MENCS Take On High Speed Michigan from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well… it’s another one of those races that not too many are willing to admit how they think it will go. There are good reasons for that but the main one has to do with the fact this is the first time this package has been used at the Michigan International Speedway by the MENCS teams. As in recent previous weeks, there will be limited horsepower and maximum downforce and it should prove to be a very interesting race.

From this fan’s view, it looks like the Fords could have a very solid day if practice and qualifying give us any idea of performance for the race. I’ve never been one to put too much stock in qualifying times but, the Fords and Toyotas both appear to have a slight advantage over the Chevys. The Stewart/Haas teams do appear, at least so far, to be the fastest over the rest on the long runs and it could be a long day for those that can’t keep up the same pace.

Now I know you probably think Kyle Bush should have a chance at taking the win away from the Fords and I agree. That could be a real possibility with the way he’s been running over this first part of the season. Last weekend at Pocono, Kyle had the fastest car and, although he didn’t win going away from the rest, he did win handily. That could carry over to this Sunday afternoon but I’m not all that sure.

Since I’ve brought up the Pocono thing, it might be good time to offer my opinion of the race last weekend. (I know, I know… this is just about where I do this every week lately, huh?)

The race last weekend at Pocono was one of the more interesting ones there I have seen in recent times. To start off with, I wasn’t sure what the competition was going to look like but it turned out to be interesting all the way through. (Notice I didn’t say “very interesting.”) It really was a very good race but I have to be honest and say it wasn’t spectacular, but I admit, it was “very good.”

It is also my opinion, Kyle Bush wouldn’t have won it if Kevin Harvick and the #4 SHR team hadn’t beaten themselves. Yes, I admit, Kyle was fast but I’m not so sure he was going to beat Kevin Harvick without the error and part failure. Be that as it may, Kyle did win and was on the outside pole when the race started, so there is no doubt he had the speed needed to do what he did.

I have to admit, Kyle Bush is probably one of the best ever to sit in a MENCS stock car. He has a lot of talent along with a lot of desire to win. I know there will be a lot of you that disagree with me but not everything about him is all that great. Now don’t go jumping to conclusions. I’m not going to say he isn’t all that great because he is. He shows his talents and abilities week in and week out and not just in the Cup series. It all shows up in his win record and by where he usually finishes at the end of a race – often very near the front.

Yes, this fan thinks Kyle Bush is one of the best ever but this fan also thinks he is the biggest griper. If he’s not winning, he moans and groans and blames the cars and the 2019 NASCAR mandated rule package for his inability to win every race. Who knows, he might be right but someone wins with this same package even when he doesn’t.

Oh well… Back to this weekend’s race.

As I stated earlier, the Fords do look to be the ones to watch based on what I observed in the practice and qualifying sessions. Joey Logano took the pole position and there are a bunch of Fords in the top five and even in the top ten.

Unfortunately it appears the Chevys aren’t quite up to the task except for Kurt Bush. From this fan’s view, they just might struggle to gain spots on Sunday afternoon and even the Toyotas looked to be more competitive than the Chevys, especially the JGR Toyotas of Kyle Bush and Denny Hamlin. They were particularly noticeable in the speed category compared to the Chevys.

Since this is an impound race, I’m sure the race will show much of what I’ve said here may not happen the way I think it will and is just because you can’t tell much from practice and qualifying. Still, I do believe this could be a banner day for the SHR Fords and the Penske Fords. Which of them might win is anybody’s guess and they might get beat by themselves or because of the way the cars were set up for qualifying as compared to race setup.

One thing is certain. The Michigan International Speedway is a high speed track and all of them will be running flat out, even in packs running two or three wide. If nothing else, it should prove to be very interesting to watch and, if there are a bunch of cautions and restarts, it could be anybody’s race, including someone driving a Chevy…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 8, 2019 – 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 And The Memorial Day Salute from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It’s stock car racing’s longest race – 600 miles. It goes from late afternoon to evening and into the night. It will be hot, even later at night, and it is a tough race that will test the drivers and crews of every team. More than that, it is a spectacular salute to those that made the supreme sacrifice for us and NASCAR and the Charlotte Motor Speedway do it right. Though the reasons are many, it’s just another reason why I’m a NASCAR fan. We will always remember those that made the supreme sacrifice for us.

Say, how about William Byron in the Hendrick Motor Sports #24 Chevy taking the pole position? By taking the pole, he became the youngest driver ever to win the pole position for the 600 in NASCAR history. He continues to make a statement about how the Hendrick Chevys are turning the corner in performance along with his teammates.

As a Chevy fan, (and a fan of HMS), I have to admit it is good to see. I’m not sure how they will do in the 600 over all but they have made some real advances in becoming competitive again. Aside from how Byron has been doing, just look at the performance of Alex Bowman over the last few weeks. He has been in the hunt for wins with strong performances and second place finishes. I can’t help but wonder if this might turn out to be his first win in the Cup series.

The RCR and Ganassi Chevys are showing strength, too, and it is good to see all three makes beginning to tighten up the competition between themselves. Both Kurt Bush and Kyle Larson have looked good with Kurt being very consistent in the early season and Kyle Larson struggling through a lot of challenges to win a million dollars last weekend at this same track. Along with them, both Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric of RCR have been showing good speed and could end up contending for the win at the end of 600 miles.

From this fan’s view, the Fords once again look to be very strong and, in particular, the Stewart/Haas teams made a good showing in qualifying. Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez all qualified in the top ten. In fact, there were only three Chevys, one Toyota but six Fords qualifying in the top ten. There is no doubt in my mind all of the Fords will be competitive and the Toyotas won’t be content to sit back and watch the Chevys and Fords fight it out without joining in.

Okay, I really just can’t let the opportunity pass without giving my assessment of the All-Star race (AND continue this NASCAR fan’s view of Kyle Bush and happenings for him in recent races.)

But first – and I don’t say this lightly – last weekend was absolutely the best All-Star Race I have witnessed. I really don’t know if it had to do with the test aero package NASCAR had them use or if it was the way the stages were set up. Perhaps it was a combination of all of them but it was still a great race, very fitting for a Saturday night under the lights at Charlotte.

Of course not everyone was happy with the way things went and there was some complaining about several things even though there were no points on the line. That is one thing about the All-Star Race that never changes – it really is “All about the money.” It seemed to bother a few more than it bothered others. One of those bothered most was, Kyle Bush.

So, is it just me or is the only time we see Kyle happy is when he is winning. If he isn’t winning, from this fan’s view, he is generally whining. When he was winning earlier in the season he was smiling, had a spring in his step and generally seemed to be friendly to all. When he started finishing 2nd or further back – and once again, this is this fan’s view – he seemed to blame everything on the rules package NASCAR mandated for the cars. He says he thinks these are the worst cars he’s ever driven in his career and isn’t happy, which he is quick to let everyone know, including his team.

As a long time NASCAR fan and observer of many that have driven in the Cup Series, I can honestly say, Kyle, is one of the best to ever sit behind the wheel in a stock car. He can do things as a driver not all can do and has shown himself to be able to win in just about anything he drives. Maybe that’s what bothers me about his constant complaining and whining. He was running strong and won several races earlier in the season before the latest package and though he’s still running strong, he hasn’t won in a short while. He complains about the rules package, the aero and the cars in general but, he can’t seem to win over that person in front of him. Does that mean he will only be happy when the package they are all required to use suits his driving style? Can it be that even with his enormous talent he can’t seem to figure out how to drive and win with this package even though others have and can? Hey, I don’t mean to pick on Kyle so much but he does whine about a lot of things when he isn’t winning as often as he thinks he should.

That’s another reason I can’t wait for the Coca Cola 600 to get started late Sunday afternoon. There are a lot of great drivers taking to the track and one of them will win the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Will it be someone in a Chevy? Will it be someone from the Stewart/Haas teams or one of the other Ford teams? Maybe it will be someone in a Toyota like Kyle Bush or maybe it will someone else in a Toyota. Whose to say? I just wonder if… well… what if Kyle does win? What do you think he will have to say about the package then…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 25, 2019 – 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 And The Monster Mile At Dover from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There’s a reason why they call it “The Monster Mile.” It’s because it really is a monster of a challenge and a monster to face for 400 miles and, for the MENCS teams, it will be even more of a “Monster” than it has been. This weekend at Dover is a totally different experience for the drivers and teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

This is the first time the MENCS teams have taken to the Monster Mile with this particular package. There is more downforce and more speed (on an already high-speed track, I might add) and it will be a different experience for all. There has never been any time when The Monster wasn’t a challenge but this time, the first time competing with this package on this track, it will definitely be a challenge and a learning experience. Add to the new package a different tire brought in by Goodyear and you have all of the elements for a dramatic race, UNTIL, they adapt to all of the nuances of this new package.

There is one statement we all hear about the NASCAR Cup drivers and it’s often repeated and has been with regularity this weekend. That statement says that these are the best racecar drivers in the world. From this fan’s view, it looks like they get another chance to prove that statement true again this weekend.

Now, I am not trying to add any negative input into the statement because I do think they will once again prove it to be true. I have noticed while observing the statements and observations of the drivers that there is a bit of concern and hesitancy in how they think the race on Sunday afternoon will go. Not getting to practice in the scheduled early morning practice on Saturday because of pretty dense fog may or may not have a large impact on them but I expect they will adapt anyway. It is just less time for them to know how their cars will react when running in groups of other cars and how the tires will wear and affect their ability to compete. Add the fact that rain is presently very likely for Sunday, this fan can’t help but wonder if we will even see them race on Sunday.

It was good to see NASCAR decide to go back to single car qualifying and, I have to admit, what I saw this weekend looks good to me, at least so far. As I have admitted many times before, I have been around stock car racing since I was very young and, whether it was at the dirt tracks in Southern Illinois or the asphalt tracks in Florida, qualifying was always pretty much the same. It was one car and one driver at a time against the track and the conditions for that moment in time. There weren’t any second chances. The time you got was the time you were stuck with for that qualifying session. I don’t see any reason why it can’t be the same on a continuing basis for the MENCS teams

It seemed the racing was still good and, no matter where the better cars qualified, they did everything they could to work their way to the front. Sometimes they didn’t qualify well and other times the rules for the night might be to reverse the lineup just to make it interesting for the fans. It didn’t matter, at least from this long-time fan’s view, the racing was always exciting and filled with emotion and drama. Sometimes the favorite would win and sometimes the favorite underdog would. It didn’t matter and I’m kinda glad NASCAR decided to make it simple and to the point again.

Just a quick mention about last weekend at Talladega. Since I am a diehard Chevy fan, it was great to finally see a Chevy end up in Victory Lane. It has been a long, hard struggle for them and congrats to Chase Elliott for the race he drove and the way the Chevy teams pretty much followed their plan and strategy for the Super Speedway in Alabama. Last weekend’s race at Talladega was, in this fan’s opinion, one of the best races of the 2019 season and not just because Chase Elliott won it in a Chevy. That was good too, but the racing was even better than I had hoped. I really kind of expected to see them run a bunch of laps in single file and sort of make their play or moves very near the end of the stages. I was pleasantly surprised to see double file, close racing for almost all of the laps of the race.

There are two things I just have to mention. You remember I started off this with the statement that there is a reason why they call this the Monster Mile. First, this is a one mile oval with lots of banking and, with the added downforce of this package, high speeds. That could mean there might be some unexpected happenings as the race progresses. Things like broken parts and tire failures and any number of problems, whether on the track or in the pits. Second, along with all of the possible unknowns as we enter into race day for the Gander RV 400, we can only hope it doesn’t rain and that the race goes on without a hitch weather-wise.

There have been a lot of statements about which of the drivers might win and, of course, many have brought up the names of Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott. I’m not willing to pick one of them directly but I will say I would not be disappointed with any of those three winning.

Now, considering how the Chevys have performed so far this weekend I have to ask this question: Could it be that the size of the rear spoiler and the added downforce have been what the Camaros have needed all along? Well… I guess we’ll see as the season progresses…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 4, 2019 – 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

Saturday Night Short Tracking At Richmond from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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You hear it all the time if you follow NASCAR or just follow stock car racing in general. “Ahhhh, there’s just nothing like Saturday night racing at a short track.” Well, it’s true. there really is nothing like stock car racing under the lights on a Saturday night. Whether you’re a fan, a driver, an owner or just plain like stock car racing, you probably grew up going to the races at your local track on a Saturday night.

I know I did. From a very early age my parents took my sister and me to the races almost every weekend. We were fortunate. Our town had two tracks, both dirt, and whether it was on a Friday night, Saturday night or a Sunday afternoon, we were often there. Now, it is true, as a family, we couldn’t afford to take all of them in, but we did make it to one of them almost every weekend and usually, Saturday night was the night.

Of course, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is different than those local short tracks when it takes place on a Saturday night, under the lights, but the feel is the same. For some reason, the cars look better and the racing is generally better and much more intense. Emotions always seem to play an important part and tempers often surface whether in the cars, the pits or even the stands. It will be the same at Richmond tonight. (Well, that is IF it doesn’t rain…)

Before I spend more time reminiscing about Saturday nights and my thoughts on Richmond, I do need to say a few words about Bristol. It was nice to finally see some good racing for much of the race at Bristol. Maybe it was because it was typical short track racing or maybe it was because the shorter tracks just fit the new rules better. Whatever the case and from this fan’s view, it was nice to watch considering how the season has gone so far.

If you remember, last week I mentioned my thoughts for making qualifying better. It seems NASCAR must have heard me because this week they changed the qualifying procedure at Richmond. Three, five minute, sessions to qualify in whatever order they end up in. I don’t know about you but, this fan thought this weekend’s qualifying was much more interesting and, even though there were tons of complaints from drivers, crew chiefs and others, it wasn’t a long drawn out waiting period so they could all go out in the last three minutes.

Well, in all honesty, I seriously doubt they read or listened to my blogcast, but they did institute pretty much what I mentioned in last week’s article. I don’t know what you think about this week’s qualifying, but I thought it was much better and perhaps they should think about doing it the same way at larger venues, too. I think it simplifies the process and still accomplishes the task. (You know, that old, “The end justifies the means” thing.)

Whatever the case, I hope they at least consider this week’s process for qualifying as a regular format over the next several races. It is much more dramatic and exciting, especially from a fan’s view. Oh well…
I know I keep harping on some of the same things, week in and week out but, I can’t help but wonder if the Chevys are ever going to win a race this season. Considering how they dominated at one time, it has to be frustrating for them to have fast race cars but not be able to seal the deal at the final checkered flag. I still think it has to do with the Camaro body style but I’m not an engineer and I don’t know what they saw in it as promising over any other choices they could have made. I realize all three makes look pretty much the same, but something is different about the Camaros compared to the Toyotas and Fords. Is it underneath the bodies that the Chevys don’t measure up or are they just that much further behind the other teams in making everything work?

Lately, it does seem the Chevys are making headway but every week the results are the same. It has to be frustrating for the drivers and teams to continually talk about the improvements they’re making but never see better results. Well, at least not so far.

All I can say about tonight’s race at Richmond is that I hope it doesn’t rain it out or shorten it in any way. A shortened race just isn’t what I want to watch even though I know things do happen that way. If they have to move it to Sunday, well… let’s just say it loses that “Saturday night under the lights” appeal. Sure, it will still be a short track race and have much of the same drama and emotional racing but, it just won’t be the same in daylight as when they go “under lights” at Richmond. This fan is hoping it goes the distance and it does it “under the lights on a Saturday night…”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 13, 2019 – 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

ACS In Southern California Is Next Up from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The last stop for this western sweep of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is at the Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. If qualifying gives us any idea of what Sunday’s race will be like then… well… let’s just say it could be very different than the norm. I’m not saying it will be strange or weird but, it could be very different than what we as fans have come to expect from the racing at the speedway.

Just in case you missed it, the third round of qualifying basically didn’t happen. Because of the way qualifying is done these days, nobody made it around to take the green flag in time to beat the clock. Everyone waited until too late and qualifying reverted back to the way they finished in the second round giving Austin Dillon the pole. In all honesty, from this fan’s view it was much more frustrating than it was exciting and really quite a let down. (At least to this fan it was.)

It’s not that I don’t like the way qualifying takes place, it’s just that I don’t see the purpose of even having qualifying if no one wants to be the first one on the track. Their reasoning was they needed to be able to draft to get their top speed and actually go for the pole. In my opinion, they might as well go back to having single car, three hour qualifying sessions or just line up according to points position and see how that goes. Can’t be much different than it was this time.

Naturally, at this time is when I go into my minor “rant mode” and I still want to give my opinion of last week’s race at Phoenix even though my overall opinion hasn’t changed all that much yet.

To be honest, as a fan I have been relatively disappointed with the racing so far this season. I can’t really point to any one reason but I do know it has been tough to stay interested when most of the real racing happens during the starts and restarts after cautions or the end of the stages. One thing that bothers me week in and week out is how the talking heads keep saying how exciting the racing has been this season. There have been times I really don’t think they are watching the same races I am. When they were in Vegas there was talk of how exciting the restarts would be. The only problem was they only had restarts after the stages were done and that wasn’t very exciting, (at least not to me.)

Last weekend at Phoenix they had a plethora of cautions and plenty of restarts. According to some, that made the race really exciting. (Well, at least for a few laps at those times anyway.) That’s not necessarily the way I saw it and I wasn’t alone. In fact, I had a conversation with a customer/acquaintance and we basically agreed on the quality of racing this season. He said there just isn’t the same intensity as in years past. (Hey, he brought it up first, it wasn’t just me thinking out loud.) We both agreed it doesn’t have to do with the new rule changes for this season. It just seems that something is different but neither of us could put our finger on what it is exactly. Oh, and by the way, we both agreed there seems to be a lot whining going on this year.

Anyway, this weekend might be just a little different. Everyone seems to be wondering if Kyle Bush is going to win another one. Whether he ties or surpasses Richard Petty’s 200 victories this weekend isn’t all that important to me. Records are made to be broken and he is a very talented driver. I don’t really compare the two and their number of wins. They were, and are, great drivers and both have made a definite impact on the sport, they were just in different eras. The times and technology may change but talent is talent.

Probably the biggest question in my mind for this weekend is, “Will this be the weekend that the Chevys begin to actually show up at the end of a race?” This may be a new year, new season and new rules but their struggle continues. The Fords and the Toyotas seem to have picked up where they left off last season (even with the new rules changes) and I guess you could say the same thing about the Chevys. They just haven’t shown the same results as the other two makes and, as I said last season and still say this season, the Camaro just hasn’t proved to be a good choice for some reason or another. Not that they haven’t shown speed at times, but they just haven’t shown it when it counts – like when the checkered flag drops at the end of the race, declaring the Victor.

I don’t know… maybe the racing to this fan just isn’t as good as it was because the Chevys aren’t winning (or even showing they can win.)

Wait a minute! Does that sound like I’m whining…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 16, 2019 – 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

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer – © March 16, 2019 – all rights reserved Rusty Norman is PodCastNorm

Cup Teams Looking for Magic at the Magic Mile

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Considering where we are in the season and the race for the Chase, several cup teams are looking for Magic at the Magic mile this weekend. I think it goes without saying, the ones really looking for Magic are the ones that are in the top 16 in points and they don’t have a victory yet. In fact, there are some that have one victory and they’re looking for more but the ones without a victory are looking for one and they need it to be soon.

Matt Kenseth is the first one that comes to the mind of this fan when it comes to needing a victory. He may be fifth in points but he would like to solidify a position in the Chase by getting his first victory on the year the Magic mile. Compared to last year, he and his team have struggled a bit more than they did and it appears this year, he’s not qualifying like he did last year and just not as visible as he was last year.

Ryan Newman sits eight in the points standings right now but he really needs a victory to solidify a spot in the 16 available spots for the Chase. Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer are in similar situations and they sit 10th and 12th respectively. Without a win their points position is at least somewhat precarious for making the Chase.

Austin Dillon, Greg Biffle and Brian Vickers would like nothing better than to make a trip to Victory Lane this weekend and the three of them sit 13th, 15th and 16th in the points. Without wins, their situation for the Chase depends on what others do. Well, I guess that goes for anyone in the top 20 but it is definite, at least for this year, NASCAR’s focus is on winning and that’s exactly what anyone that wants to make it into the Chase needs to do. Those outside of the top 16 and yet in the top 20 needing a win are, Kyle Larson, Kasey Kane, Marcus Ambrose and Tony Stewart. After that it just depends on what happens as far as wins and points for all concerned.

Once again this weekend, Brad Keselowski looks to be very strong but it is questionable whether or not his speeds will hold up in long green flag runs. Of course we all know that he is quite capable of winning no matter what but should there be those long green flag runs, especially in the closing laps of the race, it’s possible he could be very beatable by many others.

At least from this fan’s view, it did appear there were those that made a lot of longer green flag runs in the practice sessions and any one of them might end up taking the checkered flag. I won’t go into a long list of names at this point but there are several that looked good when taking longer runs as far as their lap times were concerned.

Unfortunately, it does appear that there might be tire problems again this weekend although this fan doesn’t think that it’s really a Goodyear problem. Just from listening to some of the conversations about the few tire problems we saw during practice it’s this fan’s opinion, along with several others, that the failures had more to do with tire pressure than tire failure causing the tire problems. That’s something to keep in mind as the race progresses Sunday afternoon. It appears (at least to this old racer) that of the four tires that make contact with the track, the left rear could be the one that causes the most problems on this race day if that situation does rear its ugly head.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned polesitter, Kyle Busch much. That’s not because I’m counting him out as far as being able to win Sunday afternoon at the Magic mile but simply more because of his performance lately. Every team seems to go through times when they may be fast but anything and everything that can go wrong does go wrong for them. I’m not so sure that’s not where Kyle Busch and his team are right at the moment. He is definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with at Chase time even though his performance in the Chase in past years has not been that good. That being said, this may be his year (and I do emphasize the “may” in that statement.)

When it comes to the race Sunday afternoon, there are a number of drivers that could end up in Victory Lane. Of the many that I’m thinking of, there are a few that stand out in my mind. Those would be Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon. Anyone, or none, of those could be the ones pulling into victory Lane when all is said and done Sunday afternoon at the Magic mile. It is also possible that this fan’s opinion in the ones he thinks might win could be absolutely the wrong choices. Fortunately for this fan (and this fan’s view) he never claimed to be able to tell the future…

This race is a short race and barring the unforeseen, there could be some relatively long green flag runs and the race could be over very quickly. It is also possible there could be a number of cautions and, should there be tire failures, some of those that are looking very good as winners at the moment could be taken out because of those tire failures. The most important aspects to keep in mind for the race this weekend is strategy, fuel mileage and tire problems. This fan really hopes that it doesn’t come down to fuel mileage even though when it does come down to that the end of the race, it usually is very interesting…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 12, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Sprint Cup Teams Road Racing In California

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Road Racing in the Sprint Cup Series used to be something many teams simply endured so they could move on to the next weekend. Now, many drivers have improved their skills to include Road Racing and many of them are excited at the change of pace. No longer do they dread having to turn right and left, shift gears while braking, climb up hill and go downhill all the while avoiding wheel hop and doing it all faster than the rest on the track.

Sure, I know there are still several that don’t like the road racing circuit but often they are replaced with “ringers” or they and their team take the week off. Not that they don’t actually show up, but they just don’t quite put forth the same effort as they may on the oval tracks. They still just endure the road course, do the best they can and move on to next week.

Personally, this fan likes to watch what are called “the best race car drivers in the world” take on the road circuits and show exactly what they are made of. Every year more and more of them seem to decide to improve their road racing skills and it has certainly made the racing much more interesting. I’m not being critical of anyone, I’m just stating the obvious and it has been interesting to watch how the NASCAR drivers and teams have improved on the road courses.

Are there still standouts when the Cup teams take to the road courses? Of course there are but it does appear to this fan all of them are getting better at it and the racing is much closer than it used to be and not all that long ago.

Some attribute the improvement to the cars and that probably does have something to do with it. I just don’t think anyone can deny that all of the drivers approach the road courses with a different mentality. Now, they want to be just as competitive at these tracks as they want to be on all of the other type tracks they face. From this fan’s view, I think they got tired of watching some of their competitors simply drive away from them on a regular basis and that just didn’t sit well with their competitive spirit.

What I find interesting this year at Sonoma is the lineup to start the race. It actually looks a lot like a regular oval track lineup instead of a road course. Perhaps a little unexpected to this fan was Jamie McMurray taking the pole position. That’s not to say he isn’t a good road course driver, it’s just that I didn’t expect it. Actually, Jamie is very good on these tracks and has qualified up front before. He has matured as a driver over the last few years and he knows you can’t win the race on the first lap. Road courses take a lot of consistency and patience, something he appears to have a grip on more now than in past years.

Not unexpectedly, Marcos Ambrose is starting on the front row but Jamie McMurray took the pole position from him by a few hundredths of a second. Marcos was a little disappointed by that but I expect him to be one of the contenders all day long. One thing is for sure, barring the unforeseen mistake or equipment failure, he is probably one of the most likely winners by the end of the day.

The top ten is full of possible winners other than McMurray and Ambrose. A few names that stand out in particular to this fan are Clint Bowyer, Kurt Bush and Jeff Gordon. All three are very capable on the road courses and could end up in Victory Lane when all is said and done.

Greg Biffle is another one that stands out to this fan that could pull off the victory. He does come into this weekend with confidence and momentum on his side compared to past years and this could be his year to take home the trophy.

Of all the emphasis put on the drivers’ capabilities on these type tracks (and this one in particular), the strategy calls by the crew chiefs in the pits will probably make the biggest difference by the end of the day. The drivers will have to be consistent lap after lap, avoid wheel hop and keep all four tires on the asphalt. Track position will be important and so will the number of pit stops each team makes. Some will try to make it in two and others will try for three. Which one will work out the best? Well that my fellow NASCAR fans is what we’ll find out when the checkered flag drops…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 23, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

NASCAR Cup Teams Take On Phoenix with a Little Different Gen 6 Car

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Rusty Norman

After a grueling Speed Weeks in Daytona, many call this the real first race of the season. Of course they’re wrong, but we all know what they mean. Some have even said this is the first true test of the new Gen 6 racecar and they may be right. One thing is certain though… this is the first race for the Gen 6 car on a track other than two plus miles and without restrictor plates. The smaller tracks, like this one at Phoenix, are the ones most frequented by NASCAR in the regular season. It did appear (at least to this fan) all the Cup teams were trying to gather as much information for their notebooks as they could for future tracks even though this one is unique in itself.

It is also a little different Gen 6 car than the one the teams put on the track at Daytona. Most of the changes are for down force and are to the rear of the car. If you’ve been paying attention to the many reports this week, you’ve seen exactly what and where those changes are. For those that might have missed it, it has to do with the blade (or the spoiler) on the rear deck lid and at the bottom of the body at the rear of the car. This will be the car we see the most this year and the one we saw at Daytona we will only see a few more times, (although this fan and others think there might be some tweaks to the other car at lest by the time the Cup teams visit Daytona in July.)

Judging from the practices (especially on Saturday) this fan thinks many of the teams are having a little trouble getting a handle on this newcar. At least on this one mile track it appears that way. Maybe it is just because it has been a little too easy to hook up the backend with the increased down force and that has made it more difficult to hook up the front end. Whatever it is, some have found what it takes and others are still struggling. One thing was pretty obvious though – the teams were learning fast.

Mark Martin didn’t appear to have too much trouble adjusting to this new car at all, though. He won the pole and was very fast in all three practices. If nothing else, it looks as though he should be one of the top picks to take the trip to victory lane this afternoon. Personally I think it is a bit too early make that choice, but I do admit he is looking very strong this weekend.

Depending on whether you look at the qualifying times or the lap times in the last two practices, you do see some names that were obviously fast in all three. Mark Martin is one of the most obvious but Kyle Bush is another. With the way things have been going for Joe Gibbs Racing so far I don’t think they want to get their hopes up too much too early but, it won’t surprise this fan to see all three of the JGR teams mixing it up to take the checkered flag by the end of the day.

And then there are those MWR teams. No one can deny they have been flexing a lot of muscle since last season and this season doesn’t appear to have changed that. Along with Mark Martin being fastest in the last practice, we also find Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr in the top ten. That sounds like a triple threat to this fan and I expect any of the three to be running very near the front when it comes down to the end. The only thing that might be of concern for them is some of the engine troubles experienced by the Toyotas. Even Denny Hamlin of JGR had an engine go bad as he was backing out of his garage stall. If there is one thing that might hold MWR or JGR back for taking the win, engine problems would be at the top of the list.

Although they have struggled a bit so far, the Roush Fords appear to be getting their act together, too. Both Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle had gained some speed and were in the top ten in the final practice.

I think I’ll just wait and see how the Penske and Petty Fords do. They weren’t at the top of the charts but with this being a short race I don’t expect anyone to just lay back and wait for the end to make a move.

I have noticed some are trying to make a big deal out of what is called “the feud” between Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon but from my view, I think it is just a bunch of hype and I don’t expect anything to happen. It is way to early in the season and this isn’t exactly in the heat of the battle like it was last fall. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still some hard feelings in both camps but I don’t think today will be the day for payback of any kind. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

What I do expect is for this race is for it to likely develop into a fuel mileage race just like it always does. I’m hoping it doesn’t but it has before and made the end of the race less than exciting (unless you like the drama of seeing who will run out of fuel last.) You know, now that I think about it, that doesn’t sound that bad either…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© Marc h 3, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

The Sprint Unlimited Opens NASCAR Cup 2013 with the Gen 6 X-Factor

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I know you’ve heard the old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Well, generally that holds true but, the 2013 NASCAR Cup Season looks to be full of changes and many hope they are for the better (including this NASCAR fan.)

The highly touted “Sprint Unlimited” should give us as fans a bit more information as to how the racing might go next week with “The Duels” and the Daytona 500. At the moment, there has only been limited practice with larger packs and, from this fans view, the jury is still out concerning whether or not NASCAR has made the right changes to make the racing better.

We all know the racing has generally been good but not always great, at least in my and others’ opinion. Yes, there have been some great moments in the last couple of years, but, there has also been a some lackluster races and the restrictor plate races have received more criticism since the “two-car-tandem” became the norm than they used to before the COT showed up on the scene.

Now, I’m not saying any of that was, in itself, something that took away from my enjoyment of the restrictor plate tracks but there were some races that would have been better if they were only 100 miles instead of 400 – 500. The best parts of those races were the first several laps and the last 10 – 20 laps. Even the “two-car-tandem’ was fun for a while and gave some of the most dramatic finishes fans have seen in quite a while. Unfortunately, it became too technical and required a lot more communication between “tandem partners” and their spotters, resulting in general chaos at times. (Well, at least that’s this fan’s opinion…) In fact, the middle of those long restrictor plate races almost became humdrum at times. (That’s why I mentioned they would have been better if they were shorter…)

There are a lot of good things about the new car and one is the way it looks. It is no longer hard to tell which brand is which because they all have their own distinct look. It goes without saying that the new car is safer and many of the changes made were to keep the drivers safe. They also appear to have speed and that is one thing many have complained about in one way or another over the last several years.

There is one thing about the new Gen 6 car that is almost scary and that is that the drivers seem to be very happy with it. They like the way it drives and they like the increased speed the cars appear to have. One of the hopes was that it would put more of the racing back in the hands of the driver, along with the hope they could reduce the effect aerodynamics had on the ability to pass. So far, it appears to be the case, but like I mentioned earlier, there hasn’t been that much time spent running in larger packs and they have noticed something this week that we could more about after tonight.

I have heard rumors that the more cars that get together in a pack the faster they go, but that hasn’t proven out yet and probably won’t be known until next week simply because they will have bigger packs in The Duels an in the 500 in particular.

One of the problems the teams are experiencing is having enough parts to build the fleet of cars they need. The earlier practice in January ate up a few reserves due to an accident and yesterdays first practice took out a few more. That has caused the crew chiefs to be cautious about allowing their drivers to spend much time in large packs, (at least until the race tonight…) There seems to be a bit of caution on several fronts leading up to the Unlimited but I really do believe they let them loose after the drivers get more accustomed to these cars running in packs (and they should be doing that tonight.)

I’m anxious to see if they have a big one (or maybe two) tonight since it is a given they will be going all out for tonight’s race. The Gen 6 is definitely an X-Factor for tonight but it should be better understood after tonight and everytime they get on the track next week. There is no doubt they can little afford a lot of wrecked race cars getting ready for the 500 next weekend so I do expect quite a bit of caution to be exercised between now and next Sunday. What I am not sure of is how tonight’s race is going to end. It could be with a whole slew of cars spinning past the flagstand or it could just be another single file finish. If it is the latter, I think all of us are going to have re-evaluate our expectations for next weekend… What do you think???

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 16, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Looking for Magic at the Magic Mile from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman
Say what you will about this weekend’s race at Loudon, but… More than one or two are looking for Magic to happen at the Magic mile. For some, it is to make their spot for the Chase more secure than it is at the moment. For others… well… it is the closest thing to “desperation time” than they are willing to admit and they just need some magic to happen.

Yes, it is true. The time has come for some to begin finishing up front or forget about their chances of making the Chase for 2012. No longer can some of the teams afford to show up on a weekly basis with fast cars and high hopes. In fact, some will have to win more than one race if they hope to make the Chase and even that would only give them a shot at being in the hunt for one of the two Wild Card spots.

So… just who am I talking about in particular? Well, hang on just minute and I’ll get to that, but first, let’s talk about those that are relatively safe at the moment.

It doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to figure a few things out about those already in the top ten. There are eight races left to make the Chase and, from this fan’s view, those already in the top five are pretty much a lock to be there. (That is unless total disaster strikes one or two of them.)

Tony Stewart, for example, is only 14 points ahead of Clint Bowyer who sits in tenth spot. Even if he has some really bad weeks and falls out of the top ten, he still has 3 wins which already qualifies him for one of the Wild Card slots at this point in time. That makes him a pretty safe bet for being in the Chase no matter what happens.

Kevin Harvick is tied with Stewart in points but his situation is different. He doesn’t have any wins. That means he can’t afford to be anything but what he has been this year – consistent. A few bad races in the next eight coupled with no wins could mean missing the Chase. From my view, he is definitely a question mark at this time even though he is currently listed in sixth place.

From this fan’s view, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski shouldn’t worry too much even if they fall out of the top ten simply because they have two wins and three wins respectively. Clint Bowyer sits in tenth, but also has one win.

So of those presently sitting in the top ten, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr are in the most precarious positions if they have some bad races.

Those presently sitting eleventh to twentieth in points are the ones that need the “Magic” to happen for them this Sunday afternoon and several more times in the following seven races. Of them, I still can’t ignore two drivers that have simply had bad luck most of the year. It hasn’t been because their cars weren’t fast and it hasn’t been because they haven’t been running at, or near, the front just about every week before some calamity changed their finishing positions for some reason or other. (Yeah, I know you know I’m talking about Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon.)

Sure, I know Carl Edwards managed a sixth place finish last weekend at Daytona and that had to be encouraging for him and his team. Don’t forget the week before he was running near the front and had to stop for fuel costing him many spots.

Now Jeff Gordon’s situation has been a bit different (comparatively speaking, of course.) As I said about both of them last week, if it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. At Daytona last weekend, he was running in third, minding his own business and stopping for fuel with others when he got tagged by Bill Elliott as a result of one of the big ones that affected many. He could have finished in the top five. As it turned out, he finished twelfth. If anyone needs the “Magic” to begin happening for them Sunday afternoon, it is Jeff Gordon and he needs to have it continue on through the next seven races. If not, it is this fan’s opinion, he will be one of the ones running for thirteenth spot when the Chase starts.

Kyle Bush, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne all have one win which complicates the issue for Edwards and Gordon unless they begin to win (and it’s going to take more than one win for each of them if they want to make the Chase.)

As for the race this Sunday afternoon, it will likely be a fuel mileage race and track position will be as important as anything that happens. Since it is also a short race and a fast track, it will likely have only a minimum of pit stops (that is if the race goes as it usually does.)

By the way, did anyone besides me notice how many Hendrick or Hendrick associated teams are starting in the top ten? Hm-m-m… I wonder what that will mean at the end of the day??

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 14, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman
There’s nothing quite like Memorial Day weekend… There are a lot of things going on in celebration of the fallen heroes of our country and what they and their families have sacrificed for our country and us. There is also a whole lot of racing going on.

It is no secret that two of the most important and biggest ones would be the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Speedway and the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway because they are a yearly tradition. The way things are set up for the two races, not only can fans attend one and watch the other one on TV or they can watch both of them on TV. As for me, I will more likely pay a little attention to the Indy 500 while it is going on and watch as the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams endure 600 miles – 400 laps – at the fast one and a half mile oval in Charlotte, NC.

So what is it about this 600 mile race that attracts all the attention? Well… it isn’t just about the race. It is also about that extra 100 miles.

There’s always been something about the 600 that has caught the attention of the fan’s. I’m not exactly sure why it enjoys the popularity it does, but I do know it is a unique race and there isn’t really not another one that compares to it. Some call it an endurance race while some just call it the longest race and either one is true. Either way, it will be full of drama but, from this fan’s view, probably not until the last fifty of those extra 100 miles.

To this fan, one of the things that is most interesting about it is how the drivers have to prepare themselves mentally and physically for the 400 laps they will make around the Speedway. Just when they would be ready to head home after a normal night of racing, they have to make another 100 miles and still be sharp mentally and physically and be up on the wheel, ready to make their move to take the checkered flag. This is no ordinary race for the cup teams and it will test not only the limits of the cars and the drivers but the team as a whole.

The RPM Fords are on the front row for the start of tonight’s race and that means they will have great pit stalls. Other than that, one has to wonder if they will be able to maintain track position at or near the front for the whole night. All of us know it is one thing to be able to run one or two fast laps to qualify on the front row and quite another to keep that track position from the beginning all the way to the end. Although it is great to see Richard Petty Motorsports qualifying as they did, I’m a little skeptical of how their night will end. Yes, it is possible either Almirola or Ambrose could end up in Victory Lane but this fan thinks they are long shots for tonight.

Who would have thought of the four Hendrick teams, Jeff Gordon would seem the least likely of them to win tonight. After all, the first time he won in Cup was right at this very place. Since that time, we all know how his Cup career has gone but to say this year has been a struggle would be the ultimate understatement, at least from this fan’s view. It hasn’t even been because they’ve been running poorly but it has been because they haven’t been finishing well. From my view, the #24 team could win tonight and it could be where the entire year turns around for the driver and the team. I really think they have a good chance at taking the win tonight even though it seems they have been running a little under the radar this weekend.

The obvious ones to be possible winners from the Hendrick camp would be the other three. Of them, I’m having a little trouble deciding whether it will be Jimmie Johnson or Dale Jr with the best chance or whether Kasey Kahne will lead the pack to the checkers. All three of them have been running strong over the last two weekends.

Just because I’ve just mentioned the strong possibility of one of the Hendrick teams finishing up front doesn’t mean none of the other teams have a chance tonight. MWR’s Martin Truex Jr has shown a lot of speed in the practice sessions. I guess I shouldn’t ignore Mark Martin or Clint Bowyer either. All of the MWR teams have a great chance at taking the win for tonight.

In fact, there are a lot of strong teams qualified to start the night in middle of the pack. Names like Harvick, Newman, Stewart, Kyle Bush, Kenseth, Allmendinger and of course Brad Keselowski. I’m not one to think none of them have a chance tonight, I just don’t think they will show their cards until the last 100 laps or so. That means, at least from this fan’s view, it won’t be over ’til it’s over.

What I expect to see tonight is a race that is run fairly conservatively for the first 450 miles or so. Most will try to maintain track position and yet not tax their reserves until that last 150 miles, in particular, the last 50 miles. In fact, I think this race might be just a bit boring in the middle even though I do expect to see a lot of diverse strategies being applied over the whole night.

When it comes down to crunch time, I expect to see some engine failures along with some other types of part failures that could even give us that very unexpected winner for this Coca-Cola 600 (which has kinda become the expectation over the years… )

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 27, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

After Talladega from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It was a hot day in Alabama. Brad Keselowski and Roger Penske weren’t disappointed with the heat or the Talladega race but they were in the minority and it was likely because they were sitting in Victory Lane. As expected, there was a lot of drama from the drop of the green flag but not a lot of it was because of the racing in the large pack. Most of the drama was coming from the concern the drivers had for the water and oil temps and how closely they needed to watch their gauges. Unfortunately, fans and drivers alike thought it was more about water and oil temperatures and lot less about actual racing.

From this fan’s view, even though there was the large pack of cars running nose to tail, two and three wide, there wasn’t a lot of racing for position going on. It appeared the drivers were trying to keep a reasonable distance between each others bumpers to maintain a lower water temperature, (which, of course, would lead to a lower oil temperature), so they might at least still be running when it came down to the final laps. Yes, it was obvious they wanted to maintain a certain position on the track and not fall too far behind, but it was also obvious that there was more concern about maintaining the temperatures than anything else.

Even with all of the efforts to maintain what was considered to be safer operating engine temperatures, there were still a lot of engine failures although admittedly it was hard to tell if some of them were normal part failures or temperature related. In fact, from this fan’s view, I don’t think any of the failures were related to overheating, but that does not mean that it didn’t affect the racing as a whole.

It is my opinion, and I am usually on NASCAR’s side and do respect what they do but, this time I think they blew it. I have to agree with the words of several drivers that insinuated there has to be a better way to control the tandem drafting than with temperatures. Surely they can come up with “something” other than that.

It is also my opinion that this is what happens when a sanctioning body tries to run things by audience poll. I’m not saying they shouldn’t listen to input from the fan base and it has been my experience over the years they don’t usually make “knee-jerk” decisions but, I think they tried a quick fix that may have worked for one track and one type of condition. All tracks have a different character and it is a definite given that air temperatures change pretty much daily in any location. Maybe the best way to solve the problems of today’s high-tech racing is to use some of the old technology, (as Michael Waltrip has said several times in the last several years when asked his opinion.)

Look, I’m not a real fan of the tandem drafting but it does have an advantage for passing in today’s restrictor plate racing. In fact, I really do like the large pack racing we used to see in the plate races. Now it appears, at least from my view, we have the large pack again but very little racing going on. It is mostly follow the leader and watch the gauges until there are only a few laps remaining. Surely NASCAR, with the state of the technology they have available and have allowed and introduced, can come up with a way to keep the two-car drafting from being so advantageous and still make it an interesting and drama-filled race. (I have to admit that personally, I was not on the edge of my seat at all during this plate race…)

I don’t know, maybe it is next to impossible to undo what’s been done. (But then this is NASCAR and I don’t really believe that either, do you… ?)

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 10, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions