Las Vegas is in the rear view mirror but Tony Stewart isn’t looking back at last year any longer. After a dominating performance last year that didn’t end with him celebrating in Victory Lane he was determined to make it there this year and he did. He even did it with a new crew chief. I can’t say it was unexpected for him to run well there again this year, but sometimes and especially with a new crew chief, things don’t always work out. The pressure was on both Stewart and Addington since former crew chief Darian Grubb had won with his new team in Phoenix.
Just one more quick statement about Vegas before we move on to Bristol. The Vegas track was fast and so were the cars and it proved to be very hard to get back to the front if a driver (and his crew) lost spots going to the pits. More often than not (and as I expected) track position was critical to getting, or staying, up front.
To say this year is going as I expected it might so far this year would definitely be a stretch, but it is going well for Greg Biffle. Much like his teammate, Carl Edwards did most of last year, Biffle is running strong and consistently finishing near the front and he now leads in points and has a hope of staying there for a while. He is even sitting on the pole for the race this weekend at Bristol.
Another one that is looking pretty tough this season is Kevin Harvick. He is second in points at present and, from this fan’s view, looks much more relaxed than he has in the last couple of years. I’m sure it has much more to do with him giving up his race team and focusing on one thing for now. (Of course you know that one thing is he wants to win a Cup Championship.) He is looking at a life changing event this year other than a Cup Championship and of course that would be becoming a father. All things considered, I find this to be an interesting year for him and Delana.
I’m sure many have noticed that Dale Jr is in fourth place in points and he has been running strong every weekend. The only thing he and crew chief Steve Letarte need to do is put the end of a race together with great qualifying and first parts of a race and he will be in Victory Lane. I don’t know about you, but this fan really thinks he will end up there sooner than later this year and this weekend could be the sooner. Of course, this is Bristol and anything can happen just as quickly to dampen his success this weekend, too.
From this fan’s view, I don’t see any one team really dominating the rest of the field this season. What I mean is every brand has been well represented so far this season. There are some that are struggling slightly, but it is my opinion it is more because everyone is running so fast that ll they have to be is a few thousandths off on lap times and it looks like they are falling through the field like rocks. This is one year that might reveal the parity NASCAR has been striving for is finally going to happen. I just hope the races don’t become like the old I-Roc series.
For those that may not remember it, the cars were supposed to be set up exactly the same and the racing was much like restrictor plate racing. There was hardly any advantage to any other than the ability of the drivers. It is just my opinion, but I have to say there is a good possibility of the Cup series becoming a lot like that is the competition gets any closer. Fortunately, these races are not quite the same as the I-Roc series and a lot more depends on the pit stops and track position which could mean my fears are pointless. (Hey, I’m just sayin’… I’ll leave the rest to your imaginations.)
The most important things for this weekend for the Food City 500 at Bristol will be keeping a cool head and maintaining track position. That means a lot of pressure will be on the drivers to stay cool and the crews to not give up anything in the pits. I expect the Fords will be fast but I’m not saying a Ford will end up in Victory Lane. I’m leaning more towards it being a Chevy and it just might be someone that didn’t show that much in the last couple of weeks.
A lot will depend on how the yellows fall as to whether or not it totally becomes a fuel mileage race. Just remember, Bristol is well know for long green flag runs but it is also a short track known for the unexpected happening. By unexpected, I mean it could be someone just loses their temper long enough to mess up theirs’, or someone else’s, day and opens the door for the unexpected winner… And then, there’s always that driver named Kyle Bush…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 18, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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