The Playoffs Begin At Darlington from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Remember… this is the year 2020. What begins this weekend at Darlington many thought would never happen this year. After all, everyone had to take a break for the shut down and NASCAR was not exempt from that either. Some will point to the fact that NASCAR was the first to resume their racing schedule (even though it was altered from the norm) and managed to bring their racing schedule up to date as of this weekend. Of course I, and many others, have our own opinion of some of the decisions made by NASCAR during the process, they still managed to get all twenty six races in before this weekend. So… no matter what your opinion, the playoffs start this weekend, right on schedule.

There have been many setbacks in this season and I’m sure we all realize some have departed the NASCAR scene for good. If you’re reading this, it is likely you’re not one of them as well as I. I admit I am taking this opportunity to get some things off my chest and make my view clear. I didn’t agree with several things NASCAR did over the last several months but I made the decision to continue with my articles and blogcast even though I had very strong thoughts and concerns about several things. I don’t blame people for the decisions they’ve made or expressing themselves in the ways they have but, I made my decision and that’s why I’m still here. (Support me if you will, hate me if you must. I definitely won’t hold it against you. I appreciate you being here whatever the case.) I offer my view as what it is, my opinion, and I will not be intimidated in either direction for expressing it.

Now, if you’ve been listening to those talking about the playoffs over the last week, you’ve probably noticed they’ve already decided the outcome and which ones will be in the final four at Phoenix. From this fan’s view, according to them, the whole playoff picture revolves around only two competitors and those would be, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. Well… at least to many of those “analysts” I mentioned in bulk earlier. Actually, I prefer to call them “the talkers” rather than “analysts” simply because they do a lot of talking (just like politicians) and we’re supposed to take their opinions as gospel whether they’re right or wrong. Much like the afore mentioned politicians, they hope we’ll forget what they said if they are wrong or if someone other than the ones they’ve already crowned don’t win. (Oh well, I guess my opinion doesn’t really matter that much either, but I’ve given it anyway.)

Okay, I think I’m ready to get off that tangent and get back on the track…

Probably one of the biggest reasons I’ve chosen to talk about the things I have today is because, there really isn’t that much to talk about for the race this weekend. Other than this being the first race of three and the third being an elimination race for which drivers and teams will make it to the round of twelve, there’s not much difference in this race than any other race on a typical weekend in NASCAR. Yeah, I know if you listen to “the talkers,” there’s a lot riding on this first race of the playoffs; BUT from this fan’s view, it’s just another race until the results are in. The winner, if in the top sixteen, automatically moves on to the next round whether they are listed as number one or number sixteen when the race starts. If someone outside the top sixteen wins, well, that just means the drama becomes a little more intense and makes the next two races more important for those wanting to move on to the round of twelve.

One thing “the talkers” have brought out and seem to agree on is the fact that Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have won half the races of the twenty-six in the regular season. For some reason it seems that means their performance will continue all the way to the end at the Championship race at Phoenix and that is where I might disagree. One thing I’ve learned about racing, whether in observing or participating is, there are times racing luck turns against someone and it can last for more than one race. Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen. I’m just saying it has happened and could happen again to those that are the favorites. Look, parts break, engines blow and accidents happen. It can happen to anyone, no matter whether they are the favorites to win it all or the ones expected to lose. It can also happen multiple times in a row. Once again, I am not saying it will… I’m just saying it could.

I guess one thing should be included before I sign off for this week. One of the most prevalent discussions “the talkers” have brought into the conversation but it wasn’t unexpected by this fan. They’ve been asking all week which of the sixteen might have the advantage in the playoffs. Of course, their discussions usually ask whether it will be the older more experienced drivers or the newer, young guns. Yes, they do have a point in saying Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick have the advantage, if for no other reason than they have the most wins this season and have shown up ready to perform well almost right off the truck and able to adjust to the track conditions relatively quickly. They also mention Martin Truex Jr. as the likely third strong contender along with Kyle Bush finally winning a race this season and moving into the final four.

Well… I honestly have no idea if it will be the old, experienced drivers and teams or the young ones looking to make their mark in the future of NASCAR. What I do know is the younger drivers may not have the experience but they do have the desire. That alone could be the deciding factor when all is said and done; or… maybe not…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 5, 2020 – 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

NASCAR Cup At Indy In 2020 from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well… As you can tell, I’m back for at least one more NASCAR Cup race and this one is at Indy. I’m not sure if it will be the same without the fans in the stands but I am sure it will be the same NASCAR that competed last weekend at Pocono. Well… there is one exception. Jimmie Johnson won’t be there for what was supposed to be his final Indy 400 at the famous track at Indianapolis. Covid and the NASCAR process for those that test positive for this disease has seen to that.

For the kind of year it has been for NASCAR and Jimmie Johnson, you can’t help but feel a little bit of his pain. This was supposed to be his year of farewell to the sport he has had such an impact on and it has been one setback after another. After all, Jimmie is a seven-time NASCAR Cup champion and definitely bound for the NASCAR Hall of Fame at some time in the future. As a fan of NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports and Jimmie Johnson, I would have really liked to have seen him win that eighth Cup Championship. Not because I didn’t or don’t like the other two that have seven but because I would just liked to have seen it. Of course, the season isn’t over yet and there is still a long-shot possibility he could pull it off but, I just don’t think it is in the cards for him.

It is unfortunate that he hasn’t had stellar years over the last few but he has still left a fine legacy in the sport. As many have stated over time, he is probably the one of the most underrated drivers in the sport. He has accomplished a lot in his time in NASCAR and his record tells part of the story. The rest is told by the way he has represented himself and the sport on and off the track.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is well known for more than just NASCAR. The Xfinity cars ran the road course on Saturday after the Indy cars that same day and I imagine that may open the door for the Cup cars to run that course someday in the future. I guess it would be similar to the Roval at Charlotte. Whatever the case, that’s not what will be happening Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoon Will be a normal NASCAR race at the historic Speedway except there will be no fans no practice and no qualifying. That in itself could make it a very interesting afternoon or a very boring one.

To be honest, I have absolutely no idea have which drivers, teams and makes will win this one. I really think it will come down to strategy plays and track position. From this fans view, I am sure the Fords Will show the strength they have recently and of course, Joey Logano will be starting on the pole or, at least was supposed to when I started writing this, So I’m sure he will be a player unless something goes wrong. His teammate, Brad Keselowski, usually makes a good showing at Indy however I’m not gonna put all my stock in the Penske teams, including Ryan Blaney.

The Stewart Haas teams always seem to show up ready to race at Indy and they could be the contenders this weekend for taking the checkered flag. I’m not saying they’re the only ones that might win; I’m just saying they’re are the ones to watch, (well, at least as far as the Fords go.)

Just taking a quick look back at Pocono, Chevy fans may not have much too celebrate at the end of the day. They just didn’t run that well at Pocono. I think this will be a good test for the Hendrick Chevy’s. Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and William Byron could finish at or very near the front; but not unless they and their teams figured out what they did wrong at Pocono. Yeah, I know the Chase Elliott finished very well last weekend but I have seen Him and his team struggle in the past and sometimes the struggle becomes quite hurtful in loss of points and positions. Fortunately, for him he already has a win and that kind of guarantees him being in the playoffs.

I’m really questioning what kind of racing we will see this weekend. Indy is a fantastic track but it wasn’t made for stock cars even though they do very well there. So I guess I’ll just have to wait and see the end result.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 5, 2020 – 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

A Historic NASCAR Weekend At Pocono from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Hi everyone. I decided to do something a little different this week and talk about Pocono after the fact. After all, with all of the rain delays and lightning delays and no people in the stands, it was a relatively long weekend at Pocono and not just for the Cup teams. It really was a historic week for NASCAR at Pocono with all of the racing that took place over two days but what’s even more interesting to this fan is how difficult it seems for the drivers to adapt to no fans in the stands.

I have to admit that the racing, at least to this fan, wasn’t really all that interesting. Of course, Pocono is not one of my favorite races to watch nor is it one of my favorite races to talk about. You see I have a long running disagreement with the way they talk about Pocono anyway. Pocono is the only race track that they talk about differently when they come to the turns. They say there are only three. I say there are six. Why do you suppose that is? I assure you, I don’t really know their thinking other than they want to make themselves seem different than every other race track except maybe one.

I do admit that it is a different race track as far as the way that it’s designed. What I find interesting is that, at any other track, when you enter a turn and when you exit a turn, both are numbered as turns. But not so at Pocono! At Pocono, a turn entry and a turn exit is counted as one turn. If you look at a normal oval instead of a triangle you will find they count the turns as they enter, turn one and as they exit, turn two.

I guess if I think it through completely, Pocono is numbered similarly to the Indianapolis Speedway or maybe a Road Course. I guess it could have to do with the straight sections instead of the continuing curve at those two locations. You see, if it were me, I would count the turns the way they count the turns just about everywhere else that you have a continuing curve. At Pocono, there would be six turns. At Indianapolis, there would be eight turns so, as you can see I’m confused when it comes to the way they count turns at these race tracks.

Now, I suppose you’re wondering why I’m taking so much time to talk about the way they number the turns at Pocono and so little time talking about the races. Well I do have a good reason for that and I will share part of it with you. You see, I don’t have a lot of filler information or interest in getting into the inflammatory situations at hand. These are things that have to be handled individually and I don’t like all of the rhetoric that goes along with such volatile things. People can say a lot of things and vent a lot of frustrations but in doing so it seems that very little gets accomplished. I don’t want to get into that.

Watching NASCAR these days has become a lot like what the drivers go through when they climb from their cars after they’ve taken the winning checkered flag. I think I began to lose interest this year when they began to consider iRacing to be simply the same as the real cars being on the real tracks. I do admit, that the iRacing developing team has done a great job of building their program, their graphics and all of the things that they present to make it seem so realistic. To me, it is a great presentation for those that can afford or want to get involved in iRacing itself but it was no replacement in any way for the real racing in NASCAR that was preempted because of the pandemic.

Am I criticizing the iRacers? No, I just don’t think that much of Fox Sports for trying to make it something that it wasn’t. In fact, I think they should have just decided to leave the iRacing as it was and is. It was, and is, a game made for gamers and drivers to hone their skills. It has nothing to do with real, on the track NASCAR racing in any of the series.

Not that it doesn’t require skill which was proven when the NASCAR regulars joined in and had never done it before. It showed how long it takes to develop the skill. I didn’t even have a problem when they had NASCAR drivers join the regular iRacers. I did, however, have a problem when it became sort of a requirement for all, or at least most, of the regular NASCAR drivers to become iRacers. In reality, and from this fan’s opinion and viewpoint, I think they probably did it just because of the loss of revenue because of the loss of the real NASCAR racing. By bringing in the regular NASCAR drivers in larger numbers, they knew more people would watch something that they wouldn’t normally watch. To me that was a cheap shot at NASCAR fans. (Like I said, at least that’s MY opinion.)

We do live in difficult times for now and it is unfortunate that NASCAR and some of the fans of NASCAR have had knee jerk reactions to some of the decisions and things that have happened recently. I don’t criticize anyone, but all of this chaos in so many different areas and ways has caused me to lose interest in the sport that I’ve been a part of for many, many years. I also think that this is a natural progression for me and others. Losing interest has been difficult and maybe even a little hard to admit. I’m not saying I won’t continue watching and even writing about NASCAR but, I am saying it is more difficult to watch a race completely through or even write about it. I find I record more races and speed search through the most boring parts more regularly than I once did or just wait and find out who won later.

I don’t know, maybe I just need a break…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 30, 2020 – 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

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