Champions Racing For The 2016 Championship from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Like it not, this race isn’t really about the winner. Well, that is unless the winner is one of the final four in this final race of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup series. An interesting fact about this one is that it is really two races in one, or, at least can be. If it turns out that the four still racing for the Championship are racing each other for first place that would be one race. If it turns out that the one winning isn’t even still racing for the Championship it then becomes two races in one. The winner is the winner of the race and the one of the four that finishes ahead of the other three still competing for the Championship wins the Sprint Cup.

Wow!! That really sounds confusing but it’s really not…

In an interesting and dramatic qualifying session, none of those still competing for the actual Championship qualified in the top five. In fact, all of them are starting the race Sunday afternoon in ninth to fourteenth. Kyle Bush is starting in ninth, Carl Edwards in Tenth, Joey Logano thirteenth and Jimmie Johnson fourteenth. Of course none of that means all that much when it comes down to the actual race but it is interesting that the top four aren’t really the top four qualifiers for the biggest race of the 2016 season.

Kevin Harvick is sitting on the pole for the Ford Ecoboost 400. Not many thought he wouldn’t be one of the final four but he is not running for the Sprint Cup Championship – he isn’t one of the final four. Things happened to upset his being one of the final four but he has accepted that and he is still showing he and his team have “the stuff” it takes to win even though they aren’t actually going for the Championship Trophy. Even though there are a few changes coming to Stewart-Haas Racing next season, this fan thinks he will probably be contending for the Championship again and could end up as Champ again.

Of the four contenders for the Championship, it wouldn’t bother this fan if any one of three of them wins but there is one that really isn’t one I hope wins. Every fan has their favorites and favorites to root against and this one is one I honestly don’t root for, not that he isn’t talented and not that he isn’t capable; it’s just that he has somehow managed to rub me the wrong way and I just haven’t been able to shake that negativity yet. Maybe someday that will happen and, who knows he might even be one that actually do root for to win one day. That hasn’t happened yet and especially not in this season ending championship race.

Carl Edwards is in search of his first Sprint Cup Championship and he actually has tied for one in the past. It’s not like he lost it because he did win it, it’s just that he tied and lost the tie breaker to Tony Stewart a few years back. It has taken him time to get back to this point but he is ready to make it another try and win his first Sprint Cup Championship. Since the Gibb’s Toyotas have looked very good on mile and a half tracks this season, there is a very good chance Carl could be the one celebrating winning the Cup Championship for 2016 when this one is over.

Carl will have to beat his teammate, Kyle Bush, to win his first and it is this fan’s opinion he won’t make it easy. Kyle is going for his second Championship in a row and since he is one of the JGR teams also, his chances are the same as Carl’s. Now, I’m not saying either one of them will win but I am saying both of them do have an equal opportunity to win and Kyle has looked very good this weekend as well as during the Chase to this point. I do look for him to be a factor at the very least whether or not he is running to win the race or just finishing ahead of the rest of the four contenders for the Championship.

Jimmie Johnson is on the verge of making NASCAR history once again. He could possibly be joining a very elite group that only two others have accomplished in NASCAR history. Those two are the King, Richard Petty, and the legendary Dale Earnhardt and what those two have accomplished is winning seven Championships. Jimmie is racing for his seventh and, he too, could have a great chance in celebrating winning the Championship when the race is done. With the competitive edge the Hendrick organization has regained, his chances are very good but 400 miles and several pit stops leave plenty of room for something to go wrong and prevent that seventh from happening for him and the #48 team. They’ll have to be on the top of their game just like the other three do if they hope to win the Championship.

As I said earlier, it is hard for this fan not to have a favorite but this is one time when it comes down to hoping one wins for one reason and any of the others for different reasons. I’m not really picking one over the rest but there has to be a point where a choice has to be made and I will do that this weekend.

If one does win over the rest of the four, I will be pulling for Jimmie Johnson to win his seventh. Admittedly, I have been a Hendrick Motorsports fan for a long time and will continue to be one for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the others, it just means I am a fan of and am impressed with the accomplishments of Hedrick Motorsports over the years. I have been a NASCAR fan for a long, long, time and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Okay, so that’s my choice for the one I would like to see win but I won’t stop watching the race if he falls back or falls out of being competitive for the Championship this Sunday. Just remember this; as the race pans out over the four hundred miles on Sunday afternoon. None of the four contenders has to win the race. They can finish in 37th to 40th as long as one of them finishes ahead of the rest. The one that does will be the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champ and the others will just have to wait until next year to try again…

Will I See ya next time… well… we’ll see…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 19, 2016 – 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 Heat Is On At Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Look at it anyway you want but the truth is there are six drivers going for the two remaining spots for the final round of the 2016 NASCAR Cup Championship and, (if you’ll excuse my language), “ain’t but two of ‘em gonna make it!”

Hardly anyone is thinking about pointing their way in – they want to win!! Another hard truth is that one of them just about has to win to make it in. That driver is Kevin Harvick and, from this fan’s view, he either has to win or the other six have to have really bad days while he has a very good one. The reality is, at least in this fan’s opinion, he isn’t looking at this race as just another race at Phoenix, he is looking at it as one he not only can win but one he must win.

There are five others looking to win the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix and one of them is Kurt Bush. His only real chance to make it in is to win (barring some kind of miracle) and he is a long shot from this fan’s view. Even though he is capable of winning this one and this has been one of the most interesting and unpredictable Chases yet, I just don’t see it happening for him. I won’t completely rule him out but it is my opinion he won’t be one of the ones to move on to the Championship round at Homestead next weekend. Of course if he does win his way in, well, that would just be another time in this 2016 Chase that I, along with many others, was surprised and quite frankly, shocked. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he is capable of winning or advancing, I just don’t see it in the way they’ve been performing lately.

Okay, that takes care of two of the six competing for those last two spots and both of them likely need a win to make it in to the final four. Joey Logano on the other hand could make it on points or he could win. He is approaching this one as if he has to win to get in and he has looked fairly strong again this weekend in the practices and qualifying. However, he cannot afford to have a bad day compared to those he is competing against and he absolutely has to outrun three JGR Toyotas with his Penske Ford. Depending on how things pan out, he could be in the final four or outside the final four and this fan isn’t sure which of those two places he will be. We do know he will be giving it his best shot and letting the cards fall where they may.

This is where it gets really interesting to this fan… the three remaining drivers competing for those two remaining spots in the finale at Homestead are all JGR teams and at most, only two of them can actually make it in. Those three are Kyle Bush, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. With what has gone on in the last few weeks, one has to wonder just how nice they will “play” together. Kyle Bush said they were so nice to each other two weeks ago that they “let Jimmie Johnson win.” I didn’t really see it that way but he might have been right, except for the fact that, from this fan’s view, J J had the field covered that day. In any case, that week is gone and only two of these three can or will advance and that will only happen if either Kurt Bush or Kevin Harvick doesn’t come through with a win.

With the way this year’s Chase has gone, this fan hesitates to make any predictions because (as I stated earlier) this Chase has been one of the most unpredictable ones I ever remember. Those that looked as though they would easily advance to the final four earlier in the year and Chase are no longer competing for the Championship. Sure, they are competing for wins and even higher finishes in the points standings for the year but they aren’t eligible to win the Championship.

There is a very good possibility that one of this year’s rookies could win this one and nothing would make Ryan Blaney or Chase Elliot happier than that. In fact, Alex Bowman won his first career pole in Sprint Cup competition this weekend and this fan wonders if his performance will present him with a win or at least an opportunity for winning this one. If any of these three does take the win, that likely means one more of the six still eligible definitely won’t be moving on to the final four at Homestead. It is precisely at times like these that that two letter word, “IF”, looms awfully large.

That is one of the harsh realities facing all six of these drivers this weekend – the heat is on all six of them to win and guarantee themselves a spot in the final four. “IF” they don’t win this fan wonders “IF” they will be in and which ones it will be…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 12, 2016 – 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

For Chasers It’s All About Winning At Texas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Okay… this is the way it is. Jimmie Johnson is in the final four at Homestead and the rest of the Chasers are trying to get there. Unfortunately for four of the remaining eight only four will advance and four of them won’t and they only have two more races to make it into the final four. The easiest way for them to make it in is to win. Although there are a couple that could make it in by points, winning removes all doubts and that is what it is all about at Texas this Sunday afternoon. One other unfortunate thing about this weekend – or any race weekend in NASCAR – there are forty drivers that want to win and only one can. That means there are thirty nine drivers wanting or needing a win this weekend and only seven of them are still in the Chase for the Championship.

The point that really brings this home is that Austin Dillon took the pole for Sunday afternoon’s race and he is no longer in the Chase. Of all of the ones running in the AAA Texas 500, there are more than a few that could win it and only eight of them are still qualified to move on.

So, which of the present eight need to win this one the most? My choice would be Carl Edwards. He is lowest in the standings for the Chasers and needs a win more than he needs points. Well, that is unless the other six that haven’t locked in a position for Homestead have really bad days on Sunday afternoon.

Next in line for really needing a win is Kurt Bush. He has been running consistently but not consistently in the top four or five and he presently sits seventh in the Chase grid. If he just continues as he has been, it just won’t be enough to make the final four. A win, however, could make a drastic difference in his future but also in the future of a few others as far as the Chase is concerned.

Probably the biggest surprise to this fan is where Kevin Harvick is in his quest for his second Championship. Some would call it just bad racing luck, others would say he just hasn’t gotten the breaks he needed to be higher in the standings and still others say his performance just hasn’t been there. Any one or all of those may be true in one way or another but one thing is certain from this fan’s view; he can’t continue on like he has in his quest for his second this year. Well, that is unless he wins or finishes in the top three over the next two races and hopes his competitors have finishes near the back of the field. Otherwise, well, this fan just thinks he might have to continue his quest for his second next year.

Joey Logano sits in an interesting and precarious position if for no other reason than he is eleven points out of fourth and looks pretty strong for this weekend. Of course this wouldn’t be the first time he has looked strong and finished a race relatively poorly. All it would take for him to not move on is to have two relatively mediocre races over the next two weeks and watch another opportunity pass him by. It isn’t outside the realm of possibilities for him to not move on but having really good finishes over the next two races could really make a big difference. Of course, he could win at least one of the next two and cinch a spot in the finale at Homestead.

Defending Champion, Kyle Bush, hasn’t had a great time so far this weekend. Before he even completed the first lap in the first practice, he bounced hard off the wall and had to move into a backup car. In qualifying he had a loose water hose and didn’t qualify well. Now both you and I know that doesn’t always mean trouble on race day but it could mean this race could be struggle for him and his #18 M&M JGR team. I never rule out Kyle Bush but he has had his struggles in the Chase in the past.

Let’s see… Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin are basically tied for second in the grid and either one of the two could make the trip to Victory Lane on Sunday afternoon. I’m not picking either one as a definite winner but have to consider the possibility of them winning. If one of them does win, there is definitely one I would rather see win than the other but I won’t even go there because I think you know which one I’m talking about. With the way the Chase has been going so far, anything can happen and they could both be put in a must win situation for next week.

Texas is a fast, slick track and it can be a tricky track to figure out as the race progresses. Not only is it fast but there are spots and times during a race that brushes with the wall can make a difference in whether or not one might finish. There are some bumps that have upset some and they could make a dramatic impact on any one or several of the Chasers on Sunday afternoon. Of course that doesn’t mean it will happen but only that it could and then there is the possibility that the end result could play a large part in which of the remaining seven have a chance to move on to the final four.

So it does come down to the fact that it is all about winning at Texas this weekend and if someone other than a Chaser wins, well, that really means next weekend at Phoenix could be one of the most dramatic races in Chase history. Should things pan out that way, there will still be seven drivers and teams contending for the remaining three places in the final four and that will definitely make it one to watch and it will be filled with drama and emotion not often matched on a NASCAR race weekend. But then again, well… you know…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 5, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Short Tracking Chase Reset for Eight at Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Okay… from this fan’s view last weekend was one of the least eventful races at Talladega in quite a while. Oh, I know what you’re thinking about that statement… “What do you mean uneventful; there was a lot going on?” Yes there was a lot going on if you were a Chaser but as a fan, well, that was a little bit of a different story. It wasn’t really a ho-hum race because it was interesting but it wasn’t really an “on the edge of your seat” race either. It was just a typical restrictor plate race without the “big one” and a few surprises that shook up the standings a bit for those in the Chase.

So that brings us to the reset at Martinsville with the Chase field reduced to eight competitors vying for the four spots available when the Cup Teams reach Homestead for the finale in four weeks. I have to admit, the field of eight does look a lot different than many projected but it should make the next three weeks of competition very interesting. There was only one position that was really close and that was the eighth position which was decided by the slimmest of margins between Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon.

Of all the possible ways the eight qualifying for the next round of the Chase could have gone, that one probably surprised me the most other than I had high hopes but not expectations of Chase Elliott winning the race and him moving on. It just wasn’t in the cards for him this year but if his performance for this year carries over to future years – look out – we just might have another multiple Championship winner in the Cup Series in the years ahead.

Joey Logano has shown up at Martinsville this weekend with lots of speed and momentum coming from his victory last weekend at Talladega. I can’t say this fan is all that happy with that result but I have to concede that he is a formidable competitor for the rest of the teams in the Chase. I’m really not much of a Joey Logano fan but I can’t argue with his performance and results. He has been successful and is often one of the ones to beat at when the checkered flag drops just about any weekend. Whether I like him or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is he continues to out-perform his competition regularly and that makes him one to watch for this one at Martinsville and in the weeks to come. I still haven’t decided if he will be one of the final four, but, I do have to admit he very well could be.

The last two weekends were very rough for Logano’s teammate, “bad Brad” Keselowski and he didn’t qualify to move on to this round as a competitor for the Championship but he could end up a winner of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 and I am sure that wouldn’t bother him one bit. In fact, Martin Truex Jr. is in the same boat and he would not surprise this fan one bit if he walked away the winner. I’m not saying either one of them will win but I am saying they could win and that would make the two weeks ahead after Martinsville much more stressful for the eight Chase contenders.

I do suppose you’ve noticed that much of the conversation about the race this weekend at Martinsville has centered around the thought that a “spoiler” could win and do just what I mentioned above; make it all the more stressful for those still competing for the final four at Homestead. I agree with many that have brought up the subject and there is probably more of a possibility it happening this weekend than any other in the weeks ahead.

A short track can be the great equalizer, especially when it comes to which of the teams can win. Sometimes a smaller team has a better chance at a short track race than at any other and there are several that could win and play that “spoiler” part this weekend. There is no guarantee a smaller team with less resources will win against larger teams with a bigger budget but there is that possibility and that possibility could play a part in the way the final four pans out for Homestead.

I do think the eight still in the hunt for the Championship have just as good a chance at winning on this Sunday afternoon but it did appear to this fan, many of them were struggling a bit on this legendary short track during qualifying and the practices. I really believe this could be another one of those strange weekends where anything can, and probably will happen. In fact, I am expecting the unexpected to happen more than I am expecting something normal to happen. In my book, this one is wide open and it could be that a non-Chaser wins the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 and really makes the next two races interesting.

Of course there is always the consideration of at least one more player in the field that could make life more difficult for the eight if he wins and there is a very real possibility that he could. I’m sure you have already guessed I am talking about none other than Jeff Gordon. He has nine wins at Martinsville in his career and he could make it ten this weekend.

I know there may not be many that agree with me but that really doesn’t matter all that much to this fan. I confess, I was and still am a Jeff Gordon fan and there is really nothing I would like better than to see him win this one, add a win to his stats and make it more difficult for those that want to make the final four. If anyone can do it this Sunday afternoon, he can (at least in this fan’s opinion) and I wouldn’t be the least bit disappointed if he did.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 29, 2016 – 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, Restrictor Plates and Elimination from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Talladega… a place most of the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers love to hate. A place where restrictor plates hold back the speeds of 3400 pound race cars that could go much faster and a place where the outcome won’t be known until the checkered flag falls for the drivers that manage to make it to the finish line. It is high speed, door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper racing for 500 miles on a 2.66 mile oval with the pedal to the metal at speeds approaching 200 miles per hour. Add to that the fact of it also being an elimination race for those that will be able to move on to the round of eight still able to compete for the Championship and you have what is considered by those competitors as a chess match full of emotion and drama.

This race is also as unpredictable as a lottery drawing with only two that really don’t have to worry about the outcome. Ten others will be competing for the available six spots left to be able to move on to the next round. That also speaks of pressure, tension and that word I overuse a lot – drama but, wow!! – there will definitely be some drama on Sunday afternoon at Talladega.

I am sure you all know which two drivers and teams don’t really have to be concerned about the outcome of this one but I have to mention it is Jimmie Johnson and the #48 Hendrick team and the #4 Stewart-Haas team of Kevin Harvick. Of the 40 drivers competing on Sunday, those two could break or wreck before they make the first lap and they would still move on because they both have a win in this round of twelve. As for the rest of the Chasers, well, none of them are safe with where they are but some are safer than others. It will either be all about winning or finishing way ahead of their competitors for the rest of them.

With Talladega being so unpredictable and the possibility of someone that does nothing wrong getting caught up in someone else’s problem, the outcome of this race could have a drastic effect on the way the round of eight next week will look. It may not look at all like it does at the present time and some of the favorites may no longer even be competing for the Championship. Yes, it has been just that kind of a Chase so far and every weekend has shown nothing is definite about moving on unless a driver wins.

That may not sound all that interesting but I can tell you that the drivers still involved in the Chase part of this race are very interested in all of the possible scenarios. At the present time, many have already counted Chase Elliott out simply because he just hasn’t been able to finish in good points positions and he is now 25 points out of eighth place. He knows his best chance to move on is to win but he also knows winning this race is not completely in his control. That’s not to mention this is only his first full year in Cup racing. If he doesn’t move on this year, he should still have plenty of chances to do so and maybe win a few championships in the future.

Another one that is on the edge is Brad Keselowski. He hasn’t had good racing luck in this round either and he isn’t that far out of the hunt but he just about needs to win to be assured of moving on to the next round. Yes, this fan knows he is only seven points out of eighth but don’t forget this is Talladega. He usually performs very well at this track but past good performance doesn’t guarantee good finish on this particular Sunday. Denny Hamlin is basically in the same boat with him, just one point better.

Probably the biggest surprise to me is Austin Dillon. I really didn’t think he would be where he is but he is tied with Joey Logano for eighth (even though he is listed in ninth.) From this fan’s view, I suppose it is possible he could be moving on to the next round but I’m just not seeing it myself. He doesn’t need to win but he cannot afford to have a bad finish and, (I’m just stating the obvious) the closer to the front he finishes the better for him.

As I stated earlier, no one other than Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson are guaranteed to move on to the next round and even those that have a cushion going into this one at Talladega aren’t taking anything for granted. They are all running for the win and any of them could win but any of them could have big problems that take them out of being able to move on to the next round. You may see them trying to stay out of trouble but this fan doesn’t think you will see any of them just hanging around hoping nothing happens. I think you will see them being aggressive but smart. After all, this is Talladega and anything can happen to any one of them at any time and it doesn’t even have to be their fault. All they have to be is in the right place at the wrong time and the rest of the season they could be statistical “also rans” for the 2016 Chase…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 22, 2016 – 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 Chase Continues At Kansas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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After a weekend that may have changed everything, the Cup teams take on Kansas Speedway for the next episode of the 2016 Chase. When the race was over and done last weekend the Chase grid looked a bit different than it did when they started the race and now it seems there are those that need to win to get in or, at least finish really close to the front if they want to make it into the next round. Since Talladega is next weekend, the stakes are much higher than they might have been if last weekend hadn’t been such a disaster for some.

But let’s talk about Kansas for a moment… It isn’t really a track that favors any one driver over another, at least not the Sprint Cup drivers. It is a fast track and also an interesting track with its own set of characteristics. Once again this weekend, weather has made life a little more interesting for the teams as they prepare for Sunday afternoon’s race. Sure they got to practice on Friday but it was a bit delayed and the track was ever changing when they did hit the track to practice and then there was qualifying. No matter how you look at it, there are some that look to be struggling and others that seem to be in control of their situations well enough to show they have speed and that is one thing they are going to need.

From this fan’s view, it looks like the JGR Toyotas showed up ready to race this weekend. If qualifying holds any view into how the race may go on Sunday afternoon, the JGR Toyotas looked very good. Let’s see, we have Matt Kenseth (who usually performs quite well at Kansas) on the pole and Kyle Bush starting on outside pole. Behind them are Carl Edwards and the JGR associated team of Martin Truex, Jr. and that looks very good for JGR at least for pit selections and the start of the race.

Of course if you’ve been following this fan’s view for any length of time at all, you already know how much stock I put in qualifying times when it comes to race day. How often have we as fans seen the pole sitter fall like a rock on race day compared to how they did on the few laps they ran to qualify for the pole position. From my view, it happens much more often that way than it does with a dominating performance along with a top qualifying spot.

You see, there’s a reason or two why I think the way I do about this. All things considered and if a car is competitive, it doesn’t really matter that much where they start. What does matter, at least from this fan’s view, is where they pit and how they run for extended periods. If there are long green flag runs, how do they move through the field when compared with the rest of their competitors? Is their setup for the long runs or for the short runs? Are they able to make up spots in the pits (which is one of the best and safest ways to make multiple passes if possible) and does their strategy for the race advance them every time they have to stop?

The Kansas Speedway is, or at least can be hard on tires and on engines. It is a one and a half mile oval and the speeds are high (as I mentioned earlier.) That can wreak havoc on tires and on engines and as we saw a couple of costly tire and engine failures last weekend, the same could happen again this weekend. If it happens to a Chaser other than Jimmy Johnson, well, that could mean their demise as far as the 2016 Chase is concerned.
At the very minimum it could mean they have to win at Talladega next weekend if they expect to move on to the round of eight and that is no small task in itself.

Had it not been for Denny Hamlin losing an engine when he did last weekend, this would be a whole different race altogether. Because of his engine failure, the four other Chasers that had struggles or problems last weekend would have been much further out on a limb. As it turned out, there is only about eight points separating five drivers from not making the next round and they are all presently in the eighth to twelfth positions in this round of the Chase. Man, talk about drama building for these next two races, well from this fan’s view, it doesn’t get much more intense than this.

That is one thing I like about the Chase format in its present form – it makes almost every race one filled with high emotion and drama and there will be those that make it to the next round and some that won’t depending on how they perform in each race. Points matter a little but winning means a lot more. I don’t need to restate this but I will; if you win you advance and if you don’t there is a very good chance you won’t.

I mean, look at how the first round of three races finished; Martin Truex, Jr. and Kevin Harvick won and they moved on to round two. Because of an engine failure last week, Kevin Harvick may not make it to round three. The same could be said for the other four near the bottom of the top twelve; if they don’t finish in the top five or win, they may be out also. That alone could be enough to keep them awake a night or two after this one is in the books. It will make Talladega loom all the larger for them next week. Although it isn’t likely, if something breaks, blows out or blows up for any of the remaining Chase contenders at Kansas they may be facing an ominous task at Talladega or end up being out of the Chase for this season.

Kansas is a very good track for Matt Kenseth and he could end up in Victory Lane on Sunday but don’t expect Kyle Bush to do anything but push for the win Sunday afternoon. Only one one thousandth of a second separated these two when it come to taking the pole position and it could come down to something just as small at the end of the race. If you go by the qualifying, JGR looks like they could have a great day and the others look like they are struggling a bit. I’m not picking a winner and I’m not saying it will be one from the JGR garage but it very well could be. There is also the chance that a different team could take the win and that team may or may not even be one of the Chasers…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 15, 2016 – 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

Facing The Monster of Elimination At Dover from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There’s a reason why they call it the Monster Mile and there are good reasons for some to fear the monster this weekend at Dover – when it’s over – four will be eliminated from the competition for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Now I’m not sure what will happen and it is a bit difficult to say which ones won’t make the cut but I do know this race is important to more than one or two.

Even when you think about those that just don’t have a chance, there is always the chance they could surprise us all and win the Citizens Soldier 400. When this fan really takes the time to think about it, there are a couple of drivers whose only chance to move on is to win. So just for grins, let me tell you which ones I think they are.

First on my list is Chris Buescher. It is firmly my opinion that he only has one chance to move on and that is to win. I really never thought he had much of a chance even though he won a race during the regular season and he was at the top of my list to not move on even as the Chase began. I think it is great that he made the Chase but I never really thought he had a chance and he almost didn’t even make it into the top thirty in points to qualify even though he had that one win. If he doesn’t win and move on it is not the end of the world for him. He is young and still has a lot of opportunity ahead of him.

Next up from this NASCAR fan’s view is Tony Stewart. As much as I don’t want to see him be eliminated in this his final season in Sprint Cup competition, it is this fan’s opinion his only hope is to win. Barring a miracle (other than a win) he just can’t afford to finish anywhere but up front. It probably bothers his fans more than it does him but I do think he would rather be one of the ones moving on to the second round of the Chase and I won’t put words in his mouth but I do think he would rather not be eliminated. If he doesn’t make the cut, it kind of makes the rest of his season, and well… how do I put this tactfully… it would be quite uneventful. One thing is certain, at least from this fan’s view… It definitely wouldn’t have the drama of Jeff Gordon’s last races competitively in the NASCAR Cup Series last season.

Austin Dillon does have a chance at making the cut but I just don’t think he will. Of course that is just this fan’s opinion and he could completely surprise me and win on Sunday afternoon at the Monster. Even though he has shown consistency throughout the year, he and Richard Childress Racing just haven’t shown the strength this fan thinks is needed to take the checkered flag this weekend. Unfortunately for him and RCR, he is one of my choices to not make the cut when this one is over.

This next one is a little hard for me because I really would like to see Jamie McMurray not only make the cut but also take it all the way to the final in Homestead. I’m not so sure he won’t at least perform well enough to move on to round two, but I do have my doubts he will be in the final. That being said, I still would like to see it but I think he is going to have to have some help getting there and he needs to finish somewhere in the top five at the Monster Mile. If he doesn’t, well, I guess there is always next year for him but I don’t think that is completely acceptable to Jamie or Chip Ganassi and I think he will be pressing to either win or finish near the front.

There are others that can’t afford to have a bad day at Dover or they face elimination from the Chase and could make it possible for someone else to make it. Racing luck could have a lot to do with where they finish and whether or not they make it to round two of the Chase.

Kyle Larson definitely cannot afford to have a bad race or he will be gone. If both he and Jamie McMurray are eliminated after this one is over, it would not be a happy day at all at Chip Ganassi Racing. Personally, I kinda hope they both move on to at least round two.

Kurt Bush isn’t even in a comfortable position points-wise to continue on if he has a bad race. A major failure of any kind or an accident of his own or someone else’s making resulting in a bad finish could eliminate him. I’m sure they are doing everything they can to try and not have a bad day but one never knows when bad luck can ruin anyone’s day and season.

I won’t go into a long dissertation on the rest of those that could have disaster strike if they have something go wrong that causes them to finish poorly at, or near, the end of the order but I will say this. Any of them finishing in the last few spots could open the door for someone else to make it in and that person may be someone unexpected.

From this fan’s view, this is one of those races that anything can happen and anyone that still has a chance at moving on into round two could still do it. Two that don’t have to worry at all are Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. but there are a lot of things that can affect the way the next round of drivers shapes up but, this one thing is certain. If they win or end up in the top twelve in points when this one is over, they will move on… (Wow, didn’t that almost sound profound…?)

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 01, 2016 – 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

2015 – One Era Ends and a New One Begins from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Kyle Bush won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship and did it by winning the last race of the 2015 season. He wasn’t always out front and didn’t necessarily dominate the race but, when it counted, he and his team came through with a dominating performance for the last several laps of the Ford Ecoboost 400. Kevin Harvick was in his mirror for those final laps but never really pressed Kyle at all for the victory and finished second in the race and in the standings.

Those are some of the historical facts of the finale at Homestead in this 2015 NASCAR Cup season. It was also the end of an era. Jeff Gordon ran his last race in the Cup series and is retiring now that the race is over. He won’t necessarily disappear and ride off into the sunset and he won’t likely become invisible anytime soon but his life will be different and so will the NASCAR Cup series. Fortunately for all Jeff Gordon fans he will be in the broadcast booth next season with Fox Sports and will still be involved with Hendrick Motorsports and Rick Hendrick for the foreseeable future.

There isn’t much that’s left to say about Jeff Gordon, his career and what he brought to NASCAR because, from this fan’s view, everybody and their brother (including their sisters) has said so much about the life and times of Jeff Gordon. Much was said over the entire season but most of it was said in the last several weeks as the time drew near for this, his final race in the NASCAR Cup series. It seemed to this fan that everyone had something to say about Jeff Gordon and 99.99% of it was definitely positive (and trust me, nobody is concerned about that .01% that may not have been.)

This fan is old enough to remember when Jeff Gordon broke into the Cup series (and honestly it doesn’t seem all that long ago.) Along with many other long time NASCAR fans, I wasn’t that much of a fan of his at first. He was just a kid coming in and we all had our own favorites at the time that we had followed for many years. I even remember that I wasn’t happy with him for the way he departed his ride in the Bush series and felt that he dumped them for an opportunity that wouldn’t amount to much. Besides, I still had my old favorites that I wanted to see keep on winning and his entry into the Cup Series was little more than a media distraction. I have to be honest with you and say that I didn’t think he was going to make it and in his first year, not all that much was said about him other than what often are considered, “honorable mentions” and that was about it, (well… at least from this fan’s view and memory that’s what it was.)

It wasn’t long before my attitude began to change. Like all tried and true NASCAR fans I paid attention to, not only his accomplishments on the track but also, how he represented himself after a race and away from the track. Believe me, nobody is perfect and Jeff Gordon wasn’t either but there was something different about him that began to, and kept on attracting my attention. I still had my old favorites but he was beginning to impress me in many ways and particularly on the track. I made a point to pay attention to what was written about him as his time in the Cup series began to add up and I found that he was quite a talented driver even as young as he was. I knew early on he had won at least 600 races before hitting the Cup Series and I thought that was impressive to say the least.

After his first couple of years in the Cup Series I have to admit I was watching him closely and eventually became one of his biggest fans even though I still held on to some of the ones I had been a fan of for a long time. It was obvious “the Kid” had talent but just his winning races wasn’t the only thing that impressed me. It was the fact he was a real person, he displayed emotion and exhibited his competitive spirit in more than one way, including getting in someone’s face when necessary. On the track he showed what he was capable of and that he had the talent to win and win often. I even remember Dale Earnhardt, Sr. once said after a race, “… that just goes to show “the Kid” can win with anyone as his crew chief,” and I don’t think that meant The Intimidator was intimidated by him but that he did have respect for his talents even though he was young.

The four-time Cup Champ was and is a legend in his own time and represented NASCAR with honor and Class. He never lost sight of those that came before him and made a lasting impact on the sport he loves and he did everything he could to be a good representative of NASCAR as a Champion, a driver, a mentor to drivers coming into the sport and an ambassador for NASCAR Stock Car racing in general. Jeff Gordon will always be a Champion no matter what direction his life takes him from this point forward.

Kyle Bush wasn’t one of my favorite drivers until the last few years. I don’t know what it was about him but I just never really liked him all that much. I don’t think it was because of his age but it could have been because he seemed to me to be a whiner in his early Cup career. It was obvious he had a lot of talent and a lot of natural ability when it came to car control. Even though he was showing moments of exceptional talent, he was also often showing his obvious lack of maturity – from this fan’s view it was like he was trying to show everyone he deserved what he had not yet earned. His first years in the Cup Series he just didn’t impress me and I had concerns as to what kind of a representative of the NASCAR Cup Series he might be if he won a Championship. He was and is very talented and, as I said in the last article, he has become very likeable in many ways.

I noticed a difference in him over the last two or three years in particular and watched his progress throughout this challenging year with great interest. As just an observation from this fan’s view, I think his meeting his wife had a great deal to do with where he is and what he has become over the last couple of years. There is absolutely something to be said about having a good and strong woman beside you, helping you and making you better along the way. Believe me; I know this is true simply because of the blessing and strength my wife of thirty-six years has been to me. She has made me a better person over all and I am thankful for her. Of course, I think his joining Joe Gibbs Racing has had something to do with his success also as well as the person he has and is becoming.

Unlike some of his detractors that have never set foot in a race car or never faced a possible life altering accident or challenge, I have absolutely no problem with the fact that NASCAR allowed him to compete for the Championship this year even though he missed the first eleven races of the season. He had that horrendous accident at Daytona in February and many wondered if he would ever be able to drive again or at least be competitive. He worked hard to get himself back into the race car as quickly as possible. He met all of the criteria they laid down for him to be able to compete by winning three races and working his way into the top thirty in points to qualify for being in the Chase.

Kyle Bush showed great determination to accomplish the necessary things he had to accomplish so he could be a contender in the Chase for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship and he drove his heart out to win the race and become the 2015 Champion. Though some don’t think he deserves to be there, this fan is not one of those. He is every bit as much a Champion and winner as anyone that ever was or is in NASCAR. This fan thinks he will make a great Cup Champion and will represent the sport extremely well.

As this 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season draws to a close, we see one era coming to an end. Jeff Gordon is departing the Cup Series with style and class and like the Champion he has been over these twenty- three years. Without a doubt he is destined to be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame and will be remembered as one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history and rightfully so. He has been a great Champion and will be remembered as such for a long time.

The end of one era usually heralds a new one and the possibilities moving forward are vast. There are a lot of great drivers now and this fan knows there are more coming. Although it is unknown which one of the present or future drivers might be the next “great one” there are several waiting in the wings to prove themselves. To name a few would be, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and others. Kyle Bush is one to watch and watch closely in the years ahead and this could just as likely be the beginning of the Kyle Bush era as any of those I just mentioned. Congratulations to Kyle Bush, the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 24, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

It’s One and Done at Homestead from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship is unique to itself and the Championship race itself is too. One of the most interesting things about this final race for the 2015 season is that none of the four running for the Championship has to win. The only thing one of them has to do is finish in front of the other three. Of course if you ask the four competing for the Sprint Cup Championship you’ll find none of them are approaching this race any differently than they would any other elimination race in the Chase – that’s right … they want to win!

As a longtime NASCAR fan I find it very interesting that four drivers compete with each other for the Championship while competing with thirty-nine others that could possibly win but their winning doesn’t have any effect on the outcome of the Championship. The champion comes from which of the four left competing for the Sprint Cup finishes ahead of the other three. Any way you look at it that is definitely different than any other sport I know of.

The 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship has been one of the most intense, dramatic and emotional Chases this fan has ever experienced and the race this weekend at Homestead won’t be any different. The four drivers, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush, Martin Truex Jr. and Jeff Gordon all have unique stories surrounding them as they have competed and qualified for the Championship round throughout this season and any of their stories would be a crowning moment on their season and careers. None of these four were necessarily expected to be where they are this weekend considering how their seasons started and progressed throughout the year.

We all know the stories surrounding these final four and that’s pretty much all we’ve heard about all week long from every known talking head since last Sunday’s race finally ended at Phoenix. There is still a lot of talk of how these four shouldn’t even be competing for the Sprint Cup and that had NASCAR made “the right decision” there would probably be a little different look to the final four. Of course this fan suspects the main reason for those thoughts is because their driver didn’t make it in. It is true the calling of the race because of rain did affect one or two of the finalists but, from this fan’s view, the ones that should be competing for the Championship this year are the ones that are. I’m not saying that just because the ones I wanted to be there are but because they deserve to be there and everything they did throughout the year and the Chase has put them there. Circumstances aside, these four drivers and teams worked hard to be where they are.

I know you know all the stories surrounding these four drivers but a quick review is in order, well… at least from the way this fan sees them.

Kevin Harvick has overcome many adversities to be where he is this weekend and no one can say his team gave up when negative things happened to them week in and week out. The driver and his entire team seemed to thrive on adversity and their determination to put them in the final four. Even this weekend, Harvick didn’t qualify as well as he hoped he would but he isn’t moping around hoping things go better, he is looking at where they’ve been and what they’ve accomplished this season. He is contending for his second Sprint Cup Championship in a row and has a very good chance at repeating.

Martin Truex Jr. surprised many by making the Chase as a single car team and he and his team have performed well enough to make it through the three rounds leading up to this one to be strong contenders for taking the Cup Championship which would be his first. Many consider him to be the dark horse in this one and probably rightly so – he only has three victories to his credit so far in his Cup career but winning on Sunday is not out of his reach.

Kyle Bush is a different Kyle Bush than he was a few years ago. He has matured over that time and has handled the adversity of this season with determination and class. From this fan’s view, determination has never been his weakness but me using the word “class” to describe him is new. As I said, he has matured and become more likeable over the last couple of years. After his accident at Daytona at the beginning of the season, no one thought he would be in the Chase, let alone competing for the Sprint Cup in the finale. He has had his best Chase performance ever and he is going for his first Cup Championship in this one and he and his team worked hard, won races and did everything they had to do to be where they are this weekend.

That brings us to the four-time Champion, Jeff Gordon. He has had what many consider to be an up and down year. After some of the trials and tribulations he and his team faced throughout this year, not too many thought he would make it to the final four at Homestead this weekend to compete for his fifth Cup Championship. In fact, there were those that didn’t think he would even have a win in this, his last year in NASCAR let alone make it into the Chase. In typical Jeff Gordon fashion, he came through when it counted and his win at Martinsville, the teams overall consistency throughout the year and some sheer determination on all their parts put them in the finale and he has a chance to be successful in his Drive for Five.

It will definitely be “one and done” for more than one reason at Homestead this weekend. This has been the most dramatically intense and emotional Chase since they instituted this format into the mix and I expect it to be nothing less on Sunday afternoon. Forty-three cars competing for a win, four drivers of those forty-three competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship and a four time Champion trying to retire while on top – Can it get any better than this? This fan doesn’t think so…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 21, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

After Phoenix Damage Assessment from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well, the final four are set for Homestead and many came away from the Phoenix race with mixed emotions. It was an unusual day at the track in the desert and the race scheduled for daytime turned into a night time race. Rather than it coming down to a white knuckle, edge-of-your-seat finish at the end of the race, it was the relentlessness of the on and off rain that proved to be the undoing of four of the ones hoping to move on to the Championship race. I’m not going to say it was a great race but it did turn out to be an interesting one. Even after the multi hour rain delay…

From this fan’s view, I think the one damaged the most by the race being called because of rain was Carl Edwards. Of the four that were trying to race their way into the final four, he was the only one that really had a chance to point his way in and he was running ahead of Martin Truex Jr. when it was called – just not far enough ahead. He was only able to gain two of the seven points he needed and, because of the race being called, he finished five points behind Truex and was eliminated. That was unfortunate but he’s not the only one that the calling of a race because of rain has ever happened to except that this one happened in the final elimination race in the Chase. It may have been a unique circumstance but it was still a consistent call by NASCAR according to the rules.

As for Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano not making it into the finale, well… the way the eight in the Elimination round were running, they really only had once chance and that was to win. Either way it went between them, the other one of the two Penske teams was going to be eliminated. There has since been a lot of speculation about the “what if” factor and how it might have changed things had there been a re-start after another extended track drying delay, (which, by the way, could have been another couple of hours.) A lot of the speculation appeared to be based on the fact that Joey Logano was in third place and could have possibly passed the two in front of him and won the race, putting him in the finale.

Okay, let’s just say they did have another re-start and Logano had another chance at taking the lead. How would’ve Logano handled that re-start? Would he have “done whatever it took to win” which he previously proved it could mean taking those ahead of him out rather than, “racing them for the win?” I find it interesting that Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski put on quite a performance last weekend at Texas showing how drivers could race each other using the same tactics of blocking and intimidating but never touching. Listening to Logano after the race at Phoenix when he was asked what he would have done if there had been another re-start he answered quite directly that he would have done whatever it took to win. I don’t know what that meant to him but to this NASCAR fan that meant he just might drive through them to win. It makes me wonder if he is still as arrogant as he sounded after the incident with Kenseth and learned nothing from it or whether he would do it differently. I guess we’ll never know for sure, the rain ended that. Personally, I don’t think he was going to win anyway but we’ll never know for sure about that either. Oh well…

Kurt Bush put himself in a hole right from the drop of the green flag when NASCAR called him on a little remembered rule about the start of a race and how the pole sitter cannot be passed until after he – (or she for that matter) – crosses the start/finish line. That rule only applies to the start of a race and not the re-starts. Somehow, this fan thinks that rule might be revisited during the off-season. It may or may not be changed but I personally think it will come up in discussion at some point before things pick backup at Daytona in February. Personally it doesn’t matter much to this fan which way they decide that one.

To his credit Kurt did do everything he could to catch back up but when the rain returned, it all came to nothing and he wasn’t going to be moving on to the Championship round. He just couldn’t overcome the deficit caused by being in the wrong place at the right time at Martinsville. Even though he was in seventh position when the Phoenix race was called, it wasn’t enough to move him up in points and besides, he needed to win or everyone else needed to end up in the garage to make a place for him in the final four without the win.

I hate to keep bringing this up but, Kurt Bush not making the final four is just another example of what this fan considers started the much talked about actions at Martinsville between Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. Matt was in second place when Brad Keselowski ran into him and took him out for whatever reason on that day. Kenseth had most of the blame placed on his shoulders for what followed but this is what I considered to be the final straw that caused him to decide it was time for a little payback, not only to Logano but the whole Penske organization in particular; (and just as a side note, I don’t think he made the decision totally on his own, although I could be wrong.)

Of course, now all of the talking heads use as one of their main talking points how Matt Kenseth changed the whole outcome of the Championship by his actions in taking out Logano. If that were the case and NASCAR thought it was, it is my opinion they would have re-instated Logano like they did Jeff Gordon a couple of years ago after the actions of Michael Waltrip Racing. I really do think they saw more of the total picture and the way things added up over time and that Martinsville was everything coming to a head at once. They determined they had to take action and do something and they did, but they also left the door open, at least for now.

I don’t know; I may be giving them too much credit but I do think they understand things better than we as fans think they do at times. The decisions they make are hard and at times, it does appear they are inconsistent in those decisions and some of their calls but if they didn’t make those calls when they do, would we really have much else to talk or complain about? Hmmm, I wonder…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 18, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

The Chasers Face Last Chances At Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Say what you will about this race at Phoenix but, all things considered, it’s going to be one of the most intense and dramatic races of this 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season. It seems I say that almost every week so far in this Chase and with this Chase format. This format, along with the way the points now add up, has totally changed the way the Championship is decided. All it takes is one bad day or one win to completely change those considered to be the final four that will compete for the Championship at Homestead. Consistency still plays a part in the sense that a driver can’t afford to have a bad day, especially at certain critical times in this format and this weekend’s race at Phoenix is one of those critical times. Seven of the eight still qualified to contend for the Championship have to either win or they have to finish near the front, ahead of those they’re competing against I might add, to make it into the final four.

Joey Logano’s last chance to make it to the final four is winning this race. He has no other options. All it took was one bad finish, whether or not it was because of his own actions or not. He can do exactly what his teammate Brad Keselowski did last weekend – lead the most laps and run up front all day long – finish second and still not move on. Even though he had plenty of wins this season and won three in a row during the second round of the Chase it won’t make one bit of difference. All it took was one terrible finish and one not so good finish and he could be eliminated unless he wins on Sunday afternoon.

The pole sitter, Jimmie Johnson, didn’t even make it to this round. He was eliminated by a parts failure that kept him from advancing even though he was in the original sixteen contenders. A win by him this weekend won’t put him in the final four but it could very well help someone else move on to the final four. It may be the only chance that one, or possibly two, has to move on.

Kurt Bush’s last chance isn’t quite like Logano’s but it is quite similar. He doesn’t have to win to move on but it would almost take a miraculous intervention for him to move on to the Championship round without a win at Phoenix. He and Logano really are pretty much in the same boat. Even if one of them does win, the other one won’t be moving on.

Brad Keselowski can advance into the Championship round without a win but a win would make it quite easy for him. Unfortunately if he wins, his teammate Logano’s chances are done. As it is, he has to finish very near the front without the win and all of those ahead of him that are still in contention have to have very bad days. The likelihood of that happening is like zero and none without the win but it is his only other chance. This present format and existing points system has added that drama and intensity to the Chase.

Carl Edwards could move into the final four simply by winning or by having a much better finish than the three ahead of him in points. He is only seven points out of the final four going into this weekend but those ahead of him have been finishing better than him on a regular basis every weekend. Even though he likes this track and usually performs pretty well at Phoenix. His biggest problem is that of the three ahead of him in points, two of them usually do too. Of course, those two would be Kyle Bush and Kevin Harvick and Harvick has the best record of all of them. I can’t rule out Martin Truex Jr. and the way he’s been performing throughout the Chase. He could win but all he really needs to do is what he’s been doing over the last few races.

There really isn’t a way that this fan sees any of the seven left contending to get in as safe going into Sunday afternoon at Phoenix. The Chase this year has certainly been one of the most entertaining and dramatic ones, at least in my memory. NASCAR has certainly come up with what it wanted as far as making the Chase for the Championship as intensely interesting and dramatic, more so than any other sport I am familiar with. Of course those that aren’t into motorsports will probably disagree with me but they wouldn’t watch or get involved in it anyway. Too bad for them, they’ll never know what they’re missing because they’re just not watching or paying attention.

The way the Chase this year has been going, there is no telling what the results will be until the checkered flag falls and the engines go silent at Phoenix. I don’t know about you but I expect this one race could be even more exciting to watch than the one that will follow it at Homestead next weekend. Well… maybe not that exciting; but it will certainly be one of the most intense and stressful ones for fans and drivers alike as the laps click away and drivers chances for being in the final four either advance or diminish along with them. To that this fan says, “Boys, have at it.”

There is one thing more I have to add and it is probably the only certainty for this race. Jeff Gordon IS going to be in the final four, his drive for championship number five is still alive and winning, losing or even not finishing at Phoenix this weekend won’t change that…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 14, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

After Texas Damage Assessment from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Texas Motor Speedway is considered one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR Cup circuit and it was no different on Sunday afternoon. The speeds were fast and it looked as though it was going to be the usual race that fan’s and drivers alike usually experience. Well… as you already know, it wasn’t at all business as usual and the day was once again filled with intensity, emotion and unexpected drama right down to the final laps until the checkered flag fell.

Just as a slight review, before the race started things kind of shaped up like this. One person didn’t have to do much of anything except try to keep his and his team’s momentum going. In case you’re wondering or have forgotten, that was Jeff Gordon. He didn’t run badly but he was never much of a threat for the win. He did finish in the top ten though and that was a decent finish.

Those in the top four in points going in to Texas were determined to try and win or at least finish as near to the front as they could. By doing so they would either punch their ticket into the finale or, at least, make their chances better by increasing their point’s leads.

And then you had those that entered the weekend after having a disastrous weekend at Martinsville. Amongst those were Kurt Bush, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Of course we all know Joey Logano’s situation and how he arrived to the place he did. The important thing is that all three of them needed a very strong showing or possibly a win.

The worst thing that happened to all of them before the race ever started was the rain that kept them from practicing and possibly finding more speed or some problems with the tires. Even with all of those happenings, that just isn’t what made the race at Texas Motor Speedway one of the most dramatic in the Chase so far.

So… what was it that this fan thinks made this race so different? Well, I’m glad you asked (even though I was going to give you my opinion anyway.)

With all the talk that went on all week long before the race at TMS about the incident the week before between Kenseth and Logano, I don’t see how anyone could not know just how important this race was going to be. It was absolutely imperative that the Penske teams finish at or near the front. Brad Keselowski did his part on Friday and qualified on the pole for Sunday’s race. Logano didn’t qualify as well but still had a good starting position.

Matt Kenseth was sitting at home serving his first week of suspension so Brad and Joey wouldn’t have to worry about him upsetting the Penske applecart and both Logano and Keselowski appeared to be confident of having a good day on Sunday afternoon. All was good in the Penske world and it looked like it was going to go good for them. Even the Joe Gibbs team challenges to NASCAR’s rulings against Kenseth were kept in place except for the six month probation period being changed to just through December 31, 2015.

When the race started it did look as though it might be a good day for Brad as he immediately started pulling away from the rest into the lead from the pole. Even Logano looked strong and, from all appearances in the first laps, it just might be another Penske day.

Just when it appeared everything might be working out for Logano after his bad weekend at Martinsville, suddenly things changed for him. He blew a left rear tire on lap ten and it tore up the backend of his car so badly that it took over sixty laps to repair it in the garage. As some were heard to say, (at least where I was sitting), “Man, talk about it catching up to you… I guess the “racing gods” wanted to balance out the results between Joey and Matt.”

Well honestly, I don’t believe in “racing gods” any more that I do in a thing called bad Karma but it did appear something was going on since others had tire problems but not near the damage suffered by Logano. I hope you remember I talked about how a driver’s “racing luck” can change on a dime back in the article titled, “Martinsville resets the Chase to Eight.” I’ve seen it happen before and it could just be that his luck turned the weekend of Martinsville. Now he goes to Phoenix in a have to win situation. Nothing short of a win will get him into the finale at Homestead.

Just a few quick thoughts on Keselowski’s run Sunday afternoon. He led the most laps and looked almost untouchable. Well, that is until the final restart. Suddenly a race that almost nobody was going to remember as anything more that a race that Brad Keselowski dominated and punched his ticket into the finale at Homestead became memorable in two ways; First, Jimmie Johnson and Brad put on a show for several laps about how to block someone from passing you or how to pass cleanly, not spinning out your competition or running into them to win.

It was a dramatic and intense bit of racing on both Johnson’s and Keselowski’s parts and when Jimmie cleanly passed Brad it proved what many of us thought should have happened between Kenseth and Logano. Oh, and by the way, it also makes the race coming up at Phoenix all the more important, especially for three of the drivers, two of them on the same team. Definitely Logano and likely Keselowski need to win to move on to the Championship at Homestead BUT only one of them can win and definitely be in. There is one other possible scenario, but I don’t think we really want to talk about that right now. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out at Phoenix…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 10, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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