Categories
Nascar Nascar Racing opinion

Nascar at Chicago: Sprint Cup Saturday Night Excitement – the Lifelock 400

The Chicagoland Speedway near the “Windy City” is the place for this week’s Nascar Sprint Cup race and, from this Fan’s View, it will be a real test of speed, fuel mileage and tire management. While we’re at it, let’s not forget the race strategies that may play an even larger part in who actually goes to Victory Lane.

This is the S3 Media Player in action —  (Get Yours – CLICK HERE!)

I’m not saying this will be a fuel management race, but it could go that way depending on how the race progresses as the drop of the checkered flag approaches near the end of the race. The other possible determining factor could be how the tires hold up during a run. With the COT it is hard to tell just how much the tires will impact the finish of the race. Personally, I think we will know more after the race starts and have a chance to observe how much the times fall off on extended green flag runs.

One thing about Chicagoland is certain; the speeds WILL be fast and the tires WILL determine just how fast every competitor will be. If the speeds stay relatively consistent throughout a run, this could be a breakaway of just a few cars while the others just try to keep up.

Just one more quick observation from this Fan’s View; Since speed is going to determine the outcome of the race so much, it would probably be wise to check out the teams with the faster consistent times during practices and consider them as possible winners of the Lifelock 400 more than others.

Although I do believe qualifying nearer the front will have some impact on the outcome, I do not expect it to be as much of a determining factor as last week with Tony Stewart’s victory at Daytona. The Red Bull teams of Bryan Vickers and Scott Speed qualified on the front row but I am not sure they will be out front at the end. Vickers has been showing a lot of consistency and strength this year but he just hasn’t been there at the end. Scott Speed … well … we’ll see.

The Chevys and Toyotas look to be strong contenders tonight. Even the Dodges could pull off a surprise, but the Fords just don’t look to have it yet. Carl Edwards is probably the most likely Ford with obvious potential for taking the checkered flag, but Chicago hasn’t been a good place for the Roush Fords so far.

I do think if it is a Ford tonight, not only will it be a surprise but it will be Carl Edwards doing a back flip celebrating his first victory of the year and Roush’s first cup victory at Chicagoland. (Uh, like I said, I will be surprised if a Ford wins tonight, but it very well could happen.)

So once again that brings me to the part I look forward to every week. It’s where this fan likes to see if he can actually pick the winner for the race tonight. There are a lot variables for tonight’s race but it isn’t much different than most weeks in Nascar Cup racing.

I think the race will have a decidedly different outcome if there is a caution somewhere in the last ten laps of the race as opposed to earlier. That’s where I see the problem with actually picking the winner for tonight. If it is a long green flag run to the finish, it could be a fuel mileage and tire management race. If it comes down to a double-file restart inside the last ten, it could look a lot like a restrictor plate “Big One”.

Depending on how the tires hold up, it could be a “gas and go” with no tires and track position being the key. I just don’t know, that new double-file restart thing could totally change the normally expected outcome. At any rate I do expect it to be exciting if that does happen.

In making my final choice for the winner, I find it hard to overlook the Hendrick teams and equipment with the way they have been running this year and I do think one of them will finish out front. I also have to admit the obvious strength of The Toyota teams of Joe Gibbs, Michael Waltrip and Red Bull. The longer shots as I see it are the Dodges and Fords.

When it comes right down to making a choice, my best guesses would be Mark Martin, Jimmy Johnson or Jeff Gordon. Kyle Bush, Bryan Vickers or even David Reutimann could do it for the Toyotas. It is even possible that Clint Boyer or Jeff Burton could be a surprise from the Chevy camps or even one of the Penske Dodges could make a showing. Any way you look at it, it is a tough call given the possibilities and individual strengths of all the teams.

So, who do I actually pick to win? Any of the the above mentioned ones could win but I think I will go with Jimmy Johnson. I think he and Chad Knaus have something to prove tonight. It will be a close finish but the 48 team is going to win. I also think all of the Hendrick teams are going to finish in the top twelve tonight… Is that sticking my neck out or what???

See ya next time …

Rusty

(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© July 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

Categories
Nascar Nascar Articles Nascar Racing opinion

Nascar Fireworks at Daytona: the After Chatter from the Coke Zero 400

The Coke Zero 400 at Daytona did have fireworks both during and after the race and, as I expected, the race went right down to the checkered flag with Tony Stewart winning after Kyle Bush went spinning into the wall after making contact with Stewart. The race ended with that second “Big One” of the night and, of course, I am sure it will be the topic of conversation for days to come.

I’ve already heard several people once again blaming the restrictor plates for the accident and comparing it with the wreck between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski at the end of the race at Talledega. There have been those that blame Tony and those that definitely lay the blame at Kyle’s feet, but, just about anybody you ask that saw it has an opinion about it and they are more than willing to express themselves.

Much to this fan’s amazement, many take the opportunity to condemn the restrictor plates and want to exile them to the junk pile. They further take the opportunity to suggest getting rid of them immediately. This is nothing new, but it is becoming more frequent than in the past. I hear a lot of emotion speaking out, but I don’t hear a lot of sense being made or suggestions for safely improving the situation. (The operative words are, “safely improving” the situation.)

Although I don’t suppose many care too much what I think, as a Nascar fan, I offer my opinion of the finish of the Coke Zero 400 Saturday night and will touch on restrictor plate racing in general.

I don’t consider myself to be more knowledgeable than others when it comes to racing, but after being a driver, I do think it gives me a perspective that some others may not have. Believe me, my driving experience falls no where close to those in Nascar, but I did go from just being a beginner, to winning races and then finally, championships, on a local scale, so I have had some small success in racing.

The statements I have heard most often from drivers, crew chiefs and all sorts of commentators since the incident is that, “no one was to blame, they were just doing what they had to do to win…”

I do somewhat agree with them. If we take a good, honest look at the last “Big One” the race ended with on Saturday night, it is true, it was more of a “just racing” incident than anything else. They really were both doing what they, with their quick “in race” judgement, thought they had to do to win. After the fact, they probably both have a different opinion now and wonder what they would do differently if they could do it over again.

Here is the way I view the incident as a fan: Coming into the tri-oval to take the checkered flag, both Tony Stewart and Kyle Bush had a chance to win. Stewart knew he had to pick a line and chose the outside because it opened up. Kyle had been blocking Stewart and successfully impeding his ability to get a run on him for the last lap. The outside move Tony made gave Kyle a split second to make a counter move to block him once again. Unfortunately, Tony had gotten his left front fender further into Kyle’s right rear quarter panel before Kyle could make the block and he ran into Tony and turned himself into the wall. I come to this decision after reviewing the many camera angles of the incident. According  to what I saw, Kyle did, very obviously, move up on Tony to try and block. The rest is history,( as they say.)

Now, I know there will be some that disagree with my assessment of the situation, but I challenge all to look at the tapes of the straight-on camera shot of them coming to the finish line and draw your own conclusion. This is just the way I see it; I don’t think I am wrong, but I do understand some may see it differently. Just take a look for yourself.

This brings us to the point some have made. They have said, (and they are not placing blame on anyone), the accident was not unavoidable. It is true, it was not unavoidable, but the choices they both would have had to make totally goes against the desire of a competitive driver to win. Tony could have backed off and let Kyle pull in front of him and been content with second place; (yeah, right, like that’s gonna happen.) Kyle could have held his line and quite possibly could have held Tony off until the finish line; (and that’s gonna be the decision one of the most aggressive drivers in Nascar makes in a split second? I don’t think so.)

Truthfully, things could have turned out totally different if either of the above would have happened. I personally believe that Kyle would have won if he would have held his line. It would have been really close, but, I do think he would have been ahead as they crossed the finish line. There would have been no last lap “Big One” and Nascar fans everywhere would have a whole lot less to talk about this week, (and may not have been able to look forward to the coming race at Chicago with as much anticipation).

From just this fan’s view, restrictor plates are not the problem and Nascar doesn’t need to “do something before someone gets killed.” Although restrictor plates have their drawbacks, they have made interesting races out of ones that could have been relatively humdrum.

If you’ve been paying close attention, the drivers have been finding out some interesting little things they can do with the restrictor plates at Talladega and Daytona. At Talladega we have seen a relatively new thing called the two car breakaway. At Daytona we saw the front four or five cars be able to pull away from the rest in the draft and that was something recently new with the restrictor plate and the COT.

In retrospect, looking at the Edwards/Keselowski incident at Talladega and the Stewart/Bush incident at Daytona, Nascar doesn’t need to come up with some new rule restricting blocking and they don’t need to discard the restrictor plates. Looking at those two incidents unemotionally shows they were both caused by drivers making bad split-second decisions resulting in an undesired result. They can blame restrictor plates and Nascar all day long but the answer is in their hands and the decisions they make yields the results they experience.

Yes, restrictor plates do cause the drivers to think blocking is always the answer, but the results show it is not always a way to protect themselves from losing the race. I believe in the end, the drivers are going to have to train themselves to not always react with the same response. Blocking has been to blame for the end results at both Talladega and Daytona this year and, in the end, only the drivers have control over whether or not to do it …

See ya next time …
Rusty
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© July 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

Categories
Nascar Nascar Articles Nascar Racing opinion Uncategorized

Nascar at the Magic Mile: Just A Fan’s View of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at NHMS

Once again the field lines up according to points this weekend so it’s pretty obvious the qualifying times won’t matter because they don’t exist. Fortunately for Tony Stewart, he crashed his car into the wall before the qualifying so by the rules, he still gets to start from the pole position. That may or may not prove to be a good thing for him and the rest of the field.

Try S3 Media Player Demo For FREE!

I think the two practices on Saturday prove who is running the strongest and may give us a glimpse of who may take the checkered flag on Sunday but the most important things to consider are the fastest multiple lap times; not the fastest lap time. Oh, and just one more thought on this part; what changes will the crew chiefs make before the race starts tomorrow? In other words, who is going to be unexpectedly quicker right out of the box because of those changes? That could make a big difference.

I think I’m looking forward to this race a little more than usual because of all the uncertainty. No qualifying, cars running fast times that usually don’t show up at the top of the charts and the double-file restarts for the first time on a shorter track (even though I know this is not a short track.)

This could prove to be a race at the Magic Mile like none in the recent past and I know you’ve heard me say this a lot this year, but, I’m not sure who is going to win it. I don’t know if it is going to be a runaway by a couple of cars starting up front after the first part of the race or if the real drama is going to be nearer the end of the race. One thing I am sure of though; part of the credit for the win will go to the crews and their pit stops, the crew chief and his strategy and, of course, when and where the yellow flags fall in the race.

So, what do you think? Is this the week where Richard Petty Motorsports shows that their strong showing at Infineon was no fluke? I don’t know but it is a very good possibility. Reed Sorenson was fastest in the second practice session and was third fastest in the final practice. That makes it look like he could have a good run tomorrow (and who knows about the rest of the RPM teams.)

This could also be the week that Richard Childress Racing breaks into the win column. RCR has had a very lean time in Cup over the last couple of years in particular. Clint Bowyer and Casey Mears both performed well in the practices today and, if they catch a break or two, (and that is a pretty big ‘IF’), either one of them could end up in Victory Lane. Jeff Burton could break out of the box at any time and pull off a good finish this weekend. With the way things have gone this year, you just never know, Kevin Harvick could turn it all around at NHMS.

Martin Truex Jr and Juan Pablo Montoya both looked good and were fast in the practices and Montoya has just broken into the top 12 for the Chase after his finish at Infineon. That puts them both in the mix for being contenders on Sunday and everyone knows that the EGR teams would definitely like to take home a victory sooner than later.

I just can’t say that anybody really sticks out in my mind as ‘THE’ winner this weekend. There are a lot of possibilities, though. Just looking at the lap times for the last practice tells just how close the field is. If we consider the fastest recorded times for all 43 starters, we see some interesting facts. The lap times are separated by a little over a second for all 43, BUT, if we look at the top 20 spots there is less than a quarter of a second separating them. That could mean it is going to be hard to pass on a consistent basis for those starting in the rear. With this being just a 301 mile race, those starting out front are going to have their hands full with those top ten or twenty behind them. If they aren’t happy with the way their cars are handling near the start of the race, they won’t have a lot of time to make adjustments to them.

This is where it gets difficult for this fan, because it is hard to choose between those you would like to see win and the ones that actually can win. I really try hard to not play favorites, (even though I do have them), and I do try to weigh the stats to see who really stacks up as the possible winner. This week is pretty difficult for this fan to choose a winner but I have to try.

There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to picking a winner for Sunday’s race. I see some younger drivers looking awfully good at the Magic Mile, but I’m gonna have to go with some drivers that have been around longer, you know, they’re more … uh … mature(?) Yeh, that’s right, more experienced in calmly getting to the front at the right time … in time to take the checkered flag ahead of the rest.

So who will it be? I’m really glad you asked that question ’cause I’m just not sure. I think it is going to be a dramatic finish and I do think the top five is going to be chock full of former Cup Champions. I mean, just look at how many are in the top ten starting positions; there are five and some of them are multiple Cup champs. Hey, it could be anyone of them, but I’m gong to pick Jeff Gordon to get back on the winning track this week. He will probably be closely followed by Tony Stewart, Kurt Bush, Jimmy Johnson, Mark Martin and Greg Biffle.

It doesn’t really matter, but the one that wins this weekend is going to have to work for it. It’s just not going to be handed to him on a platter.

See ya next time …
Rusty
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© June 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

Categories
Nascar Nascar Articles Nascar Racing opinion

Nascar at Sonoma: The Infineon ‘After Chatter’ from Just a Fan’s View

The race at Infineon proved to be a real test of the double-file restart and ended with Richard Petty Motorsport’s Kasey Kahne, taking the win over Tony Stewart. Kahne flawlessly navigated the track in the final laps and managed to hold off Stewart through several restarts while “the King”, (Richard Petty), ended up with three teams finishing in the top ten.

Try S3 Media Player Demo For FREE!

From this fan’s view, the double-file restarts did add a new dimension to the road course and made the final laps more than a little interesting not only for the fans, but the drivers, too. In particular, the double-file restart made the last laps all the more intense because it bunched the field together and contributed to some that were running at, or near, the front to finishing much further in the back.

I don’t think everyone was happy with the results handed them by the restarts but I do know it made for a very interesting finish since there were so many yellow flags near the end of the race. Everyone was right there together, trying to make up as many positions as possible and racing hard with those around them to the checkered flag.

In the end, it was a little like a short track race, at least with all the excitement generated from the late-race restarts. There was definitely no lack of beatin’ and bangin’ and, though the front runners managed to pull away, there was plenty of action from fourth on back to keep everyone wondering where their favorite was going to finish.

I have to admit, I was looking forward to this race more than usual. With all of the chatter about the effect the double-file restart would have, I just couldn’t wait to see what would happen. I wasn’t disappointed, especially at the end of the race, because it was definitely as advertised. I also noted that the first part of the race went as I expected it would. The cars that started out front stayed out there for quite awhile and it wasn’t until the first caution came out that things began to noticeably change.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There were several drivers that started way in the back and they were moving through the field fairly quickly to begin with. There were some teams that tried differing pit strategies and that added a bit to the minimal drama at the first part of the race. When it came down to crunch time, it did make a difference who had pitted before any unexpected cautions came out. Robby Gordon paid a price for waiting one lap too long and he definitely was not in contention at the end because of that decision.

Marcos Ambrose put on an impressive performance even with having to start in the rear because of his engine failure during practice. I think, with just a little bit of luck, he could have walked away with the victory. He did put on an impressive display and definitely showed his road racing prowess. I liked watching him before Infineon and I will continue to watch him with expectation as the rest of the year progresses. He could very well be the next driver to deliver a trophy for Michael Waltrip Racing. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

As I stated in my last article, I like Nascar hitting the road racing tracks and one thing is very obvious to this fan; all of the teams are sending much better prepared cars and drivers to the road courses and I see the possibility of many more of them being able to finish up front than before. It just proves, once again, Nascar drivers are absolutely the best drivers in the world and they prove it with every race they participate in. At the very least, I would say they live up to the hype.

Well, that pretty much covers the race at Infineon from last week. I’m sure there’s plenty more we could talk about, but it is time to move on to next week. Nascar will be at Loudon, NH and some call that track just another Martinsville, except bigger. Me? Well, I’m  just always looking forward to the next race after the last race. I love Nascar racing … How about you??

See ya next time …

Rusty

(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© June 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

Categories
Nascar Nascar Articles Nascar Racing Uncategorized

Nascar at Sonoma: Infineon Will Be A Shootout between Ringers and Regulars

I love watching road racing with stock cars and Nascar road racing with the COT is definitely at the top of my list. There’s just something I like about a full body race car going fast and turning right as well as left.

S3 Media Player Software and Subscibers Only Music Training Website

I’m not one of those fans that thinks Nascar should drop the road racing tracks in favor of something else in an oval. I think it is an important and integral part of the overall package that Nascar presents. They often say their drivers are the best in the world and they don’t add the stipulation of, “Except on Road courses.” You see, I like seeing what these guys can do with the challenge of something different to them and a bit foreign to what they may have been brought up in and around. The road courses do exactly that.

When Nascar goes to the road courses, it is interesting how many of the road course “ringers” show up to see how they can do against Nascar’s best. It is also interesting how they talk about their laps and how they compare them with the likes of Tony Stewart, Kyle Bush, Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson and several others that show themselves to be strong whether on ovals or road racing tracks.

I have seen something different going on at this year’s first road race. In the past, there were several drivers that everybody focused on and expected to win. The rest of the field and the road course “ringers” were usually given honorable mentions along with the stronger Nascar regulars. This year, I see more competitive efforts coming from drivers that usually are hardly even mentioned.

Take for example, Brian Vickers taking the pole this weekend. He ran an incredibly fast lap and surprised many. Kyle Bush showed up fast off the truck, qualified second and showed he is a road course force to be reckoned with once again this year, (and don’t forget how well he performed on last year’s road courses.)

I am looking forward to the race on Sunday because of the way it seems to be an upside down lineup. I expect the first part of the race to be a sort of runaway with Brian Vickers and Kyle Bush breaking away. I know they could possibly stay up front for most of the race but I expect to see a few things go wrong like engine failures and driver error and that will keep the field closer together.

In reality, we’ve already seen some engine and transmission failures in the practice sessions and I expect there may be a few more guys that run into each other, taking each other out and off the track maybe taking with them someones chance to win.

The possibility of wheel-hop is high at this track and it can happen to anyone, no matter what their experience. If it does happen, it’s going to come down to when it happens, where they end up after it does and how many laps are left to make up lost spots.

Could it be that this week will be another week of who get the best fuel mileage? I don’t know, but it is possible. Montoya used it to pull off a victory a couple of years ago so I don’t think it can be ruled out.

I don’t think the fastest single lap time is going to bring home a winner this weekend. I do think the one that stays clear of trouble, runs the most consistent faster lap times throughout the race will have a good shot. It could come down to how and when the double file restarts happen. That is one thing that is unknown for this year. Since it hasn’t happened in the past, it should prove to be interesting. I think it does set up the possibility for someone in contention to win to be taken out by someone’s miscue while the field is still bunched up. This is a tight race track and it could make for a very interesting turn of events if it comes at the right time.

As for who might win this thing, I am not really sure. I do think Kyle Bush has a great chance simply because of last years performance and he has been fast this year. Brian Vickers has been very consistent this year and he has also been fast. Jeff Gordon could surprise us all but he does have a long way to go starting in the middle of the pack. Marcos Ambrose having to start in the rear because of engine problems makes his job very difficult but I know he is up to the task if things go better for him Sunday than they have so far this weekend.

Some others are Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Jimmy Johnson, Boris Said, Ron Fellows and Patrick Carpentier. I find it hard to rule any of these guys out. I think it is all going to be decided by whether or not the fastest qualifiers have problems or not. Starting out front has a definite advantage.

I would like to see Marcos Ambrose pull off the back to front victory, even though the deck is fairly stacked against him. Even Patrick Carpentier is a good choice, but, I’m going to give the nod to Kyle Bush. Hey, this is road course racing this weekend and anything could happen …and probably will.

See ya next time …
Rusty
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© June 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

Categories
Nascar Nascar Articles Nascar Racing opinion Uncategorized

Nascar at Michigan “After Chatter”: Fuel Mileage, with Horsepower, Takes Mark Martin to the Victory

Michigan proved to be a fuel mileage track once again and, much like Pocono last week, Jimmy Johnson came up just a bit short on fuel conservation. Although he dominated during most of the Michigan race, unfortunately, he didn’t dominate the last lap.

Mark Martin was ready to settle for just a good, strong finish when the two leaders ahead of him ran out of gas on the final lap. The battle for the top spot through fuel conservation led to a somewhat unexpected last lap drama and made the end of the race a feel good “crowd pleaser” as Mark Martin powered by both Jimmy Johnson and Greg Biffle.

That’s two in a row that came down to fuel conservation (Pocono and Michigan) and once again, Hendrick equipment came out on top. Now, they haven’t won everything, but, the Hendrick teams and teams running Hendrick equipment are looking very strong.

I suppose everyone has noticed they don’t call Mark Martin the old guy anymore…They call him “the Kid”. I have to admit he is having a lot of fun and I don’t recall him looking as happy as he has recently. It is great to see him doing so well this year and, it appears to this fan, he could very well be one of those in ‘the Chase’ that can be a contender for the top spot at the end of the year.

Now, I don’t want to make any rash statements because there is still a lot of season to go, but, this could be the year Mark Martin finishes first in the Chase and takes his first Cup Championship of his career.  Although there are lot of  things going on I would like to see happen this year, Mark Martin taking his first Cup Championship is right at the top of the list.

Some other things would be:

  • Jimmy Johnson winning and taking his fourth straight championship and setting a new record.
  • Jeff Gordon taking his fifth championship and putting to rest the rumors he is through winning the big ones.
  • Tony Stewart winning the championship in his first year as an owner driver

Wow! Although there are several more, I do want to move on.

You see, there are way to many things going on in all the Nascar series and I just don’t want to spend a lot of time only talking about last weeks race and the possibilities  for the Chase.

It seems the economy is finally catching up to some of the brave souls that were toughing it out hoping for better results and it is beginning to show in more and more places throughout Nascar.

As a fan, it is hard to really get a grip on the whole situation because I assume some are trying to cover (or, at least soften) as much of the suffering as they possibly can. I realize some of the teams are suffering, but I also see Nascar doing as much as it can to keep things moving. In my opinion, they haven’t gotten caught up in themselves so much that they can’t see some things need to be addressed. Overall, I am pleased with what I see, (as an outsider) and it appears to me they are trying to make the best of difficult times.

One thing I will say, and it is just my opinion, even though this has been a rough economic year for us all, overall, the racing has been very good. Not every lap you understand, but drama and excitement has been present in most every race.

I have enjoyed the racing so far this year. (I say that even though my favorite driver hasn’t been doing all that well lately.) The year hasn’t gone without its “situations” and “challenges”, but this fan thinks the “doom and gloomers” jumped the gun a bit in their early pre-season criticisms.

I know things could change a lot, but I am glad the year has gone as it has. It has been interesting racing and sometimes, even the ones that should have won, haven’t. That’s right, they didn’t win.

I’m kinda looking forward to the double file restarts this coming weekend at the Infineon Road Course at Sonoma. When the cautions come out near the end, look out! … it could get a little tight out there.

See ya next time …

Rusty

(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© June 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A  Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

Categories
Nascar Nascar Articles Nascar Racing opinion Uncategorized

Nascar at Michigan: Qualifying May Not Say Much About the Race…again.

As a Nascar fan (and former local short track racer), I just can’t seem to understand why they call it “race” qualifying. It seems it could better be named “pit stall” qualifying rather than qualifying for a good starting spot for the race.

Get Royalty Free Music From TwoBuckThemes.com

If past weeks tell us anything, it would be that qualifying tells us very little about how the race is going to go. Sure, I know this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this and it sure won’t be the last. It’s just that I put very little stock in the qualifying times especially when the first practice (or practices) don’t tell us that much anyway.

With the length of the race and all of the possible changes that will be made during the final practices, I don’t expect the finishing order at the end of the race to be anything at all like the beginning will be on Sunday.

Past races at Michigan International Speedway speak of long green flag runs and a wide racing surface that gives up to four-wide racing which, in the end, will dictate the winner, (well that and the car that handles the best, gets the best fuel mileage and has the most horsepower.)

Just take a look at the starting lineup. I admit there are some pretty strong cars starting up front, but, I also know there are some pretty strong cars starting in the middle and back of the pack.

Jeff Gordon blew his engine before qualifying, so he was definitely only qualifying for a pit stall. He will start in the back no matter what his qualifying time was. This may not prove to be such a bad thing since Tony Stewart proved last week that starting in the back wasn’t that much of a problem for someone with a fast car and fast pit stops (and the yellow flags falling at the right time). Up to this point, though, Jeff Gordon hasn’t been going fast enough to make me think he is going to just blow by everybody although I will be watching him to see how today’s final practice goes. Besides, one of the large contributing factors for Tony winning the race last week was his number one pit stall. I don’t think many will argue that point.

This week, many of the qualifying times were much faster than the times recorded in the first practice when the cars were in race trim. That may tell us something. Very little of the qualifying trim will actually be used for the race since most people know that that setup is mostly for one lap, (two at the most) and only gives an advantage to them for that period of time. (Once again, I bring up the point of MIS being about long green flag runs and consistent speeds. A couple of fast laps followed by much slower laps doesn’t really help move you to the front very quickly.)

It is ‘just this fan’s view’, but I firmly believe fuel mileage and where the caution flags fall will have much more bearing on the outcome of the race than the qualifying lap times and the lap times in general. Let’s not forget the double-file restarts and the associated strategies that will go along with that. This could prove to be a more interesting race than it usually is.

This is another one of those weeks that the recorded lap times and the way the field lines up will make it hard to predict a winner, but that hasn’t stopped us from making fools of ourselves before (and I don’t think it will stop us today.) Personally, I just like to see how well I can pick ’em, I guess. (Believe me, it’s nothing personal against anyone.) Lately my choices have been mediocre, at best.

I won’t take a lot of time giving you all of the reasons why I think someone is going to do better over the rest, but I have to say some look to have a better chance to win than the others.

Denny Hamlin needs to have some good luck this week and he could take the victory. He looks strong, but he did last week, too. Kyle Bush is going to be right there, also. He is about due to flex a little muscle this week and he is starting on the front row.

I also think the Roush teams are going to be pretty tough this week. Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth in particular are hungry and look pretty tough. Michigan is a place they generally shine and I am sure they want to make a strong showing this weekend.

I can’t make the final choice without mentioning Brian Vickers, Mark Martin and Jimmy Johnson. This is what makes it so tough to choose, too many strong cars and teams and many of them will have good pit stalls.

Oh well, I guess I shouldn’t put it off any longer since I know you’re just beside yourselves with anticipation. I really think Carl Edwards could pull off the victory this weekend, but, I know Greg Biffle is running strong too. Jimmy Johnson is looking to make Michigan another track he has won at and that means he and Chad Knaus are out to prove something. Mark Martin has just been plain solid all year and can’t be ruled out as the possible winner.

Let’s see, Carl Edwards…? Denny Hamlin…? Greg Biffle…? Mark Martin…?

Aw, geez! This is way too hard … Oh well, I’m picking Jimmy Johnson … or … oh, never mind…

See ya next time…
Rusty
(all opinions expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© June 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

Categories
Nascar Nascar Articles Nascar Racing

Nascar at Pocono: After Chatter from Just A Fan

Pocono once again proved to be a fuel mileage race and ended with the leaders seeing who could run the slowest, save the most gas and still stay ahead of the other competitors. As it turned out, Tony Stewart managed to stay ahead of Carl Edwards and still had enough fuel to do a fairly decent burnout to celebrate his victory.

Jimmy Johnson pressed the fuel envelope so close that he ran out of gas coming into turn three and finished 7th (which, when you think about it, wasn’t too shabby). He very well could have been running much further back in the pack if things had been just slightly different.

I don’t want to just get caught up in doing a recap of the race this week because everybody already knows what happened. There are, however, some important things to remember and they are:

  1. Tony Stewart finished first and his team-mate, Ryan Newman, finished fifth.
  2. The Roush cars ran strong this week, especially Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth.
  3. Nascar instituted the double-file restart this week and hardly anyone complained.
  4. Kyle Bush caused quite a ruckus after his guitar smashing stunt in Nashville after the Nationwide race and followed it with a non-stellar (for him) performance in the cup race at Pocono.
  5. David Reutimann is in the top 12 of the Chase standings.
  6. Mark Martin fell just outside the top 12 to 13th.
  7. Dale Earnhardt Jr finished 27th on the day.

Both of the Stewart/Haas drivers had to overcome adversity to finish where they did. Tony crashed his primary car in first practice Saturday and Ryan struggled with poorly running engine in the early part of the race on Sunday. Both of them managed to overcome those setbacks and their finishing spots speak for themselves. For a two car team that was just put together this year with drivers and crew chiefs, that says a lot.

Sure, I know the Haas team has been around a while, but still, look at how quickly things turned around for them with the new owner/driver, Tony Stewart involved. Things appear to be clicking along pretty good.

One can only hope that the last half of the season doesn’t go as the first half usually did for Tony in past years, that could prove to be a disastrous finish to the year. (Personally, I don’t think that’s going to happen.)

I would like to interject something at this point. I’ve heard a lot of people express their opinion of  how they thought Tony and the teams would do this year and now many are standing in shock at what they have accomplished,(that would be the Haas teams). I can’t say I expected it, but none of us should be all that surprised. I noticed a difference in Tony when he bought the Eldora Speedway. It just seems he has found a place to exercise his strengths in leadership as well as his driving ability.

The Roush Teams showed a lot of speed at Pocono and that could be bad news for the rest of the teams when they arrive in Michigan this weekend.

I noticed that the double file restart didn’t generate too much confusion or complaints this week. We can all rest assured time will tell as the rest of the season progresses, but it appears it will make things more interesting, especially at some of the tracks soon to be visited.

Even after all of the publicity of the guitar smashing incident in Nashville, Kyle Bush didn’t perform all that well at Pocono, at lest to his normal standards. I’m sure he will want to improve this coming weekend.

David Reutimann moved up two places in the overall standings and is presently in the top twelve. He has continued to show strength and consistency so far this year. This is a great step ahead for Michael Waltrip Racing and it looks to this fan as though they have turned the competitive corner.

Mark Martin just slipped out of the top twelve to thirteenth in the overall standings, but don’t look for him to stay there. I expect him to get solidly back into the top twelve. It is my opinion he is still fighting off some of the effects of some of the bad luck that he had at the first of the year.

Finishing in the 27th spot just shows that there isn’t going to be an immediate turnaround for Dale Earnhardt Jr. It appears it is going to be a work in progress and that all of the blame can’t be laid at Tony Eury Jr’s feet anymore. I expect it will take a few races, but they will hit their stride and then, look out, there could be several wins in store for the team. His biggest problem right now is that he is in 20th spot in the overall standings. They are going to have to turn things around and in a hurry if they are going to make the Chase.

Well, that about covers it up to now. Next weekend is all of the driver’s favorite track, Michigan International Speedway. High banks, high speeds and lots of racing room. I’m lookin’ forward to it…how about you?

See ya next time…

Rusty

(All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© June 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

S3 Media Player Software and Subscibers Only Music Training Website

Categories
Nascar Nascar Articles Nascar Racing opinion

The Nascar Cup Qualifying Rainout Should Make For An Interesting Pocono Race

Once again the rains have fallen on the Nascar Sprint Cup Series and washed out qualifying for this weekend’s race at Pocono. That means the Cup teams will line up according to owner points. Emotions are mixed amongst the drivers and crews and, although a little time off is a good thing for many, it just makes Saturday’s practice that much more important, (that is, if it doesn’t rain.)

Now, this is Just A Fan’s View, but, this years lack of extra practice sessions makes race weekend practice and qualifying rain-outs even more critical and noticed by the teams, especially the ones that are struggling or have new drivers. It is one less chance they have to get a grip on the tires and setups to help them be competitive for the weekend.

Most all of the guys that are starting at the front have good records at Pocono and, since I am writing this without the benefit of seeing any Sprint Cup practice at all, I can only say it should be interesting to see who has come with the best setup. I do hope the practice takes place today, (last I checked, it was supposed to), and that it helps the guys that are starting out front have a chance to stay out front, (that only seems fair). Otherwise, they will quickly fade and the others will be more than happy to fill in the gaps. For a driver, there is nothing worse than starting in the front and quickly fading to the rear.

The hot topic for this week is the ‘double file restart’. Although there are mixed emotions throughout the garage area, most think it will be a good thing. It is definite that it could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how the breaks fall for each driver during an event, but all seem to agree it will make it more exciting for the fans.

I agree with both sides of the discussion. There will be times when it helps a driver and times it will really burn him… but…that just makes it more like it was at the short tracks they grew up on and the way they do it almost everywhere…except Nascar. It remains to be seen how it will affect everything in the long run, but for now, I think it is a going to make for great racing, especially on the restarts.

One thing is for certain. I’m sure we’ll be talking about the double file restart a lot more later as the season progresses from this point.

Well, I guess there isn’t a whole lot left to talk about today other than who, in our opinion, just might take home the trophy this weekend. I guess we have to first look at those guys starting at the front of the pack. Let’s start with Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson, Kurt Bush, Ryan Newman and Kyle Bush and these guys all start in the first three rows. Wow, talk about an all star line-up in the top six and then there’s Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards and Mark Martin.

The top twelve starters are the top twelve performers on the year so far and I don’t think there’s any way they would have qualified in the order they did. It will all depend on how well their setups match the track this weekend.

After last week, I’m a little gun-shy on pulling the trigger on who might actually win this weekend, but that’s okay, I’ll still get to it soon.

I really have to mention some that could perform very well at Pocono this weekend. David Reutimann has shown some real strength in recent weeks and it is very possible he could do well this weekend. He just needs to keep on being consistent and I’m sure it is going to start happening for him and Michael Waltrip Racing. Another in that camp is Marcos Ambrose. He has struggled a bit lately, but I never count him out.

Kasey Kahne, Juan Montoya, Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer are all running well enough to pull off the victory at Pocono but I am just not so sure this is their week. With all of the strength starting out front, it could be a little tougher for them to pull it off.

I do think Dale Earnhardt Jr’s team may have something to prove so, even though they are starting from the eighteenth spot, look for them to move to the front during the race. I’m not so sure they will pull off the victory, but I do look for them to finish in the top ten.

This week I don’t think there will be too many surprises. I think it will be the teams that have been performing well in the last few weeks. This fan’s opinion of the way things will stack up at the end of the race is Kyle Bush, Kurt Bush, Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart running up front and in no particular order other than I think this could be Ryan Newman’s week to take the trophy for Stewart/Haas racing. And the rest of ’em … well … I think it’s gonna be close and … well … Denny Hamlin could be in there mixing it up along with the rest of them…

See ya next time…
Rusty

(All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© June 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

Get royalty free music from TwoBuckThemes.com

Categories
Nascar Nascar Articles Nascar Racing opinion

“The Monster” After Chatter from Just A Fan’s View

The ‘Monster Mile’ at Dover, Delaware once again proved to be a race with lots of surprises and also proved why you never consider a race at ‘the Monster’ to be over before the checkered flag falls. One of the biggest surprises was the last 25 laps and Jimmy Johnson driving hard to overtake Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart to take home the trophy. It was probably one of the best race finishes of the year, so far, for Nascar Sprint Cup.

Hi, everyone…welcome to Just A Fan’s View. I really missed the call for picking the winner this week and that’s not all. I really didn’t think the Hendrick teams would fair that well this week; I pretty much figured Dale Jr would finish back in the 20 somethings (where he’s been mired lately), and I didn’t really see the Roush cars being as strong as they proved to be this week. Now that’s not to mention the fact that Kyle Bush and David Reutimann both had problems and didn’t finish anywhere near the top five as I expected.

Personally, I thought this was by far one of the best finishes of the Nascar season. I never expected Jimmy Johnson would be able to show so much strength after having to start kinda mired in the middle of the pack for the last restart. He did show that his winning of three championships has been no fluke. (He very well could take four in a row, especially if he races like he did Sunday afternoon.)

Even though he dominated the race for most of the day, it looked as though he would have a hard time running down Biffle and Stewart, let alone, pass them both. I was impressed with his drive for the victory and I am not usually that easily impressed. He absolutely drove the wheels off the car to catch and pass them. (Yeah, I know he was the dominate car all day but I never really expected him to get by Tony Stewart with almost two laps to go…Wow! It was a great finish to a good race.)

Several of the Roush cars did finish reasonably high in the top ten with Biffle 3rd, Kenseth 4th and Edwards 7th. That really wasn’t too much of a surprise to me even though I didn’t pick any of them to win, I did give them some honorable mention though.

Overall, the Monster wasn’t as hungry as he first appeared. Although he did chew on some cars, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.

Jeff Gordon got caught in the pits when a yellow came out which put him one lap down and then they got a little off in the middle of the race and that put him 2 laps down. With a little luck going his way, he very well could have finished in the top five because at the end he was more than able to run with the top five leaders and stayed with Jimmy Johnson for awhile. As it was, he finished 26th and forfeited the points lead to Tony Stewart.

Speaking of Tony Stewart, he and Ryan Newman both finished in the top ten again. With every week, I am more impressed by the performance of the new Stewart/Haas racing. I don’t think anyone expected the teams to run this well this early, (I know I didn’t), and they both look to be real contenders for the Chase. It is definitely a tribute to Tony Stewart’s ability to run a team as an owner/driver and I don’t think we can discount the fact they are running Hendrick equipment as being part of their success formula.

Okay, speaking from a personal point of view now… I have to give a big thumbs up to FOX Sports. They have once again delivered on presenting the races to the fans in an interesting and creative way. They even did a pretty good job of keeping the rain delays interesting… (well… most of the time). I personally like the way they cover the races and the other broadcast teams for the rest of the year have some pretty big shoes to fill. Sure, sometimes they talk too much and sometimes they are way to repetitive, but they did a great job this year and that just continues their record of successfully broadcasting Nascar racing over the last several years. From just a fan’s view, I think they did a great job and I look forward to Daytona and their return to broadcasting the Nascar races in February.

Well, this weekend, Nascar takes on the “tri-oval/road-course” at Pocono. (Well, at least I know that’s what some people say about it.) It should prove to be interesting and, hopefully, it won’t rain…

See ya next time…
Rusty

(All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer.)

© June 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A  Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

Categories
Nascar Nascar Articles Nascar Racing opinion

Nascar Teams Take on the Monster at Dover

This week, Nascar takes on the Monster Mile at Dover International Speedway and, if qualifying says anything about how things will go, it could prove to be a tough day for more than a few. The Monster can reach out and ruin a day faster than you blink and it has already proven it is hungry.

Hi, everyone…Just A Fan’s View takes a look at this weekend’s Sprint Cup Race at the Monster Mile and, somehow, it doesn’t look pretty for some of the competitors so far.

Jeff Gordon took a hard hit into the wall in his qualifying run and gets to start way in the back. Dover is not a place to give anyone an advantage and he has a lot of ground to make up if he wants to make a visit to Victory Lane this weekend. I’m not saying he can’t win, but I am saying he has made the job of taking his second points race victory this year quite a bit more difficult.

It should be an interesting race for more than few reasons this weekend. There is a lot going on. Probably the biggest news is the crew chief change for Dale Earnhardt Jr starting this weekend. There has been a lot of pressure put on Tony Eury Jr this year and now, the pressure is back on Dale Jr, (but we’ll talk more about that in a bit).

One of the other hot topics for the weekend are the lack-luster performances of the Roush teams for most of the year so far and how they hope to turn it all around at DIS. Their expectations should be fairly high since their last time there they did finish well. I’m just not so sure they have the advantage on the C.O.T. handling this year that they had last year. Although this could be their week for a turnaround, I’m just gonna wait and see how things pan out. I just don’t think they’ve turned the corner yet.

Another hot topic is the performance of David Reutimann. This is a track that he has performed well at in the past and it looks as though he is ready for it again this year. As I’ve said many times, I don’t generally take the qualifying times as a guide for who might win or run well, but David also showed some strength in the first practice, too. He, and MWR, may have something to prove to everybody since so many think last week was a gift. Personally, I think they put themselves in the position to win and the circumstances worked out well for them last week. This week they might just show us all they have turned the corner and are ready to win a few more before they’re through.

As strong as the Hendrick and Hendrick associated teams have been this year, it appears they are running into a bit of a headwind lately. They are still the ones to beat, but there are signs that the struggle is equalizing. Jeff Gordon has  had some similar luck to Mark Martin’s early season and all the talk about his back problems makes everyone (except me) look at him as though it’s all but over. I think he is still positioned to be a very strong contender for the Sprint Cup Championship this year. He is just having a little bit of a struggle early this year. (Usually he waits until almost Chase time to have a bad run or two. Maybe this will get it out of the way and he’ll be able to take the lead all the way to Homestead.)

Jimmy Johnson has yet to show us he is going to win his fourth championship in a row, but he can’t be counted out yet, either. It is way too early to tell but there are a few signs of weakness and he has had a little more bad luck so far this year.

Mark Martin is running up front a lot and is thoroughly enjoying his success this year. I think it is great to see him doing so well and, personally, it wouldn’t bother me a bit if he took his first Cup Championship of his long career this year. I don’t think there would be a lot disappointed fans either.

That brings us back to the Dale Jr story. I could be the one that’s most surprised this weekend, but I don’t think he is going to run that much better than he has in the past couple of weeks. I could be wrong, but I just think there is something else going on inside his head. Nothing bad, maybe it’s just he is too busy with all that his popularity requires of him. Look out though, when it turns around for him and the 88 team, it could mean several wins in a row or, at least, several more before the end of the year.

I know that’s saying, and possibly expecting, a lot but, I do think things are going to change for them soon. One thing more about this whole situation … Now, it’s just my opinion, but I think Tony Eury Jr is going to be sleeping a whole lot better and enjoying working at HMS more than he has had the opportunity to do since arriving there last year.

Okay, the last hot topic I want to talk about for this week is everyone’s opinion of how Nascar’s Tv ratings are down and the stands aren’t completely full every week. My opinion for the moment is… “give it a rest.”

I’ve heard all the statements and arguments and I just don’t see it the same way as many do. The last time I checked, Nascar was second only to the NFL as far as Tv sports viewing popularity. Let’s give it some time before we declare the imminent decline and death of Nascar. Things are changing and it will all balance out in the future.

The faces of the drivers are changing and it will take some time to build up the fan base for the newer ones. Some of the guys I used to pull for in the recent past aren’t even racing anymore. I haven’t just completely given up and gone away, though. I’ve just decided to wait, watch and see who catches the attention of the fans in the future. Right now, I have more favorites than I’ve ever had and that is a good thing. (But I also have to admit, I do have a couple of favorites that I like to see win more than others.)

In the mean time, let’s enjoy the sport we love, quit knocking it so much and support it. It is way ahead of anything else in motor-sports, in my opinion, and I still look forward to it every week.

(And, by the way, I haven’t watched that much NFL football since Dan Marino and Jim Kelly retired, so I do understand some of the old favorites not being there. I check in now and again just to see if there is anyone that can take their place. So far, I haven’t seen it.)

Well, that brings us to the part that gets harder and harder each week. That would be who we think is going to win this week in Dover. I haven’t talked much about the Gibbs teams and they are looking pretty tough, especially Kyle Bush. This is his kind of track and I really think he has a good chance to take the checkered flag and the trophy, but I still think David Reutimann and even Matt Kenseth or Jamie McMurray have a good chance too, (yeah, I know those last two are Roush cars.)

I think this weeks race is going to come down to a race between Kyle Bush and David Reutimann. Who actually wins will be determined by who is in front at on the last few laps. If it’s Reutimann with Kyle on his bumper, look out, it could be someone totally unexpected because I think they’re both gonna to be going for it. Frankly, I’m looking for a victory by Kyle Bush this weekend…

See ya next time…
Rusty

(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© May 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

Categories
Nascar Nascar Articles Nascar Racing opinion

Coca Cola 600 “After Chatter” from Just A Fan’s View

David Reutimann and his “00” team used the old, “We’re stayin’ out and we hope it keeps on raining” strategy to hopefully propel themselves to victory in the Coca Cola 600 this last weekend. Although it took 2 hours for that strategy to finally play out, it proved to be the winning strategy of the rain-plagued race.

Hi everyone, and welcome to this weeks Coca Cola 600 After Chatter from Just A Fan’s View.

Looks as though I was right when I said the race this week was going to be an endurance event for the fan’s as well as the drivers. It proved to be even more of an endurance run for both of them than even I could have imagined. The rain completely changed the complexion of the competition for the race this weekend from one of hanging in there until the last one hundred laps and then going for it, to one of, “I just hope we’re out front when they finally call this thing.”

I know that may sound like an over simplification, but I just couldn’t resist. After waiting for the rain to stop several times for long delays, Nascar finally threw in the umbrella and decided that trying to continue was pointless. After all, there is always next week. I really felt for the fan’s that stuck it out to the end and they proved, once again, Nascar fan’s are some of the most devoted fans on earth.

It is unfortunate that the rain put such an extended damper on what was to be a very full day of memorial and appreciation for the all of the military veterans that have given so much for this country over the years. The race was supposed to be the topping on the day of remembering and appreciating all who have given so much to all of us. To add to the disappointment of the weekend, and not because they didn’t try to “git ‘er done”, Nascar had to call the race and thereby added to the “uneventfulness” of the event. It is a shame because, with the delays, and if the sky would have cleared, the race could have run into the night and been finished under the lights as originally planned for the day before. Oh well, as they used to say at our local track, “that’s racing”.

I would have liked to have seen what would have really happened if there had been no rain. Because of the way rain caused the yellow and red flags to fall, it totally changed how everyone approached the racing. Some were racing as if there were only going to be 201 laps while others figured to go most of the distance if not the full 400 laps. Some teams guessed right on their setup for the change to a totally day race and some obviously didn’t and struggled from the beginning.

I still think the ones I picked to finish at, or near, the front would have done so without all the rain. All of those predictions are nice to consider at this point, but completely pointless because it did rain, and continued to rain and then rained some more.

I will say this, I bet the commentators and pit reporters are more worn out than the drivers and crews . I’ve had the privilege to run cameras and sometimes work sound over extended periods before (although not for race events) and I bet those guys had more than enough rain and weather breaks to last them a while.

I always found over long events with unexpected delays, the busier you are the faster the time goes, particularly when you’re on a camera. These guys had to put in a full extra day because of the rain. (To top it all off, they had to tear down all of their equipment before they could go home. That’s why I admire the “tech teams” at such events. They’re the ones you hardly ever hear about or see but without them, you wouldn’t hear or see anything on radio or Tv.)

I’m happy that David Reutimann won if for no other reason than it’s his first cup win and he has been running pretty good so far this year. I’m really glad for him and his owner, Micheal Waltrip, because, overall, MWR has been working really hard for three years to make this happen. They took a chance and it worked out for them and it still counts as a win. The great thing is that a few years down the road no one will even know it was a rain-shortened event. When people look at the statistics, it will say David Reutimann won the race and he was driving for Michael Waltrip Racing … that’s it … there will be no mention of the rain in the record book — just who won.

Well, hopefully the weather will clear for the race coming this weekend in Dover at the Monster Mile. I don’t know if anyone wants to sit through another rain delay for a while, (at least, I know I don’t.)

See ya next time…
Rusty

(All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© May 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fans View & Rusty Norman