Some Chasers Looking For Magic At NHMS from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There are some of the Chasers looking for some magic at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. After some bad performances and bad racing luck, some of the hopefuls for moving on to the second round of the Chase absolutely need good finishes at NHMS on Sunday afternoon. As everyone knows that’s been paying even a little attention to NASCAR Sprint Cup, Martin Truex, Jr. is already in round two because of his win last weekend.

Speaking of Martin Truex, Jr., he has been running strong, especially since May and he presently looks like a real contender to move on all the way into the final round. Of course anyone that knows racing knows all of that momentum can be quenched with one or two bad finishes in the second third elimination rounds of the Chase. That’s one thing about racing and racing luck; one never knows when it may turn against you and when it may cost you the biggest prize of NASCAR – the Sprint Cup Championship.

Chris Buescher has a pretty tough mountain to climb if he even wants to make it into round two with his 28th place finish last weekend. Since he was already a long shot in even making it to round one of the Chase, he has a lot of ground to make up. Of course we all know if he makes it to round two or further it would truly be the Cinderella story of NASCAR for the 2016 season and possibly ever. No one expected him to even be where he is and not very many think he has a real chance at even making to round two let alone all the way to Homestead, but, strange things do happen in racing and especially in NASCAR. As for this fan’s opinion, I really don’t think he will advance into round two and he is one of my first picks for being eliminated from the Chase.

Kyle Larson is looking pretty good for this weekend and it looks to this fan that he and his team came prepared to try and take back the ground they lost last weekend with an 18th place finish and losing 5 spots in the standings. Now admittedly, he may not have to win but winning would at least seal the deal for him making it to round two and for some he is decidedly a long shot to do that. Personally, I am not so sure that he won’t make it to round two and could make it to round three and beyond. Yes I do think he is a long shot but he does have talent, potential and speed, at least coming into this weekend and it is possible he could pull off his second Cup win at NHMS. (I have to admit, that really wouldn’t surprise me that much but I going to wait and see how he does before making any real predictions for his advancing further.)

Austin Dillon is another one I don’t expect to go any further in the Chase this year. I just haven’t seen the consistency that would make me pick him as one of the twelve to move on after these next two races. It is always a possibility he could but I just don’t think it will happen for him this year. Would I be surprised if he proved me wrong? No, not really but I do take into consideration the performance coming out of the Richard Childress camp so far this year and I just don’t see the strength or speed when they show up at the track. Maybe in a year or two they will be more formidable competition. Besides, mostly the reason he moved up two spots after last weekend in Chicago is because others finished worse than he did.

Kevin Harvick finished 20th at Chicagoland and was primarily a victim of circumstances beyond his control. He had a very fast car and it looked like he was going to be one of the contenders by the end of the race but early on he had some bad racing luck. For him, a caution came out at the worst possible time and put him a lap down while he was in the pits. From this fan’s view that’s just plain bad racing luck. One second faster and he would have likely remained on the lead lap and who know what might have happened after that. As it was, he just couldn’t catch a break and get back on the lead lap in time to contend for the win. Don’t know if he will bounce back this weekend at NHMS but since we’re talking about Kevin Harvick, this fan just doesn’t want to count him out just yet.

There are others that didn’t finish all that bad but mistakes did cause them to have to hustle all the way to the end of the Chicagoland race. Jimmie Johnson is one of them. A Speeding penalty on pit road put him and his team in a bad spot for a long time during the race and fortunately for him, he finished in 12th exactly in the same position he started in the grid. In this fan’s opinion, I really don’t think that’s at all where they wanted to finish and they definitely don’t want to have a repeat of last year’s Chase where they had bad races in the first two races of the 2015 Chase. Basically that ended their run for the Championship last year and they absolutely don’t want to repeat their early exit of last year.

Although they don’t seem to have regained all of their strength, the Hendrick teams are showing a lot of improvement and this fan thinks they are breathing a sigh of relief even though they aren’t necessarily breathing easy yet. I do think Jimmie has a very good chance at winning the race on Sunday afternoon but I do not think it will come easy. They are going to have to work for it and not make any mistakes which they have been prone to do quite often this season.

This one is kind of up in the air from this fan’s view. It is a relatively short race and should be quite interesting to watch. I have no idea how it will turn out but it should be full of drama and tension and could exhibit some strong emotions as the race progresses. I am not going to call a winner but there are several to choose from and it could be a very big surprise when the day is done and all attention turns to Victory Lane… you might even say it’s magical.

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

It’s On At Chicagoland from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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And so the Chase begins… Well… that doesn’t sound like a very exciting beginning to what many have been waiting for for up to twenty six weeks of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, does it? That may be true for some but for others, well, it is their first time and they can’t wait to prove themselves. Fortunately, it’s not all going to be over after one or two races and it remains to be seen just how this one is going to pan out. I do think we will know more after this weekend but honestly, we won’t know much more than we do right now.

The first race of the Chase is a race that can make or break the next few races for the 16 Chase qualifiers. It will tell whether they are going to have time to relax a little or whether they will have to work their tails off to make it to round two. All of them hope to finish at or near the front and hope they stay in the top 12 for the next three weeks (if they don’t win, that is.) Winning just takes the pressure off for a week or so until the next round starts.

From this fan’s view, there has already been a lot of talk about which ones of the 16 won’t make it to round two and, though all are entitled to their opinion, it seems a bit pointless to me. I mean, come on, let’s at least see how the first race goes and then take a look at the results and start making a few predictions. I guess some just have to have something to say and they probably hope their predictions pan out and they get their moment of, “see, I told you so…” It is kind of funny to this fan that they don’t have much at all to say when their predictions don’t come to pass. I guess they either hope some of their friends and NASCAR fans have short memories.

I really have no idea which of the 16 Chase contenders are going to advance and which ones won’t but I do have something to say about a few of them. In fact, this seems to be a year where this fan would really like to see the underdogs come out on top. Don’t ask me why because I really don’t know but I do think it would be good for the sport. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a few favorite veterans for being in the final four at Homestead but there are some of the lesser talked about drivers I would like to see take it all the way.

First of all, I just don’t know how Chris Buescher is going to do during this first round of the 2016 Chase but some are already counting him out. All this fan knows is he has been in the right place at the right time more than once lately and it will be interesting to see how his “racing luck” holds out in these first three races. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he won’t make it through to at least the second round but I do think he has his work cut out for himself. I will admit, he isn’t one at the top of my list for moving on but he could.

There are those that say Chase Elliot will be one of the first to be eliminated but this fan really doesn’t feel that way. I mean, he is only twenty years old and he made the Chase in his first full year of Cup racing. That may not mean a thing when it comes to advancing into the next rounds of the Chase but I am looking at what he has accomplished this year. Admittedly he has made a few mistakes, is young and he is very hard on himself whan he messes up but, it does seem he learns from everything, whether good or bad, and uses it to improve his craft. He may not even advance into the second round but he has shown he is a very talented driver and looks to have a bright future whether or not he takes it all the way this year or not.

Kyle Larson is another of the bright spots in the younger drivers and it is my opinion he could be a big surprise during this 2016 Chase. He has been noticeably running near the top of the order a lot lately and could be one of the ones to make it at least all the way to round three and possibly be one of the final four at Homestead. I don’t really want to jump that far ahead yet but I did want to mention it simply because he has been performing well recently and could surprise a lot of people.

Speaking of ones I would like to see advance all the way to the final four, I just have bring up Jamie McMurray even though he isn’t one of the young guns. He is a seasoned driver and has been around a while. I would be really happy to see him going for his first Cup Championship in November but it is true he has to make it through the first three rounds first and there aren’t a lot of those talking heads out there giving him much of a chance of making it, let alone getting in to round two.

Now that I’ve brought up a driver that’s been around the Cup series for a while, I guess I should mention a few of the others I wouldn’t have a problem with their winning the Championship. Just for grins, I think it would be a good thing for Jimmie Johnson to win his seventh Championship. I know there are some that just don’t want him to join that club but he does have six and a seventh isn’t that much of a stretch of the imagination. Of course, the Hendrick teams have been struggling a bit this season but this fan thinks they are turning the corner and that could make the difference.

Just to mention a few others, it would be fine with this fan if Kyle Bush, Kevin Harvick Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth or Kurt Bush take it all the way down to the final one at Homestead in November. Carl Edwards is another of those and any of them could win it all and any of them would deserve it if they did.

Now, I just don’t think it will happen but it would be interesting to see Tony Stewart retire with one more Championship under his belt.

By the way, did you notice I haven’t mentioned the Penske teams or a few other prominent names? Believe me, that’s not an oversight… It’s just I don’t really care whether they make it all the way to Homestead or not. I guess they could and it would be fine but, I still wouldn’t be all that excited if they did…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 17, 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

Richmond Is The End For Some from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Richmond is the place for the last race before the Chase and it should prove to be a very interesting evening of racing tonight. It will also be the end for some and a beginning for others. Now why in the world would I say something like that…? Well… because it is, that’s why.

For some, any hope they had of making the Chase will end after tonight’s race. For some of the others, it will be the end because they just didn’t have a good night or someone’s accident or miscue will take them out and they will fall just shy of the points they need to make it in. For the others it will be a beginning because they finished well or at least “good enough” to make it in and the next part of the 2016 season begins for them. All of them will continue to compete for the rest of the season but some of them won’t be competing for the Cup Championship. That part will only be reserved for the final 16 that we will be able to name after the race tonight is over. Boy, does that sound confusing…

I am sure none of this is new news to anyone but there are around six or seven drivers that really need to have a good night but unfortunately, there will only be space for three of them especially if one of those presently in wins. There are a number of ways things could be shaken up but we don’t need to go into that here. I just know there is a lot of pressure on Ryan Newman, Jamie Mc Murray, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne and yes, even Chris Buescher. All of them have to make a strong run tonight and let the cards fall as they may. If one of them wins, well, that’s game over for at least one of the others.

Chris Buescher has the most to lose if he has a bad night. He has to stay in the top thirty in points and that could be a problem for him if he has trouble of some sort. He has a win so that puts him in but only if he can stay in the top 30 in points. Unfortunately he could drop out of the top 30 just about as easily as he can stay in if he gets caught up in someone else’s problem or has one of his own.

Ryan Newman has definitely been working hard to get into the top 16 since he has no win but, unless he pulls out a victory tonight, he will need a little help from his competitors. He is looking to press the envelope tonight and finish at or near the front and hope those ahead of him have problems of some sort or maybe just some really bad finishes. RCR really needs him and Austin to have a good race and nothing would make Richard Childress happier than to have both in the mix for the Chase.

Jamie McMurray also stands to lose the most with a bad finish or some sort of major failure. It could cost him any chance of being in the Chase. Well, that is unless he wins and then… well… let’s just say that puts things in a whole new perspective for him, Chip Ganassi racing and momentum going into the Chase. Since Kyle Larson won his first race a few weeks ago, he has been looking awfully strong and he and his team have been showing up with something for the other teams to look at. If both he and Jamie make the Chase that could make the other teams really take notice and could mean one of them might be in the hunt for the Championship when everyone arrives at Homestead for the final race.

All of the ones that already have one or more wins just want to get through tonight’s race and move on to the Chase. They have nothing to gain or lose from running either good or bad unless we consider the only thing that could make a difference for them is winning. If that happens, they not only pick up the winner’s check but add a victory to their accomplishments and three points added to their points at the reset for the first weekend of the Chase. Other than that, they just want to focus on the first round of the Chase and work on performance in that.

There are a lot of “ifs” and “if onlys” on the line for tonight but none of them will become realities until the race gets started and someone either wins or things get really mixed up. As for this fan’s opinion, I’m not sure how things will go but I am sure it is going to be a night filled with drama and should prove to be very interesting right down to the final lap. Well… that’s my opinion – what’s yours??

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 10, 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

Throwbacks and Taming The Bojangles Southern 500 from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Darlington Raceway… One of the oldest tracks on the NASCAR circuit brings a lot of memories and emotions along with its name. It has been loved, it has been hated but it is legendary and has been since it was built in 1950. Along with all of its history it has been known by several names. We all know its real name as the Darlington Raceway but it is also known as “The Lady In Black” and “The Track Too Tough To Tame.” There are reasons why it got those names and why it became a track that was liked and disliked by many and yet it demands and gets respect from all that compete and contend for wins on it.

This is a weekend of throwbacks to the times of the 70’s and 80’s and the legends and heroes and looks of that time period. There is no reason to belabor that part of the conversation because it has been well covered and presented by the media on hand for this special weekend. Still, many of the cars have the names of drivers from the time period and the looks and paint schemes of that time as well. As a long time NASCAR fan, I have to admit it has definitely been a pleasurable walk down memory lane and I remember all of the paint schemes represented on the Cup cars as well as the drivers from that time period.

The cars and the drivers of the time were a whole different breed than the ones in the Cup Series right now and, from this fan’s view, sometimes it is hard to remember what things were like in those days. Because someone had the idea to have these throwback weekends become a part of the regular racing weekends, a lot of us do remember and younger fans can see just how much the NASCAR Cup Series has changed and how much more technology is involved in today’s cars. With just a little media trip through the history of the sport, it is pretty obvious just how much has changed and how much safer the sport is.

Not all that long ago, the cars were just street cars made into racecars and now they are kit cars made to look similar to street cars but… and I have to be very blunt here… “they ain’t street cars at all.” I admit they do look similar to cars that run on the street with the same names but exterior looks “don’t mean a thing” when it comes to comparing them with actual cars on the streets. It kind of reminds me of an old saying we used to throw around when I was racing. That statement really holds true today, especially when it comes to the stock cars, and it goes something like this… “Real racecars don’t have doors.” In this fan’s opinion, truer words were never spoken and they are more true now than ever.

First of all, many wonder why the Darlington Raceway is called “The Lady In Black.” Well… just so you won’t have to go look it up in an encyclopedia or on Google or Wikipedia, I’ll tell you right here. It is because of the way the walls that are painted white turn black from the drivers rubbing up against the wall with their tires and turning them black from the tire rubber. The wall also leaves its mark on the cars and it is called “the Darlington Stripe” but that is a whole other story…

When it comes to why it is called “the Track Too Tough To Tame,” it is because Darlington is a tough track and few there are that really do seem to tame it. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been tamed but it does mean it has been tough for many to tame it. One that did tame it was David Pearson and he had ten Cup victories on the track.

Changing the subject just slightly, there will be in the lineup for the Bojangles Southern 500 a seven time winner at the track. In case you haven’t already guessed or heard that person is Jeff Gordon. Once again this weekend, Jeff will be filling in for the recovering Dale Jr. in the number 88 Hendrick Chevy.

Although this fan doesn’t expect it to happen, there is a high possibility Jeff could win the Southern 500. He definitely still has the talent, the team, the car and the opportunity. All of that added together could mean he ends up in Victory Lane. It turns out that Dale Jr. is taking the rest of the year off to recuperate from his concussion problems and that means Jeff will be in the car for several more of these last twelve races sharing the driving with Alex Bowman. In fact Jeff will be driving in four of the remaining twelve races and Alex will drive in eight of them.

From this fan’s view, Tony Stewart is another to watch for winning this one. Since he is retiring at the end of this year and Darlington is one track he hasn’t won at during his Sprint Cup career, this one is one he would like to win before he leaves the series. This weekend would be a great time for him to pull it off and he is running an old Bobby Allison paint scheme on his car this throwback weekend. What better time than this weekend for him to pull off the victory at this legendary track.

The challenge of Darlington Raceway, The Lady In Black, The Track Too Tough To Tame or by whatever name you choose to call it is the way it is shaped. It is really an egg shape and that means turns one and two have to be treated differently than three and four. It also means there has to be a compromise when it comes to handling. The drivers have to concentrate on which end of the track they’re entering every lap and, as the race wears on, fatigue can set in and mistakes can be made which often means either a Darlington stripe or complete disaster.

When I said earlier this track was liked and disliked by the drivers I didn’t mean they don’t like the challenge of it – I think it is more of a love-hate thing really. Darlington is just another one of those tracks they love to hate, depending on how they come away from it at the end of the race that is…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 4, 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

Michigan Means Time Is Running Out To Make The Chase from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Summer is winding down and time is running out for those trying to make the Chase for the 2016 Sprint Cup Championship. For those trying to stay in the top sixteen, the time doesn’t seem to pass fast enough. For those trying to make it in the top sixteen either with a win or by points, the time is passing much too fast. Uh, in case you’re wondering or just not paying attention, there are only three races remaining until the Chase begins… (Wow! This year has gone fast… well… at least for this fan it has.)

I find it funny that even though NASCAR changed the rules a while back, (which removed down force and was supposed to reduce the speeds a little making the racing more competitive), the teams are already running faster than they did the last time they visited MIS. According to the lap times, many of the drivers were running consistently above two hundred and fifteen miles per hour entering into turn one. Since they were averaging right around that two hundred mile per hour bracket in their timed speeds, two fifteen to two twenty would be a reasonable assumption for their top speeds. No matter how you look at it, that’s fast!! And remember, Michigan International Speedway is only a two mile oval.

I don’t know about you or what you think but it is fascinating to this fan how the drivers, their teams and the engineers simply keep on finding more speed no matter what changes to the rules and aerodynamics of the cars NASCAR makes. That has to be somewhat disheartening to the rules makers and hopefully won’t yield what higher and higher speeds did to the super speedways like Daytona and Talladega. (To clarify what I mean by that statement, it seems restrictor plates became the answer at those two tracks and, as fans of a sport that involves speed, one would hope they don’t incorporate restrictor plates at tracks where speeds exceed two hundred miles per hour.)

Of course, Goodyear keeps on making better and better tires for just about anything the different tracks throw at the teams. This weekend is no different and this tire could make a difference on which of the teams takes the trip to Victory Lane. The tire wear appears to make the handling last longer than expected and most of the teams have already found that the first couple of laps on sticker tires are the worst for handling. That could mean something, especially when it comes to restarts and should probably figure in to the overall strategy from a crew chief’s point of view if not from everyone else.

It would be reasonable to assume (at least from this fan’s view) that the higher speeds could be cause for alarm for possible tire problems but I just don’t think that will be the problem this weekend. If you compare the speeds of many of the drivers and teams, it is easy to spot that many are running at the higher speeds and that could mean better and tighter racing which is uncommon at MIS. From where this fan sits, the drivers usually run flat out simply because they can and the Michigan International Speedway is conducive to high speed racing with plenty of room and multiple grooves.

It is easy to see that the time really is running out for those needing or wanting a win to cement their spot in the final sixteen for the Chase. Those that already have wins are just biding their time until these next three races are over and they can hopefully get down to business in the final ten races for the season and ending up in the final four for Homestead. As for those without wins but either in the top sixteen or close to being in, well, they are more focused on getting a win than where they finish as long as they don’t lose too many points in the process. For some, winning is the only chance they have of making the Chase and winning this weekend would make life a lot less stressful, at least until after Richmond.

For once in the last several months the Chevys are noticeably showing a little more speed and there may be some actual hope the Hendrick teams could make a decent showing this weekend. Of course that may just be an illusion but at least they were showing up higher in the speed charts than they have recently. Jimmie Johnson was at the top of the list for the Hendrick teams for much of the weekend so far and did qualify second for the start of the Pure Michigan 400 beside pole sitter Joey Logano – (Well… that is if nothing goes wrong for them during the practice sessions on Saturday which with the way things have gone for the Hendrick teams this season would not surprise this fan one bit.)

At least this weekend hasn’t been dominated by the Joe Gibbs teams but, in this fan’s opinion, that doesn’t mean much considering the way they have been running most of this season. If things go as they have much of this season, there is likely going to be at least one or two of the JGR teams in the top ten and possibly one of them sitting in Victory Lane at the end of the day. Toyota fans have to be hoping the JGR teams haven’t peaked too early and will continue their dominance in the 2016 season right on through the Chase to Homestead.

From this fan’s view, it is quite likely this race is going to come down to a fuel mileage race along with some pit strategy to gain spots on the track. It is possible this could be one of the least exciting finishes in recent race weekends if there aren’t at least a couple of yellow flags to tighten the field back up near the end. Michigan is not generally known for having a lot of caution flags flying and it often does come down to consistent track position, pit strategy and fuel mileage when all is said and done.

Unless something totally unexpected happens during this one to mix things up, this fan doesn’t expect much to be different than the usual late summer race at Michigan. Well… that is unless someone like Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney or Chase Elliott is sitting in Victory Lane when it is over…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 27, 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

It’s Saturday Night Racing At Bristol, Baby from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There is nothing like a summer Saturday night at the racetrack. It’s where many of us grew up watching the stock car races at our local tracks in our hometowns. When NASCAR shows up to Bristol on a Saturday night in the summertime, well, it’s always something special and it is always exciting. In fact, it is one of the races most looked forward to in the NASCAR season. Like I said – it’s Bristol, baby!

What is it about Bristol that makes it so popular and why is it that so many look forward to the summertime night race at Bristol? That is a great question and I am glad you asked it…

Unfortunately I can only offer you my opinion and thoughts on the subject and not all of them are based on actual facts. Instead it is based on experience from attending races and driving in them on Saturday nights for many years. That may not mean a lot to some but to others, well, if you’ve done the same thing (whether attending, driving or both) then you really know what I’m talking about. Bristol is a short track and it is a fast track and it contains all of the things fans love about racing – fast speeds, high emotions and, yes, even temper flare ups.

There is just something about Saturday night races in the summertime. I know I started attending races with my mom and dad (and my sister, too) when I was very young at the dirt tracks in our hometown in Southern Illinois. It was a big deal as I remember and the stands were always full, the racing was great and the fans were totally involved.

I used to ride my bicycle around the part of town in my neighborhood where I knew there were race cars. They were at gas stations, private residences and other places and I used to just ride up and look at the cars, absorbing all I could about them and dream about being a racecar driver. Early on, my dad and I used to go to the go kart tracks and we would race each other and others at the tracks and both of us would dream about building and driving a stock car for racing on Saturday nights at our local tracks. I was definitely hooked on racing from a very young age.

I wasn’t alone in that thinking either but, as far as I know, I was one of only a few that I grew up with in Southern Illinois that actually got the opportunity to do it when I became older (and after my parents moved us to Florida from Illinois. We actually moved to South Florida when I was 10 years old.) When I began racing regularly, I quickly learned that short track racing had high emotions on both the fan and driver side and fans loved good close and tight racing with lots of action. All of those are traits of a short track that are popular not only at a local level but they are also quite prevalent in the NASCAR series as well, especially when it is a short track like Bristol. Like I said earlier, there is just something about short track racing on a Saturday night…

So what is it about Bristol and the highly anticipated Saturday night race that keeps on bringing out the fans? Well, Bristol is the “fastest half mile in the World” or at least that’s what they say about themselves and it is. It has high banks in the turns, down the straights and it’s a place that is constantly trying to make changes for better and closer racing which always adds to the drama and emotions for the fans and the drivers. This Saturday night is no different and the track did do some work on the bottom of the track to hopefully get the bottom groove back in the racing mix. Sometimes the things they try don’t quite work out as expected but this time, (at least so far this weekend), it looks like it may have done the job.

Of course this Saturday night could be different when the Cup teams put in their full 500 laps. Judging from the Xfinity race on Friday night, it looked like there were two racing grooves (both the high and the low) and possibly even a little bit of a middle groove. That very well could make for a very interesting race and it could mean high emotions and lots of drama all the way down to the drop of the checkered flag.

If we can judge anything at all from the practices and the qualifying, the Joe Gibbs teams and the Penske Fords definitely showed up ready to take it to all and it could be long night for the Hendrick teams and others. Denny Hamlin set a new track record in the qualifying and he looked good to take the pole position. Well, that is until Carl Edwards went out and laid down a better time than Denny in the final round of qualifying. The only bright spots for the Hendrick teams was the sixth place qualifying position of Chase Elliott and the eleventh spot for Jeff Gordon (once again filling in For Dale Jr.). (Well… that is if you actually consider starting eleventh to be a bright spot…)

A little closer look at the qualifying shows that 5 out of the top seven qualifiers were either JGR or JGR associated teams. No matter how you look at it, that does not bode well for other teams if you only consider the qualifying positions for how the race might play out. Personally, this fan doesn’t usually look at qualifying as a way of foretelling which one of the 40 drivers and teams might win. Qualifying does say something about how well drivers and teams perform for one or two laps but there are several other things to consider when thinking about 500 laps around the Bristol Speedway. Some of them are pit stops, tire wear and fuel strategy just to mention a few.

Although there hasn’t been too much attention paid to possible tire problems, from this fan’s view the possibility has to be considered. The speeds are higher which could mean higher brake temperatures which could lead to heat related tire failures. I’m not saying it is a definite but if it turns out that it begins to happen, just remember where you heard it first… (I’m laughing and I hope you are too.)

Along with the possibility of tire failures, is the strategy for fuel in case it becomes a fuel mileage race and the heightened possibility of the drivers or crews making costly mistakes on pit road. Any of these could make the difference between ending up in Victory Lane or finishing way back in the field.

And then there is the emotional aspect, especially near the end of the race where everyone is getting tired and short tempered. That’s when things seem to break loose and, at the end of the night when people are talking and heading for home, the most heard statement will probably be… “That’s just Bristol, Baby!!!” And that’s just one big reason why this fan thinks Saturday night racing at this short track is so popular… Because it is Bristol, Baby!!

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

NASCAR Cup Teams Road Racing at The Glen from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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After rain delayed and shortened the race last weekend at Pocono, the hope is for no more rain this weekend even though it did rain between the practice sessions on Friday and qualifying on Saturday. There is nothing more frustrating for the drivers and their teams than to have the added stress of having to include rain in their strategy for qualifying as well race day. Even though rain did affect all of them in the same way, it wasn’t the only thing having an effect on the way all of the teams approached the race for this weekend.

Now why would I say something like that? After all, it seems there is the possibility of rain just about every weekend and the Cup teams should be able to handle that adversity if for no other reason than these drivers are called the “best drivers in the world.”

Well… that is an interesting question and I am sure there are several that would answer it with varying degrees of intensity and understanding. There is no doubt in this fan’s mind that the Cup drivers are some of the best in the world and they do manage to overcome adversity after adversity week in and week out. I am often amazed out how they manage to take on the challenges they face head-on and often overcome them in grand fashion.

Unfortunately, rain isn’t the only thing affecting the way they approach the race at The Glen this weekend. Just to mention two of them are the fact that the track has been repaved since the last time they competed at Watkins Glen and Goodyear brought tires with a harder compound to compensate for the new surface. Add it all together and you find the challenge is just a bit different this time than it was last time.

One thing that stands out to this fan is how the lap times got faster after a few laps rather than dropping off after the first lap or two. That should make a difference in how the teams approach the strategy for tire wear during the race but, because of the rain before qualifying, no one really knows what the grip will be like as the race progresses. As the track rubbers up will the grip get better or will it get worse – that is one of the main questions that won’t be answered until the race progresses. That will mean extra pressure on the crew chiefs and the drivers. With that unknown, they are possibly going to have to adjust on the fly throughout the race. Everyone already knows that is nothing new but, with the opportunities dwindling for those with no wins but a chance to make the Chase, it does become one of the more important factors to be considered for this race at The Glen.

It was good to hear from Dale Jr. this weekend and get a better understanding of where he is in his healing process and also get a better understanding of where his head is at. To this fan, it seems he is in a very good spot even though still facing at least two more races over the next three weeks of not being in his race car. He did admit he is getting impatient but also willing to take it as it comes and as his doctors recommend. According to the plan for the #88 Hendrick team, Jeff Gordon is supposed to substitute for Dale Jr. for the next two races. For those that may not have heard, that means The Glen this weekend and Bristol in two weeks.

Speaking of Jeff Gordon, from this fan’s view he can’t be happy with the results he has had over the last two races while being in the seat of the #88 Hendrick Chevy. I just can’t imagine how difficult it must be for a four time Champion to not be performing as some may have hoped, including himself. He hasn’t done badly but I am sure he would have liked to have performed better at two of his best tracks, Indy and Pocono. In his defense, at least from this fan’s view, last weekend at Pocono he worked hard all race and finally got good track position which could have given him a very good finish. As it turned out, on that very same restart his seatbelt came loose and he had to drop back as he tried to get it refastened. In the meantime, he lost a bunch of spots which he was not able to recover from which resulted in a poor finish in the rain shortened race.

As a long time fan of Jeff Gordon, it is my hope he gets a couple of good finishes in these next two races while filling in for Dale Jr. It may be a stretch to hope for a win but top five finishes wouldn’t be unwelcome surprises. I’ll even go further and say a win at either The Glen or Bristol would be a surprise to many but not out of the realm of possibilities when it comes to Jeff’s capabilities. Come to think of it, I’d still like to see one or both of these next two races come down to a race between him and Tony Stewart. As a fan of both, I just think it would be very interesting to see even though probably not too likely.

Carl Edwards will start on the pole Sunday afternoon and that means he made a clean sweep of the poles for the road courses this season. Starting on the pole and having the advantage of pit selection always makes a difference every weekend but starting on the pole does not mean the day will end with a checkered flag and a trophy. Carl knows it, I know it and many of you know it – there is a lot of competition looking for that same flag and trophy so his job will not be easy. Some of his competition is coming from his own teammates and some of it from some very good road racers in the field as well.

Some of those Carl will have to fend off are known names like AJ Allmendinger, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Bush along with others. I don’t think it does any damage to include Chase Elliott as one of those even though he is basically a rookie. Some of the lesser known names but good road racers also are names like Michael McDowell, Casey Mears and Regan Smith. Any one of these could win and some need a win to lock themselves into the Chase. I think it just remains to be seen how some of these finish when the day is done.

I remember the “old days” which really weren’t all that long ago. Those were the days when there were only a few considered as ones to come away with the win at a road course. Those days are gone and the competition has greatly increased along with the number of those that can come away with a win. Whichever way the checkered flag falls this weekend, I really believe this is going to be an unforgettable race at The Glen…

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

Cup Teams Take On The Tricky Triangle Again from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Pocono is known for a lot of things and one of them is The Tricky Triangle. When the Cup teams take to the track on Sunday afternoon, there will be many teams looking for success at the strangely shaped Pocono Raceway fondly called The Tricky Triangle. Not everyone is fond of it though and once again it appears the Toyotas have an edge this weekend. In particular, two of those are Kyle Bush and Martin Truex Jr. Of course that is nothing new this season as the JGR teams have somewhat dominated the rest of the field for most of this season.

After his performance last weekend at The Brickyard, it seems that Kyle Bush would be one of the ones to watch for winning this one at Pocono. I’m not saying he will but I am saying he will be one of the ones vying for the trophy when it comes down to those final laps. Even in practice and qualifying he was fast though they were fighting an LIS setup problem on the rear of the car. Whatever that problem was, as of the time I am writing this down, they appear to be confident they have that situation solved and that could be an ominous sign for the rest of the competitors.

Say what you will but Kyle has been fast almost every weekend and this weekend is no exception. Except for that problem with getting the rear end acceptable to the inspectors he looks to be set up for another great performance. It is never good to say anyone is a definite when it comes to racing, especially at Pocono, but I do expect to see him at least in the top five if not out front when it is all said and done. (Well, that is barring the unforeseen circumstances which are always a possibility.)

His biggest problem is his teammates and associated team of Martin Truex Jr. Denny Hamlin is a four time winner at Pocono and Martin Truex Jr. is a recent winner. Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards looked awfully good in the practice and qualifying sessions and any of those four also have a chance at taking the win when it comes down to it, at least as far as the Toyotas are concerned.

It’s not just the other Toyotas that have a chance this weekend though. The Hendrick Chevys have seventeen wins at this track and Jeff Gordon (still filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. this weekend) owns six of those. When it comes to the other Chevys, I just can’t rule out names like Kevin Harvick, retiring Tony Stewart or even some of the drivers from the RCR camp. Paul Menard and Ryan Newman appear to be showing they have something to say about those capable of winning this weekend and that is a good thing. RCR hasn’t been showing a lot of strength so far this season but they do show strong signs of improvement which could result in a possible win for RCR this weekend.

There just isn’t any way to rule out the Fords either. Brad Keselowski is always a threat to win at most tracks and The Tricky Triangle is no different. Only one thing might slow him down a bit this weekend and that is the impact he had at a practice session at The Glen this last week. He plowed straight into the wall with a heavy impact, one he said was his hardest hit ever in his career. He will also be competing at the Iowa track in the Xfinity series so it doesn’t appear to have slowed him down all that much. Like it or not, the Penske Fords just aren’t ones you can rule out no matter whether it is Brad Keselowski or Joey Logano. Either one of them could be there at the finish.

If past history is any judge of how the race will go, this one will likely be a fuel mileage race too. That could put it in the hands of those that are best at stretching out a gallon of fuel to the maximum. Once again, that sounds like a race favoring the driver of the Penske Ford named, Brad Keselowski. It doesn’t mean he is the only one that knows how to conserve fuel but it does suggest he has done a very good job of it in the past. He isn’t alone in being able to win a fuel mileage race and that could mean Kurt Bush or Jimmie Johnson have a good chance also. I only mention a few names here but there are several in the field that can do it on fuel mileage depending on how the cautions fall and whether the gamblers show up near the end.

I just can’t close this out without talking about Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. Jeff is in the midst of a steep learning curve and trying to be competitive as he fills in for the recovering Dale Jr. and his #88 team. There have been a lot of changes to the cars go into effect since Jeff retired after Homestead last November and he has only been in a car one weekend this season. That is tough for anyone, even a four time Cup Champion and someone with as many races and wins as he has over his career.

Tony Stewart has had strong performances since his return to the Cup Series and I expect him to have another good race this weekend at Pocono. If he continues on as he has, he will definitely have a chance at another Cup Championship before his retirement at the end of this season. If either he or Jeff wins this weekend, you can bet there will be a lot of happy fans celebrating how one of the “old guys” won when everyone said it wasn’t going to happen.

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

It’s Stewart’s Farewell and Gordon’s Return at Indy from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will witness the farewell race of Tony Stewart and the return of retired legend and champion, Jeff Gordon, as he fills in for recovering Dale Earnhardt Jr. As the whole world knows, Dale Jr. has been suffering from concussion symptoms and is taking time off to recover from them. The plan so far is for Gordon to fill in for Jr. for the next two races, this one at Indianapolis and next week at Pocono.

Of course this fan knows none of this is news to anyone because it has been pretty much the main topic of many discussions for the last couple of weeks. In fact, it may have taken a little bit of the attention away from this being Tony Stewart’s farewell race in Cup at Indy. That may be a bit of an understatement and it may not be new news but it does add a completely new dimension to the weekend, not to mention the expanded interest it is generating.

With Tony Stewart retiring at the end of this season and this being his final race at Indy, much is planned for the hometown hero himself. It is definitely an emotional time for his fans and, from this fan’s view, probably Tony as well. We all know he is quite capable of focusing on racing and he is definitely doing that this weekend and it is possible he could be kissing the bricks at the end of the day on Sunday. That is by no means a lock and in no way means he has no chance. What it does is add to drama of the other big story taking place this weekend.

Jeff Gordon never said he wasn’t ever going to race again, he only said he wasn’t going to race competitively in the Cup series. He also added if opportunities came up, he would take advantage of them. So… this is not a big a surprise to this fan and not really too many others either. In addition, he will also be filling in for Jr. at Pocono next weekend (barring any unforeseen circumstances) and both of these tracks are places he has won at multiple times.

I don’t think anyone can deny that this is probably the best opportunity that could ever have been imagined for Jeff to make a temporary return to the Cup Series. After all, in his career, Jeff has won at the Brickyard five times and that is the most of anyone. In the same span of his twenty-three year career in NASCAR, he has six wins at Pocono. You add all of that up and it comes to eleven of his ninety-three career Cup wins. No matter how you look at it, “that ain’t too shabby” and I don’t think anyone can argue the point that it’s not a bad set of statistics either.

Apparently, there are those in the media that are at least somewhat surprised and some have even offered the opinion that it is a bad move on the part of Jeff and Hendrick Motorsports too. They have questioned why, with all of the available young talent out in the wings and available to Hendrick Motorsports, they chose to call in a retired “old” driver. They offer their concern that he may be jeopardizing his illustrious career by not performing as well as may be expected. They also offer their concern about the future of the 88 team and what it might be like if Jr. decides to exit in the not-so-distant future because of his susceptibility to concussions. Where they get their ideas from this fan has no idea.

Let’s just be real for a moment or two. Hendrick racing is in a little bit of a slump this year and I don’t think anyone will deny that. Every team goes through times they fall a little behind the competition and have to work their way back to the top. Even Rick Hendrick knows and admits that you can’t be number one forever and knows that once you fall a little behind you have to work hard to regain the edge you once had.

Hendrick Motorsports may be struggling a little but they will come out of it. If they put an up-and-comer in the #88, it could be a good thing for that younger driver but not such a good thing for the #88 team that is presently in the Chase. It also might not be the best thing for the sponsors of the team.

Like it or not, it takes a lot of money to be competitive in NASCAR and sponsors play a large part in that part of the equation and sometimes it is simply a business decision that has to be made. To be fair, they pay a hefty price for the attention they receive from sponsoring a team in NASCAR and they deserve to “get their money’s worth” from the person driving the car on any given race weekend. That may sound a bit cold to some but the reality is in answering the question of which situation gains them the best “visibility” – an unknown “up-and-comer” or a known 4 time champion like a Jeff Gordon? Personally, this fan thinks that question answers itself.

So, in this fan’s opinion, the Brickyard 400 at Indy this year has multiple story lines and probably even more attention grabbing headlines than just the “usual” yearly event. It isn’t just made up of things like the Tony Stewart farewell race or the absence of Dale Jr. in the #88 and his being “replaced” by Jeff Gordon for the weekend. I’m sure there will be lot of people watching just because Jeff Gordon is filling in for Dale Jr. and hoping he just might be in the mix for taking the checkered flag when it falls. Since this is Tony Stewart’s farewell and final race as a real competitor in the Cup series, I am just as sure there will be many pulling for him to win too. That’s not to mention there are 38 other drivers and their fan’s pulling for them to win also.

I can’t help but say, as a fan of NASCAR and the two drivers there has been a particular focus on this weekend, I will be watching this one with particular interest. I think it would be great if, when it comes down to the final laps, the real race comes down to which one will win, Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon. I don’t think it will happen as much as I hope it will and I know that it might be a little selfish on my part for it to happen that way BUT… can you think of a better way for this one to end?

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

Some Cup Teams Looking For Magic at New Hampshire from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There are still some NASCAR Cup teams trying to seal their deal for making the Chase and they will be looking for some magic at the Magic Mile on Sunday afternoon. As we all know, the best way for them to do that is to win a race and take the points racing pressure off. So far this year there have been eleven winners and several of them have multiple wins. That leaves five spaces open for some to make it in either on points or with wins and there are only eleven races left for them to do so. At the moment there is still time for any of about twelve of them to make it in but it becomes more difficult and stressful as the races wind down and more are added to the winners list.

Unfortunately, some of the possible winners trying to clinch a place in the Chase will have to win over teams that have shown themselves to be a bit stronger this season. There is a high possibility some of those with one or more wins so far this season will likely win again before the Chase and that will limit the chances of those non-winners to take a win. Any way you look at it from this point in the season, it could get very interesting as those not in contend for those final five spots not already taken. Of course it could really get interesting if there are more than five different winners over the next eleven races and then those already in have to start wondering if they will make it with just their one win and points.

A couple of those drivers trying to get a win and either stay in or get in the top sixteen are Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson. Both are with Chip Ganassi Racing and it would be great if they get the chance to at least represent CGR when the Chase begins in September. They aren’t thought of as one of the powerhouse teams but they are a popular one. For either one or both of them to make the top sixteen would be a major plus for them as drivers and for CGR in general.

With the announcement made by Dale Jr. and his suffering from concussion symptoms again, the rumor mill has been full of “what if’s.” Those rumors and publicly expressed thoughts have covered the full spectrum ranging from, “What if he can’t come back this season,” and “What will the Chase be without him?” to “Does this mean he is going to retire?”

Many shudder at the thought of NASCAR not having an Earnhardt in the mix anymore. After all, he is NASCAR’s most popular driver and he is definitely one of the most talented in the field today. Why, this fan even heard a comment saying that there were some people (assumed to be Dale Jr. fans) that would not be attending the races until he returned to competition in the Cup series no matter who was in the #88.

I do not know how true or untrue any of that I just mentioned may be but I do know he does have a lot of fans and many of them come just to see him try to win. They really don’t care too much about the car with the number 88 on it or who’s driving it if he’s not in it. They are quite simply Dale Jr. fans and he is the biggest reason they come to watch, whether in person or via some other form of media. They may follow NASCAR and be NASCAR fans but Dale Jr. is their biggest reason for being as involved as they are.

Now don’t misunderstand what this fan is saying. Both you and I know NASCAR is bigger than any one particular driver or personality but some do draw more attention to the sport than others do. With Jeff Gordon retiring last year and Tony Stewart at the end of this season, what kind of an impact would Dale Jr. no longer competing have? That would be a lot strong personalities and influencers going away in a very short period of time.

Personally, I think it would make a noticeable impact but I also think the impact would fade within a relatively short period of time… ((break))

At the time of this writing, Jimmie Johnson had won the pole and this fan wonders if this might be a glimmer of hope that the Hendrick teams have found something and might be able to turn around the somewhat lackluster year they’ve been experiencing this season. Yeah, I know Jimmie has won twice and is definitely going to be in the Chase (that is barring some strange turn of events) but the Hendrick teams just haven’t looked like themselves over the last year. They haven’t had the speed this season and they definitely haven’t had that ole “racing luck” on their side. I guess time will tell us if this is just a glimmer or a real spark of hope for them to start turning things around.

From this fan’s view, there is simply no denying the dominating performance of the Joe Gibbs teams this season. Between the four JGR teams themselves and the associated team of Martin Truex, Jr., they have shown up every week as the ones to watch and, more often than not, the ones to beat at the end of the race. Yes, it is true Brad Keselowski and his #2 Penske Ford have often been showing up in Victory Lane – a total of four times so far this season – but even he admits his win last weekend was a fluke. After all, he did run out of fuel just after passing the finish line at the drop of the checkered flag ahead of Carl Edwards. He stated that it isn’t always the best car that wins and his wasn’t the best car last weekend. It is more about which car and driver is out front when the checkered flag drops.

It wasn’t just dumb luck that he did stretch his fuel enough to make it to the finish line in first place, he worked at it and is good at conserving fuel. Whether or not he would have won even if it hadn’t turned out to be a fuel mileage race we will never know. What we do know is that he did win it and did so pretty much on fumes…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 16, 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

Cup Teams Take On A Different Kentucky Speedway from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The NASCAR Cup Teams take on a different Kentucky Speedway tonight. It is different because it has been repaved and, not only repaved but changes were made to the track as well. Turns 1 and 2 are different and the front straight has been changed a little. The track needed to be repaved and, since they were doing the repaving, they decided to make some changes to the track to make it more of a challenge for the drivers.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that so far; the drivers like challenges that make them better or show more of their ability to adapt. After all, they are spoken of as the best race car drivers in the world (and I don’t argue with that) and they should be up to the challenges presented to them at any track at any time in the NASCAR season. One other little change for this race is they are back to the reduced down force package they used a few weeks ago. The track changes and the reduced down force should make for a very interesting Quaker State 400 when they take to the track this evening.

Once again the weather has intervened and the qualifying was rained out so they will line up according to points. That could be an advantage for some and a disadvantage for others. In fact, some would say it is a blessing for some and a curse for others. Personally, this fan doesn’t think it will make that much difference other than the way the teams get their pit stalls.

For Kevin Harvick, well, it just might be a good thing but considering how things have been for them lately he and his team will have to maintain good track position throughout the race to take full advantage of that number one stall. Considering performance in the practices, that may or may not be within their realm of possibilities. They have been struggling speed-wise lately and that is going to make track position all the more important (which is really nothing new to any team these days.)

One thing that has eliminated a little of the drama from this season is Tony Stewart’s getting a win and moving into the top thirty in the points. As long as he maintains his position in the top thirty in points, he is already qualified for the Chase. For that reason the only drama left in his situation is whether or not he can maintain or better his position in points and not drop below the magic number of thirtieth. If he does, that means he has a chance for winning another Championship in this his last season in NASCAR competition. That would really re-establish some drama for when the Chase begins. For right now though, he is qualified and most of the stress is off for now.

It’s at this point I just have to make a personal statement on what is going on with the networks and how they are covering NASCAR these days. I know I am not alone in this thinking and I do quite often hear about the frustration many fans express with where they can watch the TV coverage of their favorite sport. For the last few years I have heard complaints about the racing coverage not being on channels they can’t receive unless they have cable, satellite or some other provider. Admittedly, I have even complained about that myself (and honestly still do a little.) It seems it is one of the things we as fans have to put up with because of the popularity of our favorite sport and the money it generates.

I understand why the networks do what they do and why they try to get viewers to watch their additional sports channels. It is mostly about marketing and what they can charge for advertizing which helps their bottom line. That doesn’t mean I like it but it does mean I put up with it even though I don’t see everything anymore simply because I don’t want to pay for that extra tier of programming just to watch one or two more channels. I liked the days when it was on the main networks and I could watch it from my off-air antenna. It is the same for the technology for phones, pads and computer viewing. If you want to use it to view it live, you generally still have to have that account with one of the programming providers like your cable or satellite company. In my opinion (and I know I am not alone) it does somewhat limit at least the television viewing audience which is disappointing for some that don’t have access or don’t want to pay extra for the access.

Oh well, I guess that’s enough of my disappointment rant for now…

In case you haven’t noticed, the Joe Gibbs Toyotas have shown up again this weekend showing the strength they have exhibited most of the season. Even though the track has made changes and NASCAR has once again instituted the lower down force package that part of the race hasn’t changed. From this fan’s view, I do expect them to be very visible at the end of the night when the checkered flag falls. That is, if they don’t succumb to some of the possibilities the changes for this race might cause.

Some of those possibilities have been very obvious during the practices. We have witnessed more than one or two get out of the groove on this newly repaved track and slide up into the wall with varying degrees of intensity. Some have pancaked their cars on the right side and some have simply brushed the wall with minimum damage but damage just the same.

Kyle Bush has always performed well at Kentucky and tonight may not be any different. Even though I expect either a JGR or possibly a Penske team to be in Victory Lane when it is over, I’m not so sure it will be Kyle Bush. Even though he has done well at this track, he doesn’t perform all that well on newly paved or repaved tracks. Still, he has to be one of the favorites for taking the trophy along with several other Toyota drivers if only because JGR has looked so strong this season… But then again, there are a lot of others not associated with JGR that could end up with the trophy when it is all said and done and that is what’s going to make for an interesting Saturday night at the races…

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

Daytona, Restrictor Plates and the Coke Zero 400 from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There’s nothing like NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at Daytona on a fourth of July weekend. There is the speed, the bumper to bumper, door to door close racing and the drafting along with the celebration of the birth of our nation and the always spectacular Support for our Troops. Of course there is always that ever present chance of rain that comes with summer in Florida and with what has gone on so far this weekend, it is possible there might be some rain delays or even postponement to the next day. Of all the talk I’ve heard this week, the rain thing is the one I’ve heard most often.

Just in case you’re wondering, the rain thing is important because the teams are preparing to race at night. You might say, “Well, if it rains and they move it to a day race, what’s the big deal? They raced in February in the daytime so they should have good notes for a day race.”

Well in this fan’s opinion, that’s just not so. The difference between February in the daytime and July in the daytime is dramatic. There is no comparison of the two and what the track will be like by comparing them. With some of the rule changes made for this season, this fan doesn’t even think last summer’s race notes would be all that useful. I could be wrong but with the way things change in NASCAR, plate racing at Daytona is a little different every time they visit the track. I’m not saying that is a bad thing (in fact I kinda like the unpredictability of that) but it does mean they have to add to their knowledge if they want to perform well. With the practice rainouts this week, they haven’t had that much time on the track to work out any details they might have wanted to work out. In this fan’s opinion, I think that could make a difference in tonight’s race.

Now even with the differences a year can make, some things haven’t changed since the beginning of this year. The JGR teams still look very strong coming into this weekend and they all qualified well. As you already know I don’t put a lot of stock in qualifying, particularly at a restrictor plate race but, JGR’s performance in qualifying does suggest to this fan they will likely be contending for the win at the end. After all, the four JGR teams in particular displayed the same or similar performance in February and if you remember, Denny Hamlin did win the Daytona 500.

I think one of the surprises to me as a fan has been the recent performance of the Roush teams of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Greg Biffle. They haven’t been exactly spectacular but they have shown signs of life and Biffle is sitting on the pole for tonight’s race. It doesn’t necessarily follow that sitting on the pole results in a great performance for a race (just ask Chase Elliot about that in the February race) but it does have to give Biffle and his team a real shot in the arm with hope and a maybe even a little bit of momentum going into tonight’s Coke Zero 400.

Along with the Roush Fords, the Penske Fords didn’t look too bad either, whether in practice or qualifying. Brad Keselowski qualified fifth and his teammate, Joey Logano, eleventh. Brad usually is one to watch when the laps wind down near the end of a plate race, especially at Daytona, and tonight may not be any different. As for his teammate, well, let’s just say he might be up there in contention but this fan won’t be pulling for him to win…

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises to me as a fan has been the performance of the Hendrick teams this season and last. I’ve seen them be in slump before but I don’t remember a season in recent history that a slump for them has lasted so long. They’re not down in the dumps, so to speak, but they just haven’t shown the usual Hendrick dominance they exhibit most years. It isn’t even showing up in the Hendrick associated teams. They’re not doing badly but they’re just not in contention like they usually are. I know it isn’t uncommon for any team to go through some off-times performance wise but it is unusual for the entire Hendrick organization and associates to not be in the conversation when it comes to race finishes.

Jimmie Johnson did qualify eighth for tonight’s Coke Zero 400 but the next actual Hendrick team in the lineup doesn’t show up until sixteenth and that would be Dale Jr. That isn’t what we normally expect when it comes to restrictor plate tracks and it definitely isn’t what this fan expects from Hendrick teams at Daytona. Yes, I know qualifying has very little to do with anything associated with a restrictor plate race but it could be making a statement of how their performance is down, at least for the time being.

Dale Jr. is always a favorite at a restrictor plate race and tonight probably won’t be any different, particularly as far as his fan’s are concerned. I think he just doesn’t want a repeat of February’s race that saw him exit early. Personally, I like it when he is in the mix at the end and it would be nice to see a Hendrick team in there fighting for the victory when it comes down to the final laps.

So when it comes down to the race tonight this fan has several thoughts about how it will go. It is possible it could be a long night just in case it rains before or near the time for the green flag to drop. I really don’t expect a rain postponement but it is a distinct possibility considering where we are and the time of year. I do expect a good restrictor plate race and hope it isn’t shortened by late rain. The threat of rain before and during the race always adds quite a bit of intensity to any race, especially a restrictor plate race and even more to one at Daytona. As for who might win, well, I’m thinking it could be one of the JGR teams but really hoping for a win by a Hendrick team. Sorry about that Ford fans but you how it is…

Mostly what I hope for is a great race with a lot of drama and intensity and a threat of rain…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 2, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated