Saturday Night Short Tracking At Richmond from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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You hear it all the time if you follow NASCAR or just follow stock car racing in general. “Ahhhh, there’s just nothing like Saturday night racing at a short track.” Well, it’s true. there really is nothing like stock car racing under the lights on a Saturday night. Whether you’re a fan, a driver, an owner or just plain like stock car racing, you probably grew up going to the races at your local track on a Saturday night.

I know I did. From a very early age my parents took my sister and me to the races almost every weekend. We were fortunate. Our town had two tracks, both dirt, and whether it was on a Friday night, Saturday night or a Sunday afternoon, we were often there. Now, it is true, as a family, we couldn’t afford to take all of them in, but we did make it to one of them almost every weekend and usually, Saturday night was the night.

Of course, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is different than those local short tracks when it takes place on a Saturday night, under the lights, but the feel is the same. For some reason, the cars look better and the racing is generally better and much more intense. Emotions always seem to play an important part and tempers often surface whether in the cars, the pits or even the stands. It will be the same at Richmond tonight. (Well, that is IF it doesn’t rain…)

Before I spend more time reminiscing about Saturday nights and my thoughts on Richmond, I do need to say a few words about Bristol. It was nice to finally see some good racing for much of the race at Bristol. Maybe it was because it was typical short track racing or maybe it was because the shorter tracks just fit the new rules better. Whatever the case and from this fan’s view, it was nice to watch considering how the season has gone so far.

If you remember, last week I mentioned my thoughts for making qualifying better. It seems NASCAR must have heard me because this week they changed the qualifying procedure at Richmond. Three, five minute, sessions to qualify in whatever order they end up in. I don’t know about you but, this fan thought this weekend’s qualifying was much more interesting and, even though there were tons of complaints from drivers, crew chiefs and others, it wasn’t a long drawn out waiting period so they could all go out in the last three minutes.

Well, in all honesty, I seriously doubt they read or listened to my blogcast, but they did institute pretty much what I mentioned in last week’s article. I don’t know what you think about this week’s qualifying, but I thought it was much better and perhaps they should think about doing it the same way at larger venues, too. I think it simplifies the process and still accomplishes the task. (You know, that old, “The end justifies the means” thing.)

Whatever the case, I hope they at least consider this week’s process for qualifying as a regular format over the next several races. It is much more dramatic and exciting, especially from a fan’s view. Oh well…
I know I keep harping on some of the same things, week in and week out but, I can’t help but wonder if the Chevys are ever going to win a race this season. Considering how they dominated at one time, it has to be frustrating for them to have fast race cars but not be able to seal the deal at the final checkered flag. I still think it has to do with the Camaro body style but I’m not an engineer and I don’t know what they saw in it as promising over any other choices they could have made. I realize all three makes look pretty much the same, but something is different about the Camaros compared to the Toyotas and Fords. Is it underneath the bodies that the Chevys don’t measure up or are they just that much further behind the other teams in making everything work?

Lately, it does seem the Chevys are making headway but every week the results are the same. It has to be frustrating for the drivers and teams to continually talk about the improvements they’re making but never see better results. Well, at least not so far.

All I can say about tonight’s race at Richmond is that I hope it doesn’t rain it out or shorten it in any way. A shortened race just isn’t what I want to watch even though I know things do happen that way. If they have to move it to Sunday, well… let’s just say it loses that “Saturday night under the lights” appeal. Sure, it will still be a short track race and have much of the same drama and emotional racing but, it just won’t be the same in daylight as when they go “under lights” at Richmond. This fan is hoping it goes the distance and it does it “under the lights on a Saturday night…”

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

MENCS Take It To Bristol from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The MENCS teams take it to Bristol this weekend, OR, maybe I should say Bristol takes it to the MENCS teams. I don’t know which is best, but I do know that Bristol is in a class by itself. That’s not to say other tracks aren’t in their own class but, well, Bristol is Bristol. (Okay I admit I’m trying extremely hard not to say, “It’s Bristol, baby!!)

Yeah, it’s true. That phrase has been used and re-used so often that it really is what many NASCAR fans think first when the MENCS teams head to Bristol. Go ahead and try it yourself. You won’t have to search very far to find someone that will use that phrase if you just ask where the MENCS teams are racing or what they’re expecting the racing to be like for the weekend. Depending on how you look at it, truer words have hardly ever been spoken about a track on a regular basis – it really is “Bristol baby!”

It does look like the Chevys are making headway on their quest for more speed and, after two weeks of being pole winner and front row starters, there may be some hope for them to finish at, or near, the front when the checkered flag drops in the not-so-distant future. Jimmie Johnson on the pole last weekend and Chase Elliott this weekend with teammate William Byron starting outside pole says Hendrick Motorsports is finally realizing some better results in this 2019 MENCS season. (Well, at least from this fan’s view. I guess being a long time HMS follower and fan, I could add, it’s about time.) No matter though, I was a Chevy fan a long time before and I am just happy the Chevys are showing some potential in their second year of working with the Camaro. Been waiting a while now…

From my view, the Chevys aren’t the only ones struggling at least somewhat this season. One of the strongest performers last season was Kevin Harvick and he hasn’t lived up to expectations for him and his team and teammates so far this season. Everyone expected the Fords to struggle a little with their new Mustang body style but not many expected SHR teams to be outperformed as much as they have by the Penske teams. Now it’s not as bad as I just made it sound but, the Penske teams are running very good. Of course, they’re all being outperformed by the Joe Gibbs Toyotas so far this season.

Taking a quick look back at last weekend, from this fan’s view, it was definitely better racing overall. I don’t know, maybe it was because the Chevys showed some life last weekend even though they didn’t win. (Sorry to let that Chevy thing show up again but, after all, I am a fan and as a fan, I would really like to see a Chevy in Victory Lane at least once before too much more of the season passes. Of course, as a Chevy fan I do have a preference as to which one I would like to see there but, at least a Chevy winning would be good.)

So far this season, NASCAR’s attempt to improve the qualifying disasters has, from this fan’s view, been shy of actual good results. Probably this weekend was the closest we’ve seen to improvement, but it still has that boring aspect to it. Of course, I don’t think that tells us that much about improvement or lack thereof. That will probably have to wait until a larger track or road courses but, I do have my own thoughts of how they can improve the situation.

First of all, they should eliminate the staging area all together. If you pull out, you go take your lap or laps. As it is, they are trying to negate the effect of someone having an advantage over another but, by doing so, they are giving the advantage to anyone not going out first. If they want to continue qualifying as they do presently, my remedy is to draw pills to see who goes first and they have to pull out in that order and continue on to take their time.

Of course, I do know there are some complications to that but those can be solved by timing. As it is, they don’t need ten minutes for two stages of qualifying and five minutes for the last stage because hardly anyone pulls out to qualify until under five minutes anyway. One possibility is that they have thirty to forty seconds to follow the driver in front of them or they are disqualified. In my opinion, this would add real drama to the qualifying sessions and keep them short for the TV coverage. (Hey look, there’s hardly any body in the stands for qualifying anyway, at least from my observations, so it’s not about them. I don’t know, maybe they want to return to single car qualifying or go by points every week. Could be they should try both of those at least once and see how that works. Could it be any worse??) Oh well, that’s my two cents on that issue…

No matter what way they determine to go in the future for qualifying, it won’t change the racing at Bristol. It has been and probably will always be a high speed, high emotion and action-packed race and one always worth watching right down to the final checkered flag. After all, it IS Bristol, baby…!!!

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 6, 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

MENCS Takes On Texas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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You’ve heard it said many times I’m sure. Texas Motor Speedway is just another one of those cookie cutter mile-and-a-half tracks and they’re all pretty much the same. I mean, we have so many of them in an MENCS season, the results will probably be pretty much the same as they’ve been and it will probably be another weekend that the Fords and Toyotas sweep the top spots.

Well… that may have been the case before the MENCS teams arrived at Texas for this weekend but there does seem to be a little bit of hope for the Chevys making a run for the checkers on Sunday. Even though there are still 2 practices left (at the time of this writing), the Chevys have occupied more of the top spots as far as lap times go and, from this fan’s view, that is a good thing and I am sure it is encouraging for all Chevy fans. We haven’t had a lot to get excited about so far this season, but, that doesn’t mean we don’t expect them to keep on getting better.

Last week at Martinsville, Chase Elliott finished second and that was somewhat encouraging, at least for the Hendrick teams, even though he was the only one of them that could give Brad Keselowski a run for the money for most of the day. I mean, seven-time champ, Jimmie Johnson finished three laps down. Say what you will but that could not have (and probably did not) set well with him, his team or his boss, Rick Hendrick. In fact, the way the Hendrick teams have struggled so far this season, I don’t think it is setting well with any of the teams – it’s just not like them to be this far behind two years in a row. True, they were making headway near the middle and end of last season but fell back behind again with the new season and its rule changes.

All of that aside, Martinsville was a typical short track race and had the usual and expected short track emotions and action. It was a pleasant change from the humdrum racing so far this season – (well, at least from this fan’s view.)

Okay, let me get back to Texas…

Earlier I was saying what many say about the mile-and-a half tracks frequented by the NASCAR teams and how they are so similar – you know, cookie cutter. Well, Texas is different and it has a character and feel all its own. Most, if not all, of the drivers look at it that way. It is challenging in its own ways and more than just in the way it is designed. Different banking in turns 3 and 4 than in 1 and 2. The exits from the turns are different and require the drivers to “remember” which one they are in. That may sound funny but, after a few hundred of the five hundred miles, fatigue can set in and cause lapses in their rhythm and judgement. Many have tested the wall over time at the Texas Motor Speedway and the cost is usually either finishing poorly or not at all.

With the performance of the Chevys in the early practice and qualifying, things could look different at the end of the day Sunday afternoon. Seven-time Champ, Jimmie Johnson taking the pole position for the first time in a long time and William Byron taking the outside pole position is a real attention getter for the start of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 for Sunday. Admittedly, I am writing this before the Saturday practices and things could change but, the Hendrick Chevys do look good so far this weekend. Jimmie Johnson sitting on the pole is a major jump and encouragement after last weekend’s disappointing (and from my view, embarrassing) three lap down finish. In fact, this is the first time all of the Chevys have shown this much speed compared to the other makes in a while – quite a while.

From this fan’s view, it would be really nice to see someone other than Kyle Bush end up in Victory Lane this weekend. I know there is already talk of him making a sweep of the three series again this weekend but I hope that isn’t the case. I have nothing against Kyle and all of the wins he is racking up, but there are others I would like to see win in all three of the series. We all know he is talented and definitely on a roll but I do have to admit, I would really like to see someone else win. I know that isn’t what you Kyle Bush fans want to hear but it is my opinion and hope for this weekend.

I really want to see a Chevy win and, although I am somewhat partial to the Hendrick Chevys, I don’t care all that much which one wins as long as it is a Chevy and the end of the day.

Who knows. This just may be their weekend to shine brightly under the Texas skies…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 30, 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

MENCS Taking On Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Finally… the MENCS teams return from the West coast swing and take it to the short track at Martinsville. In this fan’s opinion, there’s no better way to come back East than to take on the half mile short track, the first short track of the 2019 season. Other than Kyle Bush taking his 200th win and looking fairly dominate so far this season, it was a relatively uneventful trip… well… at least from this fan’s view.

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I know I’ve been a bit critical of the season so far, but I have to say it just hasn’t been what I expected even with the new rule changes and everything. I had at least half hoped the Chevys would make a better showing and that the Fords would struggle at least a little bit with their new body style, the Mustang. Unfortunately, not too much has changed. The Chevys are still struggling to find speed and don’t look much different than they did last year. The Toyotas have built on their advancements from last season and the Fords… well… they just seem to be picking up pretty much from where they left off. Honestly, as a fan, it just hasn’t been all that exciting to me. In fact, I would go so far as to say it hasn’t been near as exciting as the talking heads and commentators have said it has been.

That could all change since short tracks have a tendency to generate more excitement and emotion than the tracks visited so far this season. That’s not to say the other tracks don’t have the same things, it’s just that short tracks are more fun all round for everybody, fans and drivers alike. There’s bumping, beating, blocking, banging and pushing, high emotions and, because of the way short tracks are, there can be tempers flaring and paybacks that may go back several races ago. Short tracks are where everything got started and they are still fan favorites.

One thing about short track racing is that drivers can lean on their competitors, bump them out of the way or be knocked out of the way and often come in and knock out a few dents and return to the track. Interestingly enough, that can all happen and they can still be competitive enough to possibly win at the end of the day. Now that’s what I call excitement, (maybe because short tracks were what we frequented and where my friends and I did our watching and racing.

Unfortunately, it looks like this might be another weekend that the Chevys don’t shine as brightly as they once did. The Fords and the Toyotas have looked very good in the practices and that could really spell defeat for the Chevys on Sunday afternoon. There is one that may make trouble for the Fords and Toyotas and that would be the Chip Ganassi Chevy of Kurt Bush. He has won at Martinsville before (even though it has been along time for him) and he has been the highest finishing Chevy almost every week, lately. Even his teammate, Kyle Larson hasn’t performed up to expectations considering how he did last season.

It does make this fan wonder, “Did the rule changes NASCAR made for this season just set things back for the Chevys from the advancements they made during last season?” It does sound strange that it would be that way but, maybe the changes did affect the already troubled Chevy Camaros more than the others.

As an avid Chevy fan, (after all, they were what I built and drove when I was racing), I have been quite suspicious of the Camaro since they moved to it. At first, the only place they seemed to be competitive was on the Super Speedways and after Daytona it was a while before they looked competitive much at all. The Hendrick Chevys, in particular, appear to have struggled the most (at least to this fan) and they still haven’t been all that impressive over a full season later. That’s not to say they haven’t had ANY speed, it’s just that they haven’t been showing up at, or near the front when it counts (like when it’s time to take the checkered flag.)

This is one race where there will likely be a whole lot less whining about not being able to pass slower cars BUT it is likely there will be some hotter tempers and emotional displays. That is one of many things I like about short track racing, especially at Martinsville. When it comes down to it, there will actually be racing for positons instead of a lot of complaining. Will there be enough emotion for there to be some fisticuffs? Well my friends, that is something we won’t know until the race starts and progresses to the end (and that’s a great reason to be watching which is what I will be doing.) How about you…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 23, 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

Changes and All-NASCAR 2018 Begins from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Season begins again and there are a whole lot changes happening. (Maybe I should say, “whole lotta Changes goin’ on!!!”) From the way they inspect the cars, to the new Chevy Camaros on the Chevy side of things, the new season begins, and it remains to be seen just how the changes will affect it.

Another thing this “old guy” NASCAR fan has taken notice of is how it seems the younger drivers are taking over the driver seats and there are fewer and fewer older drivers around these days. Tony Stewart retired last year, (by choice), Matt Kenseth was given his walking papers at the end of the 2017 season and, of course, Dale Jr. is retired and moving into a broadcast position with NBC Sports. Yeah, I know he has a few races he’s going to take part in, but as far as regular Cup competition, he is not there any longer. Gee, is there someone I missed…? As fast as things change lately, I may have…

Driver changes aren’t the only things going on either. There have been new rules for the cars, ride heights and the number of crew members over the wall on pit roads and the way they inspect the cars. Some of the rules even limit what certain of those crews can do while they are over the wall. I won’t go into these in any depth simply because there has been a plethora of talk about them by just about everyone that generally talks about NASCAR (and, yes, even some that don’t generally talk about it.) In fact, from this fan’s view, there has been a lot of talk about everything related to NASCAR and especially in the last two weeks. (Hey, no surprise there… It’s Daytona!!)

Like every other NASCAR fan I know, I watched The Clash last weekend just to see how some of the new rules and different type cars might affect the racing. The first thing I noticed was how low the cars were riding with the new no ride height rule. They definitely got the backend of the cars down and they looked like they were going to be dragging the ground. It will be interesting to see how that works throughout the rest of the season, especially where it is important for down force. From this fan’s view, the Clash was just a little bit boring to this fan, but then again, they usually are considering how few cars are on the track. From my view, more cars makes for more fun and excitement.

Of course the next part of Daytona was the Dual races on Thursday night. Even more things came to light revealing more of how some of the new rules were going to affect the racing in the restrictor plate controlled drafting, whether we talk about pit stops or how the cars handle. I will be watching the 500 with a little more interest than I might have since we saw how taking the air off the spoiler and the left rear can cause a car to spin. I don’t pretend to know what they will be thinking but from what I observed and with the full field involved in the draft, it could get pretty hairy at times.

This isn’t the first time we have seen or heard of this and we have witnessed it in some fashion in the past. From this fan’s view, that one renewed and enhanced result of a rule change just might be the likely cause of having the “Big One” or several of them. I will also be watching to see if someone uses this new aero aspect to move someone out of the way without touching them. I’m sure they’re all thinking about it and they’re thinking about it from both sides – when they have someone closing the gap on them and pulling inside of their left rear quarter panel and when they are closing on someone and having to do the same thing. If nothing else, it should prove to be interesting.

What I hope to see on Sunday afternoon is a good race with lots of excitement, tension and drama. What I really hope doesn’t happen is a lot of boring, single file racing, lap after lap until it comes down to the last fifty laps or so. That just makes the middle of the race extremely dull, at lest from this fan’s view.

So here’s to hoping we see all of them, Chevys, Fords and Toyotas mixing it up all race long and not just one of the makes dominating the day. I’m not picking a winner but I would like to see the new Chevy Camaros be a part of the equation when it comes down to those final few laps and, honestly, if there has to be a “Big One”, let it be injury free.

Okay, now I’m being real honest. I would love to see a Chevy win it…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 17, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

AfterThoughts on Vegas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well… it happened again, didn’t it? Much like the end of the race at Atlanta, Las Vegas once again proved a race isn’t over until it’s over. Martin Truex, Jr. had a dominating performance and won the first and second stages but didn’t look like the final segment was going to be his. Well, that is until the leader on the final laps began to slow because of some type of equipment failure and that allowed Truex Jr. to pull into the lead and take the win. Of course, you being a NASCAR fan would know that the person he passed was Brad Keselowski and Brad did look as though he was going to cruise to his second victory in a row for the 2017 season. As is often the case in racing, and in particular in NASCAR racing, stuff happens and it often happens quite unexpectedly.

As a NASCAR fan I have to admit I really expected Kevin Harvick to have a much better day than he did. I don’t blame the Goodyear tires (well at least not specifically) but tire failures, like other things that go wrong unexpectedly, happen and there is almost nothing the driver can do. Usually, (and I don’t claim to be an expert), right fronts have problems because they are being over-taxed or pushed a little too hard and at other times they run over something that causes it to blow. Now, when I say over-taxed I am talking about how much camber they use in the setups or when the driver wants the car tightened up. The driver adds more wheel to force it to turn which in turn eats up the tire faster and can be the cause of the failure. Whatever the reason the tire failed, Harvick hit the wall and his day was done.

Brad Keselowski in the other hand just had something break with about two laps to go and Martin Truex Jr. was able to drive past him for the win and even Truex was surprised at the outcome. This was another one of those NASCAR Cup races where it wasn’t over until it was over.

Interesting that the end of the race wasn’t the end of the drama, emotion and intensity for the day as Kyle Bush got dumped by Joey Logano on the final lap and Kyle was definitely not happy about it. He proceeded down pit road and confronted Logano with a “punch” greeting and then the crew members got involved in the minor scuffle. It was all over pretty quickly and Logano came away with his usual “I didn’t do anything wrong or intentional” attitude. Kyle was still noticeably upset and, from this fan’s view, there will come a time in the not too distant future when Logano might need Kyle to cut him some slack but it probably won’t happen. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying Kyle will do anything wrong or intentional, but he just won’t give Logano the break when he needs it. Remember… that’s just this fan’s opinion but don’t be surprised when it happens. I promise though, I won’t remind you that I said it would happen… Nah, that’s not true, I probably will…

Well, so far this season has gotten off to a very interesting start and I do have to admit it looks like NASCAR was correct again in deciding to add the stages to the races. From this fan’s view, they really do seem to add to the intensity and excitement of the racing even in the middle of the races. I’m sure adding the points to the mix didn’t hurt either and it remains to be seen how it turns out when the season winds down in November. As it stands right now, I really can’t wait for this coming weekend at Phoenix and look forward to what this fourth race for the 2017 season has in store for us. So far, it has been very interesting…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 14, 2017 – 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 Clash Is Back In 2017 From A NASCAR Fan’s View

Rusty Norman

The format is really pretty simple… 75 laps of taking chances a driver may not normally take in a points race, flat out, take no prisoners racing in two segments of 25 and 50 laps and the winner takes home the money. It should be a lot of hard-nosed, kinda old school racing and we as fans should always be expecting the unexpected. That should sum up The Clash for 2017 – but will it? Well… maybe.

Hello good friends and welcome back to NascarFansView, the 2017 NASCAR season and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup racing. This will be short and to the point just like The Clash will be tomorrow night. (Wow! It is really hard to not say NASCAR Sprint Cup racing but I will try my best not to slip up…)

I can’t tell you how happy I am they’re getting back to it and I am looking forward to another great Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season and honestly, it seems like it’s been forever since they’ve been on the track. Well… that is… it seems like it’s been forever since they’ve been on the track competing against and with all the others.

I know I’m not alone in this thinking but I can’t help wonder how things are going to pan out this season what with Carl Edwards abruptly retiring from Cup racing, Stewart/Haas Racing switching to Ford and a number of new items laid down by the NASCAR hierarchy that could be a bit challenging for all the teams. There is no need for me to go into detail at this point – because I have all season to do that – but it really should prove to be very interesting. Well… at least that is what I think about it at the moment, but hey, I’m just a NASCAR fan that likes to express my opinion now and again.

I will admit I am anxious to see how it all shakes out even though things won’t really come into focus until next week when the real season starts. No doubt The Clash will be exciting and full of intensity but it won’t be anything like the Daytona 500 happening next weekend. Hey, that’s not a knock against The Clash in any way – I’m looking forward to it. What I am interested in is watching some great door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper tight pack restrictor plate racing with no points that matter to anyone but plenty of intensity and excitement in the short 75 lap race. All I can say at this point is, “Bring it on!!”

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 17, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Saturday Night – Under the Lights at Kentucky from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman
There is more than one thing good about the race in Kentucky tonight and that is that it will be a night race. With the temperatures possibly hitting triple digits during the day everyone, from the fans to the drivers and crews will be happy they can escape at least some of the heat. If it were a daytime race on a Sunday afternoon, it would be hot. As it is, it will be hot, just not as hot.

So, what is the big deal about the heat near the end of June and the race at the Kentucky Speedway. Well, probably not too much, at least comparing the night-time race to the practice sessions during those hot daytime hours. If anything, it just means the crew chiefs will have to earn their money if they want to keep up with the changing track conditions as they transition from early evening into the night.

I can hear a chorus of you saying right now, “So…. what’s the big deal?!?”

Well, as I mentioned earlier, not too much.

From my view, it was more something for the TV commentators to talk about during the practice and qualifying sessions. In fact, the qualifying session proved one thing about the track when it cools down – it gets a lot faster! What that will mean in tonight’s race remains to be seen but, from this fan’s view, I hope it really doesn’t turn into a one car dominated race as it did in the Nationwide race last night. Well, that is unless the guy I want to see win is dominating the rest of the field… (ha, ha, ha..Yes I’m kidding… )

Okay, I admit it… I like close competition, especially in the final laps of a race. Last week’s race at Sonoma had a caution near the end of it and it made the last several laps much more interesting than was actually was going to be. Clint Bowyer had the field covered last weekend and even though there was that caution, he ended up winning over Kurt Bush by driving the wheels off his race car. From my view, it’s just that it was a lot more interesting to watch than it was going to be.

The interesting thing about the Kentucky Speedway is that it is just a bit precarious especially in turns three and four, but essentially, there are bumps in other places too. The drivers say the bumps give the track character and they do but, I’m not willing to day how much that character will add to the drama later in the race tonight.

From my view, I think the thing that could add to the drama is how closely many of the cars qualified after the delay and the track cool-down. Unless one or two of the teams hit it just right and there are very few caution flags, it could be a very interesting night in Kentucky.

Unfortunately, this has been a year of fewer than normal caution flags during a race. There are many theories as to why that is but that isn’t my point here. The point is, the teams that miss the setup to begin with will be hard pressed to make changes to their cars without losing a lot of track position unless there are some times they can make those adjustments without losing track position. It is a known fact, cautions allow that to happen, but if things go as they usually have for most of this season, they can’t be depended upon. From this fan’s view, that puts all the more pressure on the teams to have the cars right when they hit the track. That way they just need to keep up with the changing track conditions as the race progresses.

From this fan’s view, the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky tonight could be full of surprises. I know Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Bush are fast and they do start on the front row. What I don’t know is if they can stay up front for the whole race. In fact, Denny Hamlin and just about anyone in the top 25 could end up in Victory Lane tonight, but even qualifying doesn’t tell the whole story about the possibilities since the track cooled down at least forty degrees about in the middle of it. It is my opinion (and I’ve said this many times before) qualifying does not tell how the race will go. Sure, it is important to start at or near the front but this is a 400 mile race and going into it there are a lot of uncertainties.

“Racing Luck” is another thing that no one can predict. Although many have had their bouts with racing luck this year, several that stand out would be Kyle Bush, Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon. Of these three (and there are others) Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon have had the worst of it this year. It’s not that they haven’t been competitive, it’s just that thing I call the old “R-L Beast” has reared its ugly head more than once for all three of them.

So am I saying Racing Luck could be the deciding factor in tonight’s race???

No, not really. What I am saying is that even though several will be watching those starting up front, I’m looking for some real surprises coming from the middle of the lineup in the Quaker State 400 tonight. I admit it’s definitely going to be track position, fuel mileage,tire management and of course no mistakes on pit road that will be most important tonight. But wouldn’t it be interesting to see Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Bush fighting it out on the final laps, instead of recounting how good they were running before the “Racing Luck beast” took them out of contention for a change… ?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 30, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Sprint Cup at Sonoma from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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NASCAR hits the road course at Sonoma today and it is anybody’s guess who will win. There are several drivers that are very good at road course racing but, the best ones are not necessarily what are called “ringers” anymore. In fact, many will tell you being a “ringer” doesn’t mean much at all at the end of the race unless you end up in victory lane. That’s something that hasn’t happened lately and it really hasn’t happened much at all. The difference these days is that almost all of the Cup drivers and teams take road racing as a challenge and more want to be good at it than just survive it.

Two of the fastest will be starting out front today and it is no secret that the front row contains two very good road racers, in Marcos Ambrose and Jeff Gordon. Of course, there are several more good road racers right behind them, too. In fact, it is hard to find someone that isn’t a hard charger on a road course in the top twenty five or so.

That alone doesn’t necessarily mean any of them could win but it does show how the perception of road racing in NASCAR has changed over the years. No longer is it something that comes along twice a year and everyone just wants to survive it. No, now it is something that is as competitive as short track racing and there tends to be the same amount of strong emotions displayed often during a road race as there is at a short track. All of the drivers seem to enjoy the Road Circuits and each one of them wants to be the one in Victory lane at the end of the day. None of them wants to wear the title of being bad at Road Racing. Since Cup drivers are called the best race car drivers in the world, there is no way they want to known as the worst Road Racer in the world.

What I expect for the race today is some very aggressive driving by most of the drivers and some of them have something to prove. It does seem that some were conservative in practice and qualifying and will very likely be wanting to move towards the front as quickly as they can.

One I’m thinking of in particular is someone we haven’t heard from much in Cup lately and that would be, Robby Gordon. He is a very good road racer (amongst other types of racing) and should be someone we will be hearing about throughout the afternoon today. I think this is the first time in many years, that every NASCAR Cup team has at least one strong road racer in their camp and I do believe that is going to make today’s race very interesting (and competitive) from beginning to end. That means it is going to be very hard to pick who will actually end up in Victory Lane at the end of the day. I’m leaning very heavily towards the two starting out front today, but as we have all seen more than once this year, anything can happen to Jeff Gordon and the same holds true for Marcos Ambrose.

Oh well, enough of that for now. From this fan’s view, I think the road courses are some of the most interesting races of the year in the NASCAR series. It is good to see how serious the drivers and teams take their jaunts on tracks like Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. I love the oval tracks just as much or more than the road courses, it’s just that I love the intensity the drivers display on Road courses these days. There is usually something going on at all times somewhere in the pack someplace on the track. Honestly… it’s not at all like it used to be.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 24, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Texas A Triumph for Biffle from Just a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Greg Biffle won the Samsung Mobile 500 last Saturday night… but then, you already knew that. He also broke a 49 race drought of being in Victory Lane… but that’s just about all you heard about his victory all week, too. So, what else is there to talk about when it comes to the race at Texas Motor Speedway? Well… I guess that depends.

You see, Greg Biffle not only has the points lead, but he has a victory to go with it. Some would say he is on a tear (while others may say “on a roll”) and that’s okay because either one fits. Compared to last year, he is doing great and is running consistently up front. Even if he runs into some rough races in the weeks ahead, that victory will carry some weight along the way for him, but, he will probably need more than one if the bottom does drop out for him. Add to all that the fact that Roush teams have a tendency to run well at 1 ½ mile tracks and it is very possible he could win at least one more (and probably more than that.)

Some have already crowned him the Cup Champion for the year and they could be right. Even with the new points system, he really needs to stumble for most of the field to even stay close to him, but this fan thinks it is way to soon to be naming someone to take the Cup Championship.

Yeah, it’s true he has looked unstoppable so far and all of his finishes are in the top fifteen but that doesn’t always mean he will continue with his present stats. Admittedly, it does look like he is going to continue with his strong showing but, this is not quite 1/3 of the way into the season.

From this point on, anything can happen even if it is someone (or several someones) hitting a hot streak and the #16 team just having decent finishes outside the top ten. If that does happen, there is always the possibility Biffle and his team could start trying to press their own envelope to try and regain the performance levels they’ve enjoyed in this early part of the year and begin to fall backwards in the points. Of course you know this is just speculation from this fan’s view but it could happen.

Once again, the Hendrick teams didn’t score the 200th victory for their boss, Rick Hendrick but all of them did have a good day at TMS. (I hate to state the obvious, but two of them, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon, really needed it.) It did appear that Jimmie Johnson was going to take home the trophy and the honors for scoring number two hundred for Hendrick MotorSports, but Biffle’s power slide past him as they dealt with lap traffic late in the race put an end to that possibility.

Michael Waltrip Racing had a very good showing with two from that camp finishing in the top ten. Mark Martin lead the way for MWR finishing third and Martin Truex Jr finishing sixth. It is very obvious that MWR has turned a corner on performance issues of the past and all three teams are showing up every weekend with fast cars and good race-day runs. That doesn’t mean they are perfect yet, but it does mean they could be in Victory Lane at any time in the near future.

From this fan’s view, Texas proved just how close the main teams are running these days and how important track position is every week. It also showed that Roush Racing has a strong grip performance-wise on the 1 ½ mile tracks and that could prove to be a good thing, in particular for Greg Biffle and the #16 team. It just may mean that Greg Biffle does have a chance at staying at the top of the points, at least up to Chase time. Then again, it could mean absolutely nothing at all for him or Roush Racing when the Chase begins.

Can anyone say, “Carl Edwards…?”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 18, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Welcome NASCAR fans To 2012 and Just A Fan’s View

Happy New Year to everyone and welcome to Just A Fan’s View. I do hope you all had a great Christmas and over-all great holiday time, but it is time to get back to NASCAR racing. Sure, I know the regular season stuff doesn’t start for another month, but, the NASCAR Cup teams have already started their new year with Preseason Thunder (as if they weren’t working on it before now) and all of them are working on the information they gathered from the test sessions in Daytona this last week. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for the season to start.

Over the next few weeks, you will probably notice some changes around this site (and our other site, nascarfansview.com.) I thought I would take just a moment to remind our regular visitors (and explain to our new ones) what you will find here.

Just so you know if you’re new and as a reminder to some, you won’t find any interviews with drivers and you won’t find any with crew chiefs, either. There are many others that do those and have better access to all of them. We believe most of the time, they are great and at other times not-so-great, but we try to leave that to them. What we try to give here is from the perspective of “just a NASCAR fan” that has had the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat at local tracks, win some races and some championships, even though not in the NASCAR Truck, Nationwide or Cup series.

(Yes, that perspective I just mentioned happens to be mine.) Hey look, it’s not that I don’t appreciate or seek out others views, but once again, you can find them even more often than you can find the pictures and videos at those other sites. Probably the only place I know you can get my opinion and viewpoint about NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing is right here.

I have often been asked why we don’t have more pictures and videos of the NASCAR scene on this site. We just don’t do that here simply because the internet is full of them. The easy answer is because I know (and I know that you know) you can find all of that on just about every NASCAR related site. (Hey look, we’re just like you and we check those sites out, too.) But please remember this about us… this is a site that is about looking at NASCAR racing from a just a NASCAR fan’s view but we are not afraid to express our opinion about what goes on in and around the sport. Believe me when I tell you, we’ve been around racing and NASCAR a long time and do have our own opinion about what goes on, in and around this great sport.

Of course, we do our level best to express that opinion all the while remembering that it doesn’t have to be done in a course way. We intend to never use course language, because we know our kids and grandkids will be reading and listening to us. Anyone can use foul language, but we don’t and we don’t intend to allow it here, even in the comments section. We don’t apologize for that but we do understand not everyone agrees with us. We just hope it doesn’t deter you from reading or listening to our viewpoint on a week to week basis because we do think you will like what you find here…

Listen, I’ve been a stock car racing fan since I was about four or five years old. I’ve been a NASCAR fan for just about as long as I can remember, too and I have seen it grow and become what it has become over those years. I love NASCAR racing and this is “Just A Fan’s View of NASCAR Racing…”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© January 15, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and JustAFansView.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Chase Championship Race at Homestead from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty NormanAnd so it comes down to this… the 2011 NASCAR Cup Championship is all about winning, or at least, three points. Tony Stewart needs to win at Homestead or at least finish four points ahead of Carl Edwards by the end of the race Sunday afternoon and he will be the Cup Champion. Carl Edwards needs to win or finish just behind or just ahead of Stewart and he will be the Cup Champ. Either way, there is truly no way of knowing until the race is over, (or one or both of them drop out because of and accident or major failure) which one it will be.

From this fan’s view, this is exactly what NASCAR hoped for when they started the Chase format for the Championship and there couldn’t be a better way to end the year. (Well, there are those that think it would be better if the points were closer throughout the top twelve and more than two could win it.) This is not the first time the points battle has been close, but it is the first time it has been this close with the new points system and with the competition throughout the cup teams being as close as it has ever been.

I probably don’t have to remind you again, but this fan doesn’t generally put much stock in qualifying. Everybody knows it’s not how fast you can go for one or two laps but how fast you can consistently go over many laps. Preferably, it is important for a driver to be able to gain places on the track, maintain a faster speed than his competitors and have his pit crew pick up even more time for him in the pits and maintain track position.

It is important to notice where Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards qualified however, if for no other reason than who is going to be in clean air first (and possibly most often.) Carl Edwards qualified on the pole for today’s Championship race while Tony Stewart qualified fifteenth. I’m not so sure that was exactly how Tony wanted to start the race but he did seemed to be more pleased with his race trim than qualifying trim.

That’s where the importance of those consistently fast lap times I mentioned earlier come in. It was obvious Tony and crew chief Darian Grubb were working on the race trim during their practice times much more than qualifying. One of the biggest problems I see with where he is starting is how many possibilities for getting caught up in something not of his own making. In other words, it is possible his chances for moving forward or winning could be hurt by someone else’s mistake.

By starting on the pole, Carl Edwards has a definite advantage. From my view, his first worry is whether his crew chief, Bob Osborn’s setup is good for the beginning of the race and he pulls away from the field out into clean air. There is always the possibility the setup could be missed by just enough to cause him to fall back into the field, as has happened in the recent past, and open up the possibilities for problems (much like Tony Stewart could face from the start), and I hate to put a damper on the whole day, but neither one of them may even be close to the front for the whole race.

Now you may ask, “Do I really think that’s what going to happen?” Well… no… but, I won’t rule out the possibility either. NASCAR is way to competitive right now to think that everyone is going to move over and let the top two just work it out between themselves. I do have to admit, I don’t think Homestead is the place there are going to be a lot of paybacks for something, but I do know the competitive spirit will be very evident throughout the race.

Let’s not forget that NASCAR is all about winning and, although I know there only two that can win the Championship, there are more than two that want to finish the year with a trip to victory lane. In fact, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Bush and Brad Keselowski would like nothing better than to finish ahead of both Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart and won’t think twice about putting them behind them or making it hard for them to pass them.

If you’re wondering why I feel this way about it, it’s all because of a thing called adrenaline. No matter what attitude a person may have before the race starts, when the green flag drops, the “bull-hockey” stops and the adrenaline kicks in. If recent weeks tell us anything, not everyone of the drivers will make good decisions about how they’re treated by their fellow competitors or handle every situation with cool, calm deliberation. No, several will react without considering the consequences of their actions and how they might affect even the most innocent of bystanders. (It wouldn’t be the first time that someone reacted and took out someone other than they intended, especially this year.)

So, from this fan’s view, the hope is the race will come down to Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart battling for the win on the final laps and one of them coming away with the win and the Championship.

Will it be a race that Carl Edwards dominates and Tony Stewart struggles all day or, possibly, the other way around? That’s a good question and one that will only be answered as the race progresses.

Is it possible that both, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards fall back and it is just a points battle between them while someone else dominates the race? I don’t know, but it is a possibility. In fact, with only three points separating the top two drivers, anything can and probably will happen. The only thing I really hope is that it isn’t a complete blowout by one of them and the whole race becomes a ho-hum experience. I really would like to see the race to come down to the final lap and some doubt as to who might win until they cross the finish line.

So… will it be Tony Stewart or Carl Edwards that wins the 2011 Cup Championship? Yep, it will…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 19, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions