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

MENCS Teams Take On Texas Motor Speedway from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It has been an interesting weekend so far at the Texas Motor Speedway. The weather can’t seem to make its mind whether it is Spring time or Winter and it has been a challenge for the drivers and crew chiefs alike. Not that they can’t handle the challenge or the pressure but it just makes it hard to gather useable information for Sunday afternoon’s race, The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. The temps on Friday were warm (in the eighties) and on Saturday in the thirties. Just not exactly what makes for good information gathering for the start of the race Sunday afternoon.

Now I know you don’t need to be reminded Spring can have its large temperature fluctuations but the weather in Texas was a little beyond the norm. I can’t say it was unexpected simply because I heard them predicting it on The Weather Channel during the week. If I knew about it, there is no doubt the crew chiefs and team members knew what could happen. It remains to be seen how the racing on Sunday will be affected. (Of course I have to add my own opinion which is, Probably not much.) We all know these are some of the smartest people in the world when it comes to racing. Even though the weather may keep them from gathering any new info for Sunday, there is no doubt in this fan’s mind they will do what they always do – work with what the cards they are dealt.

Looking at the season so far, the weather has had something to do with the racing almost every weekend. That doesn’t make this season that much different from other years but it does make the start of this one appear to be more of a challenge. Not that it is any kind of setback for the MENCS teams (or any others for that matter) but it does make it a bit more interesting.

I don’t know what you think about it but it the Fords do look awfully strong and especially those Stewart/Haas teams. Kurt Bush, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer locked up the first three spots in the grid and eight Fords total in the first seven rows. That’s a lot of Fords no matter how you look at it and, depending on your favorite make, it could mean trouble for the others once again this weekend. The Fords do seem to be making more speed than the rest and that could mean a fourth victory for Kevin Harvick. No, I’m not saying he will win. I am saying there is a very good possibility he could win. In fact, from the look of things, there is a very good possibility any of the SHR, Penske or other Ford teams could win. They just look that strong.

I don’t discount the possibility of a Toyota pulling off a victory at TMS and it could be one driven by Kyle Bush, Martin Truex Jr., Eric Jones or possibly Daniel Suarez. I won’t rule any of them out but the JGR teams seem to have trouble bringing it home at the end of the day.

Once again, I have to let my Chevy bias show and bring up the fact that the Chevys need to find the answers for more speed in their new Camaros. It is just difficult to watch them struggle for speed each and every weekend since they changed over to them. They’re not that far off but they’re not that close yet.

Texas is a fast track and speed will be key when it comes to which of the drivers might win. The Hendrick teams have several that showed good speed but with the drastic weather changes, it’s hard to decide which Hendrick team has an advantage. It could be Chase Elliott or William Byron. Both of them showed speed at one time or another this weekend but I’m not so sure they will be able to close the door on other possible leaders. Jimmie Johnson could rule the day and, after all, he has led over one thousand laps at the track in his career.

Of all the Chevy drivers, he would be my first choice to take the win but then again there are Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray from Ganassi Racing. Both of them have looked better than those in the Hendrick Chevys at times and either of them could take the trip to Victory Lane when the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 ends.

So, will it be a Ford, a Toyota or a Chevy that ends up with the win? It is a very tough call from this fan’s view and there are a lot of possibilities when it comes down to it. It could favor the Fords and a previous winner this season or it could be a totally unexpected winner in a Chevy or a Toyota – I just don’t know… do you?

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

Short Track Excitement At Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Teams take on the Martinsville short track this weekend (well, as long as the snow doesn’t come back – which they say it shouldn’t.) From this fan’s view, there seems to be sigh of relief for many simply because this track is more about driving and less about downforce and some of the other things that have been stressing the teams over the last several weeks. The last four weeks, in particular, have been a challenge for many because of the new rules, different tires and the new inspection processes they have all had to face.

It has been an interesting start to the season and this one at Martinsville could be considered a breath of fresh air as the Cup teams take on the old “paperclip” once again. The reason I say “breath of fresh air” is because it is more about the driver and his prowess in tight quarters and less about downforce and other things associated with the larger tracks.

Some of the things drivers and fans like about short tracks is the beating and banging along with the emotion that always surfaces after all of the bumping and banging. A driver will only take so much and, after that point is reached, payback often seems to be the rule of the day. Five hundred laps on a short track is a long time to run bumper to bumper, door handle to door handle, being nudged out of the way to get passed and all of the other short track moves that go on in tight spaces.

One of the hardest things for a driver to do on a short track, especially during a five hundred lap race, is to keep their cool. All of that competitive adrenaline and frustration builds up and surfaces after a period of time. It often erupts in an emotional response to someone’s driving style. (More often than not, that emotional response is called, temper.) It happens every time they hit the short tracks and there is always something going on to keep the fans interested in what is going between their driver and all the rest.

I won’t go into what happened between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin last fall but it does show what can happen on a short track when winning is a very real possibility late in a race. Of course, their run-in has been used to raise interest in the short track at Martinsville this weekend but it has really got very little to do with their incident last season and everything to do with how drivers race at a short rack. It can get pretty heated at times and that is always exciting for fans and drivers alike and leads to displays of emotion (and sometimes helmet throwing along with other things and visual displays of differing kinds) on the track and in the stands.

I can’t help but wonder if this could be the weekend that the Chevys break into the win column. So far, most of them haven’t shown the speed or handling it takes to run up front this year. Oh I know it is a new body style but this fan thinks it has been more because they haven’t figured out the one to two mile tracks yet where downforce plays a very important role. At Martinsville, downforce isn’t nearly as important and driver experience and patience is. I’m not willing to make any bold statements about them dominating this weekend but there is a good possibility they could make a good showing, at least better than they have recently.

Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and even some of the younger drivers could lead the way this weekend. Of the ones in the Hendrick camp, Jimmie Johnson would be a good choice if for no other reason than he has a number of victories at Martinsville already. Chase Elliott is hungry for his first win and almost won last time they ran at Martinsville. Kyle Larson has been strong most every weekend but just hasn’t managed to be there at the end of the day. From this fan’s view, there are a number of Chevys that could win, it is just a question of whether they do or not.

The SHR and Penske Fords have been running strong so far this season and it wouldn’t surprise me if one of them ended the day in Victory Lane. Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Bush come to mind very quickly and one of them could be taking home the Clock when it is all over, but, I think the Toyotas will have something to say about that.

Kyle Bush always seems to run strong at Martinsville no matter what series he runs in. After a dominating performance at Fontana last weekend, Martin Truex Jr. has to at least be considered as a contender. Denny Hamlin is another Toyota driver that always seems to be near the front when the laps are winding down and the final checkered flag is about to fall.

Now I am by no means limiting the choices of who may win because there are so many possibilities from all of the three makes of cars. Personally, I would really like to see either Jimmie Johnson or Chase Elliott take home a clock but considering Chevy performance so far this season, I’m just not convinced yet. One thing I know for certain. This should be a really exciting race and I do expect to see a few displays of temper by the time it comes down to dropping that final checkered flag to end the day. Just how intense those displays are and how close the racing is are just two of the reasons I’ll be watching this one…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 24, 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

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Takes On Fontana from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy Cup Teams take on the 2 mile oval at Fontana and the big question being asked this weekend is, “Will Kevin Harvick make it four in a row?” Or… maybe the better question could be, “Is there anyone that can beat Kevin Harvick and the #4 SHR team?”

Well… ok… maybe that’s a little bit of an oversimplification to start off with but, so far, Kevin Harvick and the #4 team have proven to be hard to beat when it comes down to taking the checkered flag at the end of the day. Over the last three weeks, no one has been able to, but… this weekend could be different and for more than one reason.

From this fan’s view and after observing the practice and qualifying sessions, I see several possibilities and some of them actually include Chevys seizing the day. Now I’m not making any predictions but it would be nice to see them actually challenge for the win. Unfortunately the Toyotas also look pretty strong this weekend, too. With Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Bush qualified on the front row, it does tend to make them look like contenders this weekend. Oh, and did I mention, none of the Hendrick Chevys made it to qualifying. They just couldn’t pass the Scan test at all and were dumbfounded as to why they would be so far off – well… at least that’s what they said.

There was a lot of hope at the start of the season when the Chevys changed from the SS to the Camaro even though they knew there would be challenges ahead. I don’t know how they go about choosing the body style they do for the individual makes but I’m sure it has a lot to do with potential when aerodynamics and other items are considered. From this fan’s view, the Camaros look very similar to the Camrys and it is this fan’s opinion they were hoping for the same or similar results the Camrys enjoyed last season.

The Camrys were very strong last season and one could expect the same or at least similar strength from the Camaros this season. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on whom you talk to), NASCAR changed a few things concerning downforce since last season and it appears, at least to this fan, those changes gave unexpected advantage to the Fords. I don’t think it was intentional as some of the conspiracy theorists have claimed, but the Fords – at least the Stewart/Haas Fords – appear to have an advantage over the other two makes. The new rules seem to fit the Fords a bit better than the Chevys or Camrys, at least so far.

Sure… I know it’s still early in the 2018 season but the Fords have definitely shown themselves to be the ones to beat. Let me insert this disclaimer right here; The Stewart/Haas Fords have shown they are the ones to beat when all of the teams have shown up at the track for the last three weekends. Since this is only the fifth week of competition for 2018, it is difficult to say whether or not their dominance will continue but, for the present, it does look as though they are in control until the others catch up. From this fan’s view (and knowing NASCAR as I do) that probably won’t be this weekend even though the Toyotas look like they are moving in the right direction.

I’m not so sure about the Hendrick Chevys being extreme favorites yet. Even the Ganassi Chevys look stronger than Hendrick so far and that says something about the job Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray and their teams are doing this year. I guess I just expected the Hendrick teams to be showing more in all areas than they are right now. I realize my bias is a bit shaded in the Hendrick direction but, to be honest, I just expect more from them. Over the years, they have often been the ones to beat every weekend and it is just little hard to adjust to not talking about them much, at least so far this season. Maybe I should qualify that statement by saying, talk positively about them this season as opposed to all the negatives they are facing so far this year. It’s just different is all I can say.

So the questions still remain in this fan’s mind as to whether or not Kevin Harvick is going to make it four in a row or if someone is going to interrupt his win streak? If someone other than him wins, will it be the driver of a Camry and a familiar name to all of us or someone totally unexpected? Is this the week Jimmie Johnson pulls victory out of another bad showing so far this weekend? He’s not by himself on the Hendrick side either. None of the four passed inspection and therefore didn’t qualify. That doesn’t sound like a good scenario for them to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but then again, we have seen stranger things happen.

Personally, I think it is going to be a Camry taking the win this weekend, probably piloted by Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Bush, but it could be Kevin Harvick or one of the other Fords at SHR or Penske. A Chevy in Victory Lane this weekend? Well maybe, but I don’t think it will be a Hendrick Chevy…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 18, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Taking on Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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This weekend the Cup teams take on The ISM Raceway at Phoenix and it will be the last race on the track in its present configuration. That means all the notes the teams have gathered will be useless in the coming races there but, that won’t matter much this weekend. Judging from the practices and the qualifying, this just could be the week either the Chevys or the Toyotas break the Ford dominance displayed much of this year so far. Oh well, that’s enough small talk for the moment…

The big story this week has been the dominance of Kevin Harvick and the #4 SHR team over the last two weeks in particular. I doubt there is anyone that hasn’t heard of the rear roof and window problem with the #4 last weekend but there has been enough of a stink made of it that the car was gone over with a fine-tooth comb by NASCAR and they found there actually were a couple of things not quite right with it. I won’t go into the specifics because you can find that info in a lot of places. What I will say is that I agree with Kevin Harvick in the sense that if you look closely enough at any of the cars, you will undoubtedly find something wrong every one of them. Yes, they did have a problem with the side skirts but that was admitted by them as an “oversight?” and they should not have had that problem.

As a fan, I’m not really all that concerned about all of that, but it is interesting that NASCAR seemed to bow to public opinion (although that’s probably not really the case in this instance) and took the #4 car to their facility and gave it a good going over. Although it is true the #4 Ford has been dominant, I think it has more to do with the fact they were getting better and better, especially at the end of last year and now their previous hard work is showing through. Well… at least that’s this fan’s opinion and I am sticking to it.

I do find it interesting that Kevin Harvick still looks like the one to beat for winning the race this Sunday afternoon. After Tuesday, when the penalties and things came down, it is this fan’s opinion everyone figured that would be the demise of Kevin Harvick’s domination so far in the 2018 season. Well, maybe that is a little strong of a statement. Maybe I should have said, they figured it might slow him down a bit. From what I could tell, he is just picking up where he left off after trouncing the field so soundly at Las Vegas.

I have to admit there are a couple of other people I would like to see win. Of course I know I am a bit biased but it would be nice to see the Hendrick teams as a whole show some improvement. It does look like they and the other Chevys are hurting for speed, especially when compared to the Fords. Yeah, I know there are a few exceptions like Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott and it’s not like they haven’t shown anything at all so far this season. I also have to be honest and say it would be great to see Jimmie Johnson make a run for the checkered when it comes down to it.

When it comes down to it, (and since I am a die-hard Chevy fan), I’d really just like to see the Chevys begin to at least look like they are getting a grip on the new Camaro and have them and the Camrys make the races more interesting than they have been recently. (Well, at least that’s this fan’s opinion.)

From observing the practices and the qualifying, there is a chance for some to break their droughts on winning and there are a few that could win their first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at the ISM Raceway today. Some of the names are new and some have been around for a while. And then there’s the fact that Kevin Harvick has eight wins at the Phoenix track but he hasn’t won there in recent years. (I guess you could say he has a double incentive to win Sunday afternoon. One is to show that the reason they’ve been winning wasn’t what NASCAR found wrong with the car, and two, to rack up another win on the track he already has a lot of wins at. (Oh, and I guess a third incentive would be winning three in a row, which he hasn’t done yet in his Cup career.)

So, from this fan’s view (and as I said earlier), this could be the race that the Chevys and Toyotas could outdo the Fords and Kevin Harvick along with his #4 SHR team; but I guess we won’t know that until it’s over…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 11, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

NASCAR Cup Teams Take On Vegas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Once again it is time for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Teams to take on the 1 ½ mile track at Las Vegas. As everyone already knows, it is the first of three races on What is known as the West Coast Swing of the early 2018 season.

According to some, Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the first real test of how the different makes will perform on the one and a half mile speedways during the season. If things continue as they appear so far, the Fords could be the dominating force in this 2018 season and that could mean trouble for the Camrys and Chevys.

So, let’s talk a little about the Fords. There is no doubt the Stewart-Haas Fords have a lot of momentum going on right now. It doesn’t surprise this fan that the Stewart-Haas teams are showing strength here at the beginning of the season. They had last year to get used to their change from Chevy to Ford and I expected nothing less from anything associated with Tony Stewart.

From this fan’s view, Kevin Harvick could be this year’s Cup champion. I don’t want to step too far out on a limb yet (simply because it is so early in the season) but Kevin Harvick has always impressed me. It didn’t matter whether it was in the Cup series or in the other series, he has always seemed to rise to the top. I have also watched him mature over the years and, even though I was a fan of another driver, I always liked him and thought he was the real deal. He and his team have had their problems at times, but they have always seemed to rise above when necessary.

Another of the SHR Fords to watch is the #14 of Clint Bowyer. He has definitely had his struggles over the last few years, but this could be his year. I’m not necessarily saying he’s going to win the Championship but I am saying this could be a breakout year for him. There seems to finally be a little bit of continuity for him with team members and crew chief, so… I think he gets back to winning this season. Watch out, all he needs is for a few things to go right for a while and he could go on a tear.

Kurt Bush has come a long way in the last couple of years and I think he is another SHR driver that could make an impact this season. Between him and Aric Almirola, along with the other two, this fan expects the SHR teams could all be running against each other more times than not during the year. I don’t think it will only be SHR teams in the final four at season’s end, but, it is a possibility even though a very long shot possibility.

This fan has watched with interest the maturing of another Ford driver. Although I didn’t much care for him or his actions when he came into the Cup series, I have definitely taken a liking to Brad Keselowski. Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not planning on being a Brad fan or anything like that but, he has impressed me over the last couple of seasons in particular. I have never doubted his driving ability or prowess – I just didn’t care for “the way” he drove or the way he would win at times. All of that is behind me now – at least I hope it is – and I think he is one of the better drivers to come along in this era of drivers. I look for him to be a contender for the Championship several more times before he retires.

Ok, ok, ok… I know it is unusual for a lifetime Chevy owner, driver, racer and fan to spend so much time on another make like the Fords but, they are looking awfully tough this season and especially so far. Of course I don’t live in a dream world either and I know their strength and momentum can fade at any time, especially since it is so early in the season. I remember how the Chevys started out last season and, by the end of the year, they were mostly the “also rans.” (Well… that is except for Chase Elliot and Kyle Larson.) I suppose the same could happen to the Fords but I’m not seeing it at this point.

The race this weekend at Las Vegas could be pretty much a Ford weekend but it is way too early to count those chickens. I mean, there has already been problems with inner-liners and right fronts and I’m just not sure this weekend isn’t headed for a few problems that haven’t shown up yet. No matter, I still think it is going to be a Ford winning this weekend and I think it will likely be a Ford from the SHR camp. Of course, if they don’t win, it wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong (and I don’t expect it will be the last.) Besides… since I am a Chevy fan at heart, it wouldn’t bother me at all if one of the Chevys did win and whether it is Chase Elliot, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson or one of the others, that would be just fine with me…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 4, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated