The NASCAR Cup Series teams take on the mile-and-a-half Auto Club Speedway oval at Fontana this weekend. It is the second of three races in the swing out west for them and it is the second real test of the newly designed Chevy Camaros. Oh sure, they were tested last weekend at Las Vegas but this is a little bit different. Some are saying last weekend showed they have improved but this weekend will show if there is consistency in the improvements.
In keeping with the Chevy improvements theme, I’d like to take a look back at the last two races for just a moment or two. You may or may not agree with me but, considering which cars won the Daytona 500 and the Pennzoil 400, I’m not so sure the best car actually won those races. Oh, I know what you’ll say. It’s not the way you run, it’s the way you finish. Or maybe you’re one of those that’s says you have to put yourself in position to win and take the breaks as they come.
Believe me, this is not a cut against Ryan Newman or Ryan Blaney at Daytona. Either one of them could have won and instead Denny Hamlin did. Before circumstances turned against him, Chase Elliott may have won. (Well, at least that’s this fan’s opinion.) He was also the dominate car at Las Vegas, but once again, a little bad luck on a tire change near the end of the 400 took him out of contention for the win and instead Joey Logano won. both Hamlin and Logano pretty much get a free ride into the playoffs and neither one was the best car on those two days other than finishing first.
Now I know it’s asking for trouble when I talk about what coulda, shoulda or woulda happened in those past two races. I know that Daytona can be a crap shoot right down to the very last inch of a race and I do realize that Ryan Blaney and Ryan Newman had the same chance at winning as did Denny Hamlin. The same goes for Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman at Las Vegas. If they hadn’t pitted on that last caution, maybe… just maybe, they would have beaten Joey Logano instead of watching him drive away. I can hear the armchair drivers out there saying, “that’s just racing!” but it still gets to me how “racing luck” plays such a big part these days.
Okay, enough of races in the past this year. I’m still interested in how the Chevys are going to do in this one at the Auto Club Speedway.
I guess it’s pretty obvious, I’m a Chevy fan. I have owned Chevys almost exclusively all my driving life, I used to race Chevys when I was racing. I do like them and I did like the way my Chevy racecars ran and, I have to admit, I liked winning with them. When it comes to NASCAR, I am still a Chevy fan and I guess I am biased toward Chevys and how they do, can and will perform in the NASCAR schedule when I watch or write about the races.
This weekend I was pleased to see Alex Bowman having the fastest laps in the two practice sessions and it gives me hope for the race on Sunday that a Chevy might make the trip to Victory Lane. Not just Alex Bowman but Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, William Byron and yes, even Kurt Bush. After the last two years in particular, I long to see the Chevys show up and be the ones to beat every weekend. I know that might be lot to ask in these times but, I have to be honest, would like to see it again.
When it comes to the race this weekend, the Fords look to be strong and Chevys have speed. Looking at it from the sidelines, either of those makes could end up winning the Auto Club 400. I’m not so sure the Toyotas weren’t working on long run speeds. With the way the tires drop off in a run, long run speed is going to be important to all of the teams and I’m just not sure if the Toyotas have shown all they have yet this weekend. I guess we’ll find out when it’s over. After all, this is the NASCAR Cup Series and anybody could win this one and it could be a Ford, a Chevy OR a Toyota.
Okay, now for a little bit more honesty and admitted bias for the Auto Club 400 on Sunday afternoon. I would really like to see Jimmie Johnson win this one. After all, it is his last race at his hometown track in regular Cup racing. I know it may be a pipedream but I would really like to see him in the final four going for the Championship at the end of the year. Who knows, this may be his week to end his winless streak and make a move into the playoffs early if he does so. I’m not going come right out and say he will win this one but it sure wouldn’t bother me at all if he did…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
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Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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