Richmond, Dale Jr. and NASCAR Cup from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

The big news this week wasn’t about the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup teams taking on their next challenge at Richmond International Raceway and it was hardly even mentioned how Jimmie Johnson won his second race in a row. It wasn’t about how many penalties were handed down in different ways since the races at Texas and Martinsville or how many different crew chiefs there are for this weekend. No, the big news (just in case you’ve been completely out of touch or had your head in the sand since last Monday’s race) is that Dale Jr. is going to retire at the end of the 2017 season…

Yeah, I know that’s not new news to you if you’re a real NASCAR fan but it is true. Dale Jr. announced his plan for retirement on Tuesday and the news has been received and reacted to in diverse ways. It has been spoken of as the “end of NASCAR” and some have even threatened to stop following NASCAR all together since there will no longer be a well known Earnhardt competing in the Cup series. (Well… even that’s not quite true since Jeffrey Earnhardt does compete at the present time even though not all that well known other than by name at the present time.

So… here are my thoughts on NASCAR’s most popular driver for the last 14 years and his retirement. First of all let me say something that won’t mean a great deal to many younger fans but I’ve been a NASCAR fan for longer than Junior has been alive. That’s a long time (just in case you’re wondering) and I’ve had a number of favorite drivers and not all of them have been NASCAR champs but all have been champions in my opinion. I won’t go into a long dissertation about any of them at this point but there have been many.

I have to admit when Dale Jr. came into Cup I wasn’t really a fan but I did follow his progress, maturity and growth. Even though I felt he was rough around the edges and didn’t really have grip on who he really was when he was younger, I have watched him become more and more of a driver and person that I like. I like the fact that he is real these days (what you see is what you get) and he has a lot of common sense. I guess I could go into a long monologue of what I like about him now as compared to 20 years ago. I can’t say there haven’t been others I wasn’t particularly fond of when they came in to Cup but my opinion of them did change as they changed.

I felt that way about Jeff Gordon when he left his Busch team to join Hendrick Motorsports. I wasn’t that much of a fan of his for about a year or so. Much of my thinking about his move was based on very little information about him. I thought he kind of left his team in a lurch and with very little warning and I thought it was unfair to them and I just didn’t like it. My perception was based on my opinion of him at the time but I was still very impressed by him and his abilities as he drove. But even at that time it didn’t take all that long for me to become a Jeff Gordon fan. I was a Jeff Gordon until he retired and I am still a fan of Jeff Gordon and what he accomplished in his career as a driver and since his retirement.

Maybe that’s why I have watched Dale Jr’s. career with a lot of interest and why I have come to appreciate him more and more over the years, especially since his dad died in that terrible racing accident at Daytona and how he has grown from that time. Besides, he’s not leaving NASCAR completely, he’s just moving away from visibility as a driver and I expect we will see and hear a lot from him in the years ahead.

Richmond International Raceway is a tough ¾ mile track and is fast and a test of a driver’s ability. One of the nice things about it is that it isn’t just a one groove race track. They’ll be able to run the low groove, the middle and the high, even right up next to the wall. Even when they miss their marks, they have a little bit of room to catch it without taking out the person next to them or the ones they’re trying to pass. One of the interesting things about this race is this year’s lower down force package. It has made for new challenges and interesting communications between drivers and crew chiefs and the one thing the drivers have asked for most is more grip. They want more of it just about everywhere on the track. They’re not necessarily going to be getting it but it hasn’t stopped them asking for it so far.

So… will this be the weekend the JGR Toyotas finally make the trip to Victory Lane? Well, Matt Kenseth did win the pole and it is a place where Denny Hamlin performs well at. I’m not so sure that’s making a statement and I’m not so sure it will translate into a trip to Victory Lane when the checkered flag drops at the end of the day. It is food for thought though. But then so is the fact that Kyle Larson has been on a roll and was fast during practices, especially the last one on Saturday.

I wonder if Dale Jr. might take home the trophy when this one is over. He has to have lot less pressure on him now that he’s made his announcement but I think he wants to win more now than ever. It does remain to be seen how the Hendrick teams will fare and there is no way this fan is going to rule out the possibility of Jimmie Johnson making it three in a row. Well… maybe that is expecting a bit too much… BUT… it can definitely happen…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 29, 2017 – 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 Bristol Baby!!” from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well, it’s back to racing for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup teams and there’s not a better place for them to return to work than Bristol. It should prove to be interesting to see how the drivers respond to their return after a week off to “rest and relax.” Some say the tensions will be high simply because “It’s Bristol, Baby!!” and it’s known for high banks, high speed and high emotions. Personally, I can’t disagree – the racing at Bristol does get intense at times.

One of the things that makes Bristol one of the more intense races is that it is basically a short track – only a little over a half mile oval – which carries with it that short track racing attitude. Emotions run high because it is extremely fast and very hard to pass. It doesn’t matter whether they run the middle, high or low groove, it’s just a hard place to pass if a driver has just a little bit of a better car than the one in front of him (or her). That just adds to the heightened emotions and frustrations of trying to gain positions as they work their way to the checkers. Plus – being a “short track” – the mentality of the drivers is a little different and bumping and banging or moving someone out of the way isn’t outside the realm of their thinking. In fact, it happens a lot more on short tracks and particularly at tracks like Martinsville and Bristol.

Taking just a little bit of a detour right now, I guess it’s about time I make my view of stage racing public even though I have mentioned it a little off and on so far this season. When push comes to shove, I wasn’t sure I would like it all that much. I mean I understood the idea of it but I wasn’t so sure it would work out the way NASCAR and the drivers thought it would. I have to admit, it has added quite a bit of intensity to the races and it doesn’t matter whether it is short track, mid size or super speedway. All of them have seen the intensity and added pressure for the drivers to perform at all times during the race. Of course adding the ability to gain additional points for the new playoff format at the end of the season doesn’t hurt either.

All of the things I’ve mentioned so far just add to the usual intensity of a short track race and with the drivers being fresh off of a weekend off just means some possible thoughts of payback and a little more adrenaline for all kinds of short track actions. You never know how one of them is going to respond to a little nudge or a bump if it is someone they might have had a little run in with earlier in the season. (Hey, I’m just sayin’…)

With the way things have gone so far this season, it does appear the younger drivers like Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney have adapted to the new stage racing format a little better than some of the rest. In fact, there are a lot of people that have shown up in the conversation more with the stage racing than they did last season. Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse and others are names we just didn’t hear that much during a race without the stages. Now, it seems everyone presses to at least get some points via the stages and it does make things more interesting.

There are a couple of extra stories going on with the teams coming to Bristol. One obvious one is where the Gibbs racing teams really are. They just haven’t shown up as competitively so far this season as they did much of last season. We all know all of the teams, especially the bigger teams, go through a little slump now and again and it is still early in the season. It is surprising that we just haven’t heard that much from the JGR teams like Kyle Bush, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth yet. I do think we will soon though and it could just be they haven’t hit their stride yet this season with the new down force package and other items all of the teams have been contending with so far.

Jimmie Johnson put to rest the rumors they had lost their edge after he won Texas a couple of weekends ago. He came from the back and put a hurtin’ on the rest of the field even though he didn’t run away with it. Between Chase Elliott and him things don’t look all that dark for Hendrick but it does leave Dale Jr. and Kasey Kahne looking for better performances and this fan does wonder why they are struggling as much as they are. I guess they’re just adjusting to the new down force package too. (Well, at least I’m giving them a good excuse for their lack of performance so far…)

It is hard for me as a fan to pick one over another as a winner this weekend. Many have stated their choices but I just don’t have a real grasp on how this one is going to turn out. It could be another first time winner or it could be one that we just haven’t heard that much from yet this season. I guess that’s why I will be watching this one and wait to see who comes out on top. After all… It IS Bristol, Baby!!!

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 21, 2017 – 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

New Surface, New Challenges at Texas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There are a few things that have changed at the Texas Motor Speedway but the speed the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup teams run at hasn’t. Okay, maybe that is a little bit overstated but, no matter how you look at it, the Texas track is still one of the fastest on the NASCAR circuit. That doesn’t mean that the changes they made to it haven’t caused the teams to re-evaluate their notes and notebooks for the place but they are still making fast laps around the place. It also doesn’t mean the drivers don’t have to adjust their driving style to match the new surface and re-designed turns one and two. Both the new surface and re-design have caused situations for most if not all of them but it hasn’t really slowed them down that much.

Of course the usual drivers seem to be at the top of the speed lists and Kevin Harvick did win the pole. Brad Keselowski was at the top of the list for the Saturday morning practice and Kyle Larson wasn’t far behind. In the final practice the Hendrick teams of Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott finally showed up at the top but this fan wonders if it’s only because the others were no longer pressing the envelope. (Oh and by the way, let’s not forget Jimmie Johnson has to start at the rear of the field on Sunday due to his spin an after his qualifying lap so he’s going to need all the speed he can muster on Sunday afternoon.)

It certainly was an interesting Friday qualifying session. Several of the known drivers and teams couldn’t get through inspection in time to make qualifying. That means very little unless pit selection makes a big difference for those that didn’t qualify compared to those that did. We all know qualifying isn’t THAT big of a deal except for pit stall selections and it generally doesn’t make a whole lot of difference on race day. One fast lap doesn’t necessarily transfer over to a strong finish over all of the laps on race day.

I also find it interesting that Kyle Larson still looks like he will be running at, or near, the front on Sunday just like he has most of the 2017 season so far. Well, that is as long as he stays out of trouble on the track and doesn’t have trouble in the pits. In fact, he could win this race. I’m not saying he will, I’m just saying he has a good chance if he runs like he has been so far. He has been one of the fastest cars in every practice this weekend but was one of those that didn’t get through inspection in time for qualifying. That means he’ll be starting in the 32 second position and could mean trouble for getting to the front fast. Fortunately for those with fast cars but bad starting positions, it is a long race.

One thing all of the drivers will have to face is what happens when they get just outside of the racing groove. With the new track surface and the lower down-force for the cars this season, many have already shown getting into the grey above the groove just doesn’t work all that well. Well, at least it hasn’t so far this weekend and several have gone to back up cars because of it. That means it will likely be hard to pass if the groove doesn’t widen out. Now, this fan does expect the groove to widen out but it still will be a problem for them until it does.

There is a high possibility that a Ford could end up in Victory Lane by the time the checkered flag drops at the end of the day. Kevin Harvick’s name does come to mind but I can’t rule out Brad Keselowski either. Both have looked strong over the course of the practice sessions and either could end up the winner. It could also be the Fords of either Joey Logano or Ryan Blaney. I’m not pulling for the one but it wouldn’t bother this die hard Chevy fan to see Ryan Blaney end up in Victory Lane – he has looked pretty strong lately and it would surprise me all that much if he did.

Now, at the risk of sounding repetitive, when it comes to the Chevys, I just can’t escape the fact that Kyle Larson has run up front almost every race and he could win another one this week or it could be his team-mate, Jamie McMurray. The Ganassi teams are looking very good and either one or both of these guys could as the winner when it is all said and done.

From this fan’s view, this could be a completely different race than we have seen in recent times at the Texas track. It could be another one of the times someone totally unexpected takes the win or it could be the usual ones rise to the occasion and show why they running at, or near, the front on a regular basis this year. Since the Hendrick Chevys did actually show some speed in the final practice, I won’t rule out the possibility of one of them taking the win. Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott are at the top of my list but I won’t rule out Dale Jr. or Kasey Kahne. (After all, stranger things have happened at Texas…)

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 8, 2017 – 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

Short Tracking At Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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One thing is certain from this fan’s view for this weekend’s race; it will be a challenge for every driver. Of course some will adapt and do better than others but, for most of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Drivers and teams, there will be a price paid in wear and tear on the cars, drivers and crews along with the usual heightened emotions of short track racing. Now I ask you… who could ask for more when it comes to racing on a Sunday afternoon?

Martinsville is (and has been) a fan favorite for many years. There’s just something about short track racing the appeals to almost everyone. The drivers like it (at least to a point) because they believe they can have an effect on the outcome by using their talent and abilities. The crews like it (also to a point) because they know they make a difference every time their driver pulls in to the pits. When it comes to the crew chiefs and the car owners, well, they like it BUT…

I have to admit, as a fan, I like it because of all of the things this short track generates as the day progresses. It’s not just one thing; it is many things. It is the action prevalent throughout the race along with the door banging, bumper bumping and the pushing and shoving that keeps the emotions high, especially when it comes down to the final laps of the race. As most any NASCAR fan will attest, that’s when those emotions really surface and can affect the outcome of the race either positively or negatively for the possible winner and, of course, the possible non-winners. (Hey look, I was just trying to avoid calling them losers… ) At any rate, with the addition of the stages and the renewed importance of additional points, this has the potential of being one of the most dramatic races at Martinsville in recent times.

No matter how you look at it, this is not a “usual” year in NASCAR Cup. It has been a year the younger drivers have successfully shown their driving talents in a big way. Kyle Larson is definitely on a roll with his win last week and his top two finishes over the several weeks before. He looks poised to have a very good year and could have a real shot at winning the championship. Now, don’t read anything into what I just said. It is way too early to start picking winners when it comes to the season’s end. I’m just saying he is looking very strong and I personally don’t think He is done winning races yet this season.

I do realize it is still early in the season but the Ganassi teams are definitely making a statement so far this season. Both Larson and McMurray are showing continued strength so far this season and it has carried over from the latter part of last season. From this fan’s view, it is good to see it happening for them but I also know that other teams have a tendency to “catch up” as the season moves along and honestly, summer is coming really fast and it could get very interesting as the weeks click away to mid season. There is still a “whole lotta racing to do” before we wind it all down.

One big surprise to me so far this season is the lack luster performance of the Chevys especially by those from the Hendrick camp. Now I realize that Chase Elliot is one of the Hendrick drivers but he is definitely on a different trajectory than the rest (at least so far.) He is one of the young guns I mentioned earlier that is hitting on all cylinders in this early part of the season. If it weren’t for the performance of Kyle Larson so far this season, I do think we would be hearing a lot more about Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney. For the moment though, Kyle Larson is kind of overshadowing everyone but I do expect we will be hearing a lot more from Chase and probably Ryan as we progress through this early part into the middle of the season.

Another surprise so far is the lack of noise coming from the JGR camp. Oh sure, there was that dust up between Kyle Bush and Joey Logano a short while back but other than that, there hasn’t been that much to talk about from the Joe Gibbs’ teams. That could change this weekend and Kyle Bush may be the one to be making the noise. He did look pretty strong in the final practice. There are others that just might surprise us all and make that run to the finish and they’ll be taking home that Grandfather clock for winning the STP 500 at Martinsville. Some of them are previous winners and some of them haven’t won yet, at least no t at Martinsville. From this fan’s view, I do kind of expect Kyle Larson and Kyle Bush to be going for the win but since this is Martinsville, I’m just not sure either one of them is going to be celebrating in Victory Lane when this one is done…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 1, 2017 – 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

The Auto Club 400 At Fontana from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There ain’t nothing gone like I thought it would so far in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series. Okay… I got that out of my system for now, but it’s true; none of the races so far in this season have ended at all like just about anyone would have thought they would. It makes this fan wonder if it will be the same this weekend as the Cup teams take on the two mile Auto Club Speedway at Fontana.

Unfortunately, it seems the worst thing a driver can do is dominate a race, at least so far. I’m not trying to make a statement but it has been interesting that a driver has won and, to most any fan’s surprise, it didn’t look as though they had any chance at all as they entered the last ten laps of any of the four races so far this season.

It has been a little bit of a strange weekend at the Auto Club Speedway so far and practice and qualifying showed just how strange things were. Even an owl got into the strangeness and interrupted practice on Friday for a short while. Several cars did not make a qualifying lap and that included Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano. Jimmie Johnson opted out since he had a late incident in practice that caused his team to move to a backup car. Joey Logano just didn’t make it onto the grid in time and will now have to start near the rear on Sunday afternoon also.

From this fan’s view it appears the teams are struggling a bit with the reduced down force package for this season and the character of the track. It is abrasive and many drivers have been calling for more grip. (Of course we all know drivers want more grip everywhere they go.) It does appear this weekend’s race could be a bit more “challenging” than some might think though. It was very obvious during practice and qualifying the cars were moving around a lot on the 2 mile oval and many were a bit tail happy. I think, at least from this fan’s view, this could make for a very interesting afternoon, especially when they get started racing in groups two, three, four and possibly even five wide during the Auto Club 400, especially during any restarts.

Earlier I mentioned several didn’t make any qualifying laps but qualifying really only affects pit selection from my view. At times, it makes a great difference in how things work out for a driver and his team after their pit stop and at other times it makes very little difference at all. On a track like this, track position is very important and their location in the pits can make a bad stop even worse while the reverse can be true with a good one. During this race, pit selection could make or break the chances of someone winning especially during a late race caution or even a late race green flag stop.

Except for Kyle Larson, so far this season the Chevys have shown themselves to be a little behind the rest of the manufacturers and especially the Fords. Of particular interest to this fan – since I used to race Chevys – is the performance of the Hendrick Chevys. Once again, if it weren’t for Chase Elliott, the Hendrick teams just haven’t shown their usual strength. From this fan’s view and if memory serves me correctly, they had a similar slow start last season and that means there is probably no cause for concern for their fans. If things continue on as they have so far though, it just may not be one of their best years. Jimmie Johnson has been up and down and Dale Jr. just hasn’t shown he is fully back into the swing of it all yet. Kasey Kahne is showing improvement but just hasn’t made that many headlines yet. It is unusual but not all that concerning for the Chevys to be a little behind the curve early in the season. After all, the competition is tighter than it has been recently and Ryan Newman did win in his Childers Chevy last weekend.

The big question on most everyone’s mind this weekend is whether or not Kyle Larson will have his fourth second place finish in a row or whether he might be the one taking the trophy instead of being that “also ran.” I’m not willing to make a statement on him winning but I would remind all of us that the dominant car in the first four races has not won yet. Will Kyle dominate and win or will it go as it has so far in 2017? Well… I guess we won’t know that until the checkered flag falls on the winner late Sunday, will we? Personally, I’m thinking this is going to be a good one filled with drama right down to the finish, how about you…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 25, 2017 – 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 at Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup teams take on the one mile track at Phoenix this Sunday afternoon and it seems like the biggest story for the weekend so far is what happened between Kyle Bush and Joey Logano last weekend. In typical fashion, the media folks just can’t seem to let it go and keep on asking the same old questions of whether or not the two have put it all behind them. From this fan’s view, I just think they should take a wait and see attitude and if something happens between them, well, then they will have their answers (and probably a whole lot more to talk about.)

From this fan’s view, Joey Logano certainly does seem to have a lot of “mixups” with the team members of Joe Gibbs Racing. In particular, he has had one or more on-track incidents with Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and now Kyle Bush. For some reason he seems to benefit from them more at the time than the ones he runs into (or puts out) and then wonders why they don’t understand it was just a hard racing incident. He uses the explanation of he was just racing hard and it got away from him. Although it is possible his statements are true, after so many run-ins with members of the same team, you would think he would at least come up with some other excuse. In my view, he has managed to tick off the whole JGR team and doesn’t understand why they get angry when he often pulls his stunts. (Do I need to remind you of how Matt Kenseth handled his last dust up with him? I think not…)

After their face-to-face meeting in the NASCAR trailer on Friday morning, they both answered questions. I listened to Logano’s statements and it really appeared to me he was still trying to convince everyone he did nothing wrong and it was just a last lap, going for the spot, hard racing mistake. From my view, it seemed he couldn’t see why Kyle couldn’t see that way. Also from my view, I could see why Kyle didn’t see it Joey’s way… and could it be Joey’s past history with others on track and especially with JGR drivers? I think Joey’s past speaks fairly loudly about the answer to that.

As a former racer and fan, I did like Kyle’s answer to all of the questions about whether or not it was all over between them and could they move on. He answered all of the questions with the same answer and from this fan’s view, “Everything’s great…” (If you believe that, you just might be interested in some waterfront property somewhere…) Ah… NASCAR… there’ just nothing like a rivalry along with a little drama and emotion; I think that’s why I like it so much. I also like the way NASCAR handled this one. They left the door open for the two to work it out and yet stand ready to intervene if necessary. (Honestly, I can’t wait to see how it goes as the season progresses…)

Okay, I think I’m done with that, at least for now…

It will definitely be interesting to see how the racing goes with the two 60 lap stages and the final 80 laps to the finish. There is a lot of speculation out there that the stages favor the younger drivers and that is why they are performing at a higher level so far this year. Of course, you know I don’t agree. I just think they’re performing at the level of their talent. Sure, their age may have something to do with it but the ones most talked about are Chase Elliot and Ryan Blaney and they are both in great equipment and have shown a lot of talent as drivers. Could it be because they both come from racing families or does it have to do with the equipment they are in? I think both explain it better than the stages argument but then that’s just this fan’s opinion.

I’m still waiting for the Chevys to show up with something for the rest of the field and especially the Hendrick Chevys. It does look like Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson have stronger cars this season than last and they are both showing up competitively each week. In fact, either one of them could have a chance at taking the win Sunday afternoon.

When it comes to the Hendrick Chevys, Chase Elliot, Dale Jr. and Jimmy Johnson looked to have the best chance this weekend but I’m not counting out Kasey Kahne either. In practice and qualifying, none of them looked too bad but it does remain to be seen how the race pans out for them.

As has been the usual case so far this season, the Ford’s do seem to have a slight advantage. Kevin Harvick is usually at the top of the list but so far, he just hasn’t had the finish. He has led a lot of laps and still not come home the winner yet. I do believe it will happen soon for him though and likely more than once.

Just so the Toyota fans won’t feel left out I have to say they could have a good race this weekend but I still think the JGR Toyotas still have a few things to work out with this new package just like the Hendrick Chevys.

Some say Joey Logano was making a statement about last weekend’s incident by winning the pole for Sunday’s race but this fan sees it just a little bit differently. You see, I kind of expected him to take the pole especially with how he ran at Phoenix last year. It really wasn’t much of a surprise to me and I do know he will probably be one of the ones to watch for taking the win on Sunday afternoon. If he does win, well… I think it’s safe to say it wasn’t because I was pulling for him…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 18, 2017 – 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

AfterThoughts on Vegas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well… it happened again, didn’t it? Much like the end of the race at Atlanta, Las Vegas once again proved a race isn’t over until it’s over. Martin Truex, Jr. had a dominating performance and won the first and second stages but didn’t look like the final segment was going to be his. Well, that is until the leader on the final laps began to slow because of some type of equipment failure and that allowed Truex Jr. to pull into the lead and take the win. Of course, you being a NASCAR fan would know that the person he passed was Brad Keselowski and Brad did look as though he was going to cruise to his second victory in a row for the 2017 season. As is often the case in racing, and in particular in NASCAR racing, stuff happens and it often happens quite unexpectedly.

As a NASCAR fan I have to admit I really expected Kevin Harvick to have a much better day than he did. I don’t blame the Goodyear tires (well at least not specifically) but tire failures, like other things that go wrong unexpectedly, happen and there is almost nothing the driver can do. Usually, (and I don’t claim to be an expert), right fronts have problems because they are being over-taxed or pushed a little too hard and at other times they run over something that causes it to blow. Now, when I say over-taxed I am talking about how much camber they use in the setups or when the driver wants the car tightened up. The driver adds more wheel to force it to turn which in turn eats up the tire faster and can be the cause of the failure. Whatever the reason the tire failed, Harvick hit the wall and his day was done.

Brad Keselowski in the other hand just had something break with about two laps to go and Martin Truex Jr. was able to drive past him for the win and even Truex was surprised at the outcome. This was another one of those NASCAR Cup races where it wasn’t over until it was over.

Interesting that the end of the race wasn’t the end of the drama, emotion and intensity for the day as Kyle Bush got dumped by Joey Logano on the final lap and Kyle was definitely not happy about it. He proceeded down pit road and confronted Logano with a “punch” greeting and then the crew members got involved in the minor scuffle. It was all over pretty quickly and Logano came away with his usual “I didn’t do anything wrong or intentional” attitude. Kyle was still noticeably upset and, from this fan’s view, there will come a time in the not too distant future when Logano might need Kyle to cut him some slack but it probably won’t happen. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying Kyle will do anything wrong or intentional, but he just won’t give Logano the break when he needs it. Remember… that’s just this fan’s opinion but don’t be surprised when it happens. I promise though, I won’t remind you that I said it would happen… Nah, that’s not true, I probably will…

Well, so far this season has gotten off to a very interesting start and I do have to admit it looks like NASCAR was correct again in deciding to add the stages to the races. From this fan’s view, they really do seem to add to the intensity and excitement of the racing even in the middle of the races. I’m sure adding the points to the mix didn’t hurt either and it remains to be seen how it turns out when the season winds down in November. As it stands right now, I really can’t wait for this coming weekend at Phoenix and look forward to what this fourth race for the 2017 season has in store for us. So far, it has been very interesting…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 14, 2017 – 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

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup At Las Vegas Motor Speedway Prerace – from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Okay, I tried not to say much until after the races were run but I just can’t seem to not say something before they hit the track on the weekends so this will be the first update to my plans for this year. I hope you don’t mind – I know I don’t…

One thing is certain for the race this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Brad Keselowski will be trying to make it two in a row. Some will say, “Oh, you mean like Atlanta and Las Vegas?” Well… yes… I do mean that and it could also be his second win since last year at this track. I’m not one to rely on qualifying times to pick my winners as a general rule but I do have to admit he could do that this weekend. Mind you, I’m not saying he will and he isn’t my first choice but, I am saying he very well could.

So why would I say that the way I just did. Well, there is just no denying the Ford’s have looked plenty fast so far this season and this could be another Ford win. Even the second person I think has a shot at winning also drives a Ford. Yeah, you know I’m talking about Kevin Harvick, don’t you.

Well, after his dominating performance last weekend at Atlanta amounted to a no win situation when he was clocked speeding on pit road during his last stop with eleven laps to go; I do think he would like to rectify that with a win for his team’s outstanding performance last weekend while appeasing himself at LVMS for that speeding penalty at Atlanta. Don’t know that he will but he has had pretty dominating performances lately. In fact, for just changing from Chevy to Ford over the off season, I think the Stewart/Haas teams overall have shown surprising strength and speed so far. From this fan’s view, Kevin Harvick should have won last weekend and with Kurt Bush’s victory at the Daytona 500 and that would have made two in a row for SHR.

From what I have seen so far this season, the Fords look like they could have a stellar year if things continue as they have so far. It makes this fan wonder if it is going to be Fords every weekend or if one of the other manufacturers is going to step up to the plate.

Even with their strong performance last season, the Joe Gibbs Toyotas just haven’t seemed to carry that momentum into this season. That kind of surprises me but if my memory serves correctly, they didn’t start out last season all that strong either. I’m not picking on them but it does seem their start is a bit sluggish but does make me wonder what they’re working on for later in the season. Of course with the stages and the points changes for this season, they need to show more of something or find themselves out in the cold late in the season.

They same goes for the Chevys, especially the Hendrick Chevys. Jimmie Johnson hasn’t carried the momentum from his seventh Championship win last season into this year either. Even though it always seems to this fan the Championship winner starts out the year a little slow, I just don’t see the spark from the #48 team yet. It is a whole different story with Chase Elliott and the #24 team. He has looked very good but he just hasn’t been there when the checkered flag drops at the final lap.

Dale Jr. on the other hand has looked okay but hasn’t really shown much yet other than he is still hounded by bad racing luck. I do expect that could change over the next three races and I don’t rule out the possibility of him winning this weekend. He has had some very good finishes over the last several races at LVMS and this could be the time for his first win at the track in Cup.

One last thing about this weekend at Las Vegas; the teams are working extremely hard on not being caught speeding on pit road. There have been a lot of speeding penalties doled out so far this season and it has made an impact on many teams. Jimmie Johnson leads the series with the most speeding penalties and it really did cost him last weekend, whether or not he had a fast race car.

This Sunday afternoon I’m looking to see if someone driving something other than a Ford dominates or at least makes it look like a race between different manufacturers rather than just Fords…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 11, 2017 – 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

Keselowski Holds On For An Atlanta Win from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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It really doesn’t matter who won the 2017 Daytona 500 anymore; that’s all in the past and each race is a new chapter in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Season. Well… that is except for the team that won it. Admittedly, winning the Daytona 500 is a big deal but the story doesn’t last all that long as a headline even though many of the talking heads generally bring it up throughout the season. For this fan and many NASCAR fans, we are ready to move on. This week was another challenge for all to face including the one that won the Daytona 500 and to be quite honest… he and his team didn’t fair all that well at the Folds of Honor/QuickTrip 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Brad Keselowski ended up winning this one at the Atlanta Motor Speedway even though Kevin Harvick and his #4 Stewart/Haas Racing Ford team absolutely dominated the weekend right up to the last pit stop. Harvick won the poll and the first two stages but was clocked speeding on his last pit stop and had to start at the tail end of the longest line which was around 35th with only 11 laps to go. Much like last weekend at Daytona, the person expected to win didn’t cross the finish line first. From my view, racing luck played about as large a role in Keselowski’s win as did his crew chief and team doing more right than they did wrong. Actually, I do have to admit he drove a great race also.

So far this season, the Fords are looking pretty tough and have won the first two races of the new season. From this fan’s view, the move to Ford didn’t hurt the Stewart/Haas Racing teams at all and they do look extremely strong so far in the first two races of 2017. Had it not been for the speeding penalty late in the race by Harvick, it would have been two in a row for SHR and there haven’t been that many in the first two weeks looking to challenge them. Well… that is unless you consider the way Chase Elliot has been running in these first two races. Yeah, I know he only finished fifth this weekend but that makes two top fives for the first two races. Not too shabby for the 21 year old from Georgia if you ask me.

Atlanta didn’t really show us very much about the new five minute clock rule simply because there wasn’t that much to compare it with compared to Daytona. As a fan, I haven’t really decided one way or the other on it but I will say it definitely needs to be re-evaluated. I am of the opinion it should be changed by adding more time or by the way they are timed on the clock. Don’t misunderstand me; I do understand why they want to do it and I actually do somewhat agree. My problem is when the pit road is so long and pit road speed is so slow, it really doesn’t even give them time to evaluate the problems, let alone fix them. I do think they will add more time to the clock in the future but for now, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. As I said, Atlanta wasn’t a good test for it because we didn’t see many examples for it to be used.

That brings me to my opinion of the stages… Well… so far it does seem to add a little something to the racing in the first half of the race and I know the drivers like being able to accumulate points for their performance instead of their end result. Kevin Harvick has won three of the four stages so far in the two races but has yet to take a win. As I mentioned earlier in this article/podcast, he dominated the weekend by winning the pole position and then pretty much leading almost all of the laps until his final pit stop. He was caught speeding but he wasn’t alone. There were many speeders on pit road and it cost all of them in some fashion or other. For most, it didn’t make that much of a difference because they were struggling anyway. For Harvick it was devastating just like running out of fuel was for Chase Elliot last weekend at Daytona.

It is my opinion (and I am sure many agree with me) Kevin Harvick would have won except for that one glaring mistake on pit road. The difference this time compared to others is that the mistake was his and his alone and he couldn’t blame it on his crew. He owned up to it and apologized to his crew and they will move on but remember, his is in first place in the points after two races even though he has no wins… yet.

From this fan’s view, the #4 team was almost perfect on each and every stop and their times were exemplary. Oh well… this wasn’t the first time Harvick led the most laps and didn’t win. In fact, he has been making a habit of it in recent times.

The Toyotas are experiencing some difficulties and in particular the Joe Gibbs Toyotas. Nothing really outstanding and it could just be bad “racing luck.” To this fan it all started with their strategy for running Daytona. From the first stop it all fell apart and they just haven’t gained that momentum they were carrying a lot through last year. They aren’t running all that bad but they do seem to be out of sync at least through these first two races. I expect that their luck will change soon but we all know how the Hendrick teams struggled up to the middle of the season last year.

Speaking of the Hendrick teams, Jimmie Johnson is having a relatively weak start to the year considering he is the reigning Cup Champ. We all know they have their ups and downs in the #48 camp but we also know their race results can turn on a dime and be the ones everyone else is chasing week in and week out. I’m interested in seeing how the next three weeks go in the NASCAR West Coast jaunt. I think a lot of things can change by the end of March.

And then, there’s Dale Jr… He just hasn’t had any luck at all so far this year since returning to the #88 HMS Chevy. Well… I just can’t say I expect that to continue but it does make things interesting in the short term. Honestly, I do kind of expect he will come back from the next three races with at least one win but, then again… well… you know…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 7, 2017 – 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

After The 2017 Daytona 500 from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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I know what you’re saying… why are you talking about the Daytona 500 after it’s already over?” Well… to be honest I just didn’t have a whole lot to say that hadn’t already been said leading up to it so I opted to have my say after it was in the rearview mirror.

Does that make sense to you? Well, this year it does to me and the biggest reason is because there is a whole lot more for this fan to talk about after it’s over. I mean, I started this thing to express my opinion of the races and this year I just may continue to make this the way these article podcasts go as the year goes by. Hey look, I’ve been doing this for a lot of years now and I think it’s time for a little change in direction and I’m ready. I mean, anyone can talk about a race before it happens and express their opinion of how they think it will go but this year I want to express my opinion of how I think it went. I’m not saying I won’t be talking about the races before they happen, but for now, this is the way I choose to approach the 2017 season. Hope you don’t mind and I do hope you enjoy this slight change in direction.

Now on to Daytona 2017… First of all, it was really good to see Dale Jr. back in the driver’s seat again and it appears he hasn’t lost any of his abilities, especially when it comes to restrictor plate racing and in particular at Daytona. Until his unfortunate run-in with the front of Kyle Bush’s spinning Toyota, he looked like he was going to be a contender when it came down to crunch time. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait to see if his luck changes at Atlanta.

Overall, the 2017 Daytona 500 was a very interesting race and was filled with the usual intensity and drama of restrictor plate racing. To me, there is nothing like door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper tight pack racing. It was also interesting to see really aggressive racing from a lot of the younger drivers and several of the not so old veterans even though at times their actions were somewhat questionable. In this fan’s opinion there was no need for some of their early aggressive moves with so much of the race left to run. At least a few of the accidents could have been avoided had they not forced their way into situations where a little patience could have prevented a lot of the bent up sheet metal and unrepairable damage that put many out of the race early.

This fan was probably most impressed by the performance of 21 year old Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney over probably all of the others. Both proved they have what it takes to run in the Cup Series. Had Chase had just a little more fuel he just might have come away with a big win in what many consider the most important race in racing, the Daytona 500. He also proved that his win in the first duel was no fluke and the likelihood he will soon be following in his dad’s footsteps and the previous driver of the Hendrick #24, Jeff Gordon with wins and Championships. I was impressed with Chase’s performance last season and I do believe he definitely has a great future ahead of him. One question though… Since Chase wasn’t the only one having fuel issues in the final lap or two, is this going to be another year where fuel mileage plays a great part in the finishes like it seemed to so many times last season? Well… I guess that remains to be seen.

I do have to admit that I am just beginning to understand the new “stages” they run in a race and how it all figures into the mix of the new season. I do have a few questions about some of the new rules and how repairs have to be performed in a certain time limit without going to the garage area or they have to retire from the race. If things continue as they did this last weekend at Daytona, there may not be that many cars running at the end of a race, especially if it is a larger, faster track like the two Super Speedways or Atlanta, Charlotte, Indianapolis and others.

In this fan’s opinion, I do have concerns that this last weekend may have shown the possibility of another strategy that could be used by someone, or several someones, to help their cause when it comes to finishing better in a race. It may never happen and I am sure NASCAR has thought about it also but I do wonder if they have fully considered what could happen. This race proved, at least in some ways to this fan, that aggressive driving can result in taking out real contenders and open the door for those not quite as capable of winning to have a better finish. Of course the aggressors will be putting themselves in harm’s way to pull it off but they may be willing to take the chance considering the possible benefits. If this does begin to happen with any regularity at all, it will be interesting to see how NASCAR handles it. I’m sure they will, or do, have a plan just in case but none of us knows how they will handle it until it actually happens and whether or not happens on that regular basis.

I know that sounds like a real black helicopter moment and that it will probably not happen the way I just said but I would remind you that in the past, when it came down to making the Chase, anyone within a point or two of making it into the Chase would take out the ones ahead of them in some fashion of aggressive driving to make up those points. So you see, the possibility I mention isn’t so far fetched – it could happen… (but probably won’t. Don’t forget after all, this IS NASCAR.)

Well, that’s enough of my ranting for now. I do congratulate Kurt Bush, his crew chief, Tony Gibson, and the entire Stewart/Haas 41 team for their first Daytona win. It does appear Stewart/Haas Racing will be good for Ford and they are ready to make things happen as the season progresses. It may be a bit too early to say but considering all they had to do coming into this year, they are definitely starting out on the right foot…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 28, 2017 – 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

The Clash Is Back In 2017 From A NASCAR Fan’s View

Rusty Norman

The format is really pretty simple… 75 laps of taking chances a driver may not normally take in a points race, flat out, take no prisoners racing in two segments of 25 and 50 laps and the winner takes home the money. It should be a lot of hard-nosed, kinda old school racing and we as fans should always be expecting the unexpected. That should sum up The Clash for 2017 – but will it? Well… maybe.

Hello good friends and welcome back to NascarFansView, the 2017 NASCAR season and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup racing. This will be short and to the point just like The Clash will be tomorrow night. (Wow! It is really hard to not say NASCAR Sprint Cup racing but I will try my best not to slip up…)

I can’t tell you how happy I am they’re getting back to it and I am looking forward to another great Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season and honestly, it seems like it’s been forever since they’ve been on the track. Well… that is… it seems like it’s been forever since they’ve been on the track competing against and with all the others.

I know I’m not alone in this thinking but I can’t help wonder how things are going to pan out this season what with Carl Edwards abruptly retiring from Cup racing, Stewart/Haas Racing switching to Ford and a number of new items laid down by the NASCAR hierarchy that could be a bit challenging for all the teams. There is no need for me to go into detail at this point – because I have all season to do that – but it really should prove to be very interesting. Well… at least that is what I think about it at the moment, but hey, I’m just a NASCAR fan that likes to express my opinion now and again.

I will admit I am anxious to see how it all shakes out even though things won’t really come into focus until next week when the real season starts. No doubt The Clash will be exciting and full of intensity but it won’t be anything like the Daytona 500 happening next weekend. Hey, that’s not a knock against The Clash in any way – I’m looking forward to it. What I am interested in is watching some great door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper tight pack restrictor plate racing with no points that matter to anyone but plenty of intensity and excitement in the short 75 lap race. All I can say at this point is, “Bring it on!!”

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 17, 2017 – 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

Champions Racing For The 2016 Championship from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Like it not, this race isn’t really about the winner. Well, that is unless the winner is one of the final four in this final race of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup series. An interesting fact about this one is that it is really two races in one, or, at least can be. If it turns out that the four still racing for the Championship are racing each other for first place that would be one race. If it turns out that the one winning isn’t even still racing for the Championship it then becomes two races in one. The winner is the winner of the race and the one of the four that finishes ahead of the other three still competing for the Championship wins the Sprint Cup.

Wow!! That really sounds confusing but it’s really not…

In an interesting and dramatic qualifying session, none of those still competing for the actual Championship qualified in the top five. In fact, all of them are starting the race Sunday afternoon in ninth to fourteenth. Kyle Bush is starting in ninth, Carl Edwards in Tenth, Joey Logano thirteenth and Jimmie Johnson fourteenth. Of course none of that means all that much when it comes down to the actual race but it is interesting that the top four aren’t really the top four qualifiers for the biggest race of the 2016 season.

Kevin Harvick is sitting on the pole for the Ford Ecoboost 400. Not many thought he wouldn’t be one of the final four but he is not running for the Sprint Cup Championship – he isn’t one of the final four. Things happened to upset his being one of the final four but he has accepted that and he is still showing he and his team have “the stuff” it takes to win even though they aren’t actually going for the Championship Trophy. Even though there are a few changes coming to Stewart-Haas Racing next season, this fan thinks he will probably be contending for the Championship again and could end up as Champ again.

Of the four contenders for the Championship, it wouldn’t bother this fan if any one of three of them wins but there is one that really isn’t one I hope wins. Every fan has their favorites and favorites to root against and this one is one I honestly don’t root for, not that he isn’t talented and not that he isn’t capable; it’s just that he has somehow managed to rub me the wrong way and I just haven’t been able to shake that negativity yet. Maybe someday that will happen and, who knows he might even be one that actually do root for to win one day. That hasn’t happened yet and especially not in this season ending championship race.

Carl Edwards is in search of his first Sprint Cup Championship and he actually has tied for one in the past. It’s not like he lost it because he did win it, it’s just that he tied and lost the tie breaker to Tony Stewart a few years back. It has taken him time to get back to this point but he is ready to make it another try and win his first Sprint Cup Championship. Since the Gibb’s Toyotas have looked very good on mile and a half tracks this season, there is a very good chance Carl could be the one celebrating winning the Cup Championship for 2016 when this one is over.

Carl will have to beat his teammate, Kyle Bush, to win his first and it is this fan’s opinion he won’t make it easy. Kyle is going for his second Championship in a row and since he is one of the JGR teams also, his chances are the same as Carl’s. Now, I’m not saying either one of them will win but I am saying both of them do have an equal opportunity to win and Kyle has looked very good this weekend as well as during the Chase to this point. I do look for him to be a factor at the very least whether or not he is running to win the race or just finishing ahead of the rest of the four contenders for the Championship.

Jimmie Johnson is on the verge of making NASCAR history once again. He could possibly be joining a very elite group that only two others have accomplished in NASCAR history. Those two are the King, Richard Petty, and the legendary Dale Earnhardt and what those two have accomplished is winning seven Championships. Jimmie is racing for his seventh and, he too, could have a great chance in celebrating winning the Championship when the race is done. With the competitive edge the Hendrick organization has regained, his chances are very good but 400 miles and several pit stops leave plenty of room for something to go wrong and prevent that seventh from happening for him and the #48 team. They’ll have to be on the top of their game just like the other three do if they hope to win the Championship.

As I said earlier, it is hard for this fan not to have a favorite but this is one time when it comes down to hoping one wins for one reason and any of the others for different reasons. I’m not really picking one over the rest but there has to be a point where a choice has to be made and I will do that this weekend.

If one does win over the rest of the four, I will be pulling for Jimmie Johnson to win his seventh. Admittedly, I have been a Hendrick Motorsports fan for a long time and will continue to be one for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the others, it just means I am a fan of and am impressed with the accomplishments of Hedrick Motorsports over the years. I have been a NASCAR fan for a long, long, time and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Okay, so that’s my choice for the one I would like to see win but I won’t stop watching the race if he falls back or falls out of being competitive for the Championship this Sunday. Just remember this; as the race pans out over the four hundred miles on Sunday afternoon. None of the four contenders has to win the race. They can finish in 37th to 40th as long as one of them finishes ahead of the rest. The one that does will be the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champ and the others will just have to wait until next year to try again…

Will I See ya next time… well… we’ll see…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 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