About Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.

Reflections on Homestead and 2013 Season

play audio Reflections on Homestead and 2013 Season

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20130430 130611 Reflections on Homestead and 2013 Season

There’s not a whole lot left to say that hasn’t been said by every talking head and writer about the NASCAR 2013 Sprint Cup Season but this fan does want to reflect on this latest year in the NASCAR history books. Well, that is everything has been said up to Homestead.

I don’t intend to make this a long drawn out affair but, I do have a few things that need to be said. At the beginning of the year I was a little skeptical of the GEN 6 car and was outspoken about it in the racing as I saw it. To begin with, the racing was a little questionable and it seemed that possibly they were holding back a bit. In reality it turns out that they just weren’t familiar enough with how the GEN 6 was going to react and they didn’t push the envelope until later on in the season. (It was a definite, the more they learned about it, the faster all of them went.) As the year progressed the racing got better and, I didn’t check these facts but, I think that 19 track records were broken. That says a lot about the GEN 6 car and as a NASCAR fan I have to admit it is very competitive.

I still don’t like the fact that the GEN 6 car performs better out in the clean air and it does even one car back from the leader. It goes back to the old situation of aero tightness and unfortunately it yields an advantage to the person that gets out front. That along with the tires that Goodyear introduced this year did make for some interesting finishes. I don’t want to belabor the point but I do want to say that overall this fan was pleased with the performance of the GEN 6 car.

I guess I’m one of those fans that thinks NASCAR does a great job when it comes to how they manage their sport. Although I don’t agree with everything that happens in every call they make I do think they do a good job and have done a good job over the years. If we wanted to focus on the negative side I’m sure we could all find things that are wrong with NASCAR and the calls that the governing body makes on race day. When it comes right down to it though, they are relatively consistent and I do think the calls they make are to protect the sport more than anything else.

As a statement, that will probably draw some heat from avid NASCAR fans but I’m not very concerned about that in actuality. I am a NASCAR fan, I have my opinions and other NASCAR fans have their opinions and they are definitely entitled to them. Personally, I’m glad that NASCAR is as consistent as it is and I am glad they maintain things the way they do. Does that mean there isn’t room for change at times? Not at all… but it means that generally they don’t make knee-jerk decisions and when a change needs to be made or a mistake needs to be recognized there are more than willing to take the heat.

Several things will be changing in the coming year. Ken Schrader is retiring and where and what Jeff Burton, Bobby LaBonte and Mark Martin end up and will do remains to be seen. I know that Ken Schrader will continue on in racing but NASCAR will miss him.

As for Jeff Burton and Bobby LaBonte, I’m sure they will be around for a while longer in some form or other in NASCAR and we all know how many times Mark Martin has “mentioned” he was going to retire but didn’t.

I wouldn’t want to leave Juan Pablo Montoya out of the discussion because he is leaving NASCAR Sprint Cup. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of him even though we probably won’t hear too much more of him in NASCAR Sprint cup.

There are changes coming in the rules for 2014 and it will be interesting to see how those affect the competition. I’m not sure I understand all of them yet and I’m in no hurry to understand them either. Time will tell, as it always does, when it comes to NASCAR. Personally, I’m glad they’re willing to make changes that will, hopefully, make the racing better and just as competitive or even more so. In fact, that’s one thing that makes me look forward to the new season; change is usually a good thing and it makes things more interesting.

Now that the season is over and NASCAR heads to Vegas for a week of celebrating and crowning the champion and the awards banquet, everyone gets to take a little break, celebrate the Christmas holidays, catch their breath and then get right back to it in a couple of months. I know I intend to take a little break and you probably won’t hear from me again until February of 2014 unless some really interesting breaking news happens.

There are a lot of things to think about and there will be many changes in the coming year whether it be drivers changing teams, crew chiefs going elsewhere or them joining a new team. From this fan’s view 2014 could be one of the best years yet for NASCAR fans and NASCAR in general. I know I look forward to it but I am thankful for the break and intend to enjoy the holidays with my family much as I know many of you and many in NASCAR will also.

In closing, I want to offer my opinion of the final race at Homestead for the championship. When it comes to Homestead and the championship run of Jimmie Johnson, he did exactly what he needed to do to win his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. As many others have said in recent days, “it’s hard to argue with greatness…” I don’t think he’s finished winning championships and definitely not finished winning races. How many will he win? Well, that will be the question we will all ask ourselves after he wins number seven and then number eight and then… well you know…

See ya next year…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 24, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Crowning the 2013 Sprint Cup Champ at Homestead

play audio Crowning the 2013 Sprint Cup Champ at Homestead

affbannerblank2 Crowning the 2013 Sprint Cup Champ at Homestead

20130430 130611 Crowning the 2013 Sprint Cup Champ at Homestead

There’s no doubt the 2013 Sprint Cup Champion will be crowned when the Ford EcoBoost 400 is in the books on Sunday evening. The big question on most everyone’s mind is whether or not Jimmie Johnson will make it a snoozer or if the competition for the Championship will go down to the drop of the checkered flag. As it stands right now, some are wondering if Matt Kenseth or Kevin Harvick will be able to take advantage of possible bad luck for JJ and the #48 team or, maybe better stated, they are hoping he will have some really bad luck they will be able to take advantage of.

Whether we like it or not, the championship is still up in the air between three people. Of course we all know that’s Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick. Jimmie Johnson has a very good lead in points considering they’re going into the final race of the Chase but, he does not have the championship locked up. He is 28 points ahead of Matt Kenseth who is only slightly ahead of Kevin Harvick. The fact that those two are still within striking distance means Jimmie Johnson cannot afford to have a bad day, or night depending on how you look at it. If anything out of the ordinary happens to him causing him to exit the race early and finish deep in the field, that would definitely open the door for one of the other two drivers to walk away with the 2013 championship.

As unlikely as it may seem, there really is more going on than just those three drivers competing for the 2013 championship. Depending on what happens to the teams behind those three means there could be a major shakeup in the final standings of the top 13 in the Chase. There are still a lot of possibilities as to how the rest of them will finish but not too many are really interested in anything other than who ends up winning the Sprint Cup. You see, there are a lot of fans supporting those other drivers beyond the top three and all of them are definitely interested in seeing how high in the standings their driver can finish.

There are those that think the Jimmie Johnson is a little more vulnerable than usual in this chase for the Championship. From this fan’s view I have to admit that he has sounded a little more cautious than he has in previous times. To some that sounds as though he’s doubting himself but I don’t think that’s the case. It is this fan’s opinion it’s just another one of Jimmie Johnson’s mind games and he’s just pretending to be concerned about how things will go Sunday afternoon and evening. Honestly, I do have to admit that the Championship is definitely there is to lose and they cannot afford to have anything really drastically go wrong.

Having said these things, it is possible that he is more concerned with having to be on the defensive as opposed to being on the offensive and going all out. Unfortunately, he didn’t qualify as well as he had hoped and Matt Kenseth actually struck the first blow for the weekend and sits on the pole. Whether or not that will give Kenseth any advantage I have no idea but I will say this; starting from the front and finishing in the front can be very important in the end result.

Of the top three in this battle for the Championship, Kevin Harvick probably is sitting in the best seat. He has absolutely nothing to lose by pressing the envelope and going all out to win the race and, depending on what happens to Johnson and Kenseth, possibly walk away with the Championship. From my view he has the least amount of pressure on him simply because he really has nothing to lose other than a few spots. Should it work out that both Johnson and Kenseth have major difficulties and finish deep in the field he will win the Championship from third place.

Although it goes without saying that most of the attention is focused on the top three, there is no guarantee that any one of them will come close to winning the race. In fact, there are several that have a good opportunity to win the race whether or not they are near the middle or top in points. It doesn’t really matter if anyone else wins the race if the championship battle is not affected by it. Just like Jeff Gordon’s victory at Homestead last year in the finale gained very little attention, the same could be true if anyone other than the top three wins tonight. It will certainly be noted that they won but hardly anyone will remember the win simply because the championship is the focus.

I agree with many that have made it known what they would really like to see in this final race of the 2013 season. What we all want to see is good hard racing and a little bit of drama (or maybe even a lot of drama) to end this season. As I stated earlier, no one wants to sit through a snoozer as Jimmie Johnson and the 48 team dominate the night. Of course we know it is possible for the race to end that way but the hope is there will be some ups and downs, a mistake or two by the drivers and crews – anything to add a little drama to what has been a very interesting year and Chase.

Hey, I’m not saying Jimmie Johnson doesn’t deserve to win his sixth championship but it would certainly be nice if the outcome of the championship is in question until the checkered flag drops…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 16, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

It’s Down To Two For The Chase at Phoenix

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20130430 130611 It’s Down To Two For The Chase at Phoenix

Well, it’s down to two to go starting at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend and everything will end next week at Homestead. It still remains to be seen exactly how many will still be in the hunt when it comes to Homestead but, unless things change drastically, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship is down to two.

Even though this is NASCAR and anything can happen, it is highly unlikely that any of the other competitors will catch and pass Jimmie Johnson or Matt Kenseth in the coming two weeks. Even though I’ve been trying to avoid saying that for the last several weeks, it has been pretty obvious that the two leading the Chase for the Championship right now are the two that should be leading the Chase. It is an undeniable fact that Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth have both flexed their muscles throughout the year and in the Chase.

From this fan’s view, it looks like the real race is going to be for third fourth and fifth. I suppose we could throw in sixth and seventh but that might be a stretch. However, if Dale Junior continues on the same path he’s been on lately, he may be in front of everyone except the two leaders. Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer are both 69 points behind leaders and then there’s Greg Biffle.

Personally, it is possible that this could be a third competition for the finale at Homestead. The first and most obvious is between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. The second is between Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Dale Junior. The third one is the hardest to call and this fan thinks it is between Jeff Gordon, Clint Boyer and possibly Greg Biffle.

Of course we all know that anything can happen but I think that Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer will flex a little muscle this afternoon and possibly move up in the standings. For that to happen in one race would mean that the other three ahead of them would have to have really bad days here at PIR. I’ll let you make the decision as to how possible that is.

There are at least a couple of others that have to be considered for the win this afternoon at Phoenix. Just in case you missed it, Kurt Busch looked very good in practice and it seems that no conversation comes up lately that doesn’t mention a possible win by Denny Hamlin or Brad Keselowski. Of the three, this fan thinks is more likely that Kurt Busch could surprise everyone and walk away with the win this afternoon as opposed to the other two. I have to admit, if one of the other two wins (or anyone else) it wouldn’t be the first time that I was surprised, especially this year.

When it comes down to these final races in the Chase, that’s when it gets hard to pick a winner. We all know there are 43 cars in the field and there are possibly at least 20 of those they could win this afternoon at Phoenix. Once again, it is my personal opinion, that it will be one of the two leaders that wins unless something happens or they play it too safe. Either way, the race at PIR should be an interesting one all afternoon.

From this fan’s view, there is no doubt that both the Johnson and Kenseth teams are very serious and continue to show up well prepared to win. What I wonder about for this race is whether or not they will choose the play it safe between them just in case, or if they’ll go all out to win. As I say that, I don’t expect either one of them to take any unnecessary risks or chances but I do wonder whether or not winning is a necessity to either one of them should some problems show up during this one.

I have heard it said this week that this race could be a throwaway race for the two front runners. I also heard how the statistics don’t line up for either Matt Kenseth or Jimmie Johnson coming into this weekend. I’m not so sure that I agree with all that because Matt Kenseth has shown, statistically speaking, he is writing a new book on himself. When it comes to Jimmie Johnson, he has shown that he can be a dominate force in the Chase whether or not he’s in first place.

So, after this weekend is over, we will know several things. Barring the absolute unforeseen the Chase for the Sprint cup championship will be between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. What happens amongst the other five drivers in the top spots remains to be seen and could be greatly affected by what happens to them in the race today at PIR. If the same thing happens to some of them that happened to Jeff Gordon last weekend, well, next weekend at Homestead could prove to be very interesting…!!

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 10, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Texas Is Big For The Chasers

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20130430 130611 Texas Is Big For The Chasers

Say what you will about the Chase so far but, Texas is big for the Chasers and will tell all of us whether it becomes a five man race or if it will be down to the top two. Sure, I know a lot can happen in the course of three races, but Texas will be the turning point for this fan and after this weekend, the end result will be much clearer.

With Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson basically in a dead heat and Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick separated by only one point, what happens this weekend could change the whole outlook of the top spots… or not.

From this fan’s view, it is not a given that one of the top five in points will win Sunday afternoon. In fact, just looking at the qualifying could mean a non-contender could win and it could be someone in a Ford. The Fords usually do run well at the Texas track and it may be no different this weekend. That’s not to say it is a given and I do expect the top Chasers to make a statement of their own but it does have to be considered.

All of the main Chase contenders were fast in practice and qualifying and it is a long race on a tough track made even tougher by the exit from turn four. If anything unexpected happens during the race, this fan expects it will happen in, or at least coming out of, turn four. It is just the way the transition is from the turn to the straight (well, that is if you want to call it a straight) and more than a few have struggled exiting the turn.

Of the top five in the Chase points, Kyle Bush is probably the biggest question mark. He is very much in the same position as Jeff Gordon was last week. It is my opinion, if he wants to be considered as a serious threat for the Championship, he needs a win this weekend. He just hasn’t had the best of luck in the Chase, which has been the norm for him every time he has been in it. Now that doesn’t mean he has absolutely no chance of winning but he does have a major challenge ahead of him. Yes, he is only 36 points behind the leaders but the way things have been going for all of the top five, he has a long way to go.

As I said earlier, Texas is a big race for all the Chasers and it could figure big when the Cup teams arrive in Homestead. That’s why this fan thinks it is so important what happens in the race this afternoon. I mean, let’s look at the possibilities. Jeff Gordon definitely needs to finish in the top five and Kevin Harvick needs to do the same. Kyle Bush on the other hand needs to win today and he still needs help from the others to make any real gains in points. Gordon and Harvick also need the same amount of help from the top two. Even if Bush, Gordon and Harvick finish 1-2-3 and Johnson and Kenseth finish right behind them, any points swing would basically be a wash and not much would change.

From this fan’s view, for anything major to take place in the points, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth both need to have really bad days and the others need to finish up front in one form or another. In a perfect world, that might be possible but in reality, I just don’t think it is going to happen. Would it be great for the Chase? You bet it would and it would really make the next three weekends very interesting but, once again, this fan just doesn’t believe it will happen.

As much as we as fans might like to see the above happen, none of us really expect it. In fact, I know I would be surprised if it did happen and the points battle really did tightened up.

All week long, we’ve heard all the talk and hype about the battle between Johnson and Kenseth and how Jeff Gordon has battled back into third position in the points and comes into Texas with momentum and what the Chase would be like if he wins at Texas.

As a fan, all of it sounds really interesting and exciting but it doesn’t take into account how it might be if someone other than the top five in points wins today. From where I sit, Brad Keselowski looks to have plenty of speed as well as starting outside on the front row. Carl Edwards won the pole and both of them looked very strong in the last practice session. It is possible either one of them could win this afternoon and, though it might not shake up the points that much, it will make things a little more interesting going forward.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 3, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Martinsville No Disappointment – Afterthoughts from a NASCAR fan’s view

20130430 130611 Martinsville No Disappointment   Afterthoughts from a NASCAR fans view

Well, Martinsville was no disappointment and it was one of the better short track races I’ve seen in recent times. No, it’s not because Jeff Gordon got his eighth win at the short track and his eighty-eighth Cup win. It is because the drivers were all up on the wheel for most of the race and it was just a plain intense afternoon of racing. There appeared to be more than the usual amount of beating, banging and bumping going on all afternoon and there was no lack of hot tempers when it was all over.

Another reason is because it made the Chase for the NASCAR Cup Championship all the more interesting. Even though it still appears to be a two man race, none of the top five are throwing in the towel just yet. Even though Jeff Gordon, Kyle Bush and Kevin Harvick have been doing all they can to move up into the battle at the top, both Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth have also been doing what they need to do to stay on top.

Sure, the others are closing on them a little but, for any of the others to make major headway in the points to Johnson and Kenseth is for those two to have problems in a race or two and have them in a big way. Believe me, I do not wish them any ill will at all but I would like to see the points race shape up to a four or five man battle entering into the Homestead race to end the season.

There are those that think I’m just a dreamer and maybe they’re right but, before The Chase began back in September, no one thought Jeff Gordon would even be in the Chase. Then he was allowed in and now he is a contender for winning the Championship, sitting third in the points. (No, I didn’t miss the fact that Gordon is only one point ahead of Kevin Harvick in the points standings. I also didn’t miss the fact that he jumped two places today to get where he is…)

Could there be anything more dramatic than him taking it all the way for his fifth Cup Championship???

Look… we all know the odds are against him and it probably won’t happen but wouldn’t it be a great way to finish a very good year in NASCAR? It is this fan’s hope the points continue to tighten up and there are at least five possible winners of the NASCAR Cup Championship just a few points apart entering into Homestead.

If it does happen that way, well… you know my answer to that…

See you next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 27, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Chasers Take On the Flat-Track at Martinsville

play audio Chasers Take On the Flat Track at Martinsville

affbannerblank2 Chasers Take On the Flat Track at Martinsville

20130430 130611 Chasers Take On the Flat Track at Martinsville

Well… after this weekend at Martinsville, it may be possible to actually tell if it is going to be a two man Chase for the rest of this season’s races or whether there is going to be three to five contenders for the Championship. For this fan it is still too early to tell what it will be but, depending on what happens, I do think we’ll all have a better idea of how many are in and how many are out.

Once again, the existing track record was broken by the Gen 6 car and it was broken by more the one in qualifying. In fact, just about everyone was running faster than they did their last trip to Martinsville. There is a lot of speed to go around and this fan thinks there will be more than a couple of short tempers to go with it. One thing I have learned about short track racing in NASCAR Cup… short tempers usually rear their heads when the racing is tight, the passing is hard and someone (or several someones) get fed up with the ones in front of them and decide to move them out of the way. Of course there is always that thing called payback and it seems to happen at places like this a lot.

If nothing else, the qualifying times show just how close the racing might be this afternoon. There is less than a half second separating Denny Hamlin on the pole from Joe Nemecheck in 40th position. It is generally accepted around the sport, when lap times are that close together, it means it will be hard to pass and there won’t be any room for mistakes on pit road.

From this fan’s view, it is quite possible there will be more passing for position in the pits than on the track. Now, I know things can (and probably will) be different during the race but, things might get testy on pit road and the pressure will be on the crews, and of course the driver, to get it right.

Even though Denny Hamlin qualified on the pole, I am not so sure he is the one that end up taking the win. It just been that kind of year for him and I am not so sure his luck is about to change. Besides, even though I know the Martinsville track is one of his very best, there are others that perform quite well here. Among them are Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson and Dale Jr. Any of them can end up in front at the right time and let’s not forget Dale Jr. showed some good speed in the last practice session. Looking back to Chicago, had it not been for his finish there, he could be in the thick of the competition for the Championship even more so than he is now.

Both Kyle Bush and Clint Bowyer were impressive in the final practice, too and either one of them have a very good chance at taking the checkers ahead of the rest of the field. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying either one of them will win but I do expect them to be in there fighting for the number one position as the laps wind down to the end.

I can’t rule out the possibility of Kasey Kahne being in there either. He finished up the final practice as third fastest and that means he could be in position to finish ahead of the rest when the checkered flag falls. Of all of the Chasers, he is probably the one I least expect to win a race in the Chase. He just hasn’t looked all that confident to me. Of course that means I could be totally surprised at the end of the race but I just don’t think it’s going to happen for him.

There are at least two others I consider to be “dark horses” in today’s race. They would be Juan Pablo Montoya and Brad Keselowski. I could be wrong and know they are both fast and very hungry for the win but, I’m just not sure they will be able to pull it off .

Simply because I mention all of those above doesn’t mean very much when it comes down to it. With the lap times the way they are, I don’t think anyone can be ruled out of taking the win but I don’t have a lot of confidence in any of those I haven’t mentioned to actually do it. I am kind of “old school” when it comes down to that.

The Toyotas take up four of the first five starting positions and Hendrick horsepower is in six of the top thirteen qualifiers. That could mean there is a good chance either a Toyota or Chevy could be in Victory Lane when the day is over. If it’s a Toyota with the number 20 on the side or a Chevy with the number 48 it may just mean it really will be down to a two man race for the Championship. If it is a Toyota with an 18 or a Chevy with a 24 or an 88 on the side, hold on, it could get very interesting by the time we get to Homestead.

See you next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 27, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Chasing Talladega After-thoughts

20130430 130611 Chasing Talladega After thoughts

Just a quick note about Talledega. Although it didn’t go as I thought it might still the points for the top five were shaken up a little bit and it’s going to be close at least up to the next race. No matter what some may say, it’s still a five-man race even though the top two are looking awfully strong. Even Dale Junior is moving into a position to possibly do something should something happen to the top runners in the next couple of races.

All in all, it was a pretty intense race at Talledega today. Although the end of the race was a little bit anti-climactic, overall it was still a good day of racing. Can’t wait to see what happens on the short track at Martinsville next weekend. Should prove to be very interesting and could be a major shake up in the points even though it is a short track. (May be some short tempers, too.)

Congratulations to Jamie McMurray and his car owner Chip Ganassi…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 20, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Restrictor Plate Pack Racing At Talladega

play audio Restrictor Plate Pack Racing At Talladega

affbannerblank2 Restrictor Plate Pack Racing At Talladega

20130430 130611 Restrictor Plate Pack Racing At Talladega

Talladega… there’s really nothing like plate racing to this fan and the races every season at Talladega are ones I look forward to. I know the drivers don’t like the plate races that much and I understand their stance, but to this fan there is nothing like watching bumper to bumper, door to door, two and three wide pack racing lap after lap.

Some of my fondest memories as a driver at our local tracks were the times the lineups worked out just right and we might race 15 to 20 laps with hardly any changes to track position and running bumper to bumper and door handle to door handle. It was always intense and from the fan reactions, it was a sight to behold. I know it is much different when it happens at Talladega and Daytona than at local short tracks but, I still like it a lot.

I, for one, am glad the new car and rule changes have basically gotten rid of the two car tandem racing. I really don’t miss it that much (and I am not alone in that at all.) Sure it was interesting at first but it also got boring really quick. I understand there are things about pack racing that many fans may not like but it is still much better than those two car tandems.

One thing I have heard a lot of statements about this week is how this race is a wild card race and no one knows what might happen to the Chase drivers in the points race. I agree with the fact that it is a wild card event and I like that, by its very nature, has the ability to either really shake up the points battle and make it more interesting or make the battle for the Championship more focused on only two or three drivers.

Obviously, many fans would like to see it tighten up the battle rather than make it more focused, just to add interest to the rest of the races left in the season. Well… that is unless it means their favorite driver begins to drop like rock from Talladega forward. Personally, I would like to see the points tighten up for at least the top five positions just to make it more interesting until we get to Homestead in November. Can you imagine what it would be like going into that final race of the Chase with at least five of the drivers being within a few points of each other. I ask you, would that add some drama and excitement to that final race or not?

To add to the drama for the weekend, qualifying has been rained out and the lineup for the race reverts back to the first practice session. From this fan’s view, qualifying doesn’t make a whole lot of difference for the race except for maybe pit selections. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it won’t make any difference at all when it comes down to the finish. Depending on how the final thirty laps go, I’d say it just depends on whether or not there are any caution flags, how many actually come out and how close to the last lap they are.

One big factor will obviously be when or if the “Big One” happens and how many of the Chasers it might affect. There is no guarantee it will happen but the likelihood is always there, especially if the field runs in two and three wide packs for most of the race. You never know when someone might unexpectedly blow a tire in the middle of the pack and take out a bunch of contenders, including some of the Chasers. We’ve seen it happen in years past and it could be that it happens again this year.

I’m not so sure I agree with so many that have said they think this is another race that a non-Chaser will win. Although it does have a high possibility of happening, I just don’t think it will be the case Sunday afternoon. I think there will be times when some of the Chasers will lay back a bit, more to catch their breath and plan or re-plan their strategy. But ‘for the most part I expect the Chasers to be pressing the envelope rather than just riding around. I do realize there are several drivers not in the Chase that are more than capable of winning but, I also know there are several in the Chase that want to spend as much time in the front as they can. For one, it has to do with points and a second reason is that they’re less likely to be involved in an accident if they are out front.

All three of the auto makers have the ability to win this one and I don’t see any of the three that has any great advantage over the others. Sure, the Toyotas have shown speed on the restrictor plate tracks, but so have the Fords and Chevys. Track position is going to be key when it comes down to the final lap or two and the one leading with two to go may not be leading when the checkered flag drops.

It’s a shame we’ll have to wait over 180 laps to get there but, this fan really expects the final five laps to be very interesting…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 19, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Chasing The Night Away Under the Lights at Charlotte

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Kansas wasn’t kind to some of the Chasers and the race at Charlotte only begs the question will it be more of the same. Unless there is a complete reversal in the way teams have finished over the last couple of weeks, this fan does think this might be coming down to a five man race for the Championship. Just don’t know which five exactly yet.

With the practice and qualifying sessions happening at different times over two days, it is difficult to say which driver has the advantage since there were different drivers with different agendas and a lot of speed to go around for everyone. Even several of the non-Chasers were showing some real speed and it looks like it will be a typical 500 mile race for the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Without getting ahead of myself, I think it is safe to say having consistent lap times for an extended run will rule the night in tonight’s race.

First of all, let’s talk about the obvious. Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon need to continue what they’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks and Gordon in particular needs to win a race. The two have been steadily moving up in the standings, although they have had some help from some in the Chase not doing so well. Even with that being said, this fan thinks they need to keep on doing what they’ve been doing and it wouldn’t hurt if both of them finish in the top five from here on out over the next weeks.

Kyle Bush had his usual problems with the Kansas Speedway and dropped from third to fifth in the Chase. I think last week was his mulligan and if he has another week like that, it is this fan’s opinion he will have a hard time winning his first championship this year. He only sits three points behind Jeff Gordon and ten behind Harvick but it could be hard to make up the points he lost last weekend and he is thirty five points behind Matt Kenseth. After his Nationwide win last night, he could be poised to make a sweep of the weekend but I don’t count on it happening. Fortunes can change in just one moment in a 500 mile race. Still, he should be entering tonight’s race with at least a bit of momentum and confidence.

At the moment, the real competition is between Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson and, as everyone knows, they are only separated by three points. That makes for interesting conversation but they still have to think about the same thing happening to one or both of them that happened to Kyle Bush last weekend. In fact, we all know it can happen to any of the Chasers even though not likely.

Even in qualifying most of the Chasers qualified in the top ten. I don’t know if they’re making a statement for tonight or not but it is definitely an impressive statistic. Nine Chasers starting in the top ten says competition will be tight and, as has been the case with the Gen 6 cars, the one out front usually has the advantage.

As usual, most all of the attention is focused on the front-runners in the Chase but there are some strong drivers and teams that could mix it up tonight at Charlotte. Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne are realistically out of the Chase but either of them could end up in Victory Lane tonight. Although miracles do happen, even if either one of them wins tonight, a miracle is what it would take for them to get back into contention at all. Don’t get me wrong, they can win and it would be big for them but it will take a lot of help from their fellow competitors for them to move all the way to the front.

Charlotte Motor Speedway can be a little treacherous for the drivers, especially if they try to get more out of their cars and than their cars a willing to give. If that is the case, Charlotte is fairly unforgiving. It’s just not a place a driver can make up time on the track if the car isn’t able to give it. It is much more likely the one that overdrives will either end up in the wall or behind the wall watching the winner take the checkered flag.

Tonight’s winner is going to have to outlast the rest of the field and track position will once again be key. Since Jeff Gordon sits on the pole and has the best pit stall, it would only be normal to think he has one of his greatest chances at taking a win and I’m sure his fans would be ecstatic. I mean, I hate to keep bringing this up, but him winning the Sprint Cup Championship this year would be an a amazing story.

Think about it; this year he was about to be an “also-ran” and then became the thirteenth Chaser by a NASCAR ruling and has moved from thirteenth to fourth in points for the Chase in the year 2013. If after all of that he does manage to take his fifth Cup Championship this year… well… I’ll leave all that numerology stuff up to you…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 12, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Will It Be Frustration or Elation At Kansas

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Well, we’re just starting the fourth race of the Chase and many have already decided it is a three man race and some have even said it is down to two. Personally, I think it is a little too early to begin talking that way, although it is probably coming down to that if things don’t change for some of those from fourth on back.

I guess you could say this fan just isn’t ready to limit the possibilities down to only three. I mean, it only takes one bad race to drop like a rock through the standings if all of those behind you are having a very good race. If you don’t believe that, just ask Carl Edwards after his unexpectedly poor performance last weekend. It really wasn’t completely his fault but the result was a very poor finish and a lot of points to make up over the next several weeks. Another one to ask would be Kasey Kahne, but then that’s a whole different story.

From this fan’s view, there are several factors that could make the race this afternoon very interesting and could spell possible trouble for more than one Chaser. First of all, Goodyear brought a different tire for the Cup teams to use and the temperature is likely going to be somewhere between 20 and 30 degrees cooler for the race than it was for any of the practices or the qualifying. Since several teams were already struggling to get the proper “feel” for their driver with the different tire alone, the cooler temps could prove to be a real challenge for the crew chiefs. It is possible the combination of the two could have a harrowing effect on those in the top spots of the points for the Chase.

It did appear, at least up to through qualifying, the JGR crew chiefs were struggling a bit to make their drivers happy. Of course that would be Matt Kenseth and Kyle Bush and both of them weren’t fully happy with what they have although of the two, Matt did appear to be making his way toward front as far as speed in the final two practice sessions. That could be sign that his string of two wins in a row a Kansas could expand to at least three.

Kyle, on the other hand, didn’t appear to like the way his car was working at all with the new tire and, judging from his previous races at the Kansas track, this one could be more of the same for him. It’s not that I want him to do poorly but it is pretty obvious the Kansas Speedway is not one of his best tracks. At the present time, he is having a string of poor finishes here at Kansas. If nothing else, I get the impression he is a little more than skeptical about his chances for the race this afternoon. To add to his skepticism, he and Brad Keselowski had a bit of a run in near the end of the Nationwide race and Brad did mention that Kyle may have to be watching over his shoulder for the Blue Deuce.

Jimmie Johnson started off Friday’s practice session with a long sliding spin although he did manage to keep the car off the wall. Later, a lot of smoke poured from his car but it didn’t turn out to be engine related. During the multiple practice sessions, of the top three in the points, Jimmie was having the most consistent runs and could be a real threat to win this afternoon.

Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon are trying their level best to make the Chase at least a five man race and both are only 39 points behind the leader. Greg Biffle is only two points behind them and a win for him today could completely change the Chase landscape for him.

From this fan’s view, today’s race at Kansas will definitely be a complete frustration combined with a major shakeup in the points race for those now in a good position at this point. It could also be race that a non-Chaser wins and it could very well be Martin Truex Jr. or Brad Keselowski. Both have a real incentive to take the top spot today and what a statement it would make for either of them.

After today’s race at the Kansas Speedway, all of us should have a clearer picture of just how many teams should be considered contenders for the 2013 Sprint Cup Championship and how many will be “also rans.” Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman all need wins and any of them could go away from today’s race as winners. It is a definite none of them can afford to have a bad day or their fate in the Chase will pretty much be sealed.

What ever happens today at Kansas for all with a chance at still taking the Championship will either end with frustration or complete elation for them. No matter how it all turns out, one thing is certain and that’s that we won’t be in Kansas anymore… well… that is until next year…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 6, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Will Dover Be A Monster For The Chasers?

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Last week it was the Magic Mile and this week the NASCAR teams face the Monster at Dover, Delaware. Of course there are those that say Matt Kenseth and his #20 JGR Toyota team’s start to the Chase is the real monster they face. I have to say, with him sitting two for two in this year’s Chase, he is making it difficult for the rest of those in the Chase.

No one can deny Matt Kenseth is having a great year and this fan is certainly not going to. If anyone doubts the truth of that, then they’re just not paying attention or, at least, they’re just not willing to admit it. In fact, except for the year Denny Hamlin has had so far, JGR in general is having a great year. From this fan’s view, unless some of the teams from the other makers step up their game a bit, the Toyotas are going to walk away with the first two spots in the Championship.

Now that I’ve said that, after only completing two races in the Chase so far, a lot can still happen to change the entire landscape of the battle for the Cup Championship this year. Many are already considering this year’s Chase to be down to three drivers and we all know which ones they’re talking about. Yeah, that would be the top three in points at the moment namely, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Bush and Jimmie Johnson.

At first glance it is awfully hard to argue with those thoughts, but from this fan’s view, the 2013 Chase is only one fifth over. What happened in the first two races could happen in reverse for those at the top. With the way the points format works these days, it is much easier to lose points than it is to gain them back. It only takes a couple of really bad finishes from the top teams to completely change things around and yes, it could happen that all three of the top teams at the moment could have a run of bad luck over the next several weeks and everything could even out.

I know what you’re thinking… something like that couldn’t really happen and to even think about it as a possibility is pretty far fetched. Well… that may be true but, it is possible that any one or all three (and even more) could have exactly that happen.

There is no guarantee that the Toyota engine problems won’t return and affect both of the JGR teams and Jimmie Johnson has had year filled with unexpected happenings that have cost him wins and/or good finishes. Now, before you get all bent out of shape and start thinking I’m saying these things are definitely going to happen, I’m not. I’m just saying there is a long way to go in this Chase and, no matter what the last two weeks have shown, anything can happen.

If we rule out the way the top three are expected to run over the next weeks and look at the rest of the Chasers possibilities, it is still just about anybody’s to win. Of course I do admit contemplating this scenario is, in reality, a little bit out there and not likely but, thinking things will continue as they have is also an assumption and we all know what happens when we assume something, right?

So, looking at the way things line up at the moment, Dale Jr. sits on the pole. I can’t say I expected that but this could be where his luck changes and he begins to make a run for the top spot. From this fan’s view, he still has a shot at the top spot but absolutely cannot have one more bad finish. He is already sitting eleventh in points and sixty-two points back. For him to have a real chance at making up that much space, a lot of people have to have some really bad finishes. (Uh, and in case you haven’t noticed yet, Matt Kenseth is starting right next to him on the front row.)

All in all, Dover has been fast and things can happen fast at the Monster Mile. From this fan’s view I think this one is going to be won with consistency and strategy. More positions are likely to be made up in the pits and, as has been proven almost every race this year, track position is going to be the key element. There won’t be room for any mistakes in the pits and the drivers can’t make any coming in or going out of them.

After this one is over and depending on what happens to those in the Chase, we’ll all have a better glimpse of how this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship is going to pan out… well… at least that’s my view anyway.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 29, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions