Four Gone After Kansas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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When the MENCS teams finish the race at Kansas Speedway this weekend, four will be gone from the competition for the 2019 Championship. The question is, which four won’t be moving on. This is an elimination race and there will only be eight left to move on to the Round of Eight.

Stress levels are high, especially among the six hovering just above or just below the cut line. Talladega was not nice to many last weekend and the Hendrick teams appeared to suffer the most damage. Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott and William Byron all took a hit in the points standings and all are fighting for the opportunity to move on to the round of eight. Clint Bowyer is the lone non-Hendrick driver below the cut line. He has his work cut out for himself the same as the Hendrick teams if he wants to move on into the round of Eight.

I’m sure all of this you already know since it has been the hot topic ever since the race at Talladega was in the books. As I mentioned above, Talladega was a wreck-fest that took a big toll on the playoff drivers. Of the four below the cut line, William Byron has the greatest task ahead of him, at least from this fan’s view, but I’ll talk more about him and the others a little later.

Even though there are some in the playoffs with little to nothing to worry about going into the Hollywood Casino 400 as Kansas Speedway, two in particular should be concerned. Of course you know that would be Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano. Even though they are twenty and eighteen points to the good, they cannot afford to have a bad day. There is nothing definite about their weekend unless they either win or score a lot of points over the others. Going into the race, the two Penske drivers look to have a fairly good cushion and are expected to move on but, if anything happens to put them finishing way down in the order, they could be gone.

There are six that don’t have much to be concerned about. Well… I guess it is possible that disaster could strike. It is definite that Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney will move on. Kyle Bush and Kevin Harvick are very solid also and odds are they don’t need to be concerned about moving on even though Kyle Bush has been struggling lately. If one of the drivers below the cut line wins, well… that could make things a bit more interesting depending on how the others finish.

So… the Kansas Speed way is a slick track and the Cup cars will be running pretty much wide open except when situations dictate they lift or brake. That means it is going to be hard to pass and will likely result in the use of some “chrome bumpers” if drivers decide to hold their lines. If that is the case, it could mean the flare up of tempers. Hopefully, those flareups won’t take out someone in the playoffs or someone trying to stay in them.

William Byron has shown a lot of improvement this season and this fan thinks he has, at least, hope of winning this one. If he does, (which I think is his only hope of moving into the “Round of Eight”), he will join Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson as winners to move on. I’m not saying he will win, I’m just saying he could and it would definitely shake things up if he did. Alex Bowman is in the same boat as far as I’m concerned. He has shown he can pull the proverbial “rabbit out of the hat” and I really wouldn’t put it past him to do it again. Chase Elliott won at Kansas last season and some have picked him as the one to beat in the Hollywood Casino 400. I guess I could go on and on mentioning names of possible winners but I won’t.

Here’s the problem. The Hendrick teams haven’t looked all that strong so far this weekend. Of course I am writing this before qualifying so that could change my mind. Since basically the three Hendrick teams just about need a win to advance or have some disasters strike those above them, they’re going to have to show more speed than they have so far this weekend. I’m not saying they’re up against an impossible task, I’m just saying they can’t make any mistakes and they have to have a lot of things go their way.

No matter how you look at it, there is a lot on the line for many and some look to be up against impossible odds. Their only hope, from this fan’s view, is to win. Unfortunately, only one can win and from my view, there are definitely four that need to…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 19, 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 Round Of Twelve Opens At The Monster from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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What better place for the round of twelve to open than at the Monster Mile. This weekend the MENCS teams will be running the package with the most downforce and the most horsepower that NASCAR allows this year. The Monster is fast… Very fast!

There isn’t a lot that can be said that hasn’t already been said about the Monster. Everyone already knows pretty much all there is to know about it. The only difference about this weekend compared to the race back in May is that this one is the first race in the round of twelve in the playoffs. The only questions to be answered are whether the results will be different than they were back in the Spring.

From this fan’s view, things could be a lot different. Martin Truex Jr. dominated and won the May race. Way back then, the Toyotas ruled, the Fords were running “good” and the Chevys were still pretty much struggling. This weekend things haven’t changed all that much but the Chevys are looking much more competitive. Chase Elliott won this race last fall and the Chevys have shown up this weekend looking quite a bit more ready to run up front.

After last weekend at The Roval, the Hendrick Chevys are looking to carry their performance level into Sunday’s race and it does appear they have a little bit of momentum going for them. Kyle Larson from the Ganassi camp also looks to have something for the Toyotas and Fords.

Now that I’ve mentioned last weekend, I can’t help but say something about Chase Elliott’s win at The Roval. Yeah, I know you’ve heard just about all you want to about last weekend, but I just have to give my two cents. You already know I’m a big Chevy fan and also a Hendrick MotorSports fan. It also holds true I am a big Chase Elliott fan. After he over-drove the restart right into the barrier at the first turn, I figured he was done. I had no idea he would come back from that setback and win. It was truly an unexpected victory even though the Hendrick Chevys have shown a lot of strength at the Road courses.

I have to say I had pretty much counted Alex Bowman out after his first lap happenings, also. As the laps wound down to the final few, I was as surprised as anyone he would finish second and was coming close to challenging Elliott for the win. It was a really strong performance for the HMS teams as they all finished in the top ten.

Oh well, that’s enough of last week for now…

I’ve already mentioned Kyle Larson and this fan thinks he could take his CGR Chevy to Victory Lane. He’s already shown he has speed this weekend; it just remains to be seen how he runs all the way to the end. Lately, that’s been their problem… getting to the end at, or near, the front.

From this fan’s view, Jimmie Johnson just can’t be counted out as a possible winner on Sunday since already has so many wins at the Monster. Sure, I know it’s been a while since he’s won at the Monster (or at all), but he still knows what it takes to win there. I’m not saying he will but I do think it’s possible. It all depends on whether the Chevys show their speed in the race instead of in practice and qualifying.

Of course, we all know the JGR Toyotas have to be considered as having a really good day at the Monster; In particular, Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Bush and Denny Hamlin. In the Spring, Martin Truex Jr dominated and won and he has been showing a lot of strength over the last several races. He didn’t perform so well at the Roval but he just can’t be ruled out as having the same kind of day he had in the Spring. I don’t know that he will dominate as he did but I am sure he will be someone to watch on Sunday.

A quick look at those that could possibly win on Sunday shows just about any of the ones still in the playoffs could. They’re not the only ones, though. There are several not in, but still running to win, that could. It is very hard to pick just one. It could be Chase Elliott, since he won last year. It could be Alex Bowman if he runs like he did last week (and as long as Bubba doesn’t decide to help him not make a turn as a little payback from the Roval.) It could be Kevin Harvick. We haven’t heard much from him lately but he still runs well. The possibilities are endless for this one.

Say… you don’t think the JGR teams have picked a bad time to go into a little slump, do you? I guess it is a possibility. I mean, they just haven’t looked like they did when they were winning all of those races this season. Well, that is, if we don’t look at Martin Truex Jr and the way he’s been running…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 5, 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

Sonoma Road Course With A New-Old Twist from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams take on the road course at Sonoma. It will be the same old road course with a new twist on the old course layout. Of course, I know you’ve already heard they will running on the old layout of the track which includes the carousel and it hasn’t been used for the Cup Stock Cars of NASCAR in a very long time.

So, what is so special about the race at Sonoma this weekend? Well… I guess you could say there are several things and one of them has to do with Darrell Waltrip. He is retiring from the broadcast booth after this race on Sunday afternoon after almost twenty years in that part of the NASCAR scene. He hasn’t been in an actual race in a long time but has been around NASCAR for most of his life. His first race in what is now called the Cup series was at Talladega in 1972 and he was a very important factor for many years. (I was a fan of his for a long time, too.)

Another reason this race is special, (and not just this season), is because it is a challenging racetrack and demands a lot from the drivers and teams for the entirety of the race. To add to the challenge for the MENCS teams is that this is the first time in twenty years the series has used the carousel part of the track and it is the first time any of the present day drivers have driven the course in this fashion. That should make an always interesting Sonoma Road Course race even more interesting and it could open the door for someone that hasn’t won this season to win and that appears to be the way many are thinking.

Of course, we all know there are those that are expected to perform at, or near, the front and there are those many think WILL win simply because they have won in the past. From this fan’s view, I’m not at all sure which of them might win but I will say there are those I would rather see win than others.

I won’t go into that just yet but, I will say something I never thought I would say. “I’m tired of seeing the same few drivers win,” even though several years back, I liked it when my favorite driver was winning a lot of races. I couldn’t understand, then, why other fans felt the way I do now. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that none of my favorite drivers are winning and it could be that the Chevys still struggle to find speed and track position when it counts, even after two years of working with the Camaro.

Yeah, I know they are making progress but I’ve been a Chevy fan for a long time and, in my opinion for whatever reason they chose the Camaro, I still think it was a bad choice and there is something about it that just doesn’t perform like the Fords and Toyotas on the track. I’m not sure exactly what the difference is but I don’t think it’s all about horsepower. That may have something to do with it but there is something about hooking it all up to the track that is different. I’m not an engineer, never claimed to be, but in my amateur opinion something makes the Chevy struggle more than the other two makes, even when they are out front in clean air. (Now that I’ve said all that, maybe it does have “a little” something to do with horsepower after all, even though NASCAR has limited the amount they can have…)

One thing about the race Sunday afternoon at Sonoma is that I think it will be much more interesting than the race at Michigan two weeks ago. The Sonoma track is narrow and yet fast in some areas even though the average speed is under 100 mph for this two plus mile circuit. To this fan, Michigan was a rather humdrum race and, if it hadn’t been for the cautions and restarts, it wouldn’t have had much action at all. I disagree with those that say it was a great race and heard more than one say it was great to see that the leader couldn’t pull away from the rest when they got out front. That didn’t make it interesting any more than the little bit of two and three wide racing there was. That may have been true but there was still a limited amount of passing and a lot of follow the leader.

It is likely that the usual and expected ones will run out front. To name a few would be the most talked about drivers like, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Kurt and Kyle Bush. Personally though, this fan would really like to see someone win that hasn’t won so far this season. Though there are many that fall into that category, a few I would really like to see win would be David Ragan, Michael McDowell, William Byron, Alex Bowman and, yes, even Jimmie Johnson. Though the others mentioned are the most talked about, these have a good shot at winning on Sunday afternoon also. It all depends on how the strategies play out and how many mistakes AREN’T made…

Well… at least that’s this fan’s view…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 22, 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

No Restrictor Plates At Talladega? from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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I know you’ve already heard it a thousand times this week. There will be no restrictor plates at Talladega for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this weekend. It’s another week of rule changes for the Cup teams and it should make for a very interesting race on Sunday afternoon. (Of course, it could mean another weekend of not-so-great racing as well.)

Alright, I admit it. This has been a season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series where the racing just hasn’t been all that great. (Well, at least that’s this fan’s opinion.) There isn’t anything wrong with change and there have been a lot of them this season but, from this fan’s view, the 2019 season has been a little lackluster for much of the time. (Once again, I stress that this is this fan’s view and you may or may not agree with it.) Sure, the last couple of races at the short tracks before taking a week off were better but, in my opinion, the season as a whole so far just hasn’t been all that exciting. I point to everything from the way qualifying has gone to even the stages being somewhat uneventful. It just seems that something’s missing. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me but compared to last season, there just doesn’t seem to be the same intensity in the stages or in the racing overall.

Take, for example, the qualifying sessions. Until they shortened the amount of time to get on the track and acquire a qualifying time, nothing was happening for most of the first two rounds until the last few minutes. Don’t you agree there’s nothing more exciting than watching the cars all sitting and waiting on pit road waiting until they have to take a lap? Yeah, that’s what I thought…

So… why might this weekend’s race at Talladega be different? What is it about this race that could be so different from previous races at the Super Speedway in Alabama? What else is going on other than they have removed the restrictor plates? (At least they still had no restrictor plates at the time of this writing.)

This will be the first time restrictor plates haven’t been used in over thirty years. They have made some other rule changes to the cars dealing with drag and horse power but the biggest news is the lack of restrictor plates. This will be old news to the avid NASCAR fan but they have a nine inch spoiler on the rear deck, an additional extension below the bumper along with a couple of other items and all of this was to control the speed so they wouldn’t need the restrictor plates.

So far though, the speeds have been over 202 mph when in the draft. That is approaching a speed that NASCAR doesn’t want to have them run at for safety reasons. It is true, when running by themselves, the speeds are much reduced but, when they get together in a pack, drafting speeds are higher than many expected they would be. The closing rates are much higher also and there are still questions about stability when running in the draft

I don’t remember a time, at least in recent Talladega history, that there has been such obvious concern for how the cars are going to drive and what it’s going to be like for the long haul during the 500 miles. Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying the drivers are fearful of the cars or the possibilities. I’m just bringing up my thoughts on how they have been talking of how they think the racing will be on Sunday afternoon. They are very uncertain and really and honestly don’t know what to expect. It is going to be a new and different Talladega experience for them. Well… at least for a while, until they adapt to the conditions created by the rule changes.

I hate to bring it up again but, as a Chevy fan, I’m just not sure the Chevys are ready to run up front yet. During the first practice session they looked like they just might be very competitive. After a couple of tweaks to the rules by NASCAR entering into the second practice, they moved right back down the speed chart to none being in the top ten. That may not bode well for them on Sunday in the Geico 500 but, I guess we’ll just have to wait and seen on that one.

When it comes to races on the Super Speedways, I have to admit I am still a big fan. That being said, there are a couple of things I hope we don’t see on Sunday afternoon. I really hope they don’t pick up tandem racing again. A lot of people liked the “two-car draft” racing but I wasn’t a fan. I guess I’m one that likes the door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper stuff. I like it best when they’re in big packs, slicing and dicing in and out of the lanes they’re in to make a run on those in front of them. Sometimes they advance and sometimes they fall back a bunch of spots and have to try it all over again. The other thing I hope we don’t have to endure for any extended number of laps is everyone falling into single file and just counting down the laps until a stage is nearing its end. I know there will be a certain amount of that but, I do hope the racing is better than that.

When all is said and done, there is a definite possibility that there could be at least one big one and possibly more over the 500 miles of the Geico 500 at Talladega. I just hope there are some cars left running at the end and that one of the drivers contending for the win on the final lap is driving a Chevy…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 27, 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

Controversy Reigns After Richmond

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>>> Sorry friends, but I just could not remain silent about the happenings at Richmond and in the week since. I have had my own opinion since watching the events transpire, but I have chosen to wait to vent until now. To say I am disappointed would be at least the slightest bit of an understatement. It is my personal opinion, all NASCAR fans need to take a long hard look at what the sport we love is evolving into and why what happened Saturday night with a close points race on the line could spell a lot of mistrust and trouble for NASCAR in the future.

From this point on in this article, I will try not to speak for anyone but myself and please understand these are expressly my opinions and I do believe I ask legitimate questions. Even though I am not naive, I did think NASCAR as a whole held itself to a higher standard than other motorsports and just sports in general. However, the entire weekend at Richmond has somewhat changed my opinion and, if the truth be known I think NASCAR blew more than one “judgement” call over the weekend. Two of them had to do with restarts and the stupid rule of not passing the leader until the start finish line. Even though these two instances stand out in my mind and I still question why “judgement” calls are becoming less and less consistent and appear to be more and more one-sided or even whimsical. I have to admit, (and this is strictly my opinion), the powers in NASCAR seem to be making more decisions that cause controversy because of inconsistency than calling them as they see them and being consistent. <<< (Oh well, back to last Saturday night at Richmond...) Well... Did he or didn't he?? That's just one of the questions on everyone's mind after an extremely dramatic Saturday night under the lights at Richmond. Whether intentional or not, Clint Bowyer's spin with very few laps to go made a huge difference in who made it in to the Chase and who didn't. From this fans view, there are still several ways of looking at it and, unfortunately, not too many fans or crews are willing to say it wasn't intentional. Of course some say there's no way Bowyer could have known what would happen and that is a good point. From this Fan's View, it doesn't really matter whether he knew what the outcome would be or not. What does matter is that his team-mate, Martin Truex Jr. was not going to make the Chase if the caution didn't come out and when it did come out, it gave him another chance. There is the strange conversation (from this fan's view, it was obviously in code) between Bowyer and his crew chief that just adds to the suspicion something was up and it was definitely to Truex's advantage if anything happened to the leader, Ryan Newman, at the time in the pits. The way things stood at that time, winning was the only way Ryan was going to make it in. According to NASCAR, they had no definitive proof or conclusive evidence Bowyer did do it on purpose but they found enough proof in the conversation between Ty Norris and Bryan Vickers to have to step in and take action. What followed was a decision to punish one team in a dramatic and unprecedented monetary fashion. That action only went as far as to remove Martin Truex Jr. from the Chase and put Ryan Newman in. Now, even more “evidence” has surfaced that shows others were involved in making deals to assure they would make it into the Chase, but at the time of this writing, NASCAR hasn’t decided whether or not they will take further action. I do understand the hesitancy but this whole thing could have been solved by what was called “the ripple effect.” If they hadn’t decided to draw the line at MWR and Martin Truex Jr, they wouldn’t have to be still dealing with this bad situation. It is my personal opinion they should have taken steps that could have dealt with the spin and the team orders to the #55 to come into the pits for a tire “going down” (which was another coded message in my opinion.) It is unfortunate that NASCAR has come down to this. Their integrity is damaged and the integrity of the sport is damaged also. Not because teams do everything they can to make it into the Chase (including making deals with team-mates and other teams to guarantee their spot in making it in) but because it used to be about racing to make the Chase. Now, more than ever, it appears to be more about who you can pay off (with money or future favors) to make it in and that is what is so sad about this situation to this fan. Like I said… I’m not naïve and I know this is not the first time this has been done (or the last time for that matter.) This is one of the first times in my memory it has been this flagrant in the NASCAR Cup and it is a shame. There was a time NASCAR stood head and shoulders above the rest when it came to integrity and fairness (even though some may not have always seen it that way.) Now… well… it appears any of those future conversations and questions about “fixed” outcomes and questionable finishes to races may just have credence. In my opinion, let’s get back to what it was all about to begin with. It used to be about the racing and the best car winning and that is what it should still be about. At least from this fan’s view all of this could fall under the cover-all rule NASCAR uses when all else fails and that would be, “… actions deemed detrimental to Stock Car Racing.” What do you think…??? See ya next time... All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer © September 12, 2013 – all rights reserved Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions