. Mistakes, or the lack there of, can make or break someones chances for making it to the final four or even the round of twelve.

Taking a serious look at the standings of the playoff drivers, a little less than half of them are somewhat safe for making it to the next round. Two of them are already locked in by wins. One of them is safe by points and two of them would have to have extremely bad nights to miss moving on.

With all that’s on the line, the chances of this being a trouble-free race for all is about zero and none. Thirteen of the sixteen playoff drivers need to have mistake free nights and a bunch of them need to get a lot of points or a win. The problem is there are twenty others also in the race and the playoff drivers have to contend with them for five hundred laps.

And then, there’s that other problem that will stare all of them in the face for over two hundred and fifty miles… It’s Bristol, Baby!!!

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 16, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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Nascar Racing

Kansas Is 2023 Play Off Race Two   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Here’s something I bet you already know… the pressure is on again this weekend at Kansas Speedway. After last weekend’s difficulties, several of the playoff competitors are looking to make up for their shortcomings at Darlington. I mean let’s face it. Darlington was tough on a bunch of the playoff drivers and teams and some have very little hope of making it to the round of twelve if they have another weekend like they had last weekend.

Similar to last weekend, the Toyotas appear to have unloaded off the trucks once again with speed. Christopher Bell did win the pole – just as he did last weekend – and he definitely is one that hopes Kansas doesn’t turn out like Darlington. After all, he did start on the pole last weekend and he did lead over thirty laps in the first stage and the things began to fall apart. He ended up having a very bad day even though it looked very promising at the start.

Another Toyota team that hopes to have much better success than they had last weekend would be the number nineteen team of Martin Truex Jr. In fact, I would go so far as to say, he didn’t just have a bad day, especially considering how he had been running in the weeks before that, he had a terrible day. He was unexpectedly absent from the top of the field for a lot of the day. I’m not saying he won’t make a better showing this weekend than last but, I will say he can’t really afford to have a bad day. He did qualify third for the start of this one but, if the has a bad day again, well… let’s just say he would be on the verge of being a regular season Champion that didn’t make it to round two in the playoffs.

To round out this talk about the JGR Toyotas for Kansas would be the number eleven of Denny Hamlin. So far as qualifying, he struggled to be starting in the fourteenth position. This isn’t just my opinion but I am sure he isn’t happy to be in the middle of the pack, but it does appear he is confident he won’t be staying that far back for the entire race. But if he does, or even worse, he might just have a lot more work to do even though he had a very fast car last weekend and is starting in a bad spot for someone that wants to continue on in the playoffs. No panic for him yet but, things do have a way of not going the way a driver would really like at Kansas.

That brings me to the other two Toyotas driven by Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Of the two, Tyler qualified best of the two 23xi teams but Bubba did look to be fast and could be at or near the front when the laps wind down. He did win last year, didn’t he?

If you’ve been paying attention to the Toyotas at Kansas over the last several years, they have been running really strong and have won a lot of recent races there. There are five of the six Toyotas in the top fifteen and four of them are starting in the top ten. If things go as they have in recent races at Kansas for them, it could be another dominating day for Toyota.

Michael McDowell is the only Ford qualified in the top ten. If any one of the remaining playoff drivers needs a good day at Kansas, it would be him. Last weekend at Darlington was a disaster for him and, it almost goes without saying, he just about needs a win to make it to round two of the playoffs. That isn’t his only chance but even he admits he probably needs a little help from some of the other playoff drivers having bad days like he did last weekend.

Last week’s winner, Kyle Larson, starts on the front row with pole winner, Christopher Bell. Since the favorite and fastest way around the Kansas Speedway is right up next to the wall much like Darlington, he could be a two-in-a-row possibility for winning this one. Of course he will have a lot of company running up next to the wall and there are several fast competitors that are good at running up there with him.

Do I need to even mention their names? Yeah, I guess I should. Pole sitter, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick – (last week’s second place finisher behind Larson), Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace and several others. If everyone knows up against the wall is the fastest way around the track, passing could be a real experience for this four-hundred-mile race.

Only one of all the drivers can afford to have problems today at Kansas and, of course, that would be Kyle Larson but, I am sure he could be one of the ones that wants to win the most today. If he does, would that make a statement about how the final four might stack up at Phoenix? Yeah, it probably would but… that’s still a long way off and there are several others that want to win today at Kansas as much or more than he does. From my view, it should be an interesting, aggressive and intense Hollywood Casino 400…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 10, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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Nascar Racing

The Playoffs Begin At Darlington

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

What better place to start the playoffs for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship than at the track affectionately called “The Track Too Tough to Tame.” Well… maybe “affectionately” is the wrong word to describe the way the drivers look at the track that is one of the toughest tracks on the NASCAR Cup circuit. I think “respectfully” might be a better choice. If there’s one thing all the drivers have for the Darlington South Carolina track, it is respect.

Everybody knows how tough this track is and everyone knows you have to have respect for such a tough track. If you do anything at this track, you take what it will give you or it will grab hold of you and let you know whose boss. Many a driver has tried to tame this track and the list is relatively short of those that have.

So, as a fan I have to ask this question. Do the Chevys have a chance at winning the Cookout Southern 500? The last two weeks have shown them to be missing from the top ten in qualifying. In fact, the first Chevy to show up in the starting lineup is Kyle Bush in the eleventh qualifying position. The problem with that is he will be moving to the rear of the field for the start of the race this evening. That means that the first Chevy in the lineup for the start is Chase Elliott in thirteenth.

There are several playoff drivers starting much further back than I thought they might, at least for this first playoff race. I find it surprising that the two at the top of the playoff points are starting so far back in the field. Of course, that would be William Byron and Martin Truex Jr. William starts back in twenty-third and Martin way back in thirty-first. As strong as both have been running, it surprises me to see them so far back in the field, at least to start the race.

Personally, I don’t expect either one of them to stay that deep in the field. Well, that is unless something happens to either keep them there or worse.

Once again, the Toyotas have shown up with fast cars off the truck and in the practice and qualifying sessions. I guess it remains to be seen whether or not they continue to lead the way or if there is something else going on. Since I don’t put a lot of stock in qualifying as to how the race may go, I’m not sure that the Chevys won’t move up to the front as the race progresses. They might have a different agenda which I will get back to shortly.

The same goes for the Fords. They also showed up with good speed off the truck and qualified strong which means they will also have better choices of pit stalls – which is really what qualifying is good for these days – but still, I question is how they will fare as the race progresses. I admit the Fords have shown a great deal of improvement over the way they started the season.

Probably the one of the biggest surprises for this fan is the way the RFK Fords of Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski have performed in the last several weeks. Buescher has won three out of the last five races and, last weekend, he and his boss finished one-two at Daytona. If that isn’t making some kind of statement for how they might do in the playoffs, I’m not sure what does. The RFK Fords look to have momentum going into the Cookout Southern 500 and that could spell trouble for those driving the Toyotas and the Chevys as the playoffs move forward. If they run well tonight, that could be a sign of what might be to come.

Just a quick look at the starting lineup shows Christopher Bell on the pole, Denny Hamlin outside pole and Tyler Reddick starting third. That’s half of all the Toyotas. Admittedly, either Bell or Hamlin could have dominating performances and just run away with the whole race from beginning to end. If this weren’t Darlington, I might believe that but, it is Darlington and a lot can happen to keep that from taking place.

That brings me back to what I mentioned earlier about the Chevys and a different agenda. Normally, the Chevys perform well at Darlington and yes, I know the other makes do also. It just makes me wonder if, seeing how poorly all of the Chevys qualified, they might have decided sacrifice short run speed in qualifying for long run speed in the race or if they just totally missed the setups for this race at Darlington. I admit the latter choice is more likely but, since this is the first round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs, they very well could have the strategy of setting up for the long runs. And that my friends is what we won’t know until the race is over and there is a Chevy sitting in Victory Lane…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 3, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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Nascar Racing

Daytona And One Spot Left To Make The Playoffs  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

The pressure is on. It’s the last race of the 2023 NASCAR cup regular season. Two things are on the line at the same time. First is the regular season Championship. Truex Jr. is number one right now but there is a long shot chance he could lose it to Denny Hamlin. Second, there’s one spot kind of open to make the 2023 playoffs and seventeen drivers and their teams that want that spot. Every one of those seventeen wants to make the playoffs and winning is the key to doing that. Does that sound like there might be just the slightest little bit of drama, aggression and intensity in tonight’s race? Yeah, I agree with you. It’s going to be intense from beginning to end.

Daytona is a race that anyone can win. There are fifteen drivers locked into the playoffs and they have nothing to lose. You can bet they’re going to be pressing the envelope to try and win. There’s one that’s kind of in but could be out depending on which of the other thirty-eight entries might win and that’s Bubba Wallace. He can be in even if he doesn’t win but, it’s not a lock for him. He can still point his way in although a win would make it definite for him.

I’m having trouble figuring out what’s going on with the Chevys this weekend. There is only one Chevy in the top sixteen qualifiers and that would be the Hendrick Chevy of Kyle Larson. Quite often, the Hendrick Chevys lead the way at Daytona – or, at least they usually did. Lately, the Fords have been showing a lot of speed at Daytona this weekend is no different. There are twelve of them in the top sixteen starters and three of them in the top five.

So, here’s a question I don’t have a definite answer for. Did the Chevys choose their setup for the race or did they just flat miss it off the truck? If the first answer is correct, they may have guessed the track conditions for tonight would better match their beginning setups. If the second answer is correct, well… let’s just say they have their work cut out for them. According to the fastest two Fords, they are way off pace. From this fan’s view, I’m not sure which of those might be truer but, either way should make for an interesting four hundred miles.

Two unexpected qualifiers would be Ty Gibbs and Bubba Wallace. Bubba qualified fourth and Gibbs fifth. During qualifying, they both showed themselves to be fairly consistent in speed and they both need and could be contenders for the win tonight. The other three Toyotas didn’t qualify as well and it makes me wonder if their setups were different and more suited for the race rather than qualifying. Or maybe the Toyotas and the Chevys were just trying something different to see how it would work. Any way you look at it, it is different between the top qualifiers and the others.

Now that I’ve said all of that, I do have to bring up how I feel about qualifying laps compared to racing laps. If you’re like me, you know that qualifying, at least these days, mostly only gives us where the pit stall will be for the individual teams. I admit that pit stalls can make all the difference in a race but I also admit that often the top qualifiers drop like rocks when the race starts. Sometimes they recover and move back up in the field, but at other times, they might have been top qualifiers but never even come close to contending for the win. So, once again I am at a loss to guess how the top qualifiers will do in tonight’s race at Daytona.

There are a lot of unknowns going into the race tonight. Will Bubba come out of the night still qualified for the playoffs? Will there be a new winner tonight and force Bubba below the cutline? Can Chase Elliott finally turn things around tonight and come away with a win or will he miss the 2023 playoffs? What about Alex Bowman and the possibility of him winning his way into the playoffs? And then there’s AJ Allmendinger. His only hope is to win and he could do that very thing. The same goes for Austin Dillon, Austin Cindric and a host of others.

So let’s face reality. There are seventeen drivers and teams not qualified for the playoffs. There are seventeen drivers and teams that want to win tonight at Daytona. Some of them have better chances than some of the others and, since this is Daytona, it is anyone’s race to win and anyone’s guess which of them will.

As a fan, I expect tonight’s race to be extremely intense and filled with drama and lots of emotion. It is anyone’s race to win and, unfortunately, it is anyone’s race to lose. Which ever way it goes, the sixteen qualified for the playoffs will be set when this one is over…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 26, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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Nascar Racing

The Glen Means Two To Go To Make The Show   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There’s a lot riding on the race today at The Glen. There are so many possibilities that could play out and any one of them could change which of the drivers will be qualified for the playoffs. There are some above the cutline and some below it and, the way things have been going, just about any one of those things could happen and shake up what’s left for qualifying for the playoffs.

Just a quick look at the top twenty starters shows a number of very good road course racers and some of them absolutely have to win to get in the playoffs and, just to add to the drama, just about any of them could win. Some of them have a better chance than some of the others, but still, a few of them should be considered as likely to win.

So… which ones am I talking about here? Well, rather than name off a bunch of names, I’ll just start off by talking about some of the more interesting stories. (Well… at least form this fan’s view anyway.)

Now I’m not saying anything about the ones above the cutline not having a chance. I’m just saying there are a bunch of drivers just below the cutline that could pull off a win. No, I’m not saying all of them could make the jump into the playoff picture but there are some that really stand out as possibles.

Let’s take a look at Daniel Suarez. Last weekend at Indy he was a contender for a lot of the race. He sits just twenty-eight points outside the top sixteen. He is a good road course racer and he could just as easily win or gain a bunch of points by running strong from the beginning to the end without a win at the Glen. It is pretty obvious he is determined to make as big a splash as he can this afternoon and it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise to see him do well or even win. Like several of the others, he needs a mistake-free run for ninety laps at The Glen and he just might pull it off.

Ty Gibbs is another that needs to have a good points day but along with it, he really needs a win if he hopes to get in. Whether he can get it at The Glen or next weekend at Daytona is the question and the other question is can he run a mistake-free race at either place. I believe he can but I also know how easy it is to make a costly mistake that could put him way back in the field and down in points.

The next two need a win in the worst way because that is just about the only way either of them can make it in to the top sixteen. These two long-shots are very capable of winning and one of them has already won at The Glen. Of course you’ve already figured out I’m talking about chase Elliott and Alex Bowman. Even though they both had very good days last weekend at Indy, the only way they both can really make it in to the playoffs is to win and, since only one of them can win this race, the other one will have to win next weekend at Daytona. (Do you really know anyone that wants to go to Daytona having to win to get in the playoffs? Yeah, that’s what I thought… me neither.) Even though I know Chase Elliott is the better choice of these two to possibly take the win today, I wouldn’t put it past Alex to battle for the win and lock himself into the playoffs.
There are those that are talking positively about Michael McDowell possibly making it two in a row. Honestly, I can see that happening but a lot of things have to go right for him to win. Yes, he did qualify well and he is showing good speed again this weekend but, I’m not so sure he and his team can actually pull it off. One reason I say that is because of the speed shown by Denny Hamlin to take the pole. It is possible he could dominate the day with the speeds he ran in qualifying and, since the Toyotas have been running very strong lately, that could happen.
Let’s face it. There are already thirteen drivers qualified for the playoffs with wins and that leaves only three spots available for someone to make it into the playoffs. Going into today’s race those three places are filled by drivers with points. Two of those drivers, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski, are relatively safe because of the number of points they have. Bubba Wallace is in a good spot but he absolutely can’t afford to have a bad day and, if there is a new winner and it’s not him, he drops to at least the seventeenth spot and would either have to point his way in or win at Daytona next weekend.
Like I said at the beginning… There’s a lot riding on today’s race at The Glen and I believe – along with many others – this just might be one of the most intense and drama-filled races at The Glen we’ve seen in a very long time. There is so much on the line and, depending on who wins, so much pressure on those not yet qualified to win that I expect to see very aggressive driving from start to finish. Will Denny Hamlin dominate the day or will someone like Michael McDowell take the win.
Did I mention there are a bunch of drivers starting in the top ten or fifteen quite capable of winning today’s race and they all want to win this one as much as anyone? Yeah, the way this one is shaping up, it’s gonna be a good one and I expect it’s going to shake things up in a big way…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 20, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

Road Racing At Indy

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

It’s road racin’ at Indy once again and, because the time is getting short to make the playoffs, this race at Indy is probably more important than it would normally be. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be important anyway but it is saying the intensity is way elevated and determination to perform better than expected is on the minds of everyone that even has the slightest chance of making the playoffs. Winning is the main intention of all, even more so than on a normal race weekend.

I’m not sure where to start today. There is so much drama going on just above and just below the cut line. Some are relatively safe above the cut. Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski will make the playoffs on points UNLESS something really out of the ordinary happens over the next three weeks. Of course, either one of them could win today at Indy and remove all doubt.

The real drama is at the cutline. Bubba Wallace is in a good spot at plus fifty-eight but he can’t afford to have a bad day at Indy. Ty Gibbs is in a much more precarious position being only three points to the plus side of the line. A bad day for him could mean having to struggle for the next couple of races to get back what could be lost. Once again, looking at the possibilities and capabilities of both drivers, either one of them could win and remove all doubt of their making the playoffs.

Where it gets really interesting is below the cut. Michael McDowell and Daniel Suarez sit just below the cutline and a good day at Indy for either of them could mean a real boost for them and their teams. As close as the points are between them and Ty Gibbs, anything could happen today and all three of them could be better or worse off, depending on which way things go. All three of them are good road racers and all three of them need a good day but, a bad day could affect their hopes for the post season. As it stands right now, they are all in the hunt and they are all able to point their way into the playoffs.

Of the three I just mentioned, one of them may have a slight advantage over the other two. Of course, I’m sure you know I’m talking about Daniel Suarez. If he can maintain the pace he set in qualifying, he could have a major advantage over the rest of the entire field. Although this fan doesn’t think it very likely, with him taking the pole, he could possibly take the win and dominate the entire day at Indy. Like I said, I don’t think that will happen but it could and, wouldn’t that shake up the possibilities for the others trying to make the playoffs. Daniel is only five points below the cut. A good day or a win or both could really make things interesting in the points situation.

Michael McDowell is also in the same situation. He qualified fourth and could end up with a very good day if things go his way. Imagine if he pulled off the win. Not only would that put him in the playoffs but it would also make for a real shakeup of the points situation for those wanting to make the playoffs and are now in contention unless someone – and I hate to use the word but here goes – “unexpected” wins. Like Daniel, Michael is quite capable of winning on a road course and a win would cinch his place in the playoffs.

If either of those two possibilities happens today, it will make a tough situation even tougher for several drivers trying to make the cut and, in particular, drivers like Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman both of which are desperately trying to make the playoffs. Lately, their luck hasn’t been all that good so, at least from this fan’s view, they can’t afford to add to the complications of their making up points to qualify for the playoffs. Both of them have been going through a tough time of finishes even with fast racecars and both need at the very least, a good day if not a win. I don’t think either of them wants to go to Daytona in a must win situation.

Add to all of this the drivers Shane Van Gisbergen, Brodie Kostecki and Kamui Kobyashi. Man! Talk about some endless possibilities for an exciting day at the races. That’s what this is all about.

Shucks, we haven’t even mentioned all the other drivers quite capable of winning on a road course. You know, drivers like Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola, Ross Chastain and a whole host of others. If that doesn’t add up to a race with intensity and drama and, at the drop of the green flag, a bunch of unknowns and endless possibilities I don’t know what does. One thing is certain, at least from this fan’s view; Winning is the key and every one of them knows that…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 13, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

Michigan Means Four To Go To Make The Playoffs  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

The regular season is quickly winding down to its end and this weekend’s race at Michigan means counting this one, there are only four more races to go for drivers to make the playoffs. Wow! Where did this season go? It seems like just a few weeks ago we started things off at the Coliseum in L.A. Now here we are… just four to go in the regular season and then…The Playoffs!

There is a lot on the line for the Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway this weekend. Those just below the cutline and those just above the cutline desperately want to have a good race and come away with better results in the standings or a win and remove the pressure of qualifying for the playoffs. Like I said… time is short.

Taking an honest look at the real situation, for some their only chance to make the playoffs is to win. For others, they just need a good points day while others above the cut have bad days. For some that is just wishful thinking but judging from previous weeks, it could happen and that is their hope.

Let’s face it. Michigan is big and is fast and there’s lots of room to race. It can also be a bit treacherous just because of the speeds. With the speeds they will be running, if something goes wrong it will go wrong in a hurry and will likely take more than one or two out of contention for the day. That’s another thing about taking an honest look at the race as a whole. Judging from just about every race this season, the aggression will be high and just about every lap will be run as though it is the last lap. If that doesn’t set things up for a possible “Big One” especially on restarts, then this fan doesn’t know what will.

The burning question on everyone’s mind seems to focus on the Fords. Since they have pretty much dominated the last several years, the question is will their dominance continue? Along with that question, many have asked it Kevin Harvick will win another Michigan race and add to the six he already has. That’s a good question and deserves at least a little more of a look at his situation.

In the past Harvick has had strong performances at M.I.S. Although he is quite safe points-wise for making the playoffs, he would like nothing better than to take this win and work off that momentum going into the playoffs and possibly finish off his NASCAR Cup career with another Championship. Although that may be a long shot at this point, just think of the drama if he wins Michigan, goes on to be in the final four in the playoffs and actually wins the 2023 NASCAR Championship. Sound far-fetched? It could happen and it couldn’t happen to a better man than Kevin Harvick. (Think back to his boss, Tony Stewart. A different time but still an interesting story of winning a Championship.)

Of course, there is always a villain in every story. This time it is the Toyotas and the speed they have been showing up to the tracks with lately. The same goes for this week. the Toyotas definitely have been showing good speed off the truck and their performance in the races has been, well… do I dare say spectacular? In particular, the way has been led by Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin and, this weekend, Christopher Bell sits on the pole and will lead the pack to the green and possibly to the final checkered flag.

Ross Chastain may have something to say about the Toyotas or Kevin Harvick taking the victory today at Michigan. He starts outside the pole in his Chevy on the front row and could take his second win for the year.

Therein is the rub for this part of the 2023 NASCAR Cup season. The Chevys started out the season looking to have a leg up over the other two manufacturers. In particular, the Hendrick Chevys of William Byron and Kyle Larson. Add to that the performance of Kyle Bush out of the Richard Childers camp. Now it appears things have changed a bit and the Fords and Toyotas are the expected better performers week in and week out. That usually happens almost every season with one make or another but this time just feels different to this fan. The Toyotas seemed to struggle at the first of the season and now look dominant.

The last thing I will say about today’s race at Michigan is qualifying speeds can be deceptive and, though I know I’ve said this before, they once again may not mean a thing. Today it will be about speed over the expected long green flag runs. Could be that circumstances dictate the winner and it could be someone totally unexpected or one that that needs a win in the worst way. Then again… well… it could be someone completely expected and they could dominate the whole race.

Yeah, that could be but that’s not what I expect…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 6, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

Chances Winding Down For Making The Playoffs  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

After last weekend’s at Pocono, there’s no telling what this race at Richmond Raceway will be like. I mean, the tension and pressure to perform is higher this weekend than it was last weekend and, like the title says, the chances for those not already qualified for making the playoffs are winding down and it is getting tougher and tougher with every race. There are a few that can still point their way in but, even those are becoming less and less. Winning is a definite way to guarantee making it in and desperation is becoming evident with every lap, especially with those on both sides of the cut-off line.

Now, why would I bring it up the way I just did? Well, in my opinion, it’s because the pressure is beginning to show by the flaring tempers and displays of emotion almost every week.

There’s a reason I bring this up in this way and I use as an example what happened at Pocono last weekend with Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson. Denny said it himself but I won’t directly quote him. He said about the situation, something along the lines of when it came to his fiftieth win and Toyota’s win six hundred, he was going to do what needed to be done to win.

Honestly, and in my opinion, that was an admission of guilt on his part for what transpired between him and Larson even though he denied any wrongdoing at all up to that admission. I know this has been talked about all week long since it happened and that there are folks on both sides of the argument. It is my personal opinion that he did intentionally run Larson up the track, made slight contact and forced him into the wall. It’s not the first time he has used the move and, judging from the result more than once, it is something he has worked on perfecting. Of course, you and I both know he would never admit to it but it is effective and hard to prove intent.

I think that is what bothers me. He plays on the attitude of drivers to play fair and race like they would like to be raced and, of course, that usually doesn’t include someone forcing someone else into the wall. It’s just not what someone expects until they’ve been burned by someone taking advantage of them being nice.

Personally, I think NASCAR needs to tread carefully in how far they let this go. They’ve had to intervene in the past because they said, “boys, have at it.” Contrary to what some may think, I didn’t and don’t go to the races to see a fight or be involved in one.

Look, I understand the emotions and the flow of adrenaline that comes from competitively racing to win because I’ve been there. Not in NASCAR but in hometown short track racing and, believe me, there are a lot of emotions that surface even in those locations. If someone thinks they’ve been wronged, they generally let it be known. The reason I think NASCAR needs to tread carefully is just because of elevated tensions since the Hamlin/Larson situation and the way some have suggested they will race certain people in the future. I just think things could get out of control just because of what has been discussed by the drivers in talking about the Hamlin/Larson incident.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I think I’ll talk a little bit of this race coming up at Richmond. I do not say the Toyotas look like they could have a dominating day simply because they have a lot of speed again this weekend. What I do say is the Toyotas could have a good day but this track is a challenge and it will test all of them during the race. If they can maintain their seeming advantage all the way to the end, then it will be likely a Toyota ends up in Victory Lane.

Personally, I think there are both Chevys and Fords that have something to say about that. There were some fast times shown by both of them and I am sure you and I can both agree there are some strong possibilities from both makes other than just the Toyotas.

As a side note as I wrap this up, I believe there are several left over and unsettled situations that could be aggressively approached before this one is over. It is going to be a hot day, the track is going to be slick, emotions are going to run high and the intensity and aggression will be elevated. Could it be that Kyle Larson will try harder to get even with Hamlin than win the race? No, probably not but it will be interesting to watch and see. The other thing is that there are several more than just Kyle Larson with possible scores to settle. The question is, will any one of them decide it’s time to be more aggressive and less respectful? The short answer is that it’s a very great possibility. The long answer is, well, wait and see…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 29, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

Cup Teams Take It To Pocono

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There are a lot of drivers that want to win at Pocono this weekend. Some just because they want to win at a track they haven’t won at yet, some because they want to chalk up another victory at the Tricky Triangle and others because they absolutely need a win to qualify for the playoffs. Whatever the reason for wanting to win, those that need it to qualify for the playoffs are running out of time. After this weekend’s race, there are only five races left until the playoffs start with the round of sixteen.

One person that doesn’t have to worry or stress about qualifying is William Byron. He already has four wins and he qualified for the pole for today’s race at Pocono. Many are saying he is a real contender for the championship and he does sit in second place in the driver standings at the moment. He does have the most stage wins so far this season and he has shown up with a fast car almost every weekend.

A quick look at the lineup for today’s race shows all six Toyotas starting in the top eleven spots. There are only three Fords and two Chevys and those two Chevys are teammates Byron and Larson from the Hendrick camp starting first and third. Of those two Hendrick teammates, neither of them has to win because they’re already qualified for the playoffs. It’s those other two Hendrick teams, you know, the teams of Bowman and Elliott that really need to get stage points and both really need a win because they can’t really depend on pointing their way into the playoffs. Unfortunately, neither of them has looked that good since their injuries caused them to miss several races.

The three Fords starting in the top eleven are Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Austin Cindric. Joey has a win but has struggled at times this season but that win keeps him in the playoffs barring some weird intervention or happening. Even though Harvick has no wins yet this season, he has shown a lot of consistency compared to the rest of the Fords this season. It is even possible he could win today’s race and end any speculation of him missing the playoffs. From this fan’s view a Harvick win would be extremely popular since this is his last Pocono race with his looming retirement at the end of this season. With the type of season Cindric has had, he simply needs a win. I just don’t see him making it any other way.

Those pesky Toyotas have once again shown up with great speed and winning on their minds. The most obvious Toyota is the number nineteen of Martin Truex Jr. and he has really been the fastest car in the field on race day lately. After last week’s dominating performance at New Hampshire and his qualifying speed this weekend – he qualified on the front row – one can expect to see him contending for the win, possibly with another dominating performance in today’s race. I’m not saying he will do either of those but I am saying it is a good possibility.

The other Toyotas are hungry for wins and, considering how they have all qualified in the top eleven, in this fan’s opinion any of them could end up in Victory Lane. Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace, Denny Hamlin and Ty Gibbs have all shown they can win just about any weekend and add to them Tyler Reddick and, well, that’s a real live opportunity for a Toyota to end up the winner today.

Look, I know I’ve spent most of the time talking about the stronger teams but, there are a lot of drivers and teams that are hungry for a win and could do so today. This being the Tricky Triangle and this being a long race, anything could happen and this fan is betting there could be some real surprises today.

I’m not counting out the Fords of Keselowski or Buescher. Both have been looking stronger and stronger each week. Michael McDowell has been consistent and could pull off the victory. Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola can’t be counted out of the Ford mix either.

And then there are the Chevys of Corey Lajoie, Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez, A J Allmendinger and the list could go on and on. This is a race that just about anyone could win.

From this fan’s view, the race is going to come down to strategy, staying out of trouble and speed both on the track and in the pits. I’m not saying anyone in particular will win but I am saying there could be a surprise winner or a winner that needs a win in the worst way. This one will live up to the track’s name. It will be “tricky” at the Tricky Triangle. It just remains to see which of them survives to the end…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 23, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

Cup Teams Taking On New Hampshire  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There’s a lot that can happen between the drop of the green flag and the final checkered flag, especially if it’s at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. So, why would I say that? One reason is because this is New Hampshire Motor Speedway and it is a fast, basically flat track with lots of speed and turns that can be lot of trouble. The other big reason is because it could rain and NASCAR has already hinted that it will run in the rain, if necessary, with the infamous rain tires.

Along with that decision, NASCAR also decided to cancel the package they were intending to test this weekend. I do believe their reasoning is good because it just may not be a good test with the speeds at New Hampshire and the rain tires along with the wet track. After all, even though the package test would have been interesting at New Hampshire on a dry track, it doesn’t follow that they could get true results on a wet one.

There is one question I have about racing in the rain. Most of the talk I hear about racing in the rain is how the teams should adapt to racing in the rain or, at least on a wet track. We all know the good and the bad about the rain tires since they’ve run them several times over the last couple of seasons and they do work but only if the track is wet. My question is, has anyone thought about the fans sitting in the stands? Does anyone really like sitting in uncovered seats in a drizzle or light rain to watch a race? Sounds to me like it could be a decision made for the TV audience rather than the die-hard fans sitting in the seats. I know the drivers can handle driving on a wet track and they probably like the challenge. I just wonder if they’ve considered the fans.

Oh well, that’s just my opinion and a discussion for another day…

Once again, it looks like most of the Chevys left their speed back at the shops. Judging from the practice and qualifying, the Chevys were the poorest performers and the Toyotas and the Fords looked to have the advantage.

I’m sure the Chevys are wondering where their previous seeming advantage went and I think that especially applies to the Hendrick Chevys. I mean, look at the lineup after qualifying and you see an obvious fact. In the top ten qualifiers, there are only two Chevys and one of them is William Byron in seventh and the other is Kyle Bush in tenth. Both of them will probably have to start in the rear since they both had problems that will likely be considered as unapproved adjustments when the race starts. Byron’s was a power steering issue and Bush backed his car into the wall on his second qualifying lap.

Now, I know it sounds like I am being a little critical but it is more a surprise to see the Chevys struggling for speed lately. I guess the Fords and Toyotas have found their missing performance from earlier in the season and the Chevys haven’t improved theirs. I realize that’s an over-simplification but it does beg the question, is this a good thing as the teams are moving close to the playoffs?

Once again, the Gibb’s Toyotas have shown up at the top of the qualifying. Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr. top the list and both showed they definitely had speed over the rest. Of course, you already know how this fan feels about qualifying speeds and race results. The two results just don’t necessarily agree. Fast qualifying speed doesn’t always transfer to a trip to Victory Lane.

How often have we witnessed the top qualifiers either drop like rocks at the start or only hold on to their advantage for part of the race? This may not be one of those days though. Martin Truex Jr. has shown a lot lately. I know Christopher Bell was the fastest qualifier but Truex Jr. did show good speed as well. One can only wonder if those two might run off and dominate the day over the rest.

There are a lot of drivers that need to have really good finishes and many of them need to have better days than their qualifying suggested. Look, I know the Cup teams have the ability to adjust and adapt and make a seeming bad day turn into a very good one. I also know, just looking back to last weekend’s win by William Byron that anything can happen whether or not you have the fastest car and no problems all race long. Strategy figures to be one of the most important elements on race day and this fan is willing to bet it will be no different in this race today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

I do have just one more question though. Is it possible to have a rain-shortened race when the plan is to race even in the rain using rain tires…?

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 16, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Categories
Nascar Racing

Cup Teams Taking On Atlanta Under the Lights  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

For the second time in 2023 the Cup Teams take on the Atlanta Motor Speedway and this time it will be under the lights on a Sunday night. Gee, that just doesn’t sound right for some reason. It’s not even a holiday weekend. The usual statement for a race under the light not on a holiday weekend is, “Saturday night under the lights!!”

Well… I guess that really comes from my days on the local short-tracks. If I told you how long ago that was, well, let’s just say you’d definitely know I’m no longer a spring chicken. All of that aside, this will be one of the several remaining races for those not yet in the playoffs to try and win their way in. As I’m sure you’ve been hearing as I have, nobody wants to rely on getting in on points and, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing that a lot.

Just like back in the spring race, the Fords seem to have brought ‘the speed’ to the Atlanta track. However, it wasn’t quite like that last summer when Chase Elliott won in the final laps.

So, I guess the big questions still remain for this one. Will the Fords be able to carry their qualifying domination through to the checkered flag or was it just qualifying speed they demonstrated? Was it really true dominating speed over the Chevys and Toyotas? Those are questions this fan isn’t ready to answer just yet. I mean, looking back to some qualifying sessions in the past, we’ve seen one manufacturer or team dominate the qualifying and totally fall like a rock for the race. If it was true dominating speed over the others, there could be a bunch of Fords finishing in the top ten. That in itself would be at least little bit different than a lot of times this season.

Honestly and from this fan’s view, I don’t expect this race to be boring or just a one manufacturer dominated race even though in the top fifteen starters there are eleven Fords with six of them in the top six, three Toyotas and the only Chevy in the top fifteen was Kyle Larson. He qualified just below Ty Gibbs in eight.

In my opinion, and if the Fords really are that strong tonight, things could be pretty bleak for the Toyotas and Chevys when all is said and done. Still, since this is Atlanta and being able to be around in the top five or six in the final laps is very important, a Chevy or a Toyota could end up in Victory Lane.

Atlanta has always been a challenge whether in daytime, evening or night. That is one of the reasons I don’t expect this to be a “boring” race tonight. So much can happen in 260 laps and 400 miles. Just take a quick look back at last summer’s second race at Atlanta. Chase Elliott didn’t look like he had a chance at winning in the final restart but he did pull it off. Even though he has had a challenging season so far, he could do the same thing tonight.

The Hendrick Chevys didn’t look all that good in qualifying, which is a little unusual, especially this season. From my view, I think it is possible they just missed their off-the-truck setup and, since there was no practice, that made any setup problems not show up until they actually hit the track for qualifying.

The common thread seemed to be the same for most of those that struggled in qualifying and that was just being extremely loose. That wasn’t just for the Hendrick Chevys but for all makes. From this fan’s view, it seemed that some could overcome it – especially the Fords – while others will have to deal with it before or during the race.

I reckon we will know by the time the race starts tonight how the teams will handle it or if it was just in their setup for the qualifying. That should prove to be interesting when it comes down to it how NASCAR may handle it. Will they make it easier for changes to take place or will they have to fix it during the early part of the race. If it was just a qualifying setup thing, then it will be a totally different race than it looks like it could be from the qualifying order.

Whatever happens, we won’t really know until the race starts and about thirty or forty laps are run. If the Fords dominate – like they did in the qualifying – then it will likely be Fords, Fords and more Fords in the front at the end. If not then there just might be a Toyota or Chevy in Victory Lane…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 9, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated