The Coke Zero Sugar 400 At Daytona from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Ahhhh… Daytona restrictor plate racing in July. It is a totally different experience for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 than the 500 in February. Sure, they are both restrictor plate races and of course they are both full of their own set of dramas but the similarity sort of ends there. February in Florida is totally different than July and it only stands to reason the track is totally different too. (And of course, we all know that is definitely the case when it comes to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the two races at different times of the year in Florida.)

Now, before I get too far into the race this weekend at Daytona, I just have to give my opinion of the race everyone has been talking about all week long from last weekend at Chicago. You know what I’m talking about… the finish between the two Kyles, Kyle Bush and Kyle Larson. Some have called it the best finish ever but, I’m not going to say that because I have seen some really good finishes at restrictor plate races over the years and many of them have been at Daytona.

From this fan’s view, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if the race had gone the other way. We all know Kyle Bush is one of the most talented drivers to come into the sport in recent years and he hates to lose and loves to win. We also know he hasn’t taken bump and run or just plain being put out in the past very well, especially when it has cost him the race or a good finish. It has sometimes led to fisticuffs and heated times after the race or incident. In this fan’s opinion – and it’s not that I don’t understand it – Kyle Bush is just not a good loser. When it doesn’t go his way, he simply doesn’t handle it very well at all.

That’s the only reason and why I even bring this up. As I stated, I can’t help but wonder how he would have handled it if Kyle Larson’s contact with him had cost him the race and Larson would have been the winner. Somehow this fan just doesn’t see Kyle Bush handling the situation the same way Kyle Larson did. Kyle Larson is also one of the most talented drivers to come along in recent times and his demeanor and character is quite a bit different than Bush’s. That IS NOT a cut at Kyle Bush. That is an honest evaluation and opinion from this fan’s view of the differences between the two. It is my personal opinion that the attitude after the race would not have been so friendly had Kyle Bush lost rather than win. You see, winning covers over a multitude of emotions that could surface when what happens doesn’t go your way and you lose.

Well, that’s my opinion of last weekend and enough of that (at least for now) and I guess I should get back to the race this weekend at Daytona.

There are reasons I really like restrictor plate racing and the biggest is because of the intensity. There were times it wasn’t as interesting as it is at the present but with each year, there are noticeable differences. In times past, the drivers raced it differently than they do now. Now, with the stages and the tightness of the competition, it appears to this fan they approach these races quite a bit differently. They used to sort of just hang around somewhere in the racing order and not really move forward until late in the race. Now the drivers are much more aggressive throughout the race as they go for stage points and then the win.

The rule for the spoiler is a little different than in February and it seems the Hendrick Chevys are showing a noticeable improvement. Three out of the four HMS teams are starting in the top five. Overall, that is pretty much unusual for much of this season. they just haven’t looked that strong but this weekend is definitely them flexing their restrictor plate muscle and showing some strength once again.

Chase Elliott won the pole and William Byron starts in the second position, outside pole. In the next row are Brad Keselowski and the Hendrick team of Jimmie Johnson. In looking at the top 10 starters, there are five Chevys and five Fords. Ominously missing from the top ten, although not necessarily making any kind of statement, are the Toyotas. As we all know, qualifying on top doesn’t always mean a win but, for Hendrick teams, this could be a good night for them. Of course, anything can happen in a restrictor plate race and the weather could be a deciding factor in tonight’s race, although all of us as fans hope not.

So… will this be the night that a Chevy finally wins again in 2018? I can’t say for sure but I do know, barring the unforeseen the Chevys need and probably will make a really good showing. I’m not picking a winner but this could be the first regular season points paying win for Chase Elliott. One thing is for sure, at least from this fan’s view. I’m going to be watching and, of course, I will be pulling for a Chevy to win and I wouldn’t be at all disappointed if it wasn’t Chase Elliott, even though I am hopeful it will be a Hendrick Chevy. Even more, I hope it is an intense race with lots of action and maybe even a little drama…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 7, 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 Taking It To Chicago from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Chicagoland Speedway is the place for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this weekend and this fan is anxious to see IF the Chevys can mount any kind of a competitive challenge to the Fords and Toyotas at all. It has been a rough half year for them and, so far, they haven’t made much of a competitive gain on their competition. If it sounds like this Chevy fan is tired of watching the Chevys being “also rans” I think it would be hard for me to deny. It has been along time since the Chevy teams have looked so – how do I put this gently – hmmm, that’s a tough one. All I can say at this point is, ‘gently’ just won’t cover it at all. (Well, at least from this fan’s view.)

Let’s just say I’m weary of several things this season. It has to do with much more than just the Chevys not making a good showing at all over most of the season. It has to do with only about three teams showing they have the capability to win on a regular basis and the rest of the field is hardly mentioned except in passing. Those three teams have won most of the races this season and it is getting a little tiring seeing almost the same three (or maybe four) drivers contending for the wins each weekend. (Okay, maybe that’s not quite the way it goes but it sure seems that way lately.)

One thing is obvious to this NASCAR fan. The Stewart/Haas Racing Ford teams are definitely showing dominance over the rest of the field and have shown that dominance over most of this season. I really don’t have a problem with that because I’m a Tony Stewart fan and also because I know they haven’t been sitting on their haunches hoping they will do good. They have worked hard to make what’s happening happen and it shows every week when they unload from the trucks. I do think Tony Stewart has lot to do with the success at SHR simply because he has a real talent for putting the right people in the right places to get the best results. I know it isn’t only him but I do think it has a lot to do with his leadership and knowledge as a driver as well as his savvy in other areas of motorsports in general.

Alright, I know some of you are going to bring up the fact that nothing is permanent when it comes to racing (and in particular NASCAR) but, I don’t think the dominance of the Fords is going to end any time soon in the near future. Honestly, I have been paying attention to the way the Chevys have been slowly improving over the last several weeks but I don’t see them making that much improvement yet.

Admittedly there are a few (and I stress the word ‘few’) Chevys that do make a reasonable showing of competitiveness almost every week. What is disappointment is that it seldom carries them all the way to the end of the stages or the race. Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and, yes, even Jimmie Johnson are members of the Chevy “few” I point out that are making the most noticeable improvements. Unfortunately, I’m just not sure the improvements are big enough to put them in front of the Fords or the Toyotas.

The Chicagoland Speedway is definitely a challenging track and the heat this weekend isn’t going to make any less of one. The track is a well-seasoned track and hasn’t been resurfaced since 2001 and that just adds to the overall character of the track and the challenges it presents to the drivers. It will be slick, it will be hot and it should show some pretty good racing throughout the afternoon on Sunday. The heat will likely have its effect on the drivers more than anything else but I don’t discount how it might affect the tires and the engine performance. Both will be important on Sunday afternoon and could dictate who wins the stages and the race.

Now that I’ve stated my case on the performance of the Chevys in this 2018 season, I have to admit the Chevys could surprise us all and win this one. When it comes to Chicago, the Hendrick teams have usually performed well and they haven’t looked all that bad during the practice sessions and qualifying. Other Chevy teams are showing improvement also and I won’t totally rule them out either. The problem I see is consistency during the extended runs. The Chevys just don’t seem to be in the same ball park as the Fords or the Toyotas yet. They need more speed in both the short and long runs.

Until they show more speed, I don’t see them finishing out front just yet. Will I be disappointed if a Chevy wins at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Not in the least. Surprised maybe but not disappointed…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 30, 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 Road Course Fun At Sonoma From A NASCAR Fan’s View

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The MENCS teams take on the Sonoma road course this Sunday afternoon. It’s time to move away from the ovals for a weekend and do something different – like turn right instead of always left. As even the causal observer knows… there are plenty of right turns at this track. Yeah, I know there are left turns and S’s and straights along with elevation changes to go with those right turns but one thing won’t be different… the racing will be intense every where around the 1.99 mile course. Oh, and by the way, in case you don’t know, that elevation change is 160 feet. (Wow! That means uphill, downhill and strategic braking all round.)

As a fan, I have to admit it’s interesting how the racing on the road courses has changed over the years in NASCAR. It used to be we would see numerous new faces (called road course “ringers”) at the road course tracks. It seemed some of the “best drivers in the world” had to take a break so a “road course specialist” could be brought in to make a team more competitive. These days, however, almost every one of the teams’ regular drivers are behind the wheel. It is obvious some of them have a lot to learn about road course racing but, for the most part, many of them are very competitive. As a fan, I like that. It makes it much more interesting to me and I like to see the way they have improved themselves over time to be competitive at the road courses.

Now, don’t get me wrong, but I do miss some of the “ringers” they used to bring in if for no other reason than the personalities they added to the sport. I think they actually inspired many Cup drivers to become better road course racers and that made the NASCAR drivers better racers all ‘round. Of course, as is usual in this very competitive sport called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, some always seem to do better than others whether it be a road course or an oval.

I hope you all understand where I am coming from in what I’m going to say next… I hope this is not another race in the 2018 season that is dominated by a Ford. I can’t say I really want a Toyota to shine that bright in this one either. What I can say is, I would really like to see a Chevy be the one they are all chasing for each of the stages and, (I know there are others that will agree with me on this), I would really like to see a Chevy win this one.

It would be nice, as a Chevy fan, to finally see the Chevys getting back into being competitive. I’m not a fair-weather, Chevy only fan and I do still have those in the other makes I like to watch run well and take some wins but, it has definitely been awhile since NASCAR Chevy fans have had much to cheer about. I guess for Chevy fans, it has been a year to remind us of what the Ford and Toyota fans have been through in the Chevy dominated years.

One reason I like road course racing is there is something going on almost everywhere around the track. Whether it is upfront, in the middle of the pack or at the back, there is always someone racing for position. It makes for full course fun all ‘round. Another reason is how the crew chiefs use strategy to try and improve their driver’s position and give them every advantage as the race progresses.

Of course we all know that track position will be one of the deciding factors in the outcome of the race but a driver in a car that can run consistently fast lap times throughout the afternoon will likely be the one running up front with the rest of the field chasing them for the win.

From this fan’s view, there’s just not a lot to say about the road course racing at Sonoma because it is better watch than to talk about it. When I say that it isn’t because I don’t have much to say, it’s just that I would rather watch it unfold as it does on race day. That’s what I plan to do Sunday afternoon and you can bet I’ll be pulling for one of my favorites to win. That doesn’t mean I’ll be disappointed if someone like Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray or Kyle Larson doesn’t win. It would definitely be nice but I would rather see a tight, competitive race with the winner being decided on the last lap at the last turn just before the checkered flag…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 23, 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 Takes On High Speed Michigan from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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If there’s one thing that can be said for the Firekeepers Casino 400 at the Michigan International Speedway it would be this… “the speeds are high, especially at the end of the front straight.” Yeah, they are extremely high. Try upwards of 217 to 219 mph. That’s really fast for any track that you have to take a left turn at. Fortunately the track was made for speed and the turns only require a little reduction in speed before accelerating for the next straight. Of course we all know that qualifying speeds and racing speeds are different, but still, they will be high.

One thing that really hasn’t changed all that much week to week is how fast the Fords are. Of course I have to add, especially those Stewart/Haas Fords. Once again this weekend they have shown themselves to be fast pretty much off the haulers. Kurt Bush took the pole with an average speed in excess of 200 mph. No matter how you look at it, that’s fast and does give an idea of just how the racing will be on Sunday afternoon. The Penske Fords also showed a lot of speed and Brad Keselowski sits on the front row next to Bush.

One obvious thing that stands out to this fan’s view is that there are seven Fords in the top ten qualifying positions and three Toyotas. Of course one of those Toyotas is the #18 of Kyle Bush from JGR. He qualified third and the JGR teams of Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin qualified eighth and tenth. Somehow all of this sounds very familiar and has for most of the season.

In usual fashion, the Chevys don’t begin showing up in the top qualifiers until after the top ten. That may or may not bode well for them as the race runs through its paces on Sunday afternoon. Even Kyle Larson seemed to struggle a bit in qualifying though he is going for four in a row at Michigan International Speedway. He is one of the favorites to win on Sunday if for no other reason than he has won three in a row in the last MENCS visits to this track. Even though he appeared to struggle a bit in the first practice session and the qualifying session, he did manage to register the second fastest lap during the rain shortened final practice session. He could still take that fourth in a row at MIS on Sunday.

Another Chevy that could make a showing on Sunday afternoon is Larson’s teammate, Jamie McMurray. He has performed well in the past at Michigan. Jamie doesn’t get near the same attention as his teammate but he is a great driver and, in this fan’s opinion, is about due to win again soon. It may not be in this Firekeepers Casino 400 but I think it could be sooner than later.

While we’re talking about the Chevys, now would probably be a good time to give this fan’s opinion of what it’s going to take for a Chevy to be in Victory Lane at Michigan or someplace else, soon.

I’ve mentioned more than once or twice how much of a Chevy fan I am and a lot of that has to do with the fact I used to race Chevys when I an active racer. Admittedly it has been hard to watch them struggle week in and week out to even make it into the top ten. Other than Kyle Larson, there just haven’t been that many bright spots for the Chevys in this 2018 MENCS season. From my view, Austin Dillon’s win at Daytona back in February was a fluke – (although I’m sure some will disagree with that.) We won’t go into how he won but, though the Chevys did make a showing at the Daytona 500, they didn’t make that good of a showing and they haven’t really done much since.

It appears they have been hurting for horsepower most of the season and, at least from this fan’s view and watching them every week, the drivers just don’t seem to be that happy with the “feel” of their cars. Aside from the appearance of the lack of horsepower, they just don’t seem to be able to be consistent in their lap times and that could be a reflection of being uncomfortable with the stability of their cars. That fact alone could explain why the Chevy drivers can’t seem to advance beyond a certain point in the races. They might be able to go faster “IF” they had more confidence in how their cars feel balance-wise rather than wondering if they are going to stay under them. I’m sure they will get there but it is pretty obvious they just haven’t yet.

If, by some particular circumstances working in their favor and a Chevy does end up winning, I still don’t expect it to be with regularity, at least not yet. From this fan’s view, they still have a ways to go but they will get there eventually. In my opinion, I think it is going to be a race dominated by the Fords but I just haven’t decided whether it will be the Penske Fords or those from SHR. My gut tells me it could be win number six for Kevin Harvick but… well… you know.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 9, 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

Pocono from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Pocono… It’s called the Tricky Triangle. It’s big, it’s different and it’s a challenge for all the MENCS teams. It’s shaped like a triangle, has the longest front straight and each turn is different. They say it only has three turns; (well, at least that’s what they say.) That statement in itself brings up the old argument of, “is it only three turns or is it six?”

In this fan’s view, the only place that relates to that argument is the Indianapolis Speedway. It has four straights and four turns which could possibly count as eight turns; or maybe Pocono and Indianapolis are the only ones that count it correctly and we look at all the rest of the ovals incorrectly. Others suggest that Pocono is much like a road course except the turns are all to the left.

So, you may be asking, what does all of this have to do with the race this weekend at Pocono? Well… nothing really but is often one of the topics of conversation that comes up when the MENCS teams visit. Other than that, it has nothing to do with the racing at all and all of the drivers have to face the same issues and somewhere amongst the three turns and the three straights, they will have to compromise to get the overall best result in consistent lap times. Well, that is if they want to have a chance at winning.

Just a casual observation of the practice and qualifying results once again shows the Fords and Toyotas with a definite advantage over the Chevys. The Stewart/Haas Fords, in particular, have shown speed when they unload off the haulers and Kevin Harvick is once again one to watch for taking the trophy for the Pocono 400. Sure, I know Ryan Blaney is sitting on the pole and he also won at Pocono last year but, of the two I still think the advantage goes to Harvick. That doesn’t mean I am right, it just means that’s what I think.
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Kyle Bush is another one to watch for taking the victory Sunday afternoon if for no other reason than he has the second most wins so far this season. He, along with fellow Toyota driver, Martin Truex Jr., are likely to be challenging for the win along with Harvick and maybe a couple of others. Denny Hamlin would be one of those “others” and this fan expects he will at least be a challenger though maybe not a winner.

This would normally be the point where I begin my mention of the Hendrick teams and how poorly they have performed over most of the season. It would also be the point where I make it a point to mention they are improving – and they are – but not today. I’m not saying I won’t mention it a little later but first, I would like to bring up the Chip Ganassi teams of Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray.

Of the Chevys, they have shown the most consistent performance over the course of the first part of this 2018 season. Of the two, Larson has shown the most consistency when it comes to speed and handling but this weekend, Jamie McMurray has shown both at Pocono along with his teammate. Between the two of them, it brings hope to Chevy fans that this could be the weekend a Chevy actually sits in Victory Lane at the end of the day. Now if you’re a Chevy fan, don’t get too excited because this is pure speculation on the part of this NASCAR fan. Unfortunately, when I look at the faster performers so far this weekend, the Fords still look to be ahead of the rest and not just one or two of them.

The Richard Childress Chevys also look to be improving along with the Hendrick teams and it could be a sign for the not-too-distant future that the Chevys are becoming more competitive and may actually win a race soon. I don’t know that it will happen this weekend but they are looking better, even though I think it will be a little while longer before it actually happens.

When it comes down to it, Pocono can be won by anyone in the field but from this fan’s view, it comes down to about five. Of course, that would include Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush and Martin Truex Jr. Along with them I would add Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson. Oops, that adds up to six. Oh well, I think I’ll leave it at that…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 2, 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 Coca-Cola 600 At Charlotte from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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This is a weekend of racing. Well… you already knew that, didn’t you. It is true though. With the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 taking place on the same day, well, that means racing all day and into the night. Some will pay attention to both, some will pay attention to one or the other, but no matter what, there will be racing all day and into the night.

There are a lot of things I like about NASCAR but one of the most important is the way they honor those that serve us, keep us safe and the many that pay the supreme price for keeping us safe. The fallen will be honored in special ways by and during the Coca-Cola 600 and there will be an emphasis on the fallen heroes, whether man or woman, and the sacrifice their families made along with them. I am proud to be a NASCAR fan and I am thankful to those that gave so completely of themselves. It is more than just another race day or holiday. It is a day to remember the sacrifice of those that gave their lives for us and this great country we live in. Hopefully it won’t rain on the planned festivities to Celebrate the Memorial Day holiday or the remembrance and salute to our fallen heroes.

It is hard to tell how the racing will be. Since last week’s All Star Race was with a completely different package, it is hard to say whether the Fords or the Toyotas have the advantage. From this fan’s view, it does appear the Chevys will have another weekend of struggle even though they do show signs of improvement. In fact, the Toyotas may once again have a slight advantage over the others. Kyle Bush will start on the pole with Joey Logano starting outside the front row. Then there are the two Toyotas of Hamlin and Jones and the Ford of Brad Keselowski.

The Chevys sparsely populate the lineup until we get to the Chevy of Austin Dillon starting in the 20th spot. From this fan’s view, that doesn’t look good for the Chevys at first glance. Hey, it doesn’t even look good if we take a longer look at them.

One can only think of it being more of the same for the Chevys as the race goes from sunlight into darkness as it’s been for them over most of the first part of the season. They just don’t have it figured out yet.

Once again, (yeah, I know I’m repeating myself), it has been hard for Chevy fans to watch as their favorite make has become an also-ran for most of this season. Well, at least it has been for this Chevy fan. I would guess it is the same for the drivers and team members, too.

Even though there have been some moments when it looked like they were going to be turning the corner on their handling and balance issues, the Fords and Toyotas have overshadowed them most every week. They seem to be struggling, at least somewhat, in all areas. From this fan’s view, it mostly appears the drivers are just not comfortable with the way their cars feel. From this amateur’s point of view, it doesn’t appear to be horse power, although that could be part of it. it just seems that their overall lap times are not as good as the others. Sure, I know there have been some bright moments, usually from Kyle Larson and a few others, but it still appears all of the major Chevy players have a ways to go before we see a Chevy in Victory Lane, at least on a regular basis.

Now that I’ve whined about the performance of the Chevys, they could surprise me in the 600. It is a long race, longer than any other, and anything can happen. I’m not expecting it but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to see it. In the first 13 races, most of them have been won by Kevin Harvick and Kyle Bush. Of those 13 races, only one has been won by a Chevy and that was Austin Dillon at Daytona.

The Stewart/Haas Fords have looked strong most of the season but this weekend it appears the field is more equalized between them and the Toyotas. With Kyle Bush starting on the pole, it could be another win for him and Joe Gibbs Racing. Can’t help but think back to when Martin Truex Jr. started on the pole, led most of the laps and won the race. I guess it is possible Kyle Bush could do something similar but I hope the race is much more dramatic than that. 600 miles is long time to watch hardly anyone challenge a dominate car. Why, some would almost call that boring…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 26, 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 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup All Star Race from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup All Star race at Charlotte just may be the one that shows why they are called the All Stars. It has been an interesting weekend so far and there are a lot of reasons why I would say that.

The first is that NASCAR decided to use this race as a further experiment on trying to make the racing better. It’s not new news what they have done to make this happen but what is news is that the weather didn’t cooperate. Other than qualifying, the MENCS teams didn’t get hardly any time to work with the setups or how the cars will actually respond in the in pack racing. When they actually start the races tonight is probably going to be when they learn just how big or small a difference the mandated changes NASCAR made will have on the racing. From this fan’s view, it is quite unknown how long it will take them to adapt to the differences. (Hey… isn’t that why they call them the All Stars?)

I’m sure you know about the big spoiler on the rear deck, the air ducts just above the splitter to direct airflow out the right and left front wheel wells and the restrictor plates added to the engines. All of these were introduced to the Cup cars for the first time this weekend. As far as we know it is only for this weekend, well, at least for the present. It is supposed to make passing more of a reality aerodynamically. What remains to be seen is if it really does what it is supposed to. After all, it was used once before with the Xfinity Series at Indianapolis last year. The results there were positive and the hope is, at least as this fan understands it, they will be as good or better with the MENCS cars.

One thing I really haven’t totally understood with the changes NASCAR made for this weekend is the restrictor plate they chose for the engines. According to the reports I heard about them is they take away over 300 horsepower. Added to that is that these are put on engines that aren’t really restrictor plate engines but usual engines with the plates added. I find that interesting and shows another reason why these are called All Stars. this is just another item that shows that these are race “teams” and not just drivers with crews. For them to be successful tonight, it will have to be a team effort (which it usually is anyway) and success will rely on the engine builders, the car chiefs, crew chief and crews as well as the drivers.

One thing I’ve noticed so far (and only have qualifying to make the comparisons) is how fast the Fords are. Whether looking at the Stewart/Haas Fords, the Penske Fords or the Roushe/Fenway Fords; they all look to be faster than the Toyotas and Chevys. I believe they have an advantage for several reasons and one of them is they are still using the same body style they’ve been using for several years. From this fan’s view, the difference may be slight but working with the same body style allows for more tweaking without having to gather all new information aerodynamically. Also from my view, the Toyotas have had an extra year to work with their body style and that makes a difference. It is my opinion that is why the Chevys look to be struggling a bit this season, because it is a new body style to them and there is so much to learn over the previous one.

So… I guess you’re going to ask me why the Chevy of Kyle Larson appears to be so much faster than the other Chevy teams, even his own teammate, Jamie McMurray? Or, why does it seem that Chase Elliott is faster than his own Hendrick teammates? I think it has more to do with the way the cars match up to the driving style of the drivers and it is only a matter of time until the others get the balance and feel they want from these cars, OR, the rules change and it suits their driving style better than the others. (I stress here that this is my opinion and not based on any scientific data of any kind…)

Let’s face it, Kyle Larson presently shows he is in his own universe when it comes to his driving style and the way he performs week in and week out. What he demonstrates to this fan almost every week is, the Chevys have speed. The individual Chevy drivers just have to find a way to make it work and fit their driving styles. When that happens, look out! You will see a Chevy in Victory Lane on a much more regular basis.

Since this is the All Star race and it is all about winning the million dollars or nothing, I find it interesting of how this weekend has gone. Tonight’s Open and All Star races will be no holds barred and whatever it takes to win. That means excitement, action and drama and this fan believes it will be a special one for the books in many ways. Personally, I can’t wait to see how it goes and I expect it will likely be a “slug-fest.” Well, I don’t necessarily mean fisticuffs, BUT, who knows…?

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

Could Be More Of The Same At Kansas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes on the Kansas Speedway tonight and it looks like it could be more of the same – well, at least to this fan it looks that way. Yeah, Kevin Harvick is sitting on the pole and yes, he did win his fourth race for the 2018 season last weekend at Dover. From my observations so far, it looks like it could be another Ford weekend (especially those Stewart/Haas Fords.)

There’s just something good going on at Stewart/Haas and I think you’ll be hard pressed to find someone to disagree with that statement. Just look at what they accomplished last weekend. All four of the SHR teams finished in the top fifteen and that is very good considering three of them were in the top five. Say what you will, but as a team, they are looking very tough and Kevin Harvick is looking a lot like the top Championship contender for this 2018 season. (Well sure, I know the season isn’t even half over yet but he already has four wins on the year.) If nothing else, I would say he is making a statement.

Although the Toyotas are running a close second to the Fords, they just haven’t been as impressive as the Fords, and I emphasize the Stewart/Haas Fords in particular. Kyle Bush does show a lot of speed most every week and did win three races so far this season. He has also been very near the front almost every week also. Even though the Toyotas have four wins this season, they still don’t look as strong as the Fords. I’m not saying they won’t make a stronger showing. I’m just saying they haven’t shown themselves as strong as the Fords.

Once again, I have to mention the lack-luster performance of the new Chevy Camaros. So far this season they have shown improvement but they just haven’t shown the same speed or consistency as the other two makes. It certainly makes for a long day for Chevy fans on race day. You might be asking, “how do you know that?” Honestly it’s easy… Because I am one (or as some may say, “I ‘R’ one.

Oh sure, I know things will likely get better down the road but it has been hard to watch. I mean, I enjoy watching the MENCS races and I have been a loyal fan of NASCAR for many years. In fact, I’m not just a Chevy fan and some of my favorite drivers drive those other brands. The problem is, since I used to race Chevys (Chevelles and Camaros) at our local tracks, it is hard to watch them have moments of greatness and then fall by the wayside as the laps wind down. I guess this year I am beginning to understand what the Ford and Toyota fans felt when the Chevys were pretty much dominating over several years.

Speaking of dominating… Kevin Harvick is having a great year so far. (Hmmmm, it seems like I’ve already said that here.) If he, and the rest of Stewart/Haas Racing continue on as they have recently, it could make for a very long season for the rest of the teams. Yes, they have been that good and it doesn’t look like they’re going to be letting up in the rest of the MENCS teams at all. It makes me wonder if SHR is going to dominate for a while even as Hendrick did not all that long ago. (Yeah, I admit it… I’m a Hendrick fan, too. I’m not just a fair-weather fan either. I watch every week, hoping they will begin to pull out of this slump they’re in.

Actually, it’s at times like these that I as a fan pay more and closer attention to all of the others drivers and teams. You see, there are a lot of drivers I like and some of them drive for Ford teams and others drive for Toyota teams. I’m not as obsessed with the Chevy brand as I may make it sound at times but I do admit to being partial to them – and Hendrick Racing for that matter.

Anyway, getting back to Kevin Harvick… I do firmly believe he could take his fifth win tonight at Kansas. I’ll be watching to see if that happens but I will also be watching to see if a Chevy, perhaps even a Hendrick Chevy, can take it to the Fords and Toyotas and end up in Victory Lane when the race is done and in the books. Unfortunately, I have this nagging feeling that probably won’t happen. It won’t keep me from watching though.by the way, I think we’ll probably see Kevin Harvick win his fifth race in this still young 2018 Season… And as I said at the beginning of this, it just “could be more of the same at Kansas… but what do I know?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 12, 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 The Dover Monster Mile from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Go ahead… think of some of the words you think of when you think of the Monster mile at Dover. Do any of these come to mind? Fast; high banked; self-cleaning; demanding? My guess is probably all of them in one form or another crossed your mind just now, especially as a NASCAR fan when you think about the Monster Mile. The Monster Mile is a unique track and one that challenges the drivers in several ways.

One of the most important ways is consistent lap times when it comes to race day. It is one thing to have a fast lap or three but when it comes to running a full 400 miles, well, that becomes a whole different story. As fans, you and I already know that the main thing qualifying is good for is a better chance at getting a better pit stall. At Dover – and elsewhere for that matter – the right pit stall can make a big difference during the race. As they say in racing, “it’s easier to pass people in the pits than on the track.” As a fan and a former owner/driver, I know that is true. Believe me, there’s nothing like being able to pass people without having to actually work your way around them.

I’m sure you’ve already gathered from my past posts that I am a Chevy fan. As one of those, I have had very little to celebrate or be excited about so far this season. It just hasn’t been a Chevy year (which I am sure you’ve already noticed no matter what Make you might tend to favor, like or root for.) Well, it is true that Chevy fans have had little to shout about most of the season. Yeah, I know a Chevy won the Daytona 500 but other than that, there hasn’t been much to make us happy. Perhaps this is the weekend that might change that. Of course, I’m sure you’re wondering why I would say that.

Well, a quick look at the front row shows Kyle Larson, driving a Chevy, is sitting on the pole. And then there’s, Jimmie Johnson. He has a lot of wins at this track and that just adds more hope to Chevy fans that a Chevy might finally prove to outperform the Fords and Toyotas. It would be a pleasant change for Chevy fans. It has been a disappointing season for Chevy fans across the board but Chevy has had a good long time leading the others on a regular basis. It’s just that this year with the new Camaro body style, well, let’s just say it looks as though they’ve been struggling a bit. (Hey, don’t take my word for it. Just take a look at how they been running overall this season or ask a driver or a crew chief. That’s not to say they haven’t had some bright moments. They just haven’t had a year similar to past years.

Except for Austin Dillon winning the Daytona 500, the Chevy camp hasn’t shown that much. If it weren’t for the relative consistant performance of Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott for at least some of the season, well, Chevys just may not have been mentioned at all except for their lack of performance. If it sounds like I am complaining a bit, well, it could be that I am but, I also know that dominance by Makes can also be an up and down thing. All of the Makes struggle along the way and this just seems to be the Chevy year. Another thing that makes this obviously a Chevy down year is the relatively mediocre performance of the Hendrick Chevys overall. They are improving but still have a ways to go.

When it comes to performance this year, the Fords have definitely proven themselves a dominating force. In particular, the Stewart/Haas Fords have been a dominating force all season. It’s not that they have won so much but that they have shown speed and run up front a lot. I’m not overlooking the Penske Fords but the Stewart/Haas Fords have made a better showing throughout their four teams.

When it comes to the Toyotas, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Bush have been the standouts so far. I’m not saying there haven’t been others but both of them have wins and Kyle won three in a row before the Talladega wreck fest.

When it comes down to it, the thing that might put a damper on a possible Chevy victory on Sunday afternoon could be the person that starts on the outside of the front row, Kevin Harvick. He’s not the only one that could win in a Ford but with his past performance, well… it could just be his fourth win on the season…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 05, 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

Talladega from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There are some things that never change about Talladega. We all know it’s big. We all know it’s fast. We all know it’s, well… you know what it is… and did I mention it can be dangerous? Just ask Jamie McMurray about that.

With the high speeds this weekend came rule changes to slow the cars down a bit and it is probably a good thing. Daytona showed the new rules to make the cars faster but they were also quite a bit unstable racing in packs. Now that’s not just this fan’s view but it the view of many of the drivers and others. One thing we don’t need is a return of cars flying into the stands or just flying in any fashion. (Well… that is unless you’re just using the expression of “flying” in reference to speed. We all know that’s okay, especially when it comes to racing.)

That’s one of the reasons fans like Daytona and Talladega so much. They’re called Super Speedways for a reason. At Talladega it is all about the speed. In fact, the speeds have become so high again that NASCAR has reduced the size of the opening in the restrictor plates to reduce the speeds they were reaching. Add to the higher speed, the instability the cars have been experiencing with this year’s rules at the two restrictor plate tracks, and you see what we get – a return to why they came up with restrictor plates in the first place.

It is no secret to any NASCAR driver, crew chief, crew member or fan that flying stock cars can be dangerous and deadly. When it happens on the track away from the stands, it is mostly the drivers that are in danger more than when the cars are facing the right direction, gripping the track. When a car flies into the stands or, at least toward the stands and possibly into or through the fence, spectators of all ages are put at risk. No one wants anyone to get hurt, especially someone in the stands. I think we all understand the thinking when NASCAR takes an action that may reduce speed to keep that from happening. It is for multiple reasons and the most important is safety for all involved.

Yeah, I know there are those that think there should be no restriction of speeds and that everything should be about how fast the cars can go with no concern about the danger to drivers and fans alike. Fortunately there are those that know when something is out of control and when something must be sacrificed. When it comes to the Super Speedways, they sacrificed higher speeds but gained a lot of bumper to bumper, door handle to door handle racing at near two hundred miles per hour. I’m of the opinion the sacrifice was worth the gain and I find Monster Energy NASCAR Cup restrictor plate racing to be some of the best there is. (I don’t think many of the drivers agree with me though.)

Now, I imagine some of you are asking why I think that. Look, I’m a fan that loves the speed aspect of racing as much as anyone. Since I used to drive at our local tracks, I also learned that speed is a matter of perspective. When I would watch the other classes run their races from the sidelines, I was always intrigued by how fast it looked like they were going as they passed by. On the other hand, when I would sit in the driver’s seat of my car, running at faster speeds than the ones I just mentioned, I noticed it didn’t seem we were going all that fast. In my opinion, the perspective from inside the car changes how we process how fast we are going and how fast things are really happening. Because all of the cars are moving at relatively the same speed, the perspective of speed is different. From inside the car – at least to me – everything slows down.

A good example of what I am talking about here is the view on TV from the cameras inside the cars. Admit it. From that view it looks like anyone could do it, right? It almost seems like driving in traffic on the interstate, doesn’t it?

Pay attention to how the perspective changes when a tire blows or cars go spinning out of control from contact or other reasons from those same cameras. Things happen really fast, don’t they? In the same way, because of the laws of physics, a car can fly like and airplane when the speeds are right and it is traveling facing in a direction it wasn’t designed to travel in.

This fan will be watching this Talladega race for a lot of reasons but primarily because I like the emotional intensity of so many cars running at about the same speed and trying to pass each other using all of the tricks brought on by restrictor plate racing. This one should prove to be as interesting and exciting as any for the same reasons Talladega (and Daytona for that matter) are always interesting. The cars are as unstable as ever and yet the racing is always intense. Don’t know about you but I just love restrictor plate racing…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 28, 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 Takes It To Richmond At Night from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Night time is the right time for Stock Car racing as far as this NASCAR fan is concerned. It is what I grew up on and it is what I did for many years. Sure, I know it’s not the only time for it but I do know it was, and is, one of my favorite times and memories as kid and an adult. I’m always glad when NASCAR takes to the track on a Saturday night and that’s exactly what they’re doing at Richmond Raceway tonight.

There’s a lot to like about the Richmond track and with the MENCS teams taking to the track in the late evening and into the night under the lights, it just feels right. We often hear so many say, racing on a Saturday night is a return to our roots and I have to agree. I grew up in Southern Illinois and Saturday night was when we as a family went out to see our local heroes take on their competitors – whether from around our area or out of town – and hopefully root them on to victory. Of course it didn’t always work out the way we hoped and they didn’t always win but we sure did enjoy the racing, bumping and wrecking as they tried their darndest to win.

I was fortunate to live in a town that had two race tracks and I lived within bicycle riding distance of several of my favorite drivers. I used to ride my bike over to where they kept their cars and dream of the day I might be able to do the same. It was a time I will never forget and the door eventually opened and I got my chance to do exactly that. Admittedly, it was after my family and I moved to Florida, but still, I was able to enjoy the thrill of Victory and the agony of defeat. Even won a few Championships.

Okay, back to Richmond. Richmond Raceway is not only a fan favorite but it is a driver favorite too. It is challenging and all of the elements of Stock Car racing come into play. It is a drivers track and has all of the appeal that most short tracks have – high speed and high emotion. The two go hand in hand.

If last week gives us any insight into how tonight’s race will go, we should see a lot of hard racing and a lot of use of the bump and run. Richmond Raceway is track that is known for its great racing and, sometimes, the only way to get by a person ahead of you is to move them out of the way. The problem with the bump and run on a short track is that not everyone thinks they’re in the way and they should be passed without the use of the bumper. That makes for some high emotion and hot tempers will sometimes spill over into the ever-present possibility and use of payback. That’s just one of the things that makes short tacks so popular. Sometimes those high emotions end up in fisticuffs although generally as short-lived altercations in the pits and elsewhere.

As a fan, I have to admit that tonight there are those I hope don’t win. I won’t mention any names at the moment but there are those I’m pulling for that others probably don’t want to see win. I’m not saying it will happen, but it is possible that a relatively unexpected driver could win tonight. Things like that can happen on a short track on a Saturday night although it is not the norm.

As just a fan and an observer of this sport I love so much, I still say the Fords have an advantage over the other makes this year and the Toyotas follow close behind. The Chevys are coming along with their new Camaros but they still just don’t have the speed yet. Admittedly they are getting there but, so far, they’re not there yet.

Unfortunately, being a Chevy fan and someone that raced Chevys when I was racing, it is disappointing to see them get up front only to get passed instead of taking it all the way to the win. Yeah, I know the Chevys have had their dominance in the past and I’m sure fans of the Fords and Toyotas felt the same way I do these days but, I will be glad when a Chevy ends up in Victory Lane again. I really thought Kyle Larson was going to pull it off last weekend but it just didn’t happen and Kyle Bush got his second in a row.

I don’t want to make any predictions of which driver might win tonight because there are several that could and have won more than once at Richmond. Martin Truex Jr. is looking for his first short track win and tonight could be his night to do so. Truthfully though, this fan would really like to see a Chevy win and, although there are several he would rather see make the trip to Victory Lane, there are a few he would rather see than others. Uh, those would be the likes of Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott or even Jimmie Johnson. Nothing against those other guys in those other makes. It’s just what this fan would like to see…

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

MENCS At Bristol from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It’s that time again… The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes on the Bristol Motor speedway. It is one of the most popular tracks on the NASCAR circuit and has been for a long, long time. Well… at least that’s what they say about it. It used to be a little more popular back in the day because it was a place that stood for old school racing and old school racing aggression. These days … well… it is still called ‘Thunder Valley.’

One thing that never seems to change about Bristol is that it is a short track. The thing that comes along with the short track connotation is high emotion. High emotion usually means shorter tempers and hurt feelings when it comes to the drivers. Although those hurt feelings don’t usually hang around that long because of that other thing called “retaliation” and that is why fans like short tracks so much – at least in this fan’s opinion – the way the drivers respond to those intense emotional situations. Funny how that thing called adrenaline can affect how some respond to different situations. Short tracks always seem to bring out the true side of driver aggression and payback can often be the order of the day.

One thing I have mixed emotions about is the addition of the traction compound. I think the thing I don’t understand about adding the traction compound is why they only use it on the bottom. It was obvious that it helps the bottom groove but, when the drivers would get out of it or above it, their cars got squirrely. Personally, I think if they are going to use it and they know this a high speed short track, they should at the very minimum extend it out through the second groove and possibly even higher.

I don’t pretend to know much about it or understand the thinking behind just putting it at the bottom, (at least other than what they’ve said about why they do it), but I just don’t get the reasoning. From this fan’s view, they’ve done so much to the track to try and make the racing better but everything they’ve done may help in one way but cause problems in other ways. I just don’t see that much benefit to it so far at the places they’ve used it. (Of course nobody cares what I think anyway but, I just had to let my opinion out there.)

The Fords look pretty tough again this weekend especially the Stewart/Haas Fords. In fact, up until the final minutes of the final practice, I might have picked Kurt Bush or Clint Bowyer to be the one celebrating in Victory Lane at the end of the race. They both ended up with damaged cars. Kurt Bush will be going to a backup car and though he qualified on the front row, he will be starting in the back.

While I’m talking about that, there are some big names that will be starting in the back because of different situations over the weekend. Three of those big names are Kevin Harvick, Kurt Bush and Jimmie Johnson. Go ahead and ask any of those three. It is much better to run Bristol much closer to the front than from they will have to start. I am by no means saying they don’t have a chance to win from the back but I am saying they do have their work cut out for themselves and their teams.
It has been interesting to see how many of the Roushe/Penske Fords seem to be performing in much more visible places these days. We are seeing names we don’t usually see at the top of the list when it comes to fast times in practice. I don’t intend to make a big deal about it but it is interesting.

There are some drivers whose names we don’t hear all that often but I like them and it wouldn’t bother me at all if one of them won at Bristol. Drivers like David Ragan, Michael McDowell, Chris Buescher and even A. J. Almendinger. Yeah, I know those last two drive Chevys but all of them work hard every week and I can’t wait for that unexpected winner to take home the trophy in one of these races.

That being said, it is really hard to ignore Kyle Bush starting from the pole. He could be the one in Victory Lane at the end of the day but, as is often the case for him at Bristol, he doesn’t usually win when he starts out front. don’t know why that is but it is a fact in his history.

Well, if it doesn’t rain before they have a chance to finish, it should prove to be a very interesting last segment to the final checkered flag. When it is over, another thing will have been said numerous times during the race and with all the emotion and possible temper flares and that would be, “It’s Bristol, baby!!”

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