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A J Allmendinger will start from the pole Sunday afternoon and it seems as though it is as big a shock to him as it was anyone. Although he didn’t think it was that fast of a lap and he was one of the last to qualify as the track temperature was rising, he did pull off the fastest lap. In fact, he was one of the fastest that faced the higher track temperatures of the later qualifying group and one has to wonder if that gives any insight into how his race will go Sunday afternoon.
Once again, this fan wonders if the qualifying speeds tell anything at all about how the race will go. Lately (or maybe I should say, usually) having a fast car for qualifying and being able to stay up front during the race haven’t been the case. You don’t have to think back long or hard to see that qualifying hasn’t generally been the deciding factor in the 2012 NASCAR season.
In fact, you don’t have go any further back than last weeks race in Texas. Martin Truex Jr didn’t fair all that well last weekend even though he sat on the pole. (Now admittedly, sixth isn’t all that bad but not at all like his qualifying speed suggested he might do.) Just for a reality check, just look at how Kevin Harvick finished at Martinsville after starting second. Kasey Kahne didn’t have anything to show for his fast race cars even after winning two poles and Denny Hamlin finished eleventh after starting on the pole at Fontana.
This fan still stands by what he said last weekend… One or two fast laps does not a race make. I really don’t think the winner of the STP 400 is necessarily going to be the one of the ones starting on the front row. Of course, I could be wrong and one those two could get lucky, but I just don’t know that it will happen for them.
What I am looking for in today’s race winner will be the consistency of the lap times and the one that has the fewest mistakes, whether it be on the track or in the pits. I do admit, the Penske teams (and Allmendinger is one of them) do look awfully strong and all three of them qualified in the top eleven. I can’t rule out the Toyotas either since there are five of them starting in the top eight. There are only three Chevys in the top ten but there are seven in the top sixteen.
From this fans view, I think many were surprised at the lack of speed shown by the Roush Fords in particular and all of the Fords in general. After last weekend and the level of performance of Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards, I expected the Fords might flex their muscles again and not only start up front, but finish up there, too. As it is, the three Roush Fords qualified 17th, 18th and 21st and all three of them have their work cut out for them and their teams if they intend to be up front at the end of the STP 400 today.
One thing that is going to be working against all of the teams is the track. This fan thinks there are going to be a lot of yellows (well, at least enough to keep good tires on the cars and fuel in the tank) but I’m not so sure of that to think it won’t be a fuel mileage race in the end. I am expecting more than the usual number of cautions and I do think they will have something to do with who actually takes the trip to Victory Lane.
So what does all this say about those top qualifiers? Well… what it says to this fan is just about anybody in the top twenty five could win this one and I’m still not at all convinced it will be A J Allmendinger or Kevin Harvick. I see some very strong cars spread out through those top twenty five and I’m figuring it may just well be one of the Hendrick cars for that 200th victory.
I’m not saying he will, but, Dale Jr could be the one that takes the trophy home and wins the coveted 200th for Hendrick MotorSports and breaks his winless streak all on the same day…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 22, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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