It’s Bristol Night Racing Time from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Tonight is not just another Saturday night under the lights… this is “Bristol, Baby!” This is the night many NASCAR fans look forward to and it is, and has been, one of the most popular races for NASCAR fans of all ages for a long time. It is a fast half mile track with high banking and there’s no lack of action throughout the race. It is also a race that could be a last chance for some outside the realm of making the playoffs on points to win and knock someone already in on points, out. Then that driver becomes one of the ones needing to win to get in. Man, talk about drama and intensity! There is no lack of it in this 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

Yeah, it’s really beginning to get interesting and there are some big names that are in by points but they could be gone if someone outside the top sixteen wins a race. Well, at least one big name. Just in case you’re wondering which driver I’m talking about, that would be seven-time Cup champ, Jimmie Johnson, currently fifteenth in points. Both he and his teammate, Alex Bowman, are on thin ice if someone outside the top sixteen wins one of the remaining three races, tonight’s included.

Once again the Chevys have a lot to prove and it is possible they could. Now, you know I don’t put a lot of stock in qualifying when it comes to how a driver and team will perform in the race but, there are three Chevys qualified in the top five. Until recently, that just hasn’t been the case. Actually, it did come as a surprise to this fan that it even happened this weekend. I guess I just wasn’t expecting it. Admittedly the Chevys have been showing signs of life recently, but it has been relatively sporadic. Oh sure, I know they actually have shown some speed but not always at the right times on race weekend.

It is interesting to this fan that the younger Chevy drivers seem to be the ones with the improved speed more so than the older ones. Now please, don’t take me wrong. It just seems that Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Bubba Wallace and William Byron seem to be getting the most attention these days when it comes to the Chevy teams and rightly so. From this fan’s view, they have been the ones running near or at the front and it is noteworthy. I’m not knocking the ones that have been around the Cup Series for a longer period of time or their performance. They just don’t seem to be running near the front as often as the younger ones.

Okay, let me give credit where credit is due. Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson have been around the sport a while and they just aren’t showing the same noticeable performance as the younger guys. That doesn’t mean they haven’t shown signs of improvement, but the results at the end of a race just don’t seem to be there.

Another place they seem to be lacking is in qualifying. It appears to this fan they just aren’t qualifying as good as the others. Just look at this weekend’s results in qualifying as an example. Kyle Larson on the pole, Chase Elliott outside pole and William Byron starting fifth. Jimmie Johnson starting thirteenth, Jamie McMurray twentieth and Ryan Newman twenty fourth. That’s just a pretty good example of what I’m talking about and, once again from this fan’s perspective, it likely has very little to do with how any of them will finish out the race.

If Kyle Larson wins tonight, it could mean he swept the weekend since he won the Xfinity race last night. He has looked strong in the practices and qualifying and very well could win this one from the pole. Chase Elliott and William Byron aren’t that far behind in the qualifying speed department and either of them could end up the night with a victory. I’m not expecting anything like that to happen but it could and it would really make a statement about the performance of the Chevys, especially the Hendrick Chevys.

On the other hand, I also see Kyle Bush starting third and Paul Menard starting fourth. It goes without saying either of them could win and what an impact it would make if Menard took the win – he is currently in eighteenth spot in the playoff standings. Along with all of this, just look at the Stewart/Haas teams and how they’ve been running. Kevin Harvick has seven wins and could be considered one of the top contenders tonight. When comparing the qualifying speeds of the top twenty or so, they’re all not that far apart. To this fan, that means it will be hard to pass and hard to pull away.

When it comes down to tonight’s race, I expect to see a lot of passing and repassing simply because the speeds of many of the top qualifiers are so close. I also expect it to be an intense race with a lot of emotion and probably a few temper flare ups. We know there’s going to be bumping and banging and likely a lot of contact with the wall, whether it happens on their own or because they have help. How do I know all of this? Because “it’s Bristol, baby!!”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 18, 2018 – 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

Speed Is Key For MENCS At Michigan from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams take on Michigan International Speedway Sunday afternoon and speed is the key word at NASCAR’s fastest oval. If things go as usual, anyone lacking speed will quickly fall behind the leaders and probably be lapped more than once before the racing is done. That could spell trouble for any trying to make it into the playoffs either by points or winning.

First… before I get too far into this, I’d like to offer my congratulations to Chase Elliott and the whole #9 team for his first win in MENCS at Watkin’s Glen last weekend. He drove an almost flawless race and showed this fan there is hope for the Chevy Camaro possibly becoming more competitive as the playoffs approach.

Notice I said “there is hope” but I didn’t say anything definite about them returning to being in Victory Lane on a regular basis as the 2018 season continues. I still have concerns of whether or not the Camaros have the speed to win one or two more races before the playoffs or even in the playoffs but I will admit they are making progress. That progress, however, has been relatively slow all season and, on a high-speed track like the Michigan International Speedway, lack of speed can be a losing and disappointing battle on Sunday afternoon.

Think about it. Running down the straights at over 200 miles per hour and entering and driving through the turns at 185 plus miles per hour. That has to be some kind of experience for all of the drivers. They are averaging lap times at, or just below, 200 miles per hour. At those speeds, it doesn’t leave much room for errors. It also doesn’t leave much time for correcting them either. If there is anything that can be said about racing on this high-speed oval, I think it would be, ‘things happen fast.’ You know, that just might be one of the biggest understatements I’ve made in recent months. At those speeds, everything happens fast.

Last week, Denny Hamlin showed a lot of speed and took the pole position. This week he did the same. Last week he made a good showing even though he didn’t win and it remains to be seen if he will have a repeat performance or do even better than he did last weekend. The Toyotas have been showing good speed lately and this could be a good weekend for them, especially the Joe Gibbs Toyotas. There’s Denny Hamlin, Kyle Bush and Erik Jones all with good lap times and either of these three could bring home a victory Sunday afternoon. Daniel Suarez could be a contender and win his way into the playoffs but he did smack the wall in qualifying. There is also that other Toyota driven by Martin Truex Jr. and he could be leading the way when it comes down to race end. At this point, I won’t rule any of these out and it could prove to be interesting when it comes down to the final laps.

Once again, the Fords do look to have a lot of speed and both the Stewart/Haas and Penske camps are going to be tough to beat on Sunday afternoon. After all, according to what they say, Michigan is Ford country.

Brad Keselowski is still looking for his first win this season and Michigan is like a hometown track to him. In this fan’s opinion, there is nothing he would like better than to break into the win column for 2018 at Michigan International Speedway. He is in a pretty good spot as far as points go but, in this fan’s opinion, he would rather enter in with at least one win under his belt. Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and others all could be up front battling for the stage wins and the win and I expect they will be visible as the laps wind down with zero left to go. When it comes to the final black and white checkered flag, well, let’s just say it could be very interesting.

When it comes to the Chevys, it does appear the RCR camp has found a little more speed and Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman could be factors when it comes down to the final laps. The Ganassi teams of Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray both could use a win or at least a very good finish. Whether that will happen I don’t know but, when it comes to Jamie McMurray, he needs a win sooner than later if he wants to make it into the playoffs. Honestly, that’s about the only chance he’s got.

On the Hendrick side of things, Jimmie Johnson just about looks like he’s going to have win this one or one over the next three races. A new winner anywhere other than him just about kills his chances of even making it in on points – he’s getting awfully close to that cutoff spot.

Just looking at the way things are shaping up for the race tomorrow, it looks to this fan that the Chevys are running about one to two miles per hour slower than several of the Fords and Toyotas. Whether that will hold true throughout the race Sunday remains to be seen. It is possible they could still win but it is going to take some real strategy and no mistakes on the track or in the pits. Well, I guess that last statement holds true for just about any of the teams if they want to win this one, huh… (and many are pulling for Chase to make NASCAR history with two in a row.)

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 11, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Teams Road Racing At The Glen from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams take to road racing at Watkins Glen this weekend in a short break from going ‘round in circles. The Glen is one of the more challenging road courses and it is definitely fast and exciting racing from beginning to end.

It’s coming down to crunch time for a number of drivers trying to make it into the playoffs and, for some, this road course may be their ONLY chance of making it. Some of those at the top of the list (other than the usual few) are good road course racers and their chances of winning are better than at most of the remaining tracks. Not that they don’t have a chance after The Glen but the likelihood of out running what are called the big three are much less than this one. From this fan’s view, the pressure is on them and winning can make all the difference in how they approach the coming four weeks after The Glen.

Some of those players hoping to win are, Jamie McMurray, AJ Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Michael McDowell. Now I know one of those names isn’t one you would normally think of as being in the mix for a win but Michael McDowell shouldn’t be over looked. Jamie McMurray just hasn’t had a great year. He has had a good year but not a great one. A win would certainly do a lot for him and his team. He is a very good road racer and given the right set of circumstances, he could end up in Victory Lane.

AJ Allmendinger is one that many say is the most likely to finish up front of the five I just mentioned. This fan thinks he has a good chance but the competition is steep and he will have to work at it all day.

When it comes to Hendrick teammates Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson, well… they need to win but not as badly as the others just mentioned. Presently, they are both in the top 16 with points but all it takes is someone, or a couple of someones, winning that hasn’t won this season and their situation changes completely. All of the sudden they could be in the “must win” situations that others face with some of the most challenging tracks coming in the next four weeks. It could prove to be interesting… That is, unless they win. Then… well hopefully the Chevy teams will find more overall speed for the playoffs and at least be competitive and have a chance at winning the Championship.

The drawback for these I’ve been talking about is that the ones that have won the most races this season are good at road courses too. Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. look good but not nearly as good as Kyle Bush. Any of these three could end up in Victory Lane and of the three, Martin Truex Jr. is looking to repeat his performance of last season. None of these three needs another win other than winning is what racing is all about. With that in mind, any one of them could be the victor at the end of the day.

As a fan, I must admit I’d like to see the unexpected winner in Victory Lane at the end of this one. Taking nothing away from Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Bush and their strong performances this season but I would like to see someone else driving for the win at The Glen on Sunday Afternoon. I have a few favorites I would like to see win but, even more, I would like to see more than just three people racing each other for the wins. Sure, I know it isn’t always them running one-two-three week in and week out but for much of this season, one of them has been celebrating in Victory Lane at the end of a race.

Look, I’m not really complaining about the racing because the racing has been good. In fact, I would go so far as to say it has been some of the best racing to watch in a while. Even more, it has been a long time since three teams have performed in such a dominating way in a season. Kind of reminds me of those days when people won by more than a lap or two, but honestly, that was a long time ago. These days, with the competition so close and tight, it is amazing that the “Big Three” seem to be so far ahead of the rest and have been most all season long.

When it comes to The Glen, a lot of things can go wrong to cost just about anyone a win even when it may appear they have the race locked up. Wheel hopping into a braking point or wildly hopping over curbing and losing control are just two possibilities. Another can be missing a gear and over revving and blowing the engine. If you don’t believe it, just ask AJ Allmendinger from the race at Sonoma. Unless someone is absolutely running away with this one, this fan expects this to be a really great race. During the practice times and qualifying, they race the track. It can get really crowded when they all race for the same real estate on this tight, fast road racing track on race day and they all race each other…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 4, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Returns To Pocono from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes on the Pocono Raceway for the second time this season and it may or may not be a repeat performance of their last stop there. Martin Truex Jr. won the last one and it was pretty much a Toyota and Ford show for much of it. I will admit there were a few Chevys in the top ten but I’m not so sure they were actually contending for the win back in June. Those three in the top ten were Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott. No matter how it ends up this time, the Chevys are still struggling to keep up with the other two makes and it doesn’t look like that will change much in the days and weeks to come.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time lately talking about the plight of the Chevys since they
changed over to the new Camaro in 2018 but I just can’t believe they would choose a car that would be so handicapped in relation to the Fords and Toyotas. Honestly, this fan doesn’t understand how such a thing could happen other than it was the choice of the manufacturer for reasons I don’t want to go into in depth at this moment in time (but could have something to do with selling more Camaros.)

Next season the Fords will move to the Ford Mustang (from this fan’s view, another ploy to sell one of Ford’s most popular models), and it remains to be seen if it will be an equalizing move between Chevys and Fords in the performance area. It is possible the Toyotas could come out ahead in the performance area but they are making their own changes next season, too. From any point of view, next season should prove to be interesting in several ways but I’m not too sure the Chevys are going to recover their previous dominance until they either get a redesigned Camaro or something with better numbers in downforce and other areas of performance.

Well… enough of that for now. Let’s talk a little about Pocono Raceway…

There is a lot of talk surrounding the Pocono Raceway and much of it is hype about the lack of a turn four. They also refer to it as “The Tricky Triangle” and it is that. Look, I don’t have a problem with them advertising their track (which is rather unique) in any way they would like to make it stand out in people’s memories. (After all, that is what it’s all about from a marketing standpoint when you think about it.) I still don’t agree with them about having only three turns. The way I look at Pocono, it has six turns (and I base my opinion on the way we all talk about other race tracks.) At any other track, we say they are running down the back straight, entering turn three and exiting turn four. Of course this is the same way we look at the front straight entering turn one and exiting turn two. Why is it so hard to understand why many of us fans think Pocono Raceway has six turns?

Pocono Raceway is definitely called ‘The Tricky Triangle’ because of the way it is shaped and it does look like one. Ask any of the drivers and they will likely tell you there are at least two things about the track that makes it so. First would be the “Tunnel Turn” and the other would be having to shift because of the long front straight. Both of these have been items that make or break the race for some. Not negotiating the ‘The Tunnel Turn’ along with the bumps during the race and in traffic has cost more than one a victory or even a good finishing position over the years. Missing a shift and the resulting engine damage has resulted in more than a few with the same fate by making a good day go bad in a hurry.

The race on Sunday afternoon will be interesting in several ways. First, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Bush will be starting in the rear because their cars failed post-qualifying inspection. That gave Daniel Suarez, the third fastest qualifier, his first Bush pole and, judging from his performance lately, he could also end up in Victory Lane at the end of the day.

Jimmie Johnson will be making his 600th start and could have a great chance at ending his winless streak. Although the lackluster performance of the Chevys has been evident all season long, the seven time NASCAR champion and his #48 Hendrick team are quite capable of winning at Pocono and it is more than a mere possibility he could end up in Victory Lane at the end of the day. Once again, it isn’t something I expect to happen simply because of the way the Chevys, overall, seem to be at a disadvantage to the Fords and Toyotas. Add to that the fact that both the Fords and Toyotas showed faster speeds in practice and qualifying and it makes a Chevy ending up in Victory Lane an even more remote possibility. Still, that doesn’t mean this Chevy fan wouldn’t like to see it happen and I’ll be watching to see if it does…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 27, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS At NHMS from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will take on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway this Sunday afternoon but, from this fan’s view, there’s not a whole lot of anything new to talk about. Well… at least from the standpoint of which drivers and teams are fastest and expected to contend for the win. Probably the only surprise for this fan was that Kurt Bush won the pole. It still remains to be seen whether or not that will make a difference for him at the end of the day when it comes time to take that final black and white checkered flag.

A look at the recent history at New Hampshire would shade the end results towards the Toyotas. They have led a lot of laps at the track and Denny Hamlin, Kyle Bush and Martin Truex Jr. look plenty strong for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 in their Toyotas. Of course it’s never a given for one driver or make to take the victory in any NASCAR cup race. That being said, the Toyotas look as good for the win as any of the others.

Another thing about the Toyotas is how many wins two of the Toyota drivers have this season. With Kyle Bush having five and Martin Truex Jr. having four, well, that adds up to a lot of wins. Add to that the win by Erik Jones and you see just how strong they’ve been over the course of the season. They have won almost half the races so far this year and Martin Truex Jr. is looking a lot like he did last season when he won the Cup Championship.

Look, I’m not making any predictions about this race or which of the drivers might win the Championship, but, the Toyotas do look awfully strong, over all, and they have been looking their best on the season over the last several races. Even Denny Hamlin is threatening to join the mix and could be the winner on Sunday afternoon. I hate to sound cliché, but he is about due to win one and we all know he can (and probably will) win one soon.

I know it looks like I’m saying the Toyotas are the favorites to win on Sunday but I’m not. One look at the Fords and their performance so far this weekend kind of squashes that thinking. With Kurt Bush sitting on the pole and looking at the practice times of the other Stewart/Haas Fords, it does look like it will be another Ford/Toyota matchup for the win. Ryan Blaney isn’t looking too bad in his Ford either. He could be another contender as the laps dwindle down to the final ones and end up in Victory Lane. (Of course you know there’s no way I can rule out another possible win by Kevin Harvick either. He has looked strong almost every weekend and I don’t expect this one to be any different.) And then there’s Clint Bowyer.

The Penske Fords of Brad K. and Joey Logano haven’t made a lot of noise recently but that doesn’t mean they can be counted out when it comes to the final laps. They haven’t looked too dominant but they have shown some strength almost every week even though they haven’t shown up in Victory lane. Of the two, I think Brad would be my choice to take the win. Well… that is ‘IF’ I were picking winners, (which I’m not.)

Okay, I’m guessing you’ve noticed I haven’t said a whole lot about the Chevys. There is a really good reason for that. Mostly it’s because there just isn’t that much to talk about when it comes to the them. They just don’t have the speed of the other two makes. I’m not convinced they’re going to find more speed in the new Camaros they’re working with. From my view and in my opinion, I don’t see much change coming for them, especially by the end of the season. In this fan’s opinion, I really don’t expect to see any Chevys competing for the Championship at the end of the year. There has to be a reason why they are struggling so much and though there have moments they looked like they were making headway, they just haven’t been able to show it at the end of a race.

Personally, unless the Fords switching to the Mustangs next year is as much of a disaster for them as it has been for the Chevys switching to Camaros, I think the Chevy camps are going to have to rethink or redesign what they have. I realize Kyle Larson seems to have consistently been the only real bright moment for the Chevy camps this season but, even he hasn’t been able to win yet.

Yeah, I do remember the Toyotas struggled when they first changed to the Camrys but they didn’t seem to hit a plateau they couldn’t get past and now look at them, especially at New Hampshire. Though it’s true the Chevys have had some bright moments this season (and I stress the word “some”) they just aren’t competing on the same level with the Fords and Toyotas at all.

So far this season, if I’m driving a Chevy, believe me… I just ain’t all that happy…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 21, 2018 – 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

Another Saturday Night Under The Lights At Kentucky from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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What is it about Saturday night racing? What makes it different and some would say “special” than just another race in NASCAR? Well, from this fan’s view, there are several reasons but none that any race fan hasn’t heard before. The Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway should be another one of those special Saturday nights under the lights. Well… at least that’s the way this fan looks at it…

There are a lot of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series fans that either used to race or still do and Saturday night was – or is – the night many took or take their cars and families to the track to enjoy their favorite past time, race against their competitors and hopefully win more than a few races on a regular basis. In fact, it was – and still is – the night that many people other than just drivers go out to their favorite race track to watch the races.

I know many of you have done the same thing and probably still do when you can. I know I spent many a Saturday night at the races since I was around five years old. (Wow! that was a long time ago.) Those Saturday nights are still some of my fondest memories and times don’t think I’ll ever forget. Between the years I spent just watching and those I spent racing, Saturday nights “under the lights” were the best.

So… what will it be like at Kentucky Speedway tonight? (Well, that’s a good question and I ‘m so glad you asked it…) It should be the usual intense, hard racing that usually takes place in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Although last year, Martin Trues Jr. pretty much dominated the race, this year may be a different story. Sure, I know he won the pole and looks to be fast once again this year but, we all know nothing is ever definite in NASCAR until the final checkered flag drops. Anything can happen in 400 miles and, when it comes to NASCAR, it very likely will. Now that doesn’t mean it will happen to him and keep him from a repeat performance but, it means something could happen to keep him from having a really good night or that repeat performance.

Something else that might make tonight’s race interesting is that there may be a minor feud brewing between Kyle Bush and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Kyle hasn’t wasn’t happy with Stenhouse’s driving at Daytona last weekend and has already made a few statements of how he feels. Personally, from this fan’s view, I really can’t disagree with Kyle’s assessment of Ricky’s driving last weekend. Some would say he was reckless and others say he was overly aggressive, but one thing is certain… His actions on the track did take out about half the field over the course of the night. Many possible contenders were all part of the “Big Ones” caused by his actions and, as is usually the case, he finished better than most even though he also had a rough night.

Because of statements made by Kyle at a media center interview, Ricky took offense at what he said and sort of made it plain Kyle may have to pay close attention if and when they have to race each other in close quarters during tonight’s race. Now I’m not saying he made any threats of what actions – if any – he might take but he did make it known he wasn’t happy with Kyle’s attitude. From this fan’s view, that just might be something making the race even more worth watching if Martin Truex Jr. – or anyone else for that matter – dominates the race and makes it a race for second place for all the rest.

As a fan, I really hate to keep beating the same old drum, but, the Fords and Toyotas look pretty tough for tonight’s Quaker State 400 (presented by Walmart) and the Chevys once again look to be struggling a bit for speed. Now, I’m not saying they won’t make a good showing by the end of tonight’s race, but they haven’t done all that well so far this season and the mile and a half tracks seem to make that point even more obvious.

As someone that raced Chevys when I was racing and owns and still drives Chevys to this day, I long for the days that Chevys are the ones to beat again. Since they made the move to the new Camaro, it has been tough to watch them struggle but I also know that hardly anything stays the same in NASCAR and I’m just as sure the Chevys will begin finding Victory Lane again, and probably sooner than later. Who knows… it could be tonight…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 14, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Taking It To Chicago from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Chicagoland Speedway is the place for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this weekend and this fan is anxious to see IF the Chevys can mount any kind of a competitive challenge to the Fords and Toyotas at all. It has been a rough half year for them and, so far, they haven’t made much of a competitive gain on their competition. If it sounds like this Chevy fan is tired of watching the Chevys being “also rans” I think it would be hard for me to deny. It has been along time since the Chevy teams have looked so – how do I put this gently – hmmm, that’s a tough one. All I can say at this point is, ‘gently’ just won’t cover it at all. (Well, at least from this fan’s view.)

Let’s just say I’m weary of several things this season. It has to do with much more than just the Chevys not making a good showing at all over most of the season. It has to do with only about three teams showing they have the capability to win on a regular basis and the rest of the field is hardly mentioned except in passing. Those three teams have won most of the races this season and it is getting a little tiring seeing almost the same three (or maybe four) drivers contending for the wins each weekend. (Okay, maybe that’s not quite the way it goes but it sure seems that way lately.)

One thing is obvious to this NASCAR fan. The Stewart/Haas Racing Ford teams are definitely showing dominance over the rest of the field and have shown that dominance over most of this season. I really don’t have a problem with that because I’m a Tony Stewart fan and also because I know they haven’t been sitting on their haunches hoping they will do good. They have worked hard to make what’s happening happen and it shows every week when they unload from the trucks. I do think Tony Stewart has lot to do with the success at SHR simply because he has a real talent for putting the right people in the right places to get the best results. I know it isn’t only him but I do think it has a lot to do with his leadership and knowledge as a driver as well as his savvy in other areas of motorsports in general.

Alright, I know some of you are going to bring up the fact that nothing is permanent when it comes to racing (and in particular NASCAR) but, I don’t think the dominance of the Fords is going to end any time soon in the near future. Honestly, I have been paying attention to the way the Chevys have been slowly improving over the last several weeks but I don’t see them making that much improvement yet.

Admittedly there are a few (and I stress the word ‘few’) Chevys that do make a reasonable showing of competitiveness almost every week. What is disappointment is that it seldom carries them all the way to the end of the stages or the race. Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and, yes, even Jimmie Johnson are members of the Chevy “few” I point out that are making the most noticeable improvements. Unfortunately, I’m just not sure the improvements are big enough to put them in front of the Fords or the Toyotas.

The Chicagoland Speedway is definitely a challenging track and the heat this weekend isn’t going to make any less of one. The track is a well-seasoned track and hasn’t been resurfaced since 2001 and that just adds to the overall character of the track and the challenges it presents to the drivers. It will be slick, it will be hot and it should show some pretty good racing throughout the afternoon on Sunday. The heat will likely have its effect on the drivers more than anything else but I don’t discount how it might affect the tires and the engine performance. Both will be important on Sunday afternoon and could dictate who wins the stages and the race.

Now that I’ve stated my case on the performance of the Chevys in this 2018 season, I have to admit the Chevys could surprise us all and win this one. When it comes to Chicago, the Hendrick teams have usually performed well and they haven’t looked all that bad during the practice sessions and qualifying. Other Chevy teams are showing improvement also and I won’t totally rule them out either. The problem I see is consistency during the extended runs. The Chevys just don’t seem to be in the same ball park as the Fords or the Toyotas yet. They need more speed in both the short and long runs.

Until they show more speed, I don’t see them finishing out front just yet. Will I be disappointed if a Chevy wins at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Not in the least. Surprised maybe but not disappointed…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 30, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Road Course Fun At Sonoma From A NASCAR Fan’s View

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The MENCS teams take on the Sonoma road course this Sunday afternoon. It’s time to move away from the ovals for a weekend and do something different – like turn right instead of always left. As even the causal observer knows… there are plenty of right turns at this track. Yeah, I know there are left turns and S’s and straights along with elevation changes to go with those right turns but one thing won’t be different… the racing will be intense every where around the 1.99 mile course. Oh, and by the way, in case you don’t know, that elevation change is 160 feet. (Wow! That means uphill, downhill and strategic braking all round.)

As a fan, I have to admit it’s interesting how the racing on the road courses has changed over the years in NASCAR. It used to be we would see numerous new faces (called road course “ringers”) at the road course tracks. It seemed some of the “best drivers in the world” had to take a break so a “road course specialist” could be brought in to make a team more competitive. These days, however, almost every one of the teams’ regular drivers are behind the wheel. It is obvious some of them have a lot to learn about road course racing but, for the most part, many of them are very competitive. As a fan, I like that. It makes it much more interesting to me and I like to see the way they have improved themselves over time to be competitive at the road courses.

Now, don’t get me wrong, but I do miss some of the “ringers” they used to bring in if for no other reason than the personalities they added to the sport. I think they actually inspired many Cup drivers to become better road course racers and that made the NASCAR drivers better racers all ‘round. Of course, as is usual in this very competitive sport called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, some always seem to do better than others whether it be a road course or an oval.

I hope you all understand where I am coming from in what I’m going to say next… I hope this is not another race in the 2018 season that is dominated by a Ford. I can’t say I really want a Toyota to shine that bright in this one either. What I can say is, I would really like to see a Chevy be the one they are all chasing for each of the stages and, (I know there are others that will agree with me on this), I would really like to see a Chevy win this one.

It would be nice, as a Chevy fan, to finally see the Chevys getting back into being competitive. I’m not a fair-weather, Chevy only fan and I do still have those in the other makes I like to watch run well and take some wins but, it has definitely been awhile since NASCAR Chevy fans have had much to cheer about. I guess for Chevy fans, it has been a year to remind us of what the Ford and Toyota fans have been through in the Chevy dominated years.

One reason I like road course racing is there is something going on almost everywhere around the track. Whether it is upfront, in the middle of the pack or at the back, there is always someone racing for position. It makes for full course fun all ‘round. Another reason is how the crew chiefs use strategy to try and improve their driver’s position and give them every advantage as the race progresses.

Of course we all know that track position will be one of the deciding factors in the outcome of the race but a driver in a car that can run consistently fast lap times throughout the afternoon will likely be the one running up front with the rest of the field chasing them for the win.

From this fan’s view, there’s just not a lot to say about the road course racing at Sonoma because it is better watch than to talk about it. When I say that it isn’t because I don’t have much to say, it’s just that I would rather watch it unfold as it does on race day. That’s what I plan to do Sunday afternoon and you can bet I’ll be pulling for one of my favorites to win. That doesn’t mean I’ll be disappointed if someone like Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray or Kyle Larson doesn’t win. It would definitely be nice but I would rather see a tight, competitive race with the winner being decided on the last lap at the last turn just before the checkered flag…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 23, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Takes On High Speed Michigan from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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If there’s one thing that can be said for the Firekeepers Casino 400 at the Michigan International Speedway it would be this… “the speeds are high, especially at the end of the front straight.” Yeah, they are extremely high. Try upwards of 217 to 219 mph. That’s really fast for any track that you have to take a left turn at. Fortunately the track was made for speed and the turns only require a little reduction in speed before accelerating for the next straight. Of course we all know that qualifying speeds and racing speeds are different, but still, they will be high.

One thing that really hasn’t changed all that much week to week is how fast the Fords are. Of course I have to add, especially those Stewart/Haas Fords. Once again this weekend they have shown themselves to be fast pretty much off the haulers. Kurt Bush took the pole with an average speed in excess of 200 mph. No matter how you look at it, that’s fast and does give an idea of just how the racing will be on Sunday afternoon. The Penske Fords also showed a lot of speed and Brad Keselowski sits on the front row next to Bush.

One obvious thing that stands out to this fan’s view is that there are seven Fords in the top ten qualifying positions and three Toyotas. Of course one of those Toyotas is the #18 of Kyle Bush from JGR. He qualified third and the JGR teams of Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin qualified eighth and tenth. Somehow all of this sounds very familiar and has for most of the season.

In usual fashion, the Chevys don’t begin showing up in the top qualifiers until after the top ten. That may or may not bode well for them as the race runs through its paces on Sunday afternoon. Even Kyle Larson seemed to struggle a bit in qualifying though he is going for four in a row at Michigan International Speedway. He is one of the favorites to win on Sunday if for no other reason than he has won three in a row in the last MENCS visits to this track. Even though he appeared to struggle a bit in the first practice session and the qualifying session, he did manage to register the second fastest lap during the rain shortened final practice session. He could still take that fourth in a row at MIS on Sunday.

Another Chevy that could make a showing on Sunday afternoon is Larson’s teammate, Jamie McMurray. He has performed well in the past at Michigan. Jamie doesn’t get near the same attention as his teammate but he is a great driver and, in this fan’s opinion, is about due to win again soon. It may not be in this Firekeepers Casino 400 but I think it could be sooner than later.

While we’re talking about the Chevys, now would probably be a good time to give this fan’s opinion of what it’s going to take for a Chevy to be in Victory Lane at Michigan or someplace else, soon.

I’ve mentioned more than once or twice how much of a Chevy fan I am and a lot of that has to do with the fact I used to race Chevys when I an active racer. Admittedly it has been hard to watch them struggle week in and week out to even make it into the top ten. Other than Kyle Larson, there just haven’t been that many bright spots for the Chevys in this 2018 MENCS season. From my view, Austin Dillon’s win at Daytona back in February was a fluke – (although I’m sure some will disagree with that.) We won’t go into how he won but, though the Chevys did make a showing at the Daytona 500, they didn’t make that good of a showing and they haven’t really done much since.

It appears they have been hurting for horsepower most of the season and, at least from this fan’s view and watching them every week, the drivers just don’t seem to be that happy with the “feel” of their cars. Aside from the appearance of the lack of horsepower, they just don’t seem to be able to be consistent in their lap times and that could be a reflection of being uncomfortable with the stability of their cars. That fact alone could explain why the Chevy drivers can’t seem to advance beyond a certain point in the races. They might be able to go faster “IF” they had more confidence in how their cars feel balance-wise rather than wondering if they are going to stay under them. I’m sure they will get there but it is pretty obvious they just haven’t yet.

If, by some particular circumstances working in their favor and a Chevy does end up winning, I still don’t expect it to be with regularity, at least not yet. From this fan’s view, they still have a ways to go but they will get there eventually. In my opinion, I think it is going to be a race dominated by the Fords but I just haven’t decided whether it will be the Penske Fords or those from SHR. My gut tells me it could be win number six for Kevin Harvick but… well… you know.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 9, 2018 – 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

Could Be More Of The Same At Kansas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes on the Kansas Speedway tonight and it looks like it could be more of the same – well, at least to this fan it looks that way. Yeah, Kevin Harvick is sitting on the pole and yes, he did win his fourth race for the 2018 season last weekend at Dover. From my observations so far, it looks like it could be another Ford weekend (especially those Stewart/Haas Fords.)

There’s just something good going on at Stewart/Haas and I think you’ll be hard pressed to find someone to disagree with that statement. Just look at what they accomplished last weekend. All four of the SHR teams finished in the top fifteen and that is very good considering three of them were in the top five. Say what you will, but as a team, they are looking very tough and Kevin Harvick is looking a lot like the top Championship contender for this 2018 season. (Well sure, I know the season isn’t even half over yet but he already has four wins on the year.) If nothing else, I would say he is making a statement.

Although the Toyotas are running a close second to the Fords, they just haven’t been as impressive as the Fords, and I emphasize the Stewart/Haas Fords in particular. Kyle Bush does show a lot of speed most every week and did win three races so far this season. He has also been very near the front almost every week also. Even though the Toyotas have four wins this season, they still don’t look as strong as the Fords. I’m not saying they won’t make a stronger showing. I’m just saying they haven’t shown themselves as strong as the Fords.

Once again, I have to mention the lack-luster performance of the new Chevy Camaros. So far this season they have shown improvement but they just haven’t shown the same speed or consistency as the other two makes. It certainly makes for a long day for Chevy fans on race day. You might be asking, “how do you know that?” Honestly it’s easy… Because I am one (or as some may say, “I ‘R’ one.

Oh sure, I know things will likely get better down the road but it has been hard to watch. I mean, I enjoy watching the MENCS races and I have been a loyal fan of NASCAR for many years. In fact, I’m not just a Chevy fan and some of my favorite drivers drive those other brands. The problem is, since I used to race Chevys (Chevelles and Camaros) at our local tracks, it is hard to watch them have moments of greatness and then fall by the wayside as the laps wind down. I guess this year I am beginning to understand what the Ford and Toyota fans felt when the Chevys were pretty much dominating over several years.

Speaking of dominating… Kevin Harvick is having a great year so far. (Hmmmm, it seems like I’ve already said that here.) If he, and the rest of Stewart/Haas Racing continue on as they have recently, it could make for a very long season for the rest of the teams. Yes, they have been that good and it doesn’t look like they’re going to be letting up in the rest of the MENCS teams at all. It makes me wonder if SHR is going to dominate for a while even as Hendrick did not all that long ago. (Yeah, I admit it… I’m a Hendrick fan, too. I’m not just a fair-weather fan either. I watch every week, hoping they will begin to pull out of this slump they’re in.

Actually, it’s at times like these that I as a fan pay more and closer attention to all of the others drivers and teams. You see, there are a lot of drivers I like and some of them drive for Ford teams and others drive for Toyota teams. I’m not as obsessed with the Chevy brand as I may make it sound at times but I do admit to being partial to them – and Hendrick Racing for that matter.

Anyway, getting back to Kevin Harvick… I do firmly believe he could take his fifth win tonight at Kansas. I’ll be watching to see if that happens but I will also be watching to see if a Chevy, perhaps even a Hendrick Chevy, can take it to the Fords and Toyotas and end up in Victory Lane when the race is done and in the books. Unfortunately, I have this nagging feeling that probably won’t happen. It won’t keep me from watching though.by the way, I think we’ll probably see Kevin Harvick win his fifth race in this still young 2018 Season… And as I said at the beginning of this, it just “could be more of the same at Kansas… but what do I know?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 12, 2018 – 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

Talladega from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There are some things that never change about Talladega. We all know it’s big. We all know it’s fast. We all know it’s, well… you know what it is… and did I mention it can be dangerous? Just ask Jamie McMurray about that.

With the high speeds this weekend came rule changes to slow the cars down a bit and it is probably a good thing. Daytona showed the new rules to make the cars faster but they were also quite a bit unstable racing in packs. Now that’s not just this fan’s view but it the view of many of the drivers and others. One thing we don’t need is a return of cars flying into the stands or just flying in any fashion. (Well… that is unless you’re just using the expression of “flying” in reference to speed. We all know that’s okay, especially when it comes to racing.)

That’s one of the reasons fans like Daytona and Talladega so much. They’re called Super Speedways for a reason. At Talladega it is all about the speed. In fact, the speeds have become so high again that NASCAR has reduced the size of the opening in the restrictor plates to reduce the speeds they were reaching. Add to the higher speed, the instability the cars have been experiencing with this year’s rules at the two restrictor plate tracks, and you see what we get – a return to why they came up with restrictor plates in the first place.

It is no secret to any NASCAR driver, crew chief, crew member or fan that flying stock cars can be dangerous and deadly. When it happens on the track away from the stands, it is mostly the drivers that are in danger more than when the cars are facing the right direction, gripping the track. When a car flies into the stands or, at least toward the stands and possibly into or through the fence, spectators of all ages are put at risk. No one wants anyone to get hurt, especially someone in the stands. I think we all understand the thinking when NASCAR takes an action that may reduce speed to keep that from happening. It is for multiple reasons and the most important is safety for all involved.

Yeah, I know there are those that think there should be no restriction of speeds and that everything should be about how fast the cars can go with no concern about the danger to drivers and fans alike. Fortunately there are those that know when something is out of control and when something must be sacrificed. When it comes to the Super Speedways, they sacrificed higher speeds but gained a lot of bumper to bumper, door handle to door handle racing at near two hundred miles per hour. I’m of the opinion the sacrifice was worth the gain and I find Monster Energy NASCAR Cup restrictor plate racing to be some of the best there is. (I don’t think many of the drivers agree with me though.)

Now, I imagine some of you are asking why I think that. Look, I’m a fan that loves the speed aspect of racing as much as anyone. Since I used to drive at our local tracks, I also learned that speed is a matter of perspective. When I would watch the other classes run their races from the sidelines, I was always intrigued by how fast it looked like they were going as they passed by. On the other hand, when I would sit in the driver’s seat of my car, running at faster speeds than the ones I just mentioned, I noticed it didn’t seem we were going all that fast. In my opinion, the perspective from inside the car changes how we process how fast we are going and how fast things are really happening. Because all of the cars are moving at relatively the same speed, the perspective of speed is different. From inside the car – at least to me – everything slows down.

A good example of what I am talking about here is the view on TV from the cameras inside the cars. Admit it. From that view it looks like anyone could do it, right? It almost seems like driving in traffic on the interstate, doesn’t it?

Pay attention to how the perspective changes when a tire blows or cars go spinning out of control from contact or other reasons from those same cameras. Things happen really fast, don’t they? In the same way, because of the laws of physics, a car can fly like and airplane when the speeds are right and it is traveling facing in a direction it wasn’t designed to travel in.

This fan will be watching this Talladega race for a lot of reasons but primarily because I like the emotional intensity of so many cars running at about the same speed and trying to pass each other using all of the tricks brought on by restrictor plate racing. This one should prove to be as interesting and exciting as any for the same reasons Talladega (and Daytona for that matter) are always interesting. The cars are as unstable as ever and yet the racing is always intense. Don’t know about you but I just love restrictor plate racing…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 28, 2018 – 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

Short Track Excitement At Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Teams take on the Martinsville short track this weekend (well, as long as the snow doesn’t come back – which they say it shouldn’t.) From this fan’s view, there seems to be sigh of relief for many simply because this track is more about driving and less about downforce and some of the other things that have been stressing the teams over the last several weeks. The last four weeks, in particular, have been a challenge for many because of the new rules, different tires and the new inspection processes they have all had to face.

It has been an interesting start to the season and this one at Martinsville could be considered a breath of fresh air as the Cup teams take on the old “paperclip” once again. The reason I say “breath of fresh air” is because it is more about the driver and his prowess in tight quarters and less about downforce and other things associated with the larger tracks.

Some of the things drivers and fans like about short tracks is the beating and banging along with the emotion that always surfaces after all of the bumping and banging. A driver will only take so much and, after that point is reached, payback often seems to be the rule of the day. Five hundred laps on a short track is a long time to run bumper to bumper, door handle to door handle, being nudged out of the way to get passed and all of the other short track moves that go on in tight spaces.

One of the hardest things for a driver to do on a short track, especially during a five hundred lap race, is to keep their cool. All of that competitive adrenaline and frustration builds up and surfaces after a period of time. It often erupts in an emotional response to someone’s driving style. (More often than not, that emotional response is called, temper.) It happens every time they hit the short tracks and there is always something going on to keep the fans interested in what is going between their driver and all the rest.

I won’t go into what happened between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin last fall but it does show what can happen on a short track when winning is a very real possibility late in a race. Of course, their run-in has been used to raise interest in the short track at Martinsville this weekend but it has really got very little to do with their incident last season and everything to do with how drivers race at a short rack. It can get pretty heated at times and that is always exciting for fans and drivers alike and leads to displays of emotion (and sometimes helmet throwing along with other things and visual displays of differing kinds) on the track and in the stands.

I can’t help but wonder if this could be the weekend that the Chevys break into the win column. So far, most of them haven’t shown the speed or handling it takes to run up front this year. Oh I know it is a new body style but this fan thinks it has been more because they haven’t figured out the one to two mile tracks yet where downforce plays a very important role. At Martinsville, downforce isn’t nearly as important and driver experience and patience is. I’m not willing to make any bold statements about them dominating this weekend but there is a good possibility they could make a good showing, at least better than they have recently.

Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and even some of the younger drivers could lead the way this weekend. Of the ones in the Hendrick camp, Jimmie Johnson would be a good choice if for no other reason than he has a number of victories at Martinsville already. Chase Elliott is hungry for his first win and almost won last time they ran at Martinsville. Kyle Larson has been strong most every weekend but just hasn’t managed to be there at the end of the day. From this fan’s view, there are a number of Chevys that could win, it is just a question of whether they do or not.

The SHR and Penske Fords have been running strong so far this season and it wouldn’t surprise me if one of them ended the day in Victory Lane. Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Bush come to mind very quickly and one of them could be taking home the Clock when it is all over, but, I think the Toyotas will have something to say about that.

Kyle Bush always seems to run strong at Martinsville no matter what series he runs in. After a dominating performance at Fontana last weekend, Martin Truex Jr. has to at least be considered as a contender. Denny Hamlin is another Toyota driver that always seems to be near the front when the laps are winding down and the final checkered flag is about to fall.

Now I am by no means limiting the choices of who may win because there are so many possibilities from all of the three makes of cars. Personally, I would really like to see either Jimmie Johnson or Chase Elliott take home a clock but considering Chevy performance so far this season, I’m just not convinced yet. One thing I know for certain. This should be a really exciting race and I do expect to see a few displays of temper by the time it comes down to dropping that final checkered flag to end the day. Just how intense those displays are and how close the racing is are just two of the reasons I’ll be watching this one…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 24, 2018 – 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