Some Looking For Magic At New Hampshire

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The last thing any of those drivers and teams hanging around the cutline wants is to have bad luck at the Magic Mile. What those just outside or just inside the cut desperately want is some magic and/or a win at the Magic Mile at New Hampshire. Yes, those below the cutline are desperate and they don’t want or need any complications from here on out. They need some real magic if they want to make the playoffs. Those just above the cutline aren’t as desperate but they don’t need any more pressure or something bad to happen to kill their chances of making the playoffs.

As the regular season is winding down to a close, the chance for some to make the playoffs is to win and for others it is to continue to perform at the level that has them relatively safely in and maybe even take a win in these final races to secure that spot even more. There are several walking the knife edge and, depending on how those close to them in points do, they need to stay on the right side of that edge. A win could solve all their problems. Well… at least for making the playoffs, that is.

Some are in curious positions. Actually, a couple are in really curious positions and it depends on what happens with wins where they will actually be come playoff time. You probably already know the two I am thinking about in particular but, let me remove all doubt. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have plenty of points to make the playoffs but they don’t have a win yet this season and that could set up a very interesting scenario for making the playoffs.

I realize what I am about to say has a very slim chance of happening but, just for a moment, let me set up a scenario that would not only be a first for NASCAR, (at least, I think that would be the case), but it would only take place if the following happens over the next four races.

What would it be like for Harvick and Hamlin if, (and it would take a mighty big IF,) both of them remain winless for the rest of the season? Let me add to the equation. What if there are four NEW winners over the last four races of the season? Both Hamlin and Harvick have plenty of points to make the playoffs, pretty much no matter what happens but, if there actually are four new winners over these next four races, they would be out because neither of them has a win this season. The four new winners would be in because of the wins whether or not they have the points and Hamlin and Harvick would be out even though they have the points. Well… what do you think? It would be strange wouldn’t it?

Like I said, the chances of that happening is like zero and none but, it is definitely a possibility whether or not anyone expects it to happen of not. The facts are, they really need a previous winner in 2021 to win and keep their hopes alive or they need to win themselves and remove all doubt.

Another interesting thing I thought of while considering the race this weekend at the Magic Mile was how Kyle Bush has been performing recently. Now I may be wrong but, it appears he does run better when they have practice and qualifying sessions or, at the very least, he runs in the Xfinity series. His performance has markedly improved over the last several weeks and he has run and won races in the Xfinity series during that time also. From this fan’s view, it has appeared all season long he runs better when he has a little more time on the track to get his car the way he wants it. What do you think??

Okay, maybe I should get back to reality for a little bit here. There is no doubt the JGR teams have been running better and have been more competition for the Chevys, especially the Hendrick Chevys. Sure, I know Kurt Bush in a Chevy won last weekend beating out his brother Kyle in a JGR Toyota. That may or may not figure in to how the race this Sunday afternoon goes but it does need to be considered. All the Chevys have been running strong and even more than just Hendrick Chevys.

That just might be what makes this weekend’s race a little more interesting than it might have been were it not for all the other possibilities. Look, I’m not saying any of what I mentioned here will happen… I’m just saying it could and just how interesting would that make the next four races running up to the playoffs? This has been a very different year in NASCAR Cup and strange things could happen to totally surprise all of us. Are some of them far-fetched? Yeah… Could some or all of them come to pass? Well… maybe and wouldn’t that be interesting…

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

Cup Teams Take Second Trip To Atlanta

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Cup teams take it to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second time in 2021 this Sunday afternoon and many have already decided the winner for the race. Okay, okay… maybe that’s a little of an overstatement but, it is true in a little different way. Many have already decided which of the drivers will win but not all have chosen the same one. In fact, this fan can think of several that could end the day in Victory Lane. Some will agree and some will disagree but, that won’t change my mind either.

One of the first that comes to mind is Ryan Blaney. Since he won in the Spring race many think he has a good chance at finishing first once again on Sunday afternoon. That may be true but this fan isn’t so sure. With the way the Penske teams have been performing lately, it is definitely not a given he will repeat his feat earlier in this 2021 season. As usual, I’m not saying he won’t repeat but I am saying it’s just not likely. Of course I could be surprised and have to eat a little crow but, with the way this season has been going, I think the odds are against a repeat performance for Blaney.

Another thing that makes me wonder about his repeating is how strong the Chevys have been running in recent weeks and I’m not talking about just the Hendrick Chevys. Tyler Reddick is one name I have heard mentioned more than once this last week as to whether or not he might pick up the victory this weekend. I admit, he has been running strong and making some noise performance-wise but, he just hasn’t been able to close the deal when it comes down to the end of a race. That’s not a negative statement about him or his team but it is a fact. As an observer, it is possible he could pull off a victory soon, I’m just not so sure it will be at Atlanta. I realize I could be wrong and if I am, well… that’s okay with me. There are many times drivers have run strong consistently and been unable to close the deal. When they do, it isn’t unexpected and they usually continue on to more.

Just taking a quick look at the starting lineup tells and ominous story of the Fords. Now, understand this is not a condemnation or to say they don’t have a chance. A Ford doesn’t show up until the tenth position in the starting lineup. That just happens to be the Penske Ford of Joey Logano. Sure, I know he has won a race this season but he and all the Fords just haven’t shown a whole lot of strength in this part of the season. Brad Keselowski starts fourteenth and Ryan Blaney starts fifteenth. That doesn’t mean a whole lot at first glance but, it does say something about how they’ve been running in recent weeks.

Another reason I don’t think the race will go Blaney’s way for a repeat is the person he beat for the win back in the Spring. Of course that would be Kyle Larson and we all know how he has been running lately. In fact, if his teammate hadn’t spun him out last weekend at Road America, he may have been starting even further toward the front than he is Sunday. As it is, he starts sixth.

Before I go too much further, I have to mention at least two more Chevys. That would be the Chevys of Kurt Bush and Ross Chastain for Ganassi Racing. Both have shown a lot of strength and either of them could take a trip to Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Both of them have shown great improvement and both have put themselves in good position to continue on to the playoffs. Kurt has made up a lot of ground in recent weeks and Ross is poised to break into them if he continues his charge toward making the playoffs by points or possibly even a win.

Another look at the starting lineup shows another glaring reason I don’t think Blaney will repeat his Spring run. The four JGR teams start in the top five. One of them in particular is, Kyle Bush and his name has come up as a possible winner of Sunday’s race. Of the four JGR teams, he has shown the most speed. That doesn’t mean he is a shew in for taking the win, but it does mean he could. I think it depends on how the race goes. Long green flag runs have hurt the JGR teams and this could be another one with a long green flag at the end. If that happens, I just don’t know whether or not the Toyotas will have enough at the end of the day. I won’t rule them out but, I’m ruling them in either.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, the biggest reason I don’t see Ryan Blaney repeating his Spring victory is the strength I’ve seen from most all the Chevys, especially the Hendrick Chevys. Chase Elliott starts on the pole, Kyle Larson starts sixth followed by Tyler Reddick, Kurt Bush and Ross Chastain. Any one of them could take a trip to Victory Lane at Atlanta and there are several others not so obvious, but they do drive Chevys.

As you can probably tell, I really do think a Chevy is going to win on Sunday afternoon, I’m just not sure which one it will be. What I do know is that the winner of this one is going to deserve it. It’s going to be hot and slick and a typical summer afternoon and early evening at Atlanta Motor Speedway…

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

Cup Teams Take It To Road America

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Cup teams take on the Road America road course for the first time in a very long time. Probably most of us were either very young or not born yet the last time they were there in 1956. Personally, I was about five years old and don’t remember if I really knew NASCAR existed. I know I’m not alone in that but I have been a stock car fan for a very long time and a NASCAR fan for almost as long.

I will admit I haven’t been one to watch a lot of races at Road America so I don’t have a whole of knowledge of the place. What I do know is what I’ve read and what I’ve gleaned from listening to people talk about the place. It is easy to find out specs about the track, how fast it is and how slow some of the turns are. It’s even easy to find how long and narrow it is for the most part but what I have a tendency to do is look at it from a driver’s point of view.

I think some of that comes from being a driver in the past and just my general love for all kinds of motorsports. Looking at taking on the Road America course from that perspective makes a difference in what I watch for and expect. I know I haven’t ever raced in what is called the big time but, I have raced and I have raced competitively enough to be high points and season champ more than once. I know what it’s like to press the envelope and make it work and what it’s like to totally blow it. Of course, when you blow it, it usually means you lose and have a bit of repair work to do, sometimes even build a new car or mostly rebuild the old car.

So… what does that have to do with this weekend’s race at Road America? Not a whole heck of a lot really but, it does change the perspective as you watch a race on a track as challenging as this one. That just may be one of the biggest reasons I so look forward to this weekend’s race. Because I know so little about this track, you know I’ll be watching for my favorite drivers to attack this track, push the envelope and yet, not overdrive to the point they walk away with a wrecked car and nothing to show for the effort.

It used to be that drivers that put extra effort into performing good at road courses and those that were commonly called “road course ringers” were the ones ending the race at or near the front and often taking the checkered flag and trophy. These days, however, just about all of the drivers take road course races seriously and many of them could end up winning this race. Not all, mind you but, many. They still have to be in good equipment and still have to have the talent to outdrive or, at the very least, drive with the best ones. In this one, it is going to take every bit of the talent they can muster, they can make no mistakes and have to run consistent lap times even better than the rest. Even then, there is no guarantee they will finish first.

I don’t know about you but, from this fan’s view it seemed even some of the best road coursers were struggling to find a handle at this track. I’m not picking on anybody, just stating the facts. Kyle Bush wrecked his primary car and had to go to a backup for Sunday afternoon. Many weren’t showing the speed I thought they might but, admittedly, they might have been taking their time getting to know the track and taking care of their equipment.

Look, I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how I view going into this race and what I’m watching for but, it is important to remember how important this race is to those that aren’t yet locked into the playoffs or those that haven’t yet won a race this season. You know their names. I don’t need to tell you. You’ve heard all the hype and all the talk and the only thing left is to view the outcome of this one. It is going to be a wild one and it is going to be hotly contested. I expect there will be high emotions and more than a few hot tempers by the time this one is done. The playoffs are coming quickly and the season is winding down. I don’t expect anyone to be letting up, not even those already guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. This will be a tough race for all.

It is impossible to tell what is really going on in their minds with only fifty minutes of practice time and some never having been on the track before. What is important is that to win this one, the old adage is true… “To win it, you have to be in it when the checkered flag drops.” Wrecking out or sitting in a runoff gravel pit will do no good for any of them if they want to win this one. It’s going to take concentration, consistency with no mistakes and maybe even a little bit of luck. Oh, and by the way, Kyle Larson may win this one… would that be a surprise??

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 3, 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

Double Header At Pocono

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Pocono Raceway is well known as the Tricky Triangle and this weekend the Cup teams take it on, not once, but twice. As everyone already knows, it will be on both Saturday and Sunday and making it to the end of both races will be tricky enough.

Sure, I know they did this last year but that was the year of the pandemic. Now, well… I’m not sure what it is but it will be a challenge for them once again. Last season they learned some of what they could and couldn’t do but, this is a new year and a lot of things have changed. Well, you know what I mean. Different people and different levels of desperation about what really needs to happen this weekend… twice. After all, it is a double point weekend and some of them need a little more than double points.

Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick would definitely like a repeat of last year. Since neither of them has a win this season, both either need a win or a really good points weekend. I’m guessing a win would be preferable to just points for both of them.

Speaking of Denny Hamlin, he may not have a win this season but, at one time he had such a lead in points that everyone thought he was going to be the 2021 season Champ even without a win. Of course, that was before Kyle Larson started on his recent run of top two finishes, along with the fact that he has a number of wins in a row, of course there is also the winning of the All Star race. He is now only ten points behind Denny Hamlin for the series championship and has four wins to Denny’s none. If he wins more stages and at least one of the two races this weekend, I believe he will be number one in points and the leader for the series championship and possibly end up as the series champ. Naturally that would be much to the chagrin of Denny Hamlin.

Kevin Harvick has been hanging in there, points-wise, but he is also needing a win to guarantee his place in the playoffs. This weekend could be a turn-around for him also, especially if he wins one of these two races. For both him and Denny, winning is at the forefront of what they need and that is what they will be striving for.

Now that I’ve said all of that, there is definitely a lot of things that could stand in the way of them accomplishing what they need. One thing in particular, (or maybe I should say four things), would be the four Hendrick teams. No one can deny they have been flexing their muscle in recent weeks and not just Kyle Larson even though he is the main one. William Byron, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman have all been regularly running close to the front of the pack. Top fives and top tens have been a regular happening for weeks now.

Unfortunately, the Hendrick teams aren’t the only ones standing in the way of Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. If only that were the case. I’m sure they would have less stress if they only had the four Hendrick drivers to beat. From this fan’s view, there are a number of others they have to outrun in at least one of the two races at Pocono Raceway on Saturday and Sunday afternoons if they want to get what they need to be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.

There are a few young guns and some veteran drivers that want to take as many points away from Pocono as possible. A couple of veterans that would love to have great points days along with a win would be Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Of course all of the Penske and Penske associated teams are hoping for the same but they also have to first take it to the Hendrick teams and outperform them at the Tricky Triangle. The same goes for the Childers teams, too. Austin Dillon has been running at least fairly consistently and could surprise us all with a win, possibly even two. Wouldn’t that be a shocker!?! (Well maybe not to you but definitely for me.)

After all is said and done this weekend, this fan thinks one of two things could happen. Either the Hendrick teams will dominate once again or it could be a turn around weekend for those drivers and teams that have been struggling. It is possible Kyle Larson could smother everyone again this weekend but, I do expect there to be a lot of hard racing and high emotions along with some possible heated temper moments. It wouldn’t be the first time, and after two days at the same challenging track, it might mean some displays of frustrations and tempers more visibly than usual.

From this fan’s view, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Kyle Larson won at least one of the two races. Also, I didn’t forget the JGR teams of Kyle Bush and Martin Truex Jr. it is possible they have a strong showing this weekend but, I’m not so sure they can outrun the Hendrick Chevys…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 26, 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 At Nashville

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

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For the first time in thirty-seven years, this weekend is the first time NASCAR Cup teams take on the Nashville Superspeedway. Well… at least that’s what they say. But, is it true? Yeah, it kinda is depending on how you look at it.

I know you’ve been hearing about Nashville Superspeedway off and on over the last several weeks and it is almost like a new venue for the Cup teams if you consider that the Cup teams haven’t actually had a sanctioned race there in such a long time. It may not actually be a foreign track to some drivers and, depending on how long they’ve been around the sport, they may have run a lot of laps at the place.

Some have run here in what is now called the Xfinity series and in the days when NASCAR allowed testing at tracks that weren’t part of the normal Cup season circuit, it used to be a place the teams frequented for that very purpose. So, even though we can’t say it is the first time, it will be for some of the drivers since they either weren’t born yet or they weren’t anywhere near the driving age the last time the Cup teams took to the track.

So… what is so special or appealing about the Nashville Superspeedway?

From this fan’s view, one of the biggest reasons it is special is it is Nashville. It also appears it is going to be a race full of surprises and good hard racing. After all, it is a concrete track and it is, or will prove to be, one of the more challenging tracks in NASCAR.

If you’ve been paying attention over the last week or so, you’ve probably noticed many have already chosen the winner of this race. Yeah, I know you know the one I’m talking about and that would be, Kyle Larson. In his last six races, his worst finishing position is second. Over those six, he has three seconds and three wins. Even though he has performed well on just about every type track, he has particularly excelled on mile and a half tracks. The Nashville Superspeedway is a little under a mile and a half.

That could very well mean another win for Larson but, he does have three teammates that have been running really strong right there with him. In fact, the Hendrick cars have been the class of the field for a while now. Even in the fifty-minute practice session Saturday afternoon, the Hendrick cars looked like they were ready to take it to the rest of the teams again. William Byron and Kyle Larson pretty much ran identical laps to claim the top spots in practice. Since qualifying won’t take place until Sunday morning, I personally won’t know how they will line up for the race. This will be posted long before qualifying begins but, my suspicion is, the Hendrick teams will likely be at or near the top of the charts.

That may be sticking my neck way out there since anything can happen in qualifying but I am reasonably sure I will be correct in what I’ve just stated judging from their recent performances.

I suppose it is also possible that any one of the others could find something and end up leading the field to the green flag but, I just don’t get the idea that all that much will change overnight. I could be wrong and I know there are those that hope I am but, going against the performance of the Hendrick teams just isn’t something I think would be wise at the time of this writing.

Admittedly, there are reasons the Hendrick teams could surprise me and not perform as well as I think they will but, the other drivers and teams are going to have to step up their game a little. I know some of the drivers like Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin do have an incentive to take it to them and, of the two, Hamlin has been performing better than Harvick. That doesn’t mean a whole lot in my thinking but it is also possible either of them could surprise me. Another that could be little less of a surprise would be Kyle Bush. He has shown some strength in the last couple of races or so and he could be the one to overcome the Hendrick teams.

After last week in the All Star Race, Brad Keselowski did show the ability to run with Kyle Larson and I won’t rule out either of the Penske Fords because of that. Joey Logano and Brad are hungry enough to push the envelope at Nashville and maybe take the victory. Not saying they will but saying either of them could…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 19, 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

Winning Is The Only Thing For The All Stars At Texas From a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There is one thing different about this weekend is it’s not about points. Another thing is nothing really matters except winning. Oh, did I mention winning is worth a million dollars. Yeah… I know you already knew that but, I just wanted to say it to see if I could get a reaction. It is true though, every one of the cars on the track could win and the rest mostly just go home and wait until the next race.

I don’t know about you but, I’ve heard a lot a talk this last week about the performance of the Chevys lately. In fact, I have to agree with most of what I’ve been hearing and what has been said about the Hendrick teams I totally agree with. Yeah, I know that sounds a bit biased but, if you’ve been hanging around this site much over the last several years, you already know I have always been a Hendrick fan. I’ve been one for a long time.

That may cause some of you to right now leave here and turn to somewhere else but, look; you have your own favorite team or teams and I think that’s great. I just happen to have been a fan of Hendrick MotorSports for longer that some of you might have been alive. I’ve been a fan of theirs when they were winning, when they were losing and when they struggled off and on over the years. Even when they were struggling over the last couple of years. I can’t begin to tell you how great it is to see them doing so well. I guess lately you could say they’ve been pretty much dominating the field over the last several weeks.

Okay now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have other drivers and teams I like. It just means when push comes to shove, a couple of things don’t change for me. I have always been a Chevy fan, (yes, even before I graduated High School), and I have been a Hendrick fan for a very long time. Yes, some of those other drivers drive Fords. I’m having a tough time thinking of a Toyota driver I could mention but, there may be one out there, somewhere. I do like Joe Gibbs and could give Martin Truex Jr. an honorable mention I guess.

That may be the reason I think the All Star race on Sunday night is going to be a good one. With the way they’re doing the stages and inversion and all associated items that usually accompany the All Star race, I don’t think anyone at this point can actually pick a winner. Admittedly, there are a bunch of possibilities unless the Hendrick Chevys have everyone as covered as they have in recent weeks.

The problem with trying to pick one winner of the million dollars and possibly picking a Hendrick team as the winner is that any one of the four HMS teams could win. Many have already given the nod to Kyle Larson as the likely victor but, I’m not so sure, only because of the way the stages are setup. The last stage being only ten laps makes it difficult unless the strategy is played just right. The inversion might be trouble for many but, even though someone may be fast, it doesn’t mean they will be in position to get to the front and take it to Victory Lane. Another reason I’m not so sure is because all four of the Hendrick teams have won races and all four have a chance to win the million.

Other possible winners that have been talked about a lot coming up to this weekend would be Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. Both are winless so far this season but both could pull off a victory. Well… at least that’s what some are saying. When it comes to this fan’s view, I just don’t know if either of them can or will. Kevin Harvick just hasn’t shown that much so far this season. He isn’t running bad. I guess I would call what he is doing as mediocre, at least, compared to what they did last season. Denny Hamlin has also been finishing extremely consistent and just hasn’t been able to take it all the way to the end with a win, especially with the way the Hendrick teams have been running. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying he won’t win; I’m just saying I don’t think he will.

I suppose I have to mention the JGR teams of Kyle Bush and Martin Truex Jr. if for no other reason than they could be the ones to take it to the Hendrick teams. Truex has been struggling a bit lately but he could turn it around when comes to taking home a million dollars. I also noticed that Kyle Bush did take advantage of running in the Xfinity race. That really doesn’t surprise me since he seems to run better when the Cup teams have practice sessions. Running the Xfinity race gives him more track time and could very well improve his performance in the All-Star race. I realize there is quite a bit of difference between the two types of cars but the track time seems to help his performance. It could just mean he could take that cool million. After all, it is all about winning the money.

There are many drivers that could win this race and there are a lot of reasons there could be an unexpected winner. One of the biggest reasons is that they are running to win and running to win a million dollars. From previous experience, they have a tendency to be very aggressive and won’t hesitate to move someone out of the way to do it…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 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 Head Back to Sonoma

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

After more than a year, the NASCAR Cup teams head back to the road course at Sonoma. It will be a challenge and it will be very much business as usual. What I mean by that is that there will be no practice and no qualifying. One good thing though… they will be running the longer course with the carousel and that’s the same one they ran the last time they were at Sonoma.

The most mentioned names – and of course the favorites to watch for the win – are Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott. Since these are the two that seem to have road courses mastered recently, I guess their standings as favorites is valid. Since they are the most obvious ones to watch, I may talk about them more later but, I would rather move on at the moment.

First on my list and with the way the Hendrick teams have been performing over the last several weeks in particular, this fan can’t help but think there are three others besides Chase with a good chance to take the win on Sunday afternoon. Kyle Larson is starting on the pole and could very well keep on running at or near the front and end up in Victory Lane.

Another from the Hendrick camp hard for me to rule out is William Byron. He has run well almost every weekend and on every kind of track so, why shouldn’t he be on the list of ones to watch on Sunday afternoon? Well, from this fan’s view, he is on that list and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he didn’t take his second win of the 2021 season. Not saying he will, just saying it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.

In keeping with the Hendrick Camp for now, I can’t rule out the possibility of Alex Bowman winning either. Although his strength is not necessarily on road courses, he does have two wins and this could be his breakout weekend on a road course. Do I expect it? Not really but I’m not ruling it out either.

Unfortunately for the Hendrick camp, they don’t have a lock on winning races. As an organization HMS has been running very good and showing a lot of strength but, there are several other drivers and teams that have a great opportunity to win this weekend. Some of those need a win to solidify their spots in trying to get to the playoffs. Sure, I know there are eleven races left to make it but, time has a tendency to run out, especially if there is a struggle with performance. From my view, several teams have shown strength but have not had much consistency. That’s not to say they won’t find what they need to start running up front, but it is also not to say they will. After all, the Hendrick teams struggled for a couple of years before they started running the way they have this season.

In my opinion, the Gibbs teams could be the ones to break out this weekend at Sonoma. Kyle Bush has shown the most in the last couple of weeks but, Denny Hamlin may be struggling and he still manages to finish most races in the top ten even though no win yet. Does that mean he is my pick to win this weekend? No, not all. I’m just saying consistency pays off and his chances of winning are good if he continues consistently running at or near the front. Of course we all know Martin Truex Jr. is part of that camp along with Christopher Bell and he already has a road course win this season.

This is where it becomes a bit more difficult. There are a number of drivers that show a lot of road course prowess and, though there are a number of them, it is hard to say which of them might pull off the victory at Sonoma. It could be difficult because the ones I’m thinking of are spread out over several teams and because there are a number of good road course racers in the Cup series now. I could probably start right here and name of a number of drivers I think could win, but instead, let me just mention a few.

There is really no way to not mention someone like Kevin Harvick. I know his road course record may not look all that good but he is still someone that can and has won on a road course. If for no other reason, that is why I mention him here. Along with him at SHR are a couple of young guns named Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer. Although I’m not expecting them to win, they could and not many would be surprised.

Probably the biggest surprise of those struggling this season would be Team Penske. without going into a long dissertation here, let’s just say Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney or Brad Keselowski might take it to the rest of the field and end up in Victory Lane. Of course another strong road course racer, also in a Ford, would be Michael McDowell. Would it be a shock to see him end up in Victory Lane Sunday afternoon? Yeah, it probably would but it isn’t outside the realm of possibilities.

You see, that’s why I think the race at Sonoma this weekend is going to be so interesting. With all of the possibilities from so many different drivers and teams, it is just could be one of the most interesting road course races of the year. No one is guaranteed to win and no one is guaranteed to lose.

So… what do you think? Do you think there will be a repeat winner, a different winner or a first-time career winner at Sonoma this Sunday afternoon? Yeah, that’s kinda what I thought you’d say…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 05, 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

The 2021 Coca-Cola 600 At Charlotte

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There are a few differences for the race this weekend at The Charlotte Motor Speedway. For starters, they got to practice and they get to qualify. For some, just the fact that they got to spend fifty minutes of practice and try some different setups may make a big difference when they take to the track late Sunday afternoon and into the night. For others, well…

As a NASCAR fan and having been an owner/driver at local tracks, I have not missed the hours of practice they used to get. Of course, I know many of you will say, “So what?!?! You were just small time and local. These are the best drivers in the world and they need the track time.”

Well… that is precisely my point in making the statement I just did. You see, I have enjoyed the racing quite a bit more since they have had that little-to-no track time before they hit it for the race. From my view, the lack of practice and qualifying has been somewhat of an equalizer. In some ways, it is just like local racing. We didn’t get hours of practice. We did get some time on race night but, for the most part, we did kinda have to run what we arrived with and really didn’t have much time to make major changes.

It has been interesting to see how some drivers and teams have adapted to the way things changed due to the “pandemic” and it also has become obvious which of them seemed to depend on that extra track time and how not having it has affected their performance. No matter though, they have risen to the challenge. Even though it might take a few pit stops, they usually get their cars tweaked to the way they need it to be more competitive. Personally, I think it just adds to the drama that unfolds during the race.

Okay, that’s enough of that for now.

Memorial Day weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the special weekends in a NASCAR season. It is a very patriotic weekend commemorating the men and women in the military that gave their lives for while in serving this country. Many cars will be sporting paint schemes specifically for this weekend and it will be a time of honoring and remembering those fallen heroes.

This year’s race will still be 600 miles but could have a different face show up in Victory Lane. Martin Truex Jr. has often been mentioned as one of the ones to watch this weekend and he does have outstanding stats for this track, especially in recent years. Truex has had a very decent year so far but, he has struggled at times. whether or not this weekend will be one of domination or struggle remains to be seen and, from this fan’s view, it could go either way.

Kyle Larson is another name that has been mentioned often for this weekend and for good reasons. He has had a number of second place finishes this season along with one win. It seems every weekend, they show up with a car and driver ready to run up front and, if things had gone his way, he could already have multiple wins. Yes, he is that fast and he could take the win when it’s done.

I’m not sure but, with the way the Hendrick teams have been running, there are three other possible winners from that camp. All of them have been running strong recently and Chase Elliott, William Byron or Alex Bowman could just as easily end up in Victory Lane at the end of the 600 miles. As usual, 600 miles is a long time and anything could happen but, the Hendrick teams have to be considered as possible winners of this one.

With the extra track time for practice, (uh, all fifty minutes of it), there could be some tighter competition from certain drivers and teams. A couple in particular, at least form my view, would be Denny Hamlin and Kyle Bush. In particular, I’m thinking the extra time to tweak on his car would benefit Kyle Bush since he has often mentioned how much he missed being able to practice. I’m not making any kind of statement here, just stating the facts as I understand them. As for Denny Hamlin, well, I’m just not sure if he will win, but he could. He has been running really well this season and, as many have stated over and over in recent weeks, he is due for a win. It may not happen this weekend, but…

When it comes to the Stewart/Haas and Richard Childress teams, I guess the best thing I can say is they do show promising speed so far this weekend so how could this fan discount their possibilities for a win Sunday night. There are also some smaller teams that could surprise all of us by taking a win Sunday night.

So, after all is said and done, the questions still remain. Will there be another first time winner in 2021 or will someone totally unexpected make the trip to Victory Lane and add to the ever-shrinking list of spots available to make the top sixteen for the playoffs? That my friends is a question I don’t have an answer for at this moment but, I’m sure it will be answered by the end of 600 miles in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 29, 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 COTA For The First Time

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Let’s see… the Cup teams are taking on a road course called Circuit of the Americas (uh, that’s COTA for short) and it is a brand-new notebook for them. At least they get fifty minutes of practice to get a start on it. Another thing that might help is that there will be qualifying on the same day as race day. That may or may not be a help for some that need to have a good day on a road course.

If you’ve been paying attention to all the talk about the Truck and Xfinity races, some of the Cup drivers are taking advantage of the extra track time that will afford. I guess we will see how that works out. I’m guessing it will help some but I’m not so sure it will change the outcome on Sunday afternoon.

As a fan, there are a lot of things about this track that should make for a very interesting race on Sunday afternoon. I know you already know all this stuff, but looking at the track facts, there is an elevation change of one hundred and thirty-three feet. There are 20 turns, eleven of which are left hand turns and nine are right handers. If you’ve been listening to the talking heads over the last several weeks, you’ve heard them describe this track as a very technical track. In my terms, that means there are some things you can do and get away with it and there are some that will burn you if you step over the line.

Taking a quick look back at last weekend at Dover, how about the performance of the Hendrick teams. Alex Bowman becoming the second multi-race winner in this 2021 NASCAR Cup season followed by his teammates, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and William Byron. That gave the Hendrick teams the top four spots at the end of the day and what an accomplishment that was. Still, Chase Elliott has no win this season even though he has been performing relatively well.

Of course, you’ve heard the chatter about how there is no reason to be concerned for the 2020 Champ to stay winless because the last half of the season is where he has performed better in previous years. That may very well be the case again this season. Since he has shown himself to be the relative master on road courses, this being a road course just might be his time to shine. There are those that say if he doesn’t get it done on COTA, he still has several other road courses to get that elusive win this season and several other tracks he can take a win, and maybe more, before the regular season ends.

Although Chase is very good on road courses, there is no guarantee he will end up as the victor on Sunday. There are several others known to be good road course drivers and any one of them could make it to Victory Lane in this inaugural race at the Circuit of the Americas. To name a few, how about the names of veterans like Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Bush, Kurt Bush, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and a number of newer ones able to win on a road course? This being the first visit to this track for most if not all, anybody could win this one.

The other wrinkle that may help decide the race winner would be the weather. Depending on which weather service you check, tomorrow may be a rainy day and it may have lightning included, which could throw an even further wrinkle into the mix. I’m not exactly sure at the time of this writing but, it could be a long and rainy time of racing for the Cup teams.

With NASCAR making the addition of rain tires and running on the rainy and wet track, it could change the whole way the drivers attack the course. Some may struggle because they won’t be able to attack the turns the way they would like to get an advantage in the passing zones. This is where things get shady for me as a fan. Since I don’t understand or know the way NASCAR will make decisions when it comes to rain and lightning, I don’t know just how it can, or will, affect the race. Will there be something that can cause them to cancel and continue on another day? I suppose there might be light or heavy time of rain and there will likely be times of no rain at all.

I do suppose they will do there darndest to have the race and have it be a full race. We can’t discount that there may be a time they call the race official even though they only make it to halfway or further. Yeah, I realize they always do what they can to have a fully completed race but, this is a circumstance they don’t often have to face. Unless there is a definite pattern to follow, it will likely be decisions made lap-by-lap until they either can or can’t continue.

Personally, I hope they get to race and that the track stays relatively dry and racy throughout the afternoon. As fans, we just want to watch an interesting race. If it rains a lot during the race, there just may not be much passing going on. It will likely be a race that will be decided by strategy and, with the weather uncertainty, I still say anybody can win this one…

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

Taking On The Monster At Dover

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There is a Monster that often rears its head in NASCAR. That Monster resides at the one-mile oval called the Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. This Monster has resided at this location since 1969. Sometimes the Monster is docile but will reach out and grab a car or two and squeeze most of the life out of them. At other times, the Monster is hungry and can devour many cars in one big bite of bending metal, screaming-smoking tires and the crushed dreams of many would be monster tamers. That’s just the nature of this beast and has been for a long, long time. Oh, by the way… The monster’s name is Miles.

There are some that have tamed the Monster. The best, at least for the present, is one called Jimmie Johnson but, he is a retired Monster tamer so Miles won’t have to worry about him. There are others that have shown an ability to tame the Monster at times but, none have done it with such consistency as the retired one. These others, with names most already know, will once again take to the track on Sunday afternoon to take on the Monster.

According to those in the know, there are several favored ones expected to stand strong against the Monster. A few would be the names of, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kyle Bush, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and one called, Chase Elliott. It is rumored that one or two of these brave and courageous favored ones may have an advantage over the Monster, at least, for this weekend. What is unknown is which of them has the greatest advantage. There is a weapon at least two of these brave drivers wield to try and defeat the monster and take the victory. That weapon is called the great “Mo” which is short for momentum and the two that seem to have it on their side are, Truex and Larson.

From this fan’s view, the two just mentioned could be quite obvious choices for strong showings this Sunday afternoon if we just look at the last two weeks of racing at Kansas and Darlington. Both have run really strong and, even though Larson led the most laps at Kansas, he didn’t win. Last weekend, Truex dominated at Darlington and many expect he is the obvious choice to claim Monster tamer this weekend. Both of these favored ones do look to have a very good chance at taming, yes, even defeating the Monster and claiming the victory.

One of the biggest questions being asked again this week is whether or not there will be a new winner this weekend. So far this season, there have been eleven different winners out of thirteen races. That doesn’t leave that many spots to make the playoffs without a win and there are several that need a win to make it. If things continue as they have, it is possible that even winning one race will not guarantee a spot in the playoffs. If a driver has won a race but not performed very well since, they may not make the top sixteen for the playoffs. That would be a first for the playoffs as they stand now.

So, of the other favored ones, which of them is the most likely to succeed against the Monster on Sunday?

Well, one of the most talked about is Denny Hamlin. Almost everyone is saying he is due and, according to how he’s been running this season, they might be right. He still has the most points and is the Championship leader even though he has not won a race yet. It is true; he has run good almost every week but something always seems to happen that keeps him from taking the top spot at the end.

Many thought Kevin Harvick would have already won a race this season but, he hasn’t. He is another of the favored ones against the Monster this weekend and he has defeated the Monster before. Perhaps he will end up the victor when the Monster calms down after the final checkered flag falls. I’m not ruling him out but he does have a challenge before him.

The same goes for the one called, Chase Elliott. Even though he is the reigning series Champion, he has struggled often so far this season. Though many think he will conquer Miles the Monster on Sunday afternoon and he has defeated him once before, I’m not so sure he is ready to claim that elusive victory yet.

Unfortunately, there are others, many others, in fact. Some of them are spoken of as strong contenders, while others are hardly mentioned in anyone’s expectations or conversations. Of all the ones that are hardly mentioned, some have a very good chance at standing above the other rivals and holding the trophy, depicting Miles the Monster, over their heads and becoming the twelfth winner in the 2021 NASCAR Cup season. Which of them it might be will have to wait until the battle begins, and ends, on Sunday afternoon taking on the Monster in Dover, Delaware…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 15, 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

Throwback Weekend At Darlington

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Darlington is one of the oldest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. It’s been around a long time. Along with all of those years, are a lot of memories that cover a lot of cars and drivers from the distant past to the present. Also, along with those cars and drivers were various and memorable paint designs and colors that were unique to the various teams and times. Many of them even dressed their pit crews in varying and unique types of clothes that set them apart from the others. But then, you already know all of that because you’ve been hearing about it again and again, in particular, over the last several weeks.

Throwback weekend is a time that the NASCAR teams honor people, cars, paint schemes from the past and also things from the present that the drivers and crews want to represent. All of it is based on memories either from their favorite drivers, teams, or car paint schemes and colors to represent those things and memories from either NASCAR’s past or their own. It is an interesting and nostalgic time for everyone involved, including the fans both old and new.

If I may, I’d like to go throwback for a moment or two to last week’s race at Kansas. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am glad Kyle Bush managed to pull out the victory but, in all honesty, I would have rather see the person that led the most laps and had the best car all race long, win. Of course, you know that was the other Kyle, Kyle Larson. Had the last laps of the race not gone the way they did with several cautions and he had not lost position before the last caution, I really do think he would have won. It would have been great had he won if, for no other reason, the tribute of the car paint scheme, etc. to Rick Hendrick’s son, Ricky. Sadly, the plane crash that took Ricky’s life also took the life of several family and others associated with the Hendrick family. It was a sad day when that happened years ago and, to this long-time fan, it would have been a great finish to this race a Kansas to see Larson come away with the victory. It didn’t happen that way though and I still congratulate Kyle Bush; he has his own life challenges to contend with.

Now, back to Darlington…

So far this season, we have eleven races and ten different winners. A lot of the talk this week has been about whether or not there will be an eleventh winner in these first twelve races. It is an interesting question and one that will definitely be answered when the final checkered flag falls on the Goodyear 400 on Sunday. In addition, a lot of conversation has talked about how fast the top sixteen is filling up for the playoffs. When it fills up, then it falls back on wins and points. That could spell disaster for of the teams that are already in but haven’t necessarily performed all that well along with their win. I still wonder, as I did last week, if NASCAR will change anything for the playoffs for this year or maybe in the future. I guess it really depends on how fair this present system works out for everyone.

There are still at least three top drivers and teams that don’t have a win yet this season even though many thought they would already have at least one or two. I know you already know their names but, let me mention them anyway. The ones I’m thinking of are Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott. Sure, I know there are others but these three are at the top of just about everyone’s list.

The Stewart-Haas teams, of which Kevin Harvick is a part, just haven’t seemed to start clicking on all cylinders yet. That is unexpected since Kevin won so many races last season. That’s not to say they will stay that way but, in this fan’s opinion, it just isn’t what people expected. I’m no expert but I do wonder if they were preparing for the introduction of the Next Gen cars for next year. I’ll answer my own question here and say, probably not. Since the Next Gen cars were delayed until next year at Daytona after the pandemic hit, it is possible but not at all likely. I think they are just going through a little dry spell but, I am sure they’ll come out of it soon.

As for Chase Elliott, well, this is not the first time he has struggled a bit during the early part of the season. He usually performs well later in the season but, in this fan’s opinion and with the way things are going this season, they need to pick it up sooner than later. They do have points but if the playoffs keep filling up the way they have been, trying to get in without a win might not get them in.

Even though there are others that haven’t won yet this season though some expected them to, Denny Hamlin is still the most talked about driver without a win. He has the most points and has run strong almost every week and yet, he hasn’t won even though he had a number of wins last season also. Many think he could pull off the win he’s looking for at Darlington. When it comes to this fan, well, I’m just not so sure his troubles are over just yet. When they are, I suppose he could be a multi-race winner again this season.

When it comes to this fan’s view, I think there will be an eleventh different winner this weekend. Whether it will be one of the expected ones or someone completely unexpected, I just don’t know…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 8, 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

400 Miles At Kansas Speedway Is Next

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It appears to this fan, the talk this week has centered more around Joey Logano’s accident at Talladega and Bar BQ. I find it fascinating that Bar BQ seems to enter almost every conversation I’ve heard about this weekend’s race and that includes the talking heads on TV and elsewhere. Yeah, I know all about Bar BQ and Kansas Speedway but I do find it a little confusing as to why it seems to enter almost every conversation about this weekend’s race. I thought it was supposed to be about 400 miles at one of the toughest 1.5 mile tracks on the NASCAR Cup circuit. (Notice I did say, “one of the toughtest.”)

Another thing I find interesting concerns the accident involving Joey Logano. Since he was the one involved and his car was the one floating up in the air and landing hard on its roof and then righting itself back onto all four wheels, I understand why he likely said what he did being interviewed immediately after. When a car weighing 3400 lbs. lands directly on its roof, something has to give and one bar in particular showed a possible weakness that may need a correction of some sort. What that correction might be is yet to be addressed but, in usual NASCAR fashion, they will work on it until they make it safer than it already is.

That appeared to be the main thing that caught Joey’s attention and probably prompted his comments about how Superspeedway racing needs to change. From this fan’s view, I do find it interesting that when an accident of that type happens with him being the main character, NASCAR needs to change that type of rules package. This is just my opinion but, I didn’t hear him saying so much when he went to block on the final lap of the Daytona 500 and helped put his teammate, Brad Keselowski into the fence.

What happened in both of those situations IS a product of Superspeedway racing these days and everyone knows that going in. In fact, everyone involved knows racing is a dangerous sport and not everything can be controlled by changing a rules package. Logano uses all of the tricks used to try and win on a Superspeedway and he understands the sport he is involved in is dangerous and that, sometimes, the cars do unpredictable things. I know he will get over it and continue on. I think he probably received a reminder wake-up call as to just how unpredictable and dangerous motorsports can be. I do agree with him in the sense there is a weakness on the driver side of the cage. I am also confident NASCAR will find a remedy for that in the not-to-distant future.

(Okay, that’s enough about last weekend at Talladega and I promise, I won’t be talking any more about Bar BQ.)

Other than the things I mentioned earlier, the biggest topic of conversation is whether or not there will be another first-time winner for this season, another first-time winner in their cup career or a repeat winner. So far, there have been nine different winners out of the first ten races with Martin Truex Jr. being the only winner of multiple races this season. As I asked in an earlier article a while ago, what happens if we have more than sixteen winners before the playoffs? Will they consider changing the rules so that all winners can be qualified by their win or will they just consider the ones with wins and highest points? I ask that question as a fan and out of curiosity because I really don’t know what they will actually do. It just may be that we find out if things continue as they have all season.

There are several drivers that have good records at the Kansas Speedway and some of them don’t have a win yet this season. You know their names because you hear them mentioned all the time but, I will mention a few that immediately jump into my mind. Of course, I don’t expect there will be any you haven’t thought of already.

Probably the first one on everyone’s mind would be Denny Hamlin. He does have more points than anyone else this season and yet he doesn’t have a win. Many think this will be his weekend to change all that but this fan isn’t so sure. I could be wrong but, sometimes, it just doesn’t happen the way some think it should. Denny has often had a good season and still not had things go his way. I’m not saying that his bad racing luck will continue but, he may be in for a bit more of a dry spell before he wins.

Denny isn’t alone when it comes to drivers many thought would already have a win. To mention a few there’s, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott and Kyle Bush. All have decent performances at Kansas and all are former Cup Champions and yet they have not won yet this season. I admit I am as surprised as anyone but I also think one of them could come away with the win this weekend. I know there are those that disagree with me on that and I also admit there are others that can win and that’s what makes choosing a possible winner for this weekend so difficult.

When it comes down to it, I have those I would like to see win and those – well, how do I say this nicely? – those I would prefer didn’t…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 1, 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