Taking On Talladega

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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When the NASCAR Cup teams take on the Talladega Super Speedway, there’s not a lot that can be said that’s new about Talladega but then, why should there be. Talladega has always been a weekend many look forward to and this one is no different. I guess the real question is will it be the “same old, same old” or will it be something even more than the usual door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper chess match. There is a lot about Talladega that doesn’t change but some things do and that’s what makes it such an interesting race, especially when the Cup teams take to the track.

So why would I even mention that Talladega could be the “same old, same old?” Well, to be honest, that statement can be taken a little differently than it might sound at first take. You see, Talladega is as unpredictable as any race can be in NASCAR and that can easily make the statement, “same old, same old” ring true no matter how you look at it. There is nothing about Talladega that can be foreseen other than, to win, someone has to miss the “Big One” or big ones and make it to the final checkered flag ahead of the rest.

Much of the talk this week has been about which of the drivers without a win this season might be the one to take home the trophy. Of course, the usual conversations have centered around those that usually seem to end up with a good finish at the Super Speedway and it is true. There are some that do seem to have a special talent for Super Speedways and some that seem to understand them even better than others. However, that does not mean any of them will be the one taking the victory. What it does mean is, this one, like most of the ones before it, won’t be decided until they cross the finish line on the last lap.

The First name that seems to come up for possibly winning the Geico 500 at would be Denny Hamlin. As I said last week, he has done everything but win this season. He has the best finishing average and he does start on the pole Sunday afternoon. Starting on the pole doesn’t really mean all that much when it comes to Talladega. Someone can start on the front row and immediately drop to the back until late in the race. Of course, no one is saying Denny will do that this weekend but it wouldn’t be the first time he has laid back waiting to pounce late in the race. From my view, I don’t think we’ll actually know until the race starts what he will actually do and it won’t be until the end we find out if his strategy works.

Now, from this fan’s view, I do think it is possible Hamlin could win on Sunday but, I’m not quite ready to declare him the victor. There are too many possibilities to do that before they drop the green flag. Several other names come to mind when I consider which of them cross the finish line at the end of the day. Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush and Chase Elliott are some names that immediately pop into my mind of possible winners of this one. All of them have shown they have what it takes to win at a Super Speedway and all of them have a number of wins in the Cup series. It’s just that they haven’t won yet this season in a points race.

Personally, my first choice as a possible winner this weekend is a toss-up between Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott. Yeah, I know I’m going against the odds makers that have pretty much chosen Denny Hamlin and lean heavily toward a couple of the others but, I’m just not ready to jump on that band wagon yet. That’s not to say Denny won’t win but, from this fan’s view, I’m leaning towards Brad and Chase.

Now, just because I’ve put them at the front of my choices, doesn’t mean they’re locks to win. There are just too many things that can go wrong and just about anyone can get caught up in someone else’s mistake or problem. Besides that, there are just too many that have a chance to win whether they are well known names or some not-so-well known. Just look at the list of drivers and pick one. You know, names like Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Michael McDowell, Ryan Blaney, William Byron and the list goes on and on.

I’m sure you can add names to that list and your choice is as good as anyone’s. The important thing to keep in mind is that survival is the biggest key to winning at Talladega. It may not be so much making the right choices or having the right strategy. Pit stops can make or break a good finish and penalties should be avoided at all costs. Of course, we can’t overlook that ever-present thing called racing luck either. Sometimes it just helps to be the one enjoying the positive benefits of racing luck. When it comes down to the last lap, if you’re still in it, you could still win it.

That’s what makes races like this one at Talladega so interesting to watch. Anything can go wrong and anyone can win. You never know when the Big One might strike or whether there will be more than one…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 24, 2021 – 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

Cup Teams Take It To Richmond

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Cup teams take it to Richmond this weekend and that makes three short tracks in a row for this 2021 NASCAR Cup Season. There is something different about this weekend though; Martin Truex Jr comes into this weekend as the first repeat winner this season and Richmond is a place he usually has a strong performance. That may or may not mean something, especially if that thing called momentum actually shows itself to mean something this weekend.

In reality, there is no guarantee Truex will have another good weekend and there is no guarantee he will walk away from this weekend with a win. Yes, he has had strong performances over the last few years but, in racing, momentum and that thing called “racing luck” can turn on a dime.

There are a few other factors that may go against him this weekend. One of the biggest is there are several other drivers that usually perform well at Richmond and any one of them could take the win this weekend. Beside the fact they usually perform well at Richmond, they are all hungry for their first win of the 2021 season. Of course I know you’ve likely been hearing their names all week long but, I’d like to repeat the ones I’m thinking of at the moment. Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Bush and, of course, Kyle Bush. All of these drivers have consistently finished in the top ten numerous times over the last several years and, barring unforeseen happenings, they are generally expected to do the same this weekend.

So… other than Martin Truex Jr, which of the drivers I just listed has the best chance to finish at or near the front by race end? From this fan’s view, I think the first name that pops is Denny Hamlin. In this 2021 season, he has been the most consistent finisher and has the points to prove it. He has pretty much done everything but win this season so far. Does that mean I’m picking him to win this Sunday afternoon? Nope, that’s not what I’m saying at all. I just saying he is one of the most likely to finish the day at or near the front. I’m just not so sure his time has arrived.

When it comes to Kurt Bush, he has had a relatively disappointing year so far and I’m not sure he is ready to break out of his rut yet. Of course, I could be wrong but, I think they are in for a bit of a struggle to turn things around this weekend. The same goes for Kevin Harvick. He just hasn’t shown his usual strength yet this season. I think if you asked him, he would agree. Things just haven’t totally clicked for them yet.

I expect Brad Keselowski will have one of two types of days this Sunday. Either he will run up front and possibly even win or, he will get caught up in someone else’s problem and end up with a bad day. Now, I know that’s not a pleasant thought for him or his fans but, unfortunately, it does appear to be the way his season has gone up to this point. Don’t count him out though. He could turn it around on Sunday.

That brings us to Kyle Bush. From this fan’s view, it could go either way for him on Sunday afternoon. Kyle just hasn’t looked like usual Kyle this season. He has struggled almost every week and this may be just another frustrating race for him. Why has he struggled so much the last two seasons? Well… I would like to offer my opinion and it is strictly from observing him and forming an opinion that could be totally wrong.

You see, considering there has been no or very little practice or qualifying the last two seasons, I think he is one that depends on those two things to tweak his car to his liking more than others do. He has even admitted to this recently and I do think it has something to do with his performance over these last two seasons. Now remember, before you get all upset, this is just MY OPINION and, as things stand right now, I’m entitled to that, right? I guess he could prove me wrong by winning this weekend but, I’m not so sure that’s the way it’s going to go down…

Even though it pains me to say it, I think the Chevys have their work cut out for themselves this weekend. Sure, I know they could show me something this weekend but, I’m just not so sure they will. I may be sticking my neck out a little but I do think they have a chance, especially the Hendrick Chevys. Chase Elliott, William Byron, Kyle Larson and, yes, Alex Bowman could step up and surprise everyone this weekend. It’s not that they haven’t had the speed in my opinion but, they have just not shown the consistency in recent weeks. We all know Chase and Alex have had their share of bad luck and mistakes but, they have also had times they’ve shown they could win “if only” certain things hadn’t happened the way they did. The performance has been there, they just haven’t put it to good use. This weekend could be a turnaround for the two Hendrick teams that haven’t taken a win yet but, from this fan’s view, a lot is going to have to go right for them and, as I said earlier, they do have their work cut out for them…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 17, 2021 – 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 Martinsville

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well… It’s another Saturday night at Martinsville. Put another way, just another Saturday night under lights at the short track known as the Martinsville Speedway and Martinsville is Martinsville and will always be Martinsville. It has been around a long time (it’s the oldest on the NASCAR circuit) and it is a favorite for fans and drivers alike. No, not everyone likes but everyone tolerates it and everyone does enjoy the challenge it offers every time NASCAR visits the legendary track.

What makes Martinsville so challenging? Think about it for a moment. It is a short track – the shortest on the circuit – and the cars are 3400 pounds, the track is almost flat and the competition is always intense. Along with the intensity comes the tightness of the competition, 500 laps of “rubbing is racing,” bumpers used and, at some point, someone (or several someones) will have enough of the beating and banging and is going to lose their temper. As they often say at just about every track on a Saturday night under the lights, “That’s just short track racing!” After spending many years at our local tracks as an owner/driver, I can assure you I know what they mean. There’s just nothing like short track racing on a Saturday night.

Now before moving on to talking about how I think the racing will go at Martinsville tonight, I would like to express my opinion of the dirt race at Bristol…

After listening to so many different people talk about the latest race at Bristol, several things stood out to me. Look, I grew up around dirt tracks in Southern Illinois and loved it. When I moved to Florida with my parents in 1962, it didn’t take my dad and I long to find a racetrack that, at first, we could listen to on the radio on Saturday nights. We often tuned in but couldn’t really frequent the tracks in person and we definitely couldn’t afford to build a racecar. After several years that all changed. There were two tracks in our area in SW Florida and we eventually built a car and raced. They were both asphalt short tracks and both were a lot of fun. We raced, we won, we lost, we wrecked and we repaired or rebuilt. It was all part of the experience.

As for Bristol on the dirt, well, I don’t know if it was because I was watching it on TV or for some other reason. What stood out to me was the people that talked about it in the most positive way were drivers (new and old) watching and wishing they could have been out there. I’m sure I might get a rise out of some but, it just wasn’t that exciting for me, at least from where I was sitting. From my view, the racing was just mediocre and almost the whole time, the one out front pretty much stayed there unless something caused a caution or a restart. There just wasn’t that much going on in long green flag runs and it became a bit uneventful, bordering on boring. Now, like I said, that’s just the way I saw it. I’m glad others liked it but it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

Now when it comes to Martinsville tonight, I know it will be the usual race for this place but there will also be a lot of intensity with bumper to bumper, door to door short track racing. There will be emotions surfacing and paybacks and bumpers used, whether from old grudges or from a night of regular short track racing.

One thing that always comes up (at least this year) is will there be another new winner for this year or will it be someone that’s already won this season?

I’m of the opinion it could go either way tonight. There are several that have already won this year that could pull off another win tonight. There are also more than a couple that haven’t won this season but are very good at Martinsville. To name a few would be Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott. Any one of these could end up with their first victory of the season and make it eight for eight on the season.

Did I neglect to mention there are others that could win tonight? You know as well as I do there are several that haven’t won this season and several that have that could end up in Victory Lane. I expect Kyle and Kurt Bush would be at or near the top of this list for me. Kyle is looking for something to go right this year and Kurt would just like to finish up front instead of falling back at the wrong time.

I could go on and on naming possible winners but there is really no purpose at this point. Let’s face it… this is going to be a night of tight racing on a tight short track with a lot of very competitive drivers and several that need a win. Taking that into account, I expect there will be a lot of hard charging drivers that won’t hesitate to move someone out of the way, especially when it comes down to the final laps. There will likely be a lot of cautions and a hefty amount of emotions on display. With those emotions will come some reactionary moves that won’t make some very happy. From this fan’s view, I expect that will make this Saturday night at a short track under the lights a very interesting one indeed…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 10, 2021 – 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

Dirt Tracking Bristol

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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So… NASCAR Cup cars are taking it back to the dirt. That’s something that hasn’t happened in a very long time. I know you’ve heard all about the history of NASCAR on dirt since they decided to make Bristol a dirt track for this year’s race so I won’t repeat all that. It interesting though, 3400 pound racecars on a dirt track for the first time in ages. It is definitely something that should prove to be interesting and drama filled, especially since it is “Bristol Baby!”

The first things that came to my mind when I heard about it was, are they going to make any major changes to the cars to run on dirt since they haven’t done it in so long and what will they do if it rains? Well, the answer to the first question is in the hands of NASCAR and the second answer is, “I don’t know.”

I’ve heard many say they think the drivers that have a lot of dirt track experience will have an advantage over the rest of the field. I have also heard many say they think the advantage will go to those with little to no dirt experience but have natural talent for the dirt. When it comes to this fan’s view, I think there will be a lot of things that figure into the final results and one of those will be how fast the drivers adapt to the difference of racing on dirt. Dirt and asphalt may have some similarities but, the two are not the same in setup or in the way the two are driven.

When I think about NASCAR Cup teams dirt track racing, I go back to when I was growing up in Southern Illinois. In my hometown, we actually had two dirt tracks. Both of them were frequented by drivers from all over the state of Illinois and the racing was always exciting. I even remember watching some of the older drivers on what I remember as the one mile dirt track at the fairgrounds at Duquoin, IL. it was also where they raced the Sulkies and other horse racing. Admittedly, that was a very long time ago and I was just a kid at the time so some things are a bit faded but, I do remember there were some big names in racing at that time there. Most of you wouldn’t know them even if I told you.

Needless to say, I still have a lot of questions of how the racing will go on Sunday afternoon. Now that they’ve had trucks and cars on the track, I have to wonder if they will do some work to the track itself. At the time of this writing, I had only seen the practice sessions and was surprised at the amount of dust being generated by the cars on the track, especially at the final practice session. I mean, it’s been a long time since I’ve actually been to a dirt track but, I don’t remember my hometown tracks having so much dust in the air even when they had special events in the hot summer afternoons. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there wasn’t dust being thrown up in the air at those times. I’m just saying I don’t remember it. I also know the tracks were awfully slippery to walk on and I was surprised to find that out when we would visit the pits after a race.

Another one of those first things to enter my mind when I heard about Bristol going to dirt was, how well prepared are the teams to deal with dirt clogging things up and causing overheating and other problems. What I saw in the last practice session showed an awfully large amount of dust in the air and it made me wonder if it was going to clog the radiators or the air filters and how the teams might have prepared for that. During that last practice session, Kyle Larson overheated his engine and will have to start in the rear on Sunday. Another problem it seemed many were combating was the amount of tire wear and were trying to think of how they were going to correct that so they could make them last the stages, in particular the last one.

You see, things like that will be the deciding factors in which of them might end up in Victory Lane. It will be a whole new ball game when it comes to tire management and keeping track of the water temperature and other assorted items they may not have had to pay all that close attention to when on a track other than a dirt track. Oh sure, they have to keep track of all those things on a regular basis week in and week out but, this dirt track thing is going to tax them to the limit. Add to that the fact this is Bristol and you know what kind of a day it’s going to be for many of them. Emotions will be high. Bumpers will be used and there will likely be some anger issues surface at some time or other. Those that have better control of their tempers and emotions will likely come out ahead.

This fan thinks at the end of the day, the winner will be the one that managed his tires the best and the one that kept his cool when it counted. I also believe it may not have as much to do with speed as with lasting till the final lap. From this fan’s view, I believe this will be a very unique experience for all involved, a return to what many will remember as their roots growing up. Whether it’s fan’s or drivers and teams, I’m sure many have questions and theories of how things will go but, I think the real proof will be when the race is going on and when it is done. Whatever the case at the end of the day, I’ll be watching…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 27, 2021 – 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

On To Atlanta

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Cup teams move on to Atlanta this Sunday and it is another race on a track with plenty of age on the racing surface. Some say it is one of the toughest tracks on the NASCAR circuit and they are speaking as close to the truth as any can. Another weekend without practice or qualifying is in store for all and that may or may not have an impact on how the finish goes.

Speaking of no practice and no qualifying, there are many that complain about not having them. I don’t know how you feel about those situations but, I kinda like them not having so much time on the track. It’s just my opinion but it seems to make the actual race day racing a bit more interesting. I have no problem seeing how the crew chiefs are able to adapt to the different tracks and how quickly they can do so. Honestly, the only thing I see as a problem with continuing the way they do is when they go to a track they have never been on.

From this fan’s view, it does appear that the no practice part shows the drivers that might have depended on the tweaking part of the weekend more than some of the others. I don’t if that is the cause of why some of the veteran drivers seem to be struggling a bit at the beginning of this 2021 season or not. Now, I’m not talking about those that show up every week but don’t win that often or at all but, I am talking about those that have a number of wins and usually ran much more competitive than they have at the start of this season. Yeah, I know I don’t have to mention any names here because we all hear them complaining (at least, somewhat) every weekend.

So, in the spirit of fairness, let me take the opportunity to “spread the blame” and take a little of it off the drivers’ shoulders. I can understand the drivers’ viewpoint about the lack of track time because they are the ones sitting in the car having to deal with the way they want it to be and the way it is. With no practice, they pretty much start the race with what the engineers suggest and what the crew chiefs determine should work best.

The difference between making changes in a practice session and in a race can be extremely large. When they have a practice session or two, they can make more changes to see which way makes them more comfortable without it costing them positions on the track. In my opinion, being able to make a lot of changes in a short period of time can make a huge difference in the amount of time it takes tweak their car to their liking. Without practice, those tweaks have to be made during the race and, whether the right or wrong change was made, they are stuck with the change, good or bad, until the next caution or pit stop when they can try something different. That can make a big difference in how they finish the day.

So, I guess you might be wondering what all this might have to do with the Atlanta Motor Speedway? Well, that’s a good question and one I’m glad you asked…

As I mentioned at the beginning of this, the Atlanta track is old. The surface is rough on tires and it takes a lot of patience to make it through 500 miles and even think about finishing out front and taking that checkered flag. This may be the weekend that some of the older favorites show their stuff in maintaining tires and managing track position and finishing at or near the front.

I mean, just look at the top eleven starters in the lineup. All names everyone recognizes and drivers that could walk away with the victory in the Folds Of Honor Quik Trip 500. Sure, I’ll admit there are a couple of long shots but, any of them could win this one. Hamlin and Truex Jr, starting on the front row followed by the two Penske Fords of Logano and Keselowski. Then add Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick. Wow! If that doesn’t give an idea of what this race could shape up to be, this fan doesn’t know what could. Aside from the fact that this is the Atlanta Motor Speedway and the racing is almost always exciting and drama filled, there are several others I haven’t mentioned that could pull off the victory, possibly even their first NASCAR Cup career victory.

So far this season, we have had five point races and five different winners. That means the 16 spots for the playoffs are dwindling down every week we have a different winner. With Martin Truex Jr coming off last week’s win and starting on the front row, he just may have the advantage of momentum on his side and become the first multiple winner this season. Kevin Harvick isn’t starting on the front row but he is a known force to be reckoned with at Atlanta. In fact, there many drivers to choose from as winners in this race that this fan thinks we won’t know which one will take it until the final flag falls on Sunday afternoon.

So… what do you think? Will it be someone taking their first victory in their Cup career, a rookie or, do you think the cream will rise to the top and take the win? Yeah, that’s what I thought you would say. I guess we better watch this all the way to the end and find out if one of us was right…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 20, 2021 – 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

Who Will Win At Phoenix

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Okay, so the NASCAR Cup teams are taking it to the Phoenix Raceway and there is one big question going into this weekend’s race. Who will win? After the first four races of the 2021 season, there have been four different winners and a couple of them won there first race in their Cup series careers. All of them are presently qualified for the playoffs and some are wondering if there will be more than 16 different winners this season which would allow us to see how NASCAR will handle that situation. Personally, I don’t think that will be the way things go for the rest of the season but, this might just be a year of more firsts for the series.

There are a lot of things to talk about going into the race this weekend but there isn’t any reason to cover them all. In fact, I just want to cover a few but, I’ll get to that shortly.

First, I want to talk about Kyle Larson. His win last weekend at Las Vegas proved he still has it. He can still get it done when it comes down to winning. After taking some forced time off and having strong performances on dirt tracks mostly in Sprint Cars, it didn’t take him long to deliver his first win for Hendrick Motorsports. After what he had been through, it was great to see him get the chance to get in a Hendrick Motorsport car. I think it’s great that Rick Hendrick gave him what amounts to a second chance to move forward in NASCAR Cup.

There seemed to be a constant message from the talking heads of FOX Sports and others that they had wondered what Kyle could do once he got in equipment like the number 5 Hendrick Motorsports car. Like I said, I am very thankful Rick Hendrick made the call to give him a second chance in NASCAR Cup after his “challenges” last year. From this fan’s view, it did appear the fan’s were behind him also and it showed in his first win after four starts for Hendrick. Of course, that wasn’t his first win in Cup but I’d be willing to bet, it was, and will be, a memorable one for him.

Also, it is getting harder and harder to think of Brad Keselowski as “Bad Brad” these days. My opinion of him has really been changing over the last couple of years or so as I have watched as he has matured as a person and driver. When he went out to congratulate Kyle after his win, I gained even more respect for him. Look, I know none of them are perfect either on the track or in life but, it has been interesting to watch Brad mature especially since he became a dad.

Okay. So now it’s time to talk about What’s coming our way this weekend…

The Phoenix Raceway can be a life changing track in so many ways. First there is the spring race which always proves to be interesting. Most importantly, it is where they hold the season finale in the fall and where Champions are crowned. Last November, it is where the 2020 Cup Champ was crowned and, of course that was Chase Elliott.

Speaking of Chase Elliott, there are more than a few thinking he may be the one to beat in this spring race. Now, I’m not going to go that far out on a limb at the moment but, I do have to admit he is one to watch from the beginning all the way to the end of the race.

Two others that many are talking about as far as taking the win are Kevin Harvick and Kyle Bush. I really don’t argue with that assessment all that much but, there is more of a challenge for one of those two than the other. Kyle Bush starts seventh and Kevin starts eighteenth. Since there is no practice and no qualifying, the entire field lines up according to the metrics of how they’ve been finishing.

The present system does sort of handicap those that haven’t been running consistently up front. Let’s just say, if a driver finishes first one week and then near the rear of the field the next, his job becomes harder simply because it moves him further back in the field. If he can’t overcome the challenge of his starting position one weekend, it could very possibly make it even more difficult to do so the following weekend. Is it a fair system NASCAR is using? Absolutely… but it is more difficult to get a good starting position once you get behind a bit. That could also affect how the playoffs look and whether or not some of the drivers can point their way in. From this fan’s view, it is probably why the racing has been so intense starting right at the beginning. Just about everyone wants to win their way into the finale and not have to worry about the points situation.

So… getting back to the title of this article, “Who Will Win At Phoenix?” Will one of the first four winners repeat or will it be someone else, possibly even another first time win in someones Cup career? Hey, I’m just asking the question; I don’t really have the answer. All I know is, there are a lot of drivers in the field hungry for a win…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 13, 2021 – 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

Cup Teams Take On Homestead For Race Three

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It’s the third week of the 2021 NASCAR season and it is the third week in a row in the state of Florida. Considering the way things have gone so far, does anyone out there think we could have a third first time winner in this, the third race of the season? Well, from this fan’s view, I actually would be surprised if that happened since this is kind of return to a normal track that so many previous winners can win at.

Okay, so what do I mean by “kind of a return to a normal track?” Well, I’m just thinking about what I have heard several say during this last week. This is a track that is normal in the sense it is one of the mile and a half tracks that many races of the previous seasons have been made up of. There are more than a few previous winners that can and have won at this track or others and I don’t really see why they wouldn’t be the obvious ones to choose from.

Since this is NASCAR Cup and this has been a completely unexpected start to the 2021 season as far as winners go, I may have to backtrack on that statement. I have heard it said over and over again that the Homestead track drives much like a dirt track. If that is true, it would only follow that those with strong performances at dirt tracks in their background may have a good possibility of winning at Homestead. Unfortunately for the younger and newer drivers in the field, some of the Cup veterans have a lot of experience running and winning on dirt. That being said, I don’t think there will be a third, first time, winner in this race but I can’t rule it out.

Taking a quick look back at last week’s road course race at Daytona says having the best car, leading the most laps and pretty much passing cars at will, doesn’t guarantee a win. Chase Elliott proved that beyond a doubt. He had all of the above and yet he still finished twenty first. It was that last caution that got him into trouble and then, a bad decision or two, and he was done. It did turn out good for Christopher Bell though. He drove past Joey Logano and took his first victory in Cup in only his second start with Joe Gibbs Racing. Once again, the old adage proved true. It’s not how you start and it’s not how you run all race long, it’s how you finish.

So… returning to racing at Homestead in February. There is something to be said for having all three of the first race weekends in Florida. For one, it means they don’t have to adapt to any drastic differences in temperature or climate. Other than that, Homestead is a challenging track for all and a track that normally mandates running up near the fence, just like in dirt track racing. That’s probably why so many think the drivers that have a lot of dirt track experience will have an advantage.

Of course, this is the year 2021 and this fan wonders if anything can even be a return to normal. We’re still kinda in the pandemic mode. There’s no practice and no qualifying and a largely reduced number of fan’s in the stands and the lineup is done by the metrics. There isn’t really anything this fan likes about lining up according to the way you finish in previous races, but it is the way it is and the way it will be for most of the season.
I know we all got used to it last season, so it is no big deal but, it really isn’t the way things should be. I can’t say I miss the practice sessions but I do miss the qualifying. (Well… at least a little.) Qualifying was part of the competition for race day. That was where someone could make up for not-so-great previous performances and give themselves an advantage to do better in a race and possibly make up some points. Sure, I know qualifying has very little to do with performance on race day but, having a good pit stall can be a big plus when it comes down to it.

Just take a look at the race lineup for Sunday afternoon. Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano will start on the front row (if they pass inspection with no penalties) and everyone else starts behind them. Denny Hamlin is one of the favorites to win and, with his pit location because of the metrics and because he is a multi-time winner at Homestead, he will definitely have an advantage over others.

Kyle Larson is the choice of many to win this weekend and, he also, is a multi-time winner at this track. Because he has not finished as well as Hamlin, Logano and a host of others, he will start seventeenth. For Larson, that may or may not be a setback but, it is a disadvantage to those ahead of him. We all know he is capable to drive up to the front but, the question remains, will he?

Okay, so there is lot that could be said looking ahead to Sunday afternoon, but there really is no reason to go into a bunch of possibilities. Considering the first two races and how they finished, will this one be a return to a semblance of normalcy or will it be different, kinda like the year has started out already?

From this fan’s view, I know which drivers I would rather see win and those I would prefer didn’t. What about you? Do you think it will be one of the young guns with a lot of dirt track experience looking to win their first race in Cup or do you think it will be one of the veterans with experience and proven performance at Homestead? Or, just maybe, it will be someone totally unexpected…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 27, 2021 – 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

Cup Teams Take It To The Daytona Road Course Again

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The NASCAR Cup teams take it to the Daytona Road Course this weekend but, wait a minute. You already knew that. “So what,” some are saying, while others can’t wait for the green flag to drop in the second scheduled race at Daytona in the 2021 Season. I don’t know what you think about this second week in a row at Daytona but, considering some of the weather elsewhere in the country, it appears NASCAR made some really good scheduling decisions for this season. Well, at lest from this fan’s view they did.

Now, before I go too far into this weekend’s race, I want to take a few moments to talk about Michael McDowell and his Daytona 500 victory last weekend. All I can say to begin with is, it’s about time. I can think of no one more deserving than him to be the surprise winner for the Daytona 500. I mean, think about it. He hasn’t really ever been in the best equipment. He hasn’t really ever been with the strongest team and, for sure, he hasn’t always been in position to win the biggest race in NASCAR like he was this last weekend. That’s not to say he’s not a talented driver because he is. I’m just saying things just haven’t happened for him until this year’s 500.

I remember when we all thought his career might be over when he crashed in qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway those many years ago in April of 2008. In fact, we never thought we would see him climb out of his wrecked car and walk to the ambulance under his own power. I remember it like it was yesterday and I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing when he had that terrible crash he walked away from. I remember it like the terrible crash Ricky Rudd had at Daytona in 1984 and the one that took the life of Dale Earnhardt twenty years ago. Those were all days to remember, some with great relief and gladness and another with great sadness.

I guess you can tell, I’ve been around a long time and I’ve seen a lot of NASCAR races. I can’t say a “Big One” at a Super Speedway happening on the last lap is that surprising because they happen all the time. Michael McDowell coming away with the win was a big surprise this year and (yes, I know I’m repeating myself) I can think of no one more deserving than Michael. He has stuck it out, worked hard and, from many that know him and have or are racing with him, he is a great leader and role model for those he is around. I congratulate him on this first, and big win for him in his NASCAR Cup career.

So… what about the Daytona road course this weekend? Is it going to be the same old same old? Do you think there will be a shakeup in which driver will win?

Chase Elliott is the most obvious driver to possibly take the win on Sunday afternoon. After all, he has shown plenty of ability to move to the front even from the back of the field. He’s done it more than once, even more than once in a race. After the Clash, there just may be a question mark about winning “again” this weekend. As it stands right now, he is the most likely, but, will he? I guess that’s one question that won’t be answered until the checkered flag drops when it is all over on Sunday.

From this fan’s view, there are several that have made strong showings in the past, especially at this road course at Daytona and they could be taking the trophy with them when they leave the track. Since so many talk about momentum being a key factor in winning in NASCAR, I would first offer the name of Michael McDowell. He is a strong road course racer and could pull off his second NASCAR Cup win on Sunday. Now I’m not saying he is going to or that he is a favorite but, I am saying it is a possibility and it could happen. In many people’s eyes, he may be a long shot, but no one can really argue with the fact that he is a good road course racer.

Another that has shown strength at the Daytona road course is Ryan Blaney. He ran right down to the wire with Chase Elliott in the Clash and, if they hadn’t gotten together in the last turn, he may well have beaten Chased to the line. Of course, that didn’t happen, but it could have and that’s why I mention it here as another possibility. It’s not the first time he has run up front at this place.

If you want to talk about obvious possible winners, there are many to choose from, but this fan can’t ignore at least two of the Toyota drivers. Martin Truex and Kyle Bush seem to always be in the mix as long as they can stay out of trouble and not make any stupid mistakes. (Wow! Did I just say these two Cup Champs might do something stupid that could cost them a win? Yeah… I think I just did.) Both have been strong contenders on road courses and both have ample talent to win this one. I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see one of them taking the win.

These days, there are many drivers that could win, it’s just a question of whether they can weather the competition all the way to the end and take the checkered flag and trophy. Sometimes it’s all about being in the right place at the right time as Kyle Bush proved in the Busch Clash when Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott basically handed him the win at the very last moments of the Clash.

So, will someone completely unexpected win this one or will it be one of the expected ones? With the way things have been going, that, my friends, is a very good question…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 20, 2021 – 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

Who Will Be The Champ When Phoenix Is Done

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Unlike so many other things in this year of strangeness, we will know the 2020 NASCAR Cup Champ when the race at Phoenix this weekend is done. Can’t say that about a lot of things with such certainty but, this is one that will be known. The problem at the time of this writing is that they have to run the race BEFORE we will know.

2020 has been a year of adapting. It has been a year of, “business not as usual” and trying to make things work even with a bunch of guidelines that had to be followed to the letter or there may be a price to pay. Somehow, NASCAR managed to stick their neck out and try things that hadn’t been tried before – at least not in NASCAR – and even though there are no fans in the stands or, at least very few, the season has progressed to this final weekend of racing for the Cup Championship. In doing so, they led the way for sports to continue even though it was, and is, a slow process. I’m not saying they did everything correctly but they did manage to pull off this season in spite of everything.

So, the question on everyone’s mind is, “Which of the Final four will end up as the Champion?” Any one of the drivers entered in the race can win the race but, which of the Final Four drivers will walk away as the Champion? We all understand that this is one of those weekends where there could be two winners. One could be the winner of the race and the other could be the winner over the other three for the 2020 Cup Championship.

There are many that think Kevin Harvick is the heavy favorite to win the race but, he isn’t in the Final Four. Many expressed their displeasure with the fact he isn’t in the Final Four even though he had the most wins this season. They seem to think there should be some kind of provisional start for him because of his performance throughout the season. Unfortunately, he had a great year but they struggled in the last three weekends of the playoffs and that killed his ability to compete for the Championship. Like it or not, that is the way the season and the playoffs are set up and all involved agreed to those rules and the way the process of elimination works. As Kevin Harvick stated in a post-race interview, at the end of the year, the Championship is won (basically) three weeks at a time. He then admitted their last three races were not good.

As a fan, I have favorites and not-so-favorites in the Final Four and really have no idea which of them might win the 2020 Championship. Performance is one of the keys to their chances but there is also that other important phrase, “Make No Mistakes.”

Without a doubt, it goes without saying they are all going to have to perform. All of them have made mistakes coming up to this weekend BUT, they can’t afford any mistakes this weekend if they want to be the 2020 Cup Champion. This is not a long race and even one mistake in the pits or on the track could be the one thing that kills any chance of being the Champ.

I have heard many say they think the Penske cars have the advantage for this one. Even though Joey Logano hasn’t really had such a stellar season, he has had success at this track before and has had two more weeks to prepare for running in this one than the rest. Of course, I know that doesn’t necessarily mean much when it comes to the race but, it could make a difference for him like it did a couple of years ago. (I just offer that up as a possibility, not a definite.)

Brad Keselowski had a dominating race at Richmond and said he wanted to use the same car at Phoenix. From this fan’s view, that could give him and advantage although that won’t be know for sure until the green flag drops for the start of the race. With him being that confident, it makes me wonder if that may not be an advantage in itself. Personally, I think it will but thinking and doing are two different things and, with the year being what it has been, anything could happen (and probably will.)

The one I am least sure about is Denny Hamlin. Although Denny has had an extremely good year, they have struggled a bit here at the end of the season. As we all know, he was one point ahead of Kevin Harvick and it was right down to the final turn before he knew he had made it to the Final Four. They did have some mistakes and have had some mistakes so that makes me think it is possible he could beat himself when it comes right down to it. Unfortunately, he has done it in the past but, that is in the past. This year he seems quite a bit more confident and he and his team know they have to be as mistake free as humanly possible on Sunday. He has also had success at this track and that could help make him the 2020 Cup Champ when this one is over.

Chase Elliott has shown he can handle the pressure and face adversity when it comes their way at the number nine team. Although they have had some miscues and mistakes over the last few races, they have always seemed to overcome them. Chase has proven himself to be able to handle what ever comes his way and has had some pretty impressive wins when it comes to race day. This is his first trip to the finale but I don’t think that’s going to be a detriment to his chances of getting his first Cup Championship. I think it will more likely be whether or not Allen gives him the car he needs to run ahead of the other three. So far, he has made a lot of good decisions and has left it in the hands of the driver for all the rest. Some think Chase shouldn’t even be in the Final Four but it just goes to show how prepared even the pit crew is for this possible Championship run.

I don’t know who the Champion will be when this one is in the books but I do know we will all know when the race is over. It will likely also be the winner of the race but that isn’t a definite either. After all, this is the year 2020 and anything that can happen, probably will…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 7, 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

Martinsville Decides The Final Four from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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This won’t be just another short track race. This will be the race that decides the Final Four for the 2020 NASCAR Championship. Well… one of those spots has already been filled and we all know it’s Joey Logano so actually, three spots remain to be decided. Some will say there is only one left to be decided and they could be correct. The truth is, unless a lot of things go wrong, it does look like the cast is set and not much is different than what most thought it would be like. Well… except for Joey Logano.

After a relatively lack-luster season, Joey Logano once again locked himself into the Final Four by winning a race in the round of eight, but I won’t. This fan wasn’t the only one surprised by that, but it did happen and, once again, he doesn’t have to worry about doing much of anything this weekend but showing up. He’s locked into the Championship race and the pressure is on the rest, not him.

Texas started out looking as though it was going to be a total disaster for a couple of the front runners, namely Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. When the race was delayed, the picture for them looked a little bleak and they would have a lot of ground to make up. Then, after three days of rain delays, the race finally restarted and, just about everything that could go right for them, did go their way and both of them ended up in a great place for going to Martinsville. Had things not turned around for them, this weekend could have looked a whole lot different.

So, let’s face it. Last weekend’s race could have turned out a whole lot different than it did and going into Martinsville this weekend might have looked very different UNLESS Hamlin and Harvick hadn’t finished the way they did. The way it looks from this fan’s view is, unless Kevin Harvick has a really bad day on Sunday, I believe he is pretty much going to be in the Final Four. Well, let me put it this way. He would have to have a major failure early on and someone would have to win their way in. The chances of him having that kind of day are very slim from my view and I just don’t think that’s the way the day is going to go for him and the #4 team. I realize I could be wrong but, I just don’t see him not being there.

So, if things go like I expect they will for Harvick, that means there will only be two spots left to get into the Final Four and that my friends is what is going to make this elimination race at Martinsville one of the most intense and pressure packed races ever. After all, this isn’t just another short track race. This is for making it to the Final Four.

So, I guess this is where we should mention Brad Keselowski as one of the top four when this one is done. Yeah, it would be a great place for that, EXCEPT, this fan isn’t so sure he is going to make the cut. He could be but, I’m just not “feeling” it. With the way the standings look right now and going into Sunday afternoon, it could actually be the Final Four but, there are a lot of things that could happen on a short track and mixing up the possibilities wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman are both presently below the cutline and either one of them could benefit from a couple of the others above the cutline having a really bad day. Just thinking about that could make some of the competitors sick to their stomachs. Don’t take this the wrong way but, if the dominoes fall just the right way, both of them could make it in. That my friends is not at all what I think will happen but I do think the possibility is there that either one or both could make a surprise entry into the Final Four. I admit a lot of things would have to go their way for that to happen but, “What If?”

Since I just brought up a really big “what if,” there are a couple of other “what ifs” to consider. “What if” one of the major contenders has an engine failure, or some other type of disaster early in the race and they lose a bunch of points to the ones not expected to move on? “What if” one of the ones below the cutline wins? “What if” Kurt Bush pulls off the win at Martinsville and moves on to the Final Four?

I suppose I could go on listing more “What ifs,” simply because there are a lot of possibilities but I won’t. It is more likely that the ones that have been running consistently at, or near, the top of the standings will continue to do that and there won’t be anything out of the ordinary happen at all.

When it comes right down to it, this fan doesn’t think anything really unexpected will happen unless maybe just one of those below the cutline could move up into the Final Four and it could be by points or by winning. I just reckon we’ll find out when the back and white checkered flag falls and the day is done…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 31, 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

Round Of Eight Race Two At Texas

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There is one person that won’t be the least bit concerned of how the race this weekend turns out, he’s already in. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about – Joey Logano. After managing to pull off a victory at Kansas last weekend, he and his #22 team have two weeks to work on the car they will bring to the Final Four at Phoenix. There are some that think that now gives him an advantage for the Final Four championship race and it could be a repeat of his run for the Championship in 2018. After a relatively lack luster year in 2020 Cup, that could be the biggest surprise to many that had already counted him out of the running for this year’s Championship race, including me.

As I stated last week, I’m not the biggest Joey Logano fan. That doesn’t really matter all that much when it comes to what other fan’s may or may not think but, even I have to admit his winning last weekend was a very big surprise to me. From my view, he just didn’t look like he was going to make it to the Final Four this season. I thought others would have a better shot but, once again, Joey Logano won a race at the absolute best time he could and he will be one of the one ones running for the big prize in a couple of weeks. If he didn’t have the win, he would have less points than Chase Elliott. (Can you believe it? After all the 2020 NASCAR Cup season has negotiated, we’re actually down to the last three races of the year.)

Logano’s win kinda threw a wrench into the works and really changed the look of the upcoming two races as well as the look of the Final Four. His win definitely knocked someone out of contention for moving on to the final round, but which one remains to be seen. Now it’s up to those below the cutline at the present time to win and make sure it’s not them that won’t be in. Which of them that can over the next two weekends will make the final show but, even that isn’t guaranteed if someone unexpected or outside the round of eight wins. This fan believes that will make the racing at Texas and next weekend at Martinsville even more dramatic and intense along with high emotions just in case something out of the ordinary happens.

So… let’s talk about those drivers below the cut before this race starts. Some thought Chase Elliott would be in the top four but, because of Logano’s win, he is in fifth place in the standings. I admit, that surprises me as much as Logano being where he is. Chase hasn’t been running bad at all but he needs to finish at or near the front in the next two races IF he wants to make it but, a win would definitely remove all doubt.

Alex Bowman just about needs a win or the worst to happen to those above him in the standings. Winning would put him in and make it harder for several of the others, including Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott. He has been running consistently but has been lacking track position and speed at times. He could win at Texas or Martinsville but this fan just isn’t sure he is going to make to the Final Four. He is another to watch out for this weekend for taking a win and canceling someone out for moving on.

Kurt Bush needs to win. Without a win I don’t believe there is any way he can make up the gap that opened with his engine failure. He had been running strong and looked and sounded very confident until the engine failure that put him well behind in points. Even though he is still upbeat, like I just said, without a win, he is done for this season a least from this fan’s view.

The two in the most precarious positions are Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski. Depending on how they run this weekend at Texas will dictate just what they have to do next weekend at Martinsville to make the Final Four. Of course, either of them could win this weekend but, there is no guarantee either of them will. I’m not so sure that someone unexpected won’t win this weekend but I’m not going to count either one of these guys out just yet.

I think Martin Truex Jr. this weekend is in the same boat as Joey Logano last weekend. He needs to take a lot of points away from this weekend whether by winning or just winning the stages and finishing in the top three or top five. I find it interesting that two former NASCAR Champions have struggled a bit this season and yet a win has put one of them in the Final Four and the other could be in with a win. (How’s that for drama?)

All of this could become completely out of sync if someone outside the Round of Eight wins and those in the Eight have normal finishes just like any other weekend. Has anyone ever heard of someone named, Jimmie Johnson? He has been known to rule at the Texas track in years past. Oh, that’s right… he hasn’t won in long time and is retiring at the end of this season. I guess that means he doesn’t have a chance of winning this weekend either, huh? Yeah, well, this fan won’t count him out completely just yet…

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© October 24, 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

The Roval Question – Rain or No Rain

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The big question from the Cup Series this weekend is, will it rain or will it not? Inclement weather couldn’t come at a more dramatic time in the playoffs since this is the cutoff race for the round of twelve. There are at least four of the twelve drivers that need to win if they want to stay in the playoffs and adding rain to the mix should make for a very interesting afternoon of racing at the Roval in Charlotte.

I realize the implications of rain make the situation a bit more complicated than it normally would but, racing in the rain is a decision NASCAR made several years ago. If memory serves me correctly, they haven’t had to actually do that yet and most of the drivers are concerned about their lack of experience at racing in the rain. In fact, many have expressed that they haven’t raced in the rain ever. That means they will have a large learning curve if the rains do come down, at least until NASCAR thinks it is too dangerous to continue racing because of safety concerns…

As a former small-time stock car racer, I realize there aren’t too many of you that care to hear about my experiences of rain at the track but, I will share a few things anyway. Most of the time the rain was intermittent or light and even when the track was too wet to continue, often we could dry it by all of the classes getting out and driving around the track many times to dry it out. Of course, we were small-time and didn’t have the same means as NASCAR to dry it out but it could be done and the racing continue.

If I can take another moment to express my experience, those were some of the most fun times I can remember from my old racing days. It was unbelievable how slippery the track got with just a little bit of drizzle coming down. Sometimes it would rain really hard for about fifteen or twenty minutes or so and they would clear the track, depending on the time, and wait it out. Those were my only times of driving on a track that drove like the old dirt tracks I grew up around even though it was asphalt. We weren’t actually going fast at those times but we could put our cars in a power slide almost all the way around the track just like driving on dirt. I’m telling you; it may not have been racing for a win but it sure was fun. It seemed it also made us better at handling our cars if some fluid was dumped on the track and that was a plus.

Now, that had nothing to do with what’s going on at the Roval this weekend but I threw it in for free just because I remember those times very vividly and I had a lot of fun along with many of the other people I raced with…

Because of the possible inclement weather at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the door could be opened for someone other than the favorites to show up in Victory Lane at the end of the day. It could also open the door for one of those below the cut line and needing to win to stay in, to make it into the next round. That doesn’t mean the favorites won’t be there fighting it out for the victory, it just opens the door to a whole lot more possibilities.

These days, there are quite a few good road course racers in NASCAR. The days of bringing in road course ringers are long over and, though there may be some that don’t like road courses, most of the drivers do at least make a good showing. I’m not saying all of them do but most of them seem to be able to handle the road courses competitively, whether or not they are running for the win.

The Roval is the breaking point for some and can be one of the most important races of the season for those in the top twelve going in to this one. IF one of those in the ninth to twelfth positions pulls off a win, it can totally wreck someone else’s chances of moving on. If may even be one of the drivers close to the cut line that ends up being knocked out of the playoffs. That’s what will likely make this race so dramatic. The possibilities are, or at least could be, an overwhelming disappointment for someone and a complete turnaround for another.

As a fan, I think it is pretty obvious that emotions will be high and tempers may not flare up immediately but, probably will at sometime during the race. The drama will only increase as the laps wind down and won’t let up until this one is done.

So… will it rain or won’t it? I don’t know but, I reckon we’re fixing to find out when the green flag drops and what ever is going to happen, happens…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 10, 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