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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 30, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Talladega More Than Just A Challenge For Cup Teams from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Talladega… There’s not much that can be said that hasn’t been said about the Super Speedway at Talladega Alabama. In fact, there’s not a whole lot that can be said that hasn’t been said about anything lately. I think just about everybody’s run out of things to say about the way NASCAR is proceeding through these times and I won’t try to offer anything new but, I will give my opinion on what’s to come on race day Sunday afternoon.

This race at Talladega will be another race with no qualifying and no practice. So, in that sense, it will be just like many of the races they’ve already run since the “pandemic” hit and everyone took a little break. One thing that will be different is that they will be allowing around 5000 people in the stands. Now, that should prove to be interesting to say the least. I’m sure there are those that think that this is a bad move and time will tell if that’s the case but, it’s time for people to get their lives back, (at least that’s my opinion.)

I’m just giving you my opinion of these super speedway races and I have to admit that I still like the superspeedway races even with the rules that they have and the way that they make them compete. Restrictor plates made a big difference and then the engine rules and changes to other things have made a big difference also. Now that they’re no longer called restrictor plate races, there still restricted in how fast they can go. Of course, they will probably not set any new speed records but the racing is still very good at a super speedway race. As the talking heads like to say, “If you’re in it you can win it.”

Admittedly, that is true. I have to agree that anyone can win one of these depending on what happens with the “big one” (or Big Ones) or just how things pan out at the very end of the race. Let’s just say, if someone unexpected wins, it wouldn’t be the first time that ever happened.

I know I’ve said this many times before and I also know that many don’t care what I remember from when I used to race myself but, some of my favorite races were where we raced door handle door handle and bumper to bumper for lap after lap. Of course, on the short tracks we were running at much lower speeds but the sensation is the same. You can look in your mirror and see the cars behind you, you can look out your window and see the cars beside you and you can look in front of you and see the cars ahead of you, (unless you’re in the lead), and there’s no place for you to go except where the pack is going and you’re all going about the same speed. To put it another way, your life (or your race) is in the hands of those around you.

I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy these type races so much. It’s because for much of the time, no one really has an advantage. As we watch, we have no idea who might be able to pull out and get help and move ahead of those that were once ahead of them. It’s also interesting to watch to see how they handle adversity either caused by equipment failures or mistakes by the drivers they’re running with. Unfortunately, it’s also true that these type races can become a little bit boring depending on what the drivers decide to do as they click off the laps. One of the advantages of stage racing is that there are at least three times when the racing really gets interesting. That’s when they go for the points.

It’s true, I could go on for many more paragraphs and talk about my fondness for super speedway races but, I won’t do that. (Besides, I would probably be the only one interested in hearing what I have to say.) When it comes to these type races it is extremely difficult to pick a winner before the race or even as the race progresses but, it’s not hard to have favorites. I know that I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a Chevy fan and I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a Hendrick Motor Sports fan. Naturally, it would follow that I would pick one of the Hendrick teams to win and hope that a Chevy wins. That’s not necessarily what will happen during this race on Sunday afternoon but, it is the hope of this fan that it will. I won’t go into a long list of those names that I think could or should win, or that I hope will win, but it is enough to say I’d like a Chevy to win.

OK, I know that sounds like I’m a little bit biased and it’s probably true that I am but, the facts are, that this won’t be a race that’s a challenge just for the drivers and teams that are in it but it will be a test for NASCAR, the fans that are allowed in the stands and those of us watching. Much as there are some that will probably not watch because of decisions NASCAR made recently, I will be watching simply because I like to watch these type races on the Super Speedways and even though I have my opinions and my favorites, I’m not going to be making any political statements or raising a ruckus but watching just to see the race…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 20, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Homestead Is Next from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It’s a busy weekend at Homestead, FL and all of the NASCAR series are showing up to do a little racing. The Cup teams take on Homestead Sunday afternoon and we can only hope that the racing will be good. Unless you’ve been totally disconnected recently, you already know that there is a lot going on in NASCAR and not all of it is without controversy. I wish I could say that everyone agrees with NASCAR’s decisions and thinks that they do what they do for all the right reasons. Unfortunately, I really don’t think that’s the case. Without going into these matters at hand and getting involved in controversy after controversy or disagreement after disagreement, I’ll just try to talk about the Sunday afternoon race that’s coming up.

I will say this though. I’ve been a NASCAR fan for a long, long time. I’ve seen a lot of changes and a lot of fans and drivers come and go. There have been disagreements and controversies that have come along and there have been people that have joined NASCAR and left NASCAR over the years. No matter how you view it, these times are different times. Without being completely specific, I have to say that these are very trying times for all of us and for our country. Personally, I do hope cooler heads will prevail and we stop with all the knee-jerk reactions that often bring regrets later.

Now that I’ve said all that, what I have to say about the race will probably not be as long as most of my articles are. This one will be relatively short for several reasons. For one, I have limited time this weekend for personal reasons and I don’t have a whole lot to say about the Homestead race. I will say that the racing at Martinsville was both exciting and boring to me. It seems that every time I think that the Chevys are making headway, the Fords and the Toyotas make a strong showing.

Now, since I know you’re very familiar with my thinking on makes since I’ve made no attempt to hide my loyalty to Chevrolet, I have to admit that I still want to see the Chevys win more than they do. Maybe that’s not fair to Toyota fans or Ford fans but, it is fair for me since I’m a Chevy fan. So, Martin Truex Jr. winning at Martinsville is good for him, his team and Toyota but not so good for those of us Chevy fans. It’s OK though, we don’t hold it against you Ford and Toyota fans and there’s a good chance the Chevys could make a good, strong showing at Homestead, maybe even end up in Victory Lane. I also don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that a Hendrick driver might be the one in Victory Lane and it could be Jimmie Johnson.

It’s not really much of a surprise to this fan that the Fords or starting on the front row nor a surprise me if the Toyotas don’t make a strong showing at this track since they usually do. What I am wondering is whether or not they will get to race at the usual time or if it will be delayed because of rain. We have been having quite a bit of afternoon rain over the last several days down here in Florida. How ever it goes, one thing is sure. Someone will win and they will either be driving a Toyota, a Ford or a Chevy. Nobody will know until the checkered flag drops. After all, this is just my opinion and, with all that’s going on, there probably ain’t nobody listening anyway…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 13, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

On To Atlanta With No Practice Or Qualifying from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The NASCAR Cup teams are taking it to Atlanta this weekend and, once again, they’re doing it without practice or qualifying. As I said recently, it looks like NASCAR might be finding a way to change the way they do racing, at least in the near future. The reason I say that is because it doesn’t seem to affect the racing in any negative way without those things. Of course, we all know that this is a very different time but, I think it is plausible for NASCAR to continue doing what they’re doing without practice and qualifying and still continue to have good racing. I seriously doubt they’ll take any of my advice about that but for the present, it seems this is working out very well and, at least from this fans view, the racing seems to be a little better(?) And more intense. Well, I’m not so sure that everyone feels the way I do about it but it has been interesting.

Of course, we really need people in the stands so that when the drivers do something like win or make a good move or just get out and mix it up with somebody, the fans can give them their uproarious support either for or against. it’s pretty obvious to this fan that it does affect the drivers without having the fan reaction when they climb out of the car for whatever reason, especially after they’ve won. I would say it has taken a little bit of getting used to.

If I could reflect on the days when I used to race, I remember that it was really great to have that fan reaction after a hard-fought battle with someone for the win. I even remember having an accident like being put in the wall or rolling over are numerous times on the front straightaway in front of the stands and hearing their reaction. Somehow it makes it a little easier to take when you climb out of the car and everybody yells and cheers because they know you’re OK. (Trust me, I’ve been there both ways…)

Before I talk about this weekend’s race at Atlanta come I would like to make a short comment on what happened between Joey Logano and Chase Elliott near the end of the race last weekend at Bristol. I really didn’t see it the way that several did and I don’t know if it’s because I was able to watch the camera shots or because I just saw it differently. It seems that Joey Logano thought Chase Elliott got him loose by giving him a nudge after Denny Hamlin got into the loose stuff and gave the lead away to Joey Logano. From my view, it appears that Chase might have taken the air off of Logano’s spoiler and that’s what caused Joey to lose traction and slide up as Denny Hamlin had just before him.

Shortly after that the caution came out and as the cameras followed Elliot in Logano I think down the back street, Logano got into Elliott’s bumper and gave him a good long hard push, appearing to let him know that he wasn’t happy with him pushing him up and towards the wall. Since I don’t think that’s what happened it is possible that Chase had a little bit of a temper resurgence and that’s why he drove so hard into the turn after the restart even though it was pretty obvious he was trying to win the race and definitely over drove it.

What struck me is more than a little humorous, was how upset Joey Logano was that Chase had done that to him – driven into the turn so hard as to take them both out – as though he had never done that to someone else in the past. It appears that all he really wanted was an apology in for Chase to man up. Funny, it seems I recall times when Joey didn’t do that himself.

Oh well, enough of that…

The race this weekend in Atlanta should prove to be very interesting and there are several that could end up in Victory Lane. We talk about people that have won there numerous times or several times before, they’re the ones that are likely to win again. Well, at least that’s what we’re told. However, I think the Chevy just might win this one. I know there are several others that could win whether it be in a Toyota or Ford. I just think that this could be where Jimmy Johnson actually gets over his100 race losing streak. No I’m not saying that he will because chase Elliott has been running strong too along with teammate William Byron and Alex Bowman. Those four right there are probably the biggest reason that I suspect or at least am expecting a Chevy will end up in Victory Lane. Now, I could be wrong and that wouldn’t be anything new but don’t be surprised if it happens Just the way I say.

I do admit that Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney all have a chance and there is also a good chance Martin Truex Jr. could pull off the victory. I can’t tell you how much I hope that Joey Logano doesn’t win, (it’s a personal thing with me), but unfortunately, he is a possible winner also. Of course. there’s always that guy named Brad Keselowski (and you already know how his luck has been running.)

The thing about this race in Atlanta is that the track is pretty well worn out, there are multiple grooves the drivers can run in, and strategy is going to play a very strategic part in this one. The fuel mileage is going to be much further than the tire mileage and that should make things interesting. Who knows, someone completely unexpected could win this one and it wouldn’t surprise any of us, would it?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 6, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

The NASCAR Marathon Continues at Bristol from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well, it’s been a long haul but the Cup teams do get a break after this weekend until the following weekend. From this fans view, NASCAR has done a good job of getting all the races in, even with the inclement weather they’ve been fighting, and they’ve done a good job of keeping things moving. One has to wonder if the tracks could have done as good a job as they’ve done considering they had no fans in the stands to contend with, even though I really think they would have rather had fans in the stands. I guess that still remains to be seen and I’m happy to say I think they will be up to the task.

The race this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway should prove to be an interesting and fascinating race and it’s anyone’s guess who might take the win. Once again, they take to the track without practicing or qualifying and that should still make it interesting for the tough little track in Thunder Valley that is always a challenge But I loved challenge by almost every driver.

This could be a race that Brad Keselowski wins again. After all he does start on the pole and that could be a good thing for him. His teammate Joey Logano is also showing some strength recently but he has also faded at the end of races which is uncharacteristic for him. When it comes to all three of the Penske Fords, Ryan Blaney has probably been the one that has struggled the most, especially since they restarted the season after the layoff for the virus.

This fan can’t help but wonder if this weekend will be the weekend where the Toyotas begin to show something. I know they’ve been hit or miss since the restart of the season, but I also know that they are quite capable of pulling off victories. Kyle Busch has had good weeks and bad weeks and in his usual fashion, at least from this fans view, when things are going right, he’s happy and when things are going wrong, he’s not. Denny Hamlin is been on again off again, at least in my opinion, and this very well could be a race where he shines. Martin Truex Jr. has been struggling most of the season but I expect him to begin to show his strengths as the season progresses even though it may not be this weekend.

If you’re a Chevy fan, which I am, you’ve been pretty happy with the performance of the Chevys, especially since they started back racing after the layoff. In particular, the Hendrick Chevys have shown some real improvement, particularly over last year. Of the four Hendrick teams, Chase Elliott is showing the most strength even though he’s had a run of “bad luck.” Of course, he did pull off two wins last week, one in Cup and one in the Truck Series. He also picked up the bounty for beating Kyle Busch in the Truck Series. It’s not just my opinion, but there are many that have spoken highly of Chase’s performance, especially in recent weeks. He and his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, have shown up good off the truck almost every week and, in particular, unloading off the truck in recent weeks.

Alex Bowman and William Byron have also been very good off the trucks but, William Byron has had his share of bad luck also. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, had he not had that problem in the pits with, Corey Lajoie, he may have given Chase a run for his money along with Kevin Harvick at the end of the race on Thursday. I think, well at least in this fans view, the Hendrick Chevys have definitely turned things around over their performance in the last two years. As I admitted earlier, I’m a Chevy fan and always have been. Along with that I’m a Hendrick fan even though I also have favorite drivers in other makes and on other teams. Now all that remains for HMS is to get Jimmie Johnson into Victory Lane. Somehow, I think that’s going to happen pretty soon.

So, it appears that good racing doesn’t really depend on the stands being full and the marathon that NASCAR has been running over the last couple of weeks playing catch up has had some very good and intense racing. It is an adjustment, particularly for the drivers, to win a race and climb out of their cars with no applause or cheers from the stands. A lot of things are changing in our world today but, it appears that no matter how they have to run the races, the competition really doesn’t change. It’s been intense, it’s been good and the real thing is still much better and the virtual thing. Well…at least from this fans view…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 31, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

My Opinion Of The Virtual Racing from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Hey, look… I know I’m an old guy and not a gamer but, I do have an opinion of the “virtual racing” being used as a replacement for the “real thing” for us NASCAR fans. Well… maybe “replacement” is a little too strong of a word. Perhaps I should say it is a substitute until they can get back to the real thing.

I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking, “Oh, he’s just an old guy and doesn’t get the virtual world.” Believe me. I do get the virtual world and I do understand the draw it has on people of all ages, particularly those younger than me. Admittedly, I haven’t really gotten into the more recent world of virtual things but I did used to play some games back in the day. My kids and grandkids play a lot of games and I can tell you; things have really become more sophisticated in these times. (There I go, revealing my age again.)

Yeah, as I got older, I just got to the point I was too busy to play games and I also found them to be somewhat addicting. Running a business and raising a family and all of the extracurricular activities that go along with those, I could no longer stay up till all hours and go to work the next day and not pay a price for it. After a while, it was something I gave up because it was becoming a waste of time and energy without results. Yes, I know some people play games to unwind and take their mind off their day-to-day stresses and others do it because they want to and really love it. I’m just not one of those people and I do not judge those that are.

In those days – when I was much younger – we would always try to find the weaknesses in the game and try to take advantage of them to better our score or win over our opponents. There was always something you could use whether it be the timing of the shots or slower and poorer reactions of those you played against. Eventually, I replaced my gaming time with something else and lost interest in the games all together.

So, what is my real opinion of the Virtual Racing replacing regular NASCAR racing at the present time?

Well… I will say it is interesting – or, at least it was the first week it was aired on FOX Sports. I readily admit it is amazing how realistic the graphics are and how real the cars on the track look as the competitors “drive” them from their consoles. I also thought it was interesting they would want to include the usual voices “calling the race” as it progressed. They have done their best to make the Virtual Race as much like the Real racing and make it appear even more real to the viewers.

Now here is the problem with all of that, at least for me as a former driver and, presently, still a fan, (waiting for the real thing to return.) In reality, it is just a game. As real as they try to make it look and sound changes nothing about the fact it is a virtual game and nothing other than the driver’s ability to manage their virtual car through their console makes it anything else. I mean, give me a break! They even do the “crank it up” routine for those with their surround sound setups. (Personally, I don’t even like “crank it up” when they do it for real. By the way, I do have surround sound and it still isn’t one of my favorite things.)

Here is what I told my wife when I first heard they were planning to put it on TV. With everything being virtual, it doesn’t matter how fast or how hard they drive into the turn. They could even cause themselves to be launched into the stands by a dumb move and no one would get hurt, the fans and drivers are safe and the cars undamaged except for the rules that apply for wrecking virtually. As real as it may seem and as real as they try to make it appear, it is still a virtual presentation made for gamers. The ones that do better are the ones that have experience racing virtually and, at least from my view, have the more sophisticated consoles. Yes, the competition is real competition but it is a game, a very sophisticated one at that, but still a game.

It is my thinking, those that enjoy it most are the competitors and gamers that may want to get into it or already are. I just don’t relish the thought of watching someone else play a game. For me, the newness has worn off and it is pretty much like watching my kids play games at family gatherings and they take over the TV to play amongst themselves. The rest of us can watch or we can do something else. For me, well, I choose to do something else…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 4, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

NASCAR Cup Teams Take It To Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

The NASCAR Cup Teams take it to Phoenix this weekend in the final race in the West coast swing. If anyone was expecting it to be “business as usual,” well… perhaps they should rethink. There are a lot of things different since the last time the Cup Teams visited Phoenix and it could have a great impact on how the racing goes for this Spring race and possibly the gathering of information for the finale at the end of the season.

So, what are the obvious changes for this trip to Phoenix? Well… there are several big ones and they need to be considered for the Sunday afternoon race.

First, there is the big difference in downforce. The most notable change is the size of the spoiler on the rear of the cars. It is much smaller. In fact, it is almost unnoticeable from a short distance. Compared to the one used last weekend, it is a difference of night and day and, from this fan’s view, the difference in downforce has affected how the cars handle. Since all of the teams have to contend with the difference, they may all struggle in the same way adapting to it.

Second, there is more horsepower. More horsepower means faster throttle response and could mean faster trouble when and if it raises its ugly head. Now, it is true that more horsepower isn’t always a better thing but, with the changes to the downforce it just may make things more interesting, especially when they get together in groups. It may also make the restarts even more exciting especially when they enter that first turn, two or more wide. At Phoenix two, three, four and more wide is nothing unusual in the past.

Third, there is the new tire compound Goodyear brought for the downforce changes and other reasons. It should make for very interesting racing also. Every time they make a change to the compounds, it does seem things on the track get more interesting when it comes to grip and the ever-changing strategies that happen every week.

Although there are other things that have changed since the NASCAR Cup Teams last visited the Phoenix track, one thing stands out pretty clear. Of course, that would be the improved performance of the Chevys over their last two seasons.

I realize it may too soon to be making any rash statements about the Chevys and their performance but, looking at the first race weekends, they are showing themselves to be much more competitive and, as a life-long Chevy fan, I have to admit it makes me happy and gives me hope they will continue to make waves throughout the 2020 NASCAR Cup season.

Last year the Toyotas and Fords really had the upper hand over the Chevys most of the time. In particular, the Toyotas ruled and won over half of the races last season. When it comes to looking at Phoenix from last year, they did kind of dominate and not just at Phoenix. This season, however, they do appear to be struggling. Well, at least somewhat considering how they were last year. I’m not saying they’ve totally lost it… I’m just saying they “appear” to be struggling a bit if you can say that, after a Toyota won the Daytona 500 and finished second last weekend at the Auto Club Speedway, and consider that to be struggling. I do think there are many teams that would like to struggle in like fashion.

There are many that think Alex Bowman could win this one at Phoenix this weekend but, I’m not going to jump on that band wagon just yet. It is true he has momentum and confidence on his side but, I think the competition is pretty stiff for this weekend and, although I would like to see him win two in a row, I’m not so sure the Chevys are that strong yet.

Well, to clarify, I’m not so sure the other makes are struggling all that much in this early part of the season. Yes, it is true the Chevys are showing great improvements. It is also true the Toyotas aren’t performing as many expected but they are managing to show some strength even though losing a little in speed. The same goes for the Fords. They, in particular the SHR Fords, have shown they have the speed to start with but seem to fade at the end, much as the Chevys did over the last year or so. This race at Phoenix may give a better idea of what’s going on in all three camps and what to expect throughout the rest of the season.

As for me and from this fan’s view, I will just be happier when Jimmie Johnson wins and puts himself in the playoffs so he can go out competing for the 2020 Championship, maybe even taking his eighth. I know that may be asking for a lot, but then again, it is what I would like to see. You see, it’s my view and I’m sticking with it…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 7, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

NASCAR Cup Teams Take It To Fontana from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The NASCAR Cup Series teams take on the mile-and-a-half Auto Club Speedway oval at Fontana this weekend. It is the second of three races in the swing out west for them and it is the second real test of the newly designed Chevy Camaros. Oh sure, they were tested last weekend at Las Vegas but this is a little bit different. Some are saying last weekend showed they have improved but this weekend will show if there is consistency in the improvements.

In keeping with the Chevy improvements theme, I’d like to take a look back at the last two races for just a moment or two. You may or may not agree with me but, considering which cars won the Daytona 500 and the Pennzoil 400, I’m not so sure the best car actually won those races. Oh, I know what you’ll say. It’s not the way you run, it’s the way you finish. Or maybe you’re one of those that’s says you have to put yourself in position to win and take the breaks as they come.

Believe me, this is not a cut against Ryan Newman or Ryan Blaney at Daytona. Either one of them could have won and instead Denny Hamlin did. Before circumstances turned against him, Chase Elliott may have won. (Well, at least that’s this fan’s opinion.) He was also the dominate car at Las Vegas, but once again, a little bad luck on a tire change near the end of the 400 took him out of contention for the win and instead Joey Logano won. both Hamlin and Logano pretty much get a free ride into the playoffs and neither one was the best car on those two days other than finishing first.

Now I know it’s asking for trouble when I talk about what coulda, shoulda or woulda happened in those past two races. I know that Daytona can be a crap shoot right down to the very last inch of a race and I do realize that Ryan Blaney and Ryan Newman had the same chance at winning as did Denny Hamlin. The same goes for Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman at Las Vegas. If they hadn’t pitted on that last caution, maybe… just maybe, they would have beaten Joey Logano instead of watching him drive away. I can hear the armchair drivers out there saying, “that’s just racing!” but it still gets to me how “racing luck” plays such a big part these days.

Okay, enough of races in the past this year. I’m still interested in how the Chevys are going to do in this one at the Auto Club Speedway.

I guess it’s pretty obvious, I’m a Chevy fan. I have owned Chevys almost exclusively all my driving life, I used to race Chevys when I was racing. I do like them and I did like the way my Chevy racecars ran and, I have to admit, I liked winning with them. When it comes to NASCAR, I am still a Chevy fan and I guess I am biased toward Chevys and how they do, can and will perform in the NASCAR schedule when I watch or write about the races.

This weekend I was pleased to see Alex Bowman having the fastest laps in the two practice sessions and it gives me hope for the race on Sunday that a Chevy might make the trip to Victory Lane. Not just Alex Bowman but Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, William Byron and yes, even Kurt Bush. After the last two years in particular, I long to see the Chevys show up and be the ones to beat every weekend. I know that might be lot to ask in these times but, I have to be honest, would like to see it again.

When it comes to the race this weekend, the Fords look to be strong and Chevys have speed. Looking at it from the sidelines, either of those makes could end up winning the Auto Club 400. I’m not so sure the Toyotas weren’t working on long run speeds. With the way the tires drop off in a run, long run speed is going to be important to all of the teams and I’m just not sure if the Toyotas have shown all they have yet this weekend. I guess we’ll find out when it’s over. After all, this is the NASCAR Cup Series and anybody could win this one and it could be a Ford, a Chevy OR a Toyota.

Okay, now for a little bit more honesty and admitted bias for the Auto Club 400 on Sunday afternoon. I would really like to see Jimmie Johnson win this one. After all, it is his last race at his hometown track in regular Cup racing. I know it may be a pipedream but I would really like to see him in the final four going for the Championship at the end of the year. Who knows, this may be his week to end his winless streak and make a move into the playoffs early if he does so. I’m not going come right out and say he will win this one but it sure wouldn’t bother me at all if he did…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 29, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Vegas Is Next For NASCAR Cup 2020 from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The NASCAR Cup teams take it to the track at Vegas this weekend. Considering the wreck-fest we saw at Daytona last weekend, the Vegas track may seem a little tame. Oh, I’m not saying there won’t be any action. I’m just saying there won’t be as many wrecked racecars as there were when Speed Weeks was finished at Daytona. I’m sure that will be a welcome relief to the team owners since they were the ones that saw much of their monetary investment in their Super Speedway cars end up in the dumpster or in a junk yard. From this fan’s view, the race may pay well but it also costs a lot to try for the win and watch much of that investment end up as a crumpled mess.

Of course, one thing that wasn’t wasted when it comes to investments was the investment NASCAR has made over the last several years concerning driver safety. Ryan Newman’s accident coming to the checkered flag could have turned out much different IF there hadn’t been the continuing investment in making the racecars safer for the drivers.

As a former local stock car owner/driver, I can say Ryan didn’t exactly walk away, but we are all happy and thankful he did walk out of the hospital a couple of days later with no visible signs of the horrific accident he was involved in. I will say this though… I’ll bet he was hurting from hitting the safer barrier along with the wild ride and being hit by Corey Lajoie. I’ve never had an accident while going near two hundred miles an hour but I have had a couple of accidents racing at our local short tracks and, from one in particular, I hurt for at least a week… and that was at less than a hundred miles per hour…

Oh well, enough about Daytona (and me…) What about Vegas??

I have to say, my takeaway from the first two practices at Vegas was a little mixed. The Fords in usual fashion for Vegas looked fast in the first practice and, surprising to this fan, the Chevys looked to be making headway, speed wise, in the final practice on Friday. I’m undecided about the Toyotas if for no other reason than I’m not sure they were showing all they had. It is possible they were and that all three makes are fairly evenly matched for this weekend but, I’m not so sure they weren’t leaving something on the table. In Vegas terms, I guess you could say they weren’t showing all their cards yet.

Since I am writing this before qualifying, I’m not considering how the different teams might perform in their qualifying laps. When it comes to this weekend, I really think the final practice session told much of what needs to be known for the race Sunday afternoon. Sure, I admit pit stall locations are important but, in my opinion, the lap speed consistency over a long run is more important. It is likely there could be long green flag runs in this one and consistent lap times will rule the day, especially if it leads to running up front.

When it came down to it, the Chevys and the Fords looked pretty good as far as consistent lap times. In fact, that is what all of the teams seemed to be working on. That in itself could make this a very interesting race could mean the racing will be tight, two and three wide or more much of the time. If there are restarts, it should prove to be very interesting.

Once again, the Stewart/Haas Fords looked to be the ones to watch and all of the SHR teams looked strong, at least from this fan’s view. Clint Bowyer showed a lot of speed early along with his teammates Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick. I’m not ignoring the rookie in their group but I think more time is required to see how he will do.

Kurt Bush looked very strong, especially in the final practice and, barring something really unexpected, I can’t rule out the possibility of him being in the hunt in the final laps at his hometown. Kyle Larson could also be right up there at the end, too and it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise to this fan.

So… let’s see. The Fords look fast, the Toyotas look fast and the Chevys look fast. Whatever could that mean when it comes down to the final laps? Could it mean someone unexpected could win or will it be one of the past winners? I’m really not too sure and I’m not sure if it will be a Chase Elliott, a Jimmie Johnson, a Kevin Harvick or a Clint Bowyer. How about Kyle Bush, Martin Truex Jr, Kurt Bush, Brad K, Denny Hamlin or Joey Logano.

From this fan’s view, if ever there was a hard race to choose a favorite for winning, this could be one. I’m thinking the Chevys are going to make a good showing but I’m not sure at all who might win. All I know is it is going to worth watching to find out…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 22, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

The Final Four Race For It All At Homestead from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The run for the 2019 MENCS Championship ends at Homestead this Sunday. If you ask the four drivers of the final four, they will tell you it has been a long, hard road but the end is in sight. As a fan, I can’t help but think the pressure is on whether they outwardly show it or not. One thing I know is it will be all business when the time comes to climb into the car and buckle in for the race to claim the 2019 Championship.

When it comes to the finale in NASCAR, it is different in several ways. For one, it is two races in one. First, it is a race to win the Ford Ecoboost 400. Second, it is a race between the four drivers in the Championship Four. The winner of the race can be someone other than those in the Championship four but the 2019 Championship will be claimed by the one of the final four that finishes ahead of the other three. Usually, the winner of both is one of the Championship Four.

During the race, the focus will mostly be on the Championship Four even if another competitor outside the four is leading and running away with the victory. Even though that sounds a bit unusual, hardly anyone really cares who wins unless it is one of those four competing for the Championship and, if it happens that someone outside the four wins, there will be two celebrations for the victors.

Well, don’t let that confuse you. The winner of the race often comes from those in the Championship Four and, more often than not, it takes a win to claim the Championship.

Even though there is a lot of hype surrounding this race, it will be serious business for the four drivers, crew chiefs and teams. Since weather cancelled qualifying, the Championship Four start in the first two rows and that may be a precursor to the way the race will go. Since these four drivers and teams start out front, it may mean things could get a little hairy from the get-go but, since they are considered to be the strongest teams going in, it just may be a battle between the four of them all through the 400 miles.

There are those that think Denny Hamlin has the advantage and momentum. That could be but I’m not so sure, at least from my view. You see, he has had a really good year but he also has a history of beating himself. It could be he has learned not to press until it is important to do so and I do believe he is older and wiser. His chances are good for taking the win and the Championship but I’m not willing to name him the victor yet.

One reason I’m not willing to name Denny as the favorite is Martin Truex Jr. He and his crew chief, Cole Pearn, have managed to shine, especially when it has counted in the recent past. After all, just look at the number of wins they have. Truex has seven and Denny has six this season. When all is said and done, the whole 400 miles could be between these two.

That brings me to Kyle Bush. Of the three JGR teams, he has been the one struggling in the latter part of the season. Now, I’m not saying struggling in the sense he hasn’t or won’t be a factor. I’m just saying he has struggled and it could go either way for him in the Ford Ecoboost 400. From my view, he may have turned the corner at just the right time. I guess that remains to be seen.

When it comes to Kevin Harvick, I think it he has the biggest struggle since it is one SHR team against three JGR teams. A few weeks ago, his number four team hit on something and it remains to be seen if it carries through to this Championship race at Homestead. In observing some of the goings on this week leading up to the race, He has looked confident and calm. From my view, he is probably the most mentally tough and confident of the four competitors. Unless something really out of the ordinary happens during the race like an equipment failure or getting involved in someone else’s accident, I do think he is up to the challenge of the JGR team cars he faces.

So, I’ll make this short and to the point. No matter how it actually goes, I think Kevin Harvick is going to end up taking his second MENCS Championship over the other three from JGR. If he does, just remember I told you he was going to do it. If he doesn’t then you can tell me how wrong I was and we’ll all move on to next year with hopes for more exciting racing and the hope the Chevys finally become competitive again…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 16, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Making It Or Breaking It At Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There’s just no two ways about it. Four drivers won’t make it to Homestead in the final four competing for the MENCS Championship for 2019. Two are already qualified for the finale and we already know what their names are. It is the other two names that remain in limbo until this one race at Phoenix is finished and in the books. When that happens, we will either have recognized our expected choices as winners or also rans or be completely amazed at how wrong we could be.

I don’t know about you, but it is another time in this year’s playoffs where anything could happen this weekend. I mean, if you just look at what has happened to several of the drivers over last few races, you’ll see overwhelming evidence that no one except Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick are guaranteed a spot at Homestead. No matter what some say about Kyle Bush or Joey Logano and them moving on to the Championship race, there is still no guarantee.

Speaking of Kyle Bush, does anyone think he hasn’t been struggling at least slightly for a while now. Oh sure, he’s still “sort of” maintained his points position except for being passed by the two winners over the last two weeks. If you listen to him, the race Sunday is between him and Logano when it comes to moving on to the final four. He makes no mention of the other drivers below the cut line and it appears he expects to win at Phoenix. That could very well be the way it turns out.

Joey Logano, on the other hand, doesn’t sound all that confident even though he had a very good week last weekend. Listening to him in interviews over this last week he has had a guarded optimism about them. He doesn’t seem to be overly confident of how he will finish but does have at least a little “hope” in his voice. From this fan’s view, I think he is concerned about another disaster striking and taking him out of contention all together.

Personally, I don’t know what to think of these two. I know they don’t really care what I think and you probably don’t either but I have to say this. I’m am not totally convinced that either one, or both, of them will move on to the final four.

Why would I say such a thing? Well… just look at what has happened to Chase Elliott over the last few weeks. He has gone from a favored one to move on to one that has to win to make it to Homestead as a one of the four competing for the Championship. There was the equipment failures of two blown engines and a broken axle, (quite unusual for a Hendrick racing team.) Last week he just made a driver error that put him way out of touch with the cut line and made this weekend a must win to get in.

Denny Hamlin looked to be a lock for the final four and he has managed to drop below the cutline. That was completely unexpected by most and now he probably needs to win if he expects to make it to the final four. We all know he is quite capable but there is still the question of, will he? Could something happen to put him completely out of the running? Could he score a lot of points in the stages and still be outpointed by Bush and Logano? These are all questions that won’t be answered until the race is run and done.

And then there’s Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney. Both not totally out but by no means in. Both still have a chance to make it to Homestead and in the hunt but a lot of positive things have to happen for them. They both have to run up front and score lot of points while the ones above them have to have really bad races and lose a lot of points. In reality, they both need to win but you and I both know only one of them can so guess what that means? Yeah, that’s right; both of them can’t win so there just about has to be a complete and total failure (in other words, finishing last) for Kyle Bush and Joey Logano. Oh, and by the way, Denny Hamlin would have to be right there with them in those last places.

Does it sound like this weekend is going to be full of excitement, drama and emotion? Does it also sound like the pressure is on all six of those not qualified for the final four? I would say a very resounding, YES! to all of those questions, how about you?

I expect this to be one of the most aggressive and action-packed races of the year and especially in these 2019 playoffs. As I said at the opening of this, four drivers and teams won’t make it to the final four. Two are in and six want to make it in. Of the six wanting to make it in, only two will and which two remains to be seen. A winner from below the cut line changes everything and, since troubles have been abundant for many of the contenders, a bad day by any one or more of the six can do the same.

I don’t know what you think, but this fan thinks this is going to be a race to remember for a long time…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 9, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

All Out Going For It At Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There’s no doubt the emotions will rise to a peak at Martinsville on Sunday afternoon. There’s just no way they can’t. We’re talking about short track racing on a half mile oval with a lot on the line for eight drivers and teams as well as all the rest that want to win the coveted Grandfather Clock. Just which of the drivers might come out on top remains to be seen but from this fan’s view, it should prove to be a very interesting afternoon.

In my opinion, I expect just about the whole field to be “all out going for it” when it comes to competing for the win, but eight of them are more interested than the rest simply because a win by one of them means moving on to Homestead to the final four.

I know you’ve heard all of the talk about which ones have already been chosen to be in the final four, but I’m just not as sure as some about that. With the way things have gone so far in the playoffs, I’m still one of those that believes anything can happen. When I look at the round of eight, I only see one driver that hasn’t really struggled much at all. Of course that would be Denny Hamlin.

I admit, he has been much more confident and less bothered by things that used to bring about his demise in previous years. If his performance continues as it has lately, I think he might be the only one of the eight to make it to the final four. Of course that could change over the next three weeks, but I don’t see it unless his course totally reverses itself.

The next one on my list of “probable’s” to make it to the final four is Martin Truex Jr. It is hard to argue with his consistency lately and it is hard to argue with his performance on the tracks over the next three weeks. He almost won Martinsville last year at this time (Joey Logano put an end to that) and he is as determined as ever to go all out for it again this year. And don’t depend on him letting Logano or anyone else repeat what happened last year if the opportunity arises. He is more likely to be the one dishing it out this time.

After those two, (and I’m really not so sure both of them will move on), is where it really gets interesting, at least in my mind. What I’m saying is, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and, yes, even Kyle Bush could end up as “no shows” in the final four at Homestead.

(I know, you think I left someone out, don’t you? Believe me, I haven’t forgotten Chase Elliott and I will talk about him a little later.)

The five I mentioned above have had their ups and downs over the last several weeks and unfortunately, I’m not so sure any of them will make it to the final four unless they win one of the next three races. They just haven’t shown themselves to be that much better than those they are competing against. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying they won’t make it. I’m just saying they and their teams have to be just about flawless over the next three races, they have to get as many points as they can and they need to finish near the front. Two of them are only in the round of eight because they won a race in the round of twelve and that would be Larson and Blaney. One of them, Logano, has struggled to be where he is and, even though Martinsville is one of his better tracks, I see no guarantee he won’t struggle at one or two of the next three tracks. (If he is in front of Martin Truex Jr. as they approach the final lap or two, well, let’s just say “anything can happen.”

Kevin Harvick may not do well at Martinsville but he does tend to perform well at Texas and Phoenix so he could gain a lot of points at the latter two even if he doesn’t win one of them. To me, he and Logano are the two biggest question marks in my mind over the next three races. Both of them could advance to the final four or one or both of them could miss it altogether. I’m just not sure about them at this point but I do know time will reveal it to us over the next three weekends.

When it comes to Kyle Bush, I’m just not sure how he will do. Over the last several races, he has looked good and bad but relatively consistent. He has been known to have good and bad races at Martinsville, as well as the other two that follow. I’m not sure what it is but something just isn’t there for him lately. Of course, that could change on a dime but it is another thing we’ll just have to wait and see on.

Chase Elliott needs to win. That’s just the way it looks from this fan’s view. He doesn’t necessarily have to win at Martinsville, but he needs to win at one of these next three tracks. Starting out in the first practice at Martinsville with a blown engine after only five or six laps isn’t starting off the weekend with a bang. He and his team need to be flawless from this point on if he wants to make it to the final four. After that, well, I guess he could win his first MENCS Championship. What ever the case, over the next three weekends of racing, the eight in the playoffs are going to be “all out going for it” at Martinsville, Texas AND Phoenix and it’s gong to be an intense three weekends…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 26, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated