Nascar at Daytona: The 2009 Racing Season Is Off To A Great Start

When everything is looking down in the market and the economic sky appears dark and dreary, one apparent bright spot is Nascar in Daytona. The consensus for “The Shootout” and the Gator Duels has been extremely positive and, as anyone that either watched the racing in person or on TV or listened in to MRN on Sirius/XM radio, can tell you…The racing was really, really good.

That has set the stage in anticipation for the big event on Sunday. The event appears to be ripe for some feel good stories, (as if we haven’t had some already)

Unfortunately, I am a little stretched for time this weekend because of previous commitments and may not make it back until the race is in the books. I do look forward to it as I know you do…

See ya next time…
Rusty

© February 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View – Rusty Norman

and podcastnorm.com

At Just a Fan’s View We Love Nascar Racin’ and We’re Glad It’s That Time Again!!

Click below to hear this podcast on S3 Media player

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Hi everybody and welcome to the first post of the year for our new site right here at “Just A Fan’s View”.  It has been a while since we’ve actually done anything here, but, there are always reasons, (maybe some would call them, ‘excuses’), but we have been working hard to get some of this new year planned out. No matter what, I am excited and glad that we are back and it is time for the season to begin for Just A Fan’s View and Nascar at Daytona, FL.

I watched the “Shootout” on Saturday night and I have to say, I was definitely pleasantly surprised with the quality of the racing that went on. It was a great race even though the guy I was rootin’ for didn’t win.  It appeared the drivers all showed up ready to race which was evidenced by the fact that they were all up on the wheel and aggressively racing to win the first race of the 2009 season.

I have to admit, I enjoyed every minute of it.  Heck, I even enjoyed the pre-race commentary.  At least enough happened over the off season that the commentators had a lot to talk about and much of it was interesting and informative. Things have been happening so fast over the off-season that has been extremely hard to keep up with everything. Some things are probably changing even as I write this.

I really wanted to get something up here on the new site, and here is the first of many posts coming up over the rest of the Nascar season. You will notice some changes that we have made here on the site and I think you will like the things that are coming up.  We intend to have some fan interviews and lots of opinions offered about all the new and old stuff going on this year in Nascar.

I’m looking forward to being with you and we may even have new posts and podcasts up daily starting this Thursday with the twin qualifiers.

It sure looks like it is going to be an exciting and interesting year.  I can’t wait … I’m ready for some Nascar Racing!!!

See ya next time …

Rusty

Nascar Looks Ahead to 2009: Some After Season – After Chatter

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This will be a short report on the After Season-After Chatter. Not because there’s not a lot to talk about, but, perhaps I jumped the gun just slightly. I fully intended to have the new site up and running on its own, but, I need at least one more week. When I make the move it should be fully functional. That’s when I hope to have the RSS feed info available and all the other little details that I want to be there for you.

You see the problem is that I went away on a short vacation for Thanksgiving and just didn’t keep after the work side.  I goofed off and I needed it. Now I am back and I am running just a little behind, but I will catch up soon…

All of that aside, Nascar has really been buzzing with all of the challenges and situations that have come about because of the economic downturn here in the United States and around the world. It seems that everyone on the outside looking in has a suggestion for Nascar to help, “save the sport”, whether they need the help or not. I have listened and read  with interest and amusement as people have let their thoughts be known.

Some of the insight from seasoned writers and fans has been interestingly sound. Some has been outrageously out of touch and one-sided. A few have exposed their obvious envy of the ones that make the most money because they think those people should not be paid as much as they are and that their salaries should go to those that may be let go because of economic reasons. That seems to be the impression of more than a few but is usually because they are comparing the work they do with the “work” they think the drivers and others do. Hey, business is business and I think those that are successful right now, must know what they’re doing or they wouldn’t be successful.

Yes, it’s true, I have my own opinion as I know others do, but, let me say right here and now, you can’t fix it if it ain’t broke. There is a lot to talk about and a lot to consider but let”s remember that some of the facts are just now coming available. I know there is a lot we all should consider as fans and interested parties of the Nascar sport, but for some of the picture to clear up, we’re just going to have wait and see how it all plays out.  We can jump into the fray or we can wait a week or two and most of the foggy stuff will clear up and we will have a better view of the coming season and what really needs to be thought about for the good of all involved.

I don’t think there is anyone I know that has not been affected by the economy. Even while I was on my short little vacation in the southeastern United States I could tell the economy is affecting many people. In fact, you don’t have to listen very closely to find many of the conversations turning towards the times we are facing as individuals and a nation.

Those involved in Nascar are no different than those in any other “business” and those involved have to make hard decisions as much as the next guy. The situation is, times are tight and expenses have to be brought under control in one way or another. You can’t continue to spend money you don’t have unless you want to face some dire circumstances. There is absolutely no reason to spend money if you don’t have to. Isn’t it interesting how even big businesses have to face tight economics the same as small businesses only on a different scale and this downturn makes this more obvious than it might normally be.

Well, I think I’ve said about all I need to say on the subject for this week. Next week, look for more on taking a look back to this last season, thoughts on the C.O.T. and looking ahead to what teams (and fans) may find themselves facing in the new year.

See ya next time …

Rusty

©2008 PCN Productions and Rusty Norman

all rights reserved

Update: Nascar in Texas … The ‘After Chatter’ from “Just A Fan’s View”

(COMING SOON … Just A Fan’s View is moving to its own site in the very near future. Check back with us often and we’ll definitely let you know when it happens!)

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Okay, okay … I admit it. I didn’t pick the winner and things didn’t turn out quite the way I expected. I also admit it did turn out there was an exciting finish to a relatively uneventful and boring race with very little passing for position, except for the person that won and he seemed to be able to pass at will.

Hard charging Carl Edwards dominated the field right down to the last pit stop and his inability to advance after that last stop may have been a lot of smoke and mirrors in a effort to conserve fuel for the end of the race. His crew chief, Bob Osborn, made a call that everyone just figured was impossible and it proved to be the deciding factor in Carl’s trip to victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway.

Now that I’ve gotten all of the cliches and expected statements out of my thought processes, I look back at a race that was dominated by one team, (the 99 team), and could have been one of the least exciting races of the 2008 Chase. Although it did turn out to be somewhat of a nail-biter at the end, for the most part, it looked as though Carl Edwards was going to lap the entire field at least once.

The gamble on fuel mileage at the end by the 99, 88 and 24 teams, ended any chance of the finish being completely boring because any of the three of them could have run out of fuel at any time. A quick mention of the top five finishers shows Carl Edwards first, Jeff Gordon second (a miracle in itself), Jamie McMurray third, Clint Bowyer fourth and Greg Biffle fifth. Dale junior in the 88 car ran out of gas with about five to go and finished twentieth.

Any way you look at it, the race once again came down to a risky call made in the pits late in the race that resulted in another unexpected finish. It seems that strategy plays a bigger roll than ever in how the top competitors finish consistently, and sometimes unexpectedly, ahead of the rest. If Bob Osborn’s estimate of fuel mileage had been wrong by just a little bit, Jeff Gordon would have won the race.

In fairness we need to remember an interesting fact about risk-taking — you either end up ‘the Hero’ or ‘the Zero’. Fortunately for Chad Knaus at Atlanta last week and Bob Osborn at Texas this week, they both wear ‘the Hero’ hat. Had Chad Knaus not taken the chance in Atlanta, Jimmy Johnson’s lead would be even less this week than it is. My opinion is that it was a 35 to a 40 point decision the same as the fuel mileage chance Bob Osborn made in Texas.

It is interesting to watch these two crew chiefs go about their work week after week. They are both very talented and have fared quite well with what I am sure they would call their “calculated risks”. They both continue to make tough, gutsy calls and both have come out winning the praise of those they compete with. I guess at some point it does beg the question though, “When will the luck run out for either of them?”

As it stands right now, the Chase is closer than it was a week ago but it is still Jimmy Johnson’s to lose. The next race could either increase his lead or could decrease it and make the Chase even more interesting by the time the teams arrive in Homestead. It is expected that both the 99 and the 48 teams will run well at Phoenix, but there is no guarantee that either of them will win.

There are others that have the opportunity to make the trip to victory lane in Phoenix. Tune in to the Saturday edition of “Just A Fan’s View” when we will discuss the possibilities. For now, though, it is time to say goodbye to Texas for this year and hope that next year will be at least a little more exciting of a race before the last ten laps or so.

See ya next time …

Rusty

©2008 PCN Productions and Rusty Norman

Nascar in Texas: from “Just A Fan’s View…”

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How can two tracks be so similar and yet so different?

If we take a look at the two tracks, Atlanta and Texas, they are quite similar in size and banking, but much different in age of the asphalt and transition from the banking to the straightaways. Those appear to be the biggest differences from my point of view and it is what gives the Texas Speedway a character all its own when compared to Atlanta.

Both tracks have 24 degree banking and both are one and a half mile in distance, but that is where the similarities stop. According to the drivers, Atlanta is just plain slippery and the surface is old and abrasive, kinda like old Darlington used to be. It chews up tires quickly and the only thing you can do as the tires begin to wear is slow down or put it in the wall, (which once again according to the drivers is in a lap or two.)

If we look at the last nine laps in Atlanta last week, those that took new tires at the last yellow flag consistently moved to the front past those that didn’t. Jimmy Johnson was the most noticeable as he went from eleventh to second and, given a another lap or two, may well have passed Carl Edwards and finished first, but that’s just a ‘what if’ statement. The race was what it was and ended the way it did.

So, Texas is just another one and a half mile oval, right? Maybe so, but I’m interested in seeing how the tires hold up throughout a run and how much the drop off in lap times will be. I think that will be one of the important key factors in the results at the end of the race.

Another thing that will prove to be interesting is that the field was able to qualify this week and the difference in where the Chasers pit is totally different than the last three weeks. It is my opinion this could make the largest difference from the last three weeks in who finishes out front.

This week, the front runners in the Chase are not lined up in the pits according to the standings.

  • This week, Jeff Gordon starts on the pole and has the first pit stall and Jimmy Johnson will not have that advantage.
  • This week, Martin Truex Starts second and Carl Edwards is beginning the race back in sixteenth. That will also affect Carl’s ability to make anything up in the pits.
  • Greg Biffle, instead of starting third, will be mired back in nineteenth place. All of this could make a big difference in the way things wring out as the race progresses.

This week should be no different than other weeks with the C.O.T. Track position will ultimately determine the final outcome of the race and that will be affected by strategies and decisions made in the pits.

I find it interesting that several of those that are situated in the middle to the back of the top twelve in the Chase standings and need any type of advantage to make any advancement in the Chase standings, are starting ahead of the top four. It makes me ask the questions:

  • “Would the Chase standings be closer if we wouldn’t have had qualifying rained out over the last three weeks?”
  • “If things were closer would this week’s starting lineup shake things up when the checkered flag drops at the end of the race?”
  • “What if all of the top twelve were separated by only 225 points?”

These are all interesting ‘what if’ or ‘if only’ questions, but the facts are that the three straight qualifying rain-outs did give an advantage to those highest in the points at the time. Whether or not they could capitalize on that advantage depended on how prepared they were for the three tracks they raced at and whether or not they had part or equipment failures of some sort. The facts also showed that not everyone had great luck in that department during those three weeks either.

I guess that is what makes the Chase so exciting, isn’t it?

That brings us to the “Just A Fan’s View” opinion of who will win this weekend and, as usual, it is a hard choice because of the way things are shaking out so far this weekend.

I know how strong Matt Kenseth was at Atlanta last week and how incredibly fast Jimmy Johnson and Carl Edwards were.

Jeff Gordon has not fared well at Texas in the past but consistently ran up front at Atlanta last week. This could bode well for his chances of winning the race this week in Texas, but I’m not sure about that either.

It is very possible the winner this week could be one that is unexpected. Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and yes, even Dale Earnhardt, Jr could be in victory lane at the end of the race this weekend.

You see, Jamie McMurray has been running strong over the last several races and is my strongest candidate for a dark horse winner this weekend, but, it is also possible that Kurt Bush could come home with the victory as my unexpected second choice for a dark horse winner.

With the way everyone is all over the place in the line up this week, it is a harder choice for me than usual.

I guess I shouldn’t leave out the one that has been the most consistent and say that Jimmy Johnson is a very strong choice for the visit to victory lane at the end of the race. This is his best chance to finish in the middle of the pack for the race and not lose a lot to those behind him. I do not think he will win but I do admit the possibility.

Carl Edwards is also strong at this type track and with Bob Osborn in the pits as crew chief, his chances are also very good this weekend.

Alright, enough of this avoiding the issue of who will actually win. It is time for the rubber to meet the road, stick my neck out and choose the winner.

I guess my problem is that I think it is a toss up between Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon and I am really torn between the two. Naturally, I would like to see Jeff Gordon end his drought of winning and take the victory but, I know how strong Matt Kenseth is at tracks like these, (which holds true for all of the Roush teams.)

Wow, as I said, this is tough, but here goes.

Jeff Gordon will win this weekend in a tight battle that goes right down to the wire and Matt Kenseth will finish in the top five along with Dale Jr, Jimmy Johnson and Carl Edwards.

Well, that’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it, no matter what.

See ya next time …

Rusty

© 2008 PCN Productions and Rusty Norman