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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MENCS Returns To Pocono from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 27, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS At NHMS from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 21, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 14, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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