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One thing you won’t hear from the NASCAR teams at Phoenix this weekend is that it’s business as usual. The resurfaced and reconfigured track is throwing many a lot of curves and basically they don’t have any information to work with. I know during the week you’ve heard the experts say it is like the crew chiefs are working with a blank piece of paper. (From this fan’s view, I wonder how many new notes they will have to throw away before they find some they want to keep.)
Not unexpectedly, this return to PIR is like visiting a track for the first time. Even though they have been racing there many times over the last several years, it is like they’ve never been there before. From my view, even the trip they made earlier to do some testing on the new layout hasn’t helped that much. As the track takes rubber, the handling changes on a regular basis and the setup has to change along with it.
From this fan’s view, there are a lot of cars running around the track and that gives a lot of opportunity for more rubber to be laid down, but from watching them run, I see more running in the lower groove than anywhere else. To me, that means it will probably still be a one groove track for this weekend and that will mean track position will be key for the whole race. Also, in my opinion, that could seriously affect the competition level and could make for a less interesting race.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say this race will be boring but I am saying it may not be as interesting as it might have been had they waited until after this race to start the remodeling job. I guess it has thrown an interesting wrench into the Chase races, but I’m not so sure how important it was to add another “wildcard” race into the ten Chase race mix. I’m also not so sure it didn’t just guarantee this to be a two horse race for the next two weeks and that could defeat the purpose for generating more interest in the Chase.
One thing I have noticed during the practice sessions is very little two wide racing during the practices. More double wide racing has been evident as cars pull off the track to try something else and those behind them have passed but are still in the regular low groove. To me, there are two things that doesn’t tell much about. First is how the double file starts and restarts are going to go, and second, will there be more bumper tag being played than actual passing or two wide racing.
Qualifying definitely showed the way the track could react to sunshine and cloud cover for the race tomorrow. One thing is obvious to this fan and that is there may be a little more excitement than anyone thought with this new surface, (including me.) In fact, I would go so far as to say there will be three words you could very possibly hear mentioned a lot between the end of the Nationwide race and tomorrows Cup race. Those words in no particular order will be, treacherous, testy and intense.
Now why in the world would I think those three words would be used a lot? Well for one, with the closeness of the competition between actually the fourth to the first spots, the intensity will be there simply because there’s more than two from this fan’s view that still have a shot at winning this Championship. You see, from this fan’s view, I really think your going to see Harvick and Kenseth pushing the envelope to try and make up as many points as they can on Edwards and Stewart to get back in the hunt.
I think you’ll hear testy because more than one driver is going to get testy over the actions of those in front of them and behind them. From what I observed in the practice and qualifying sessions, it is going to be hard to gain positions on the track and that is going to make track position incredibly more important Sunday afternoon than even on a normal weekend. In fact, you just may see some people leaving upset with some of their competitors when the day is done, (just like at a short track race.)
Don’t be surprised to see anyone doing a little payback here and there along the way. (Well, that is don’t be surprised to see anyone except Kyle Bush letting their emotions show through. Unfortunately, in this fan’s opinion, he is at a disadvantage to the others this weekend because of the scrutiny he will be under for his actions from last weekend.) By the way, just so you know where I stand on last weekend with Kyle, I don’t think this is the time to throw him under the bus, but I do agree with the actions NASCAR took to get his attention. From here on, I say, let’s give him a chance to prove himself. There isn’t one of us that hasn’t done something we regret in our lives and even though at the moment it is easy to point the finger at him, there are still three pointing right back at us.)
From this fan’s view, I can’t wait to see how the Cup drivers handle those double file starts and restarts. We all know from observing the conditions so far it is pretty much a one groove track, at least for now. With all that is on the line for this weekend, there is no doubt in my mind we are going to see some testy, intense racing on a track that might prove to be treacherous at best…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 12, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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