Daytime Short Tracking Plus the Smoke Returns At Richmond from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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For the third time in four weeks NASCAR takes on a short track and this time it is Richmond in the daytime. That in itself should make for an interesting Sunday afternoon but there is one thing more I am sure has not gone unnoticed by most NASCAR fans…

That’s right; you didn’t even have to guess did you? Tony – Smoke – Stewart is returning to his car as not only the owner but also the driver for the first time since last season. For those that may be wondering why I bring this up, this was supposed to be his last season and he had high hopes of being competitive, possibly even winning another Championship. As it stands right now, he has quite a task before him to even make the Chase let alone be a real contender to win a Championship in his final year of competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.

Just the fact that Smoke is returning to the driving side of his car is enough to make more people show up to watch, whether at the track or the TV side, simply because they want to know how he will fair and see whether or how his major back injury will affect him and whether or not it is really healed as they say. When it comes to the race, Richmond is a tough track and should show if there are any weak spots in his healing and recovery.

Richmond is usually a night time race so, with this one being in the daytime, it presents some new challenges for the teams, crew chiefs and the drivers as well. On top of all of that, Goodyear brought a different tire to this weekend’s race and it is supposed to (or at least should) improve the way the cars handle and make the racing a little bit more interesting.

Recently at Richmond, it seems that one car has shown up and dominated the race and it is my hope that will not be the case on Sunday afternoon. With the dominance the JGR teams have shown early in this 2016 season, this fan wonders if this might not be a weekend that some other team or teams show a little more strength than they have recently. Judging from the first practice – which was rain shortened – and with no qualifying, the starting lineup may be a little deceptive. It is difficult to say if anyone really has an advantage or if the teams really have a grip on how the track and tires will hold up. The Saturday morning practice was interesting and, from this fan’s view, it was obvious the teams were looking for good information that might carry over to race time Sunday afternoon. Whether they found what they were looking for or not remains to be seen.

Kevin Harvick posted the fastest time in the first practice on Saturday and that gave him the pole position for starting the Toyota Owners 400. Of course my favorite driver to root against, Joey Logano, is starting on the outside pole. It could mean he will be a contender when it comes down to crunch time but it could also mean he won’t even be close if the last couple of finishes or so give any insight into how he might finish. In fact, lately, the two Penske Fords just haven’t shown the same strength on race day they often did last year. I’m not saying they’re in trouble competitively at all but they just haven’t been in the mix at the end like they were last season. This may the weekend they begin to turn that around but, from this fan’s view and judging by what I’ve observed this weekend, I just don’t think that’s the case, (at least not yet.)

Jimmie Johnson was the fastest during the Saturday practice session and he was followed by his team mate Kasey Kahne posting second fastest. It does make this fan wonder if the Hendrick teams might make a strong showing on Sunday afternoon but I’m not sure I’m ready to make a bold statement in that direction. It is a possibility but there is the ever present JGR team of Kyle Bush lurking right behind them after posting the third fastest practice time in Saturday’s practice. He was followed by Kevin Harvick and his team mate Carl Edwards. In fact, there were four Toyotas and five Chevys posting the fastest times in the top ten. Barring the unforeseen, that could mean another dominating day for the JGR teams on Sunday afternoon.

When it comes to Tony Stewart (Smoke) and his return to being a driver in the Sprint Cup series, his practices weren’t stellar but he did put in a lot of laps and, at least to this fan, he was none the worse for wear when the practices were over. Of course the race is 400 laps and 300 miles and I will be interested to not only see where he finishes but how he exits the car when the race is over. The hope is he will come away unscathed and confident about moving on to the next race as far as his back is concerned.

Many are pulling for him to come away with a win at Richmond Sunday afternoon so the only thing he would have to do is work his way into the top thirty in points after that. Judging from his practice times, he is a long shot to win the Toyota Owners 400 but he has as good a shot as anyone else that starts (and finishes) the race to come away the winner. Personally, I don’t think he will win but I am glad to see him back in the lineup…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 23, 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

High Banks, High Speed Means Big Action at Bristol from a NASCAR Fan’s View

IMG_1325I don’t why it is but I do know that no matter what happens at Bristol, almost everyone says the same thing; “That’s Bristol, baby!” Whether it’s an on-track incident or something in the pits, it seems that’s the first words out of just about everyone’s mouth. Bristol is, and always has been, a track with high speed and lots of action. Many attribute the speed and the action to those high banked turns and along with all of it, emotions run high which leads to plenty of action all around the track at all times.

Bristol seems to be a track where anything can happen at any time. It doesn’t matter if it is during practice, qualifying or anytime cars are on the track, anything can happen and it usually does. Take for example the incident between Ty Dillon and Landon Cassill during qualifying. Dillon lost control of his #14 Chevy and spun into the back end of Landon Cassill and Cassill was just slowing down to enter in to the pits after his qualifying run. Both suffered a lot of damage and it was just a case of one of them being the wrong place at the right time. But as usual, most just chalked it up to, “being Bristol.”

There were several incidents that happened during the practice sessions and in qualifying and, if the same holds true during the race on Sunday afternoon, this one could turn out to be a very interesting and action packed 500 laps. With the temperature predicted to being close to 80 degrees during race time, it can only enhance the chances of an intensely emotional, beatin’ and bangin’ time during the Food City 500. This fan expects there will plenty of slippin’ and slidin’ as the concrete surface heats up and takes on rubber and the race progresses.

As I mentioned in my last article, the JGR teams are looking very strong and show up strong consistently week after week. Once again this weekend the JGR teams qualified very well and all four of them are starting in the top five of the starting lineup. If that’s not making some kind of statement, this fan doesn’t know what is. Carl Edwards took his second straight pole and even though that doesn’t mean much at times, it does mean JGR is definitely showing up with winning in mind.

Once again, the bright spot for the Hendrick teams was Jimmie Johnson and he qualified sixth. Kasey Kahne and Dale Jr didn’t fare quite as well but from this fan’s view I don’t expect we can judge where they will finish by how they qualified.

Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing, (and one of the Hendrick associated teams), was the bright spot for SHR by qualifying seventh. No matter how you look at it, it does appear that most of the Hendrick and Hendrick associated teams are struggling a bit even though they have been running decently when it comes to race time.

One thing is pretty evident when it comes to racing at Bristol and that is to expect the unexpected from beginning to end of the race on Sunday afternoon. From my view, picking a winner in the Food City 500 is going to be difficult but it could easily be one of the JGR teams. This may be a break out race for Carl Edwards or it could be three in a row for Kyle Bush. No way will I rule out the possibility of Matt Kenseth turning his luck around and ending up in Victory Lane. I’m not saying he will but there is a good possibility he could.

Several people have already stated they think Denny Hamlin or Joey Logano will end up in Victory Lane but this fan cannot think of two drivers he would rather didn’t win other than the two just mentioned. I don’t know why I feel that way about these two but I do know I do. Maybe someday I will change my opinion but it sure hasn’t happened yet. That’s not to say they can’t win or shouldn’t win but it does say this fan won’t be too disappointed if they don’t.

And then there are all of those other drivers that could or might win. I expect the day to be full of surprises and that could very well carry over to the one that ends up in Victory Lane. From this fan’s view, one thing seems to be certain and that is that this should prove to be one of the most interesting and exciting races so far this year. No matter what happens it will definitely live up to the favorite statement uttered from many a fan’s lips and that would be, “That’s Bristol, baby!!!”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 16, 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

NASCAR Takes On Texas Under The Lights from a NASCAR Fan’s View

IMG_1325Texas Motor Speedway has been on the NASCAR circuit for twenty years now and the track not only offers unique challenges for the drivers but it has also presented challenges to Goodyear. Along with the rule changes NASCAR set forth for the 2016 season and the abrasiveness of the twenty year old Texas track, Goodyear has made a change to the tires for both the left and right side and so far, at least from this fan’s view, they have once again made a good improvement. Of course time will tell how true that statement actually is but that improvement should make for some very interesting racing in the evening to nighttime Duck Commander 500 on this Saturday night.

Last weekend at Martinsville wasn’t really all that surprising to see Kyle Bush come out the winner. In fact, the Toyotas (especially the Joe Gibbs Toyotas) have made great advances especially in the last year. It wasn’t all that long ago that the Hedrick Chevys were the ones everyone was talking about and how far ahead they were over the rest of the others. Now it appears the talk has shifted to the Toyota camp and, with Carl Edwards winning the pole at Texas, it could be another weekend a Toyota will be celebrating in Victory Lane when this one is over.

Sure, I remember Joey Logano won the pole last week and then proceeded to have a terrible race on Sunday. They just flat missed the setup for the race even though they seemed to hit it just right for the qualifying. Although it is possible for that to happen to Edwards, I just don’t think it will considering the way the Joe Gibbs Toyotas have been running. Carl may not come away with the win but I do expect him to be a force to be reckoned with Saturday night.

The Fords have been slowly improving (or maybe better stated, slowly catching up to the rest of the field) but they just haven’t looked as strong as they did last season, especially the Penske Fords. Oh sure, they’ve made good showings but they just haven’t shown the same strength so far this year as they did last year. Of course it is just this fan’s opinion but the Toyotas have stumbled on a few things that the other teams are still looking for. All of this could do a 180 as the season progresses, but for now, the advantage seems to lean toward the Toyotas. That doesn’t mean the others are outclassed, it just means they aren’t performing quite as consistently well as the Toyotas.

It has been suggested here and there that the new rules package for this season has been more of an equalizer throughout the Cup garage than even NASCAR had hoped it would. I mean, if you look at some of the drivers and teams that are finishing nearer to the front and being talked about more often, something has changed. It could be the new rules package or it could just be all of the changes together making a difference for now. When it comes down to crunch time later on in the season, this fan definitely thinks the usual cream will rise to the top. Admittedly, there is the possibility of seeing a couple of new faces being qualified for the Chase but I don’t really see any big surprises on the horizon, at least not yet.

Taking a look at the starting lineup may make my remarks about the Fords seem a little premature. In the top ten starting positions, four are Toyotas, four are Fords and two are Chevys. Of the four Toyotas, three of them are Joe Gibbs Racing teams and one is Joe Gibbs associated. That just may make my case that this one very well could be won by a Toyota and possibly a JGR Toyota at that. Of course I do know that Logano and Keselowski of Penske are starting in the top ten and I do find it interesting but not definite proof they will end up in Victory Lane.

When all is said and done, the checkered flag has dropped and the engines have fallen silent, I just don’t know who is going to win this one. It could be a new face or it could be one we’ve all seen in Victory Lane many times. No matter how the practices or the qualifying went, I still won’t rule out the possibility of a Jimmie Johnson or Kevin Harvick win. Hey… Did I mention Kyle Bush is starting fifteenth right along side of Dale Jr.? And did I mention either one of them could take the win at Texas Motor Speedway? Well… would that really be so much of a surprise?

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

A Few Thoughts on the First Five and Martinsville From A NASCAR Fan’s View

IMG_1325Okay… this fan has kept silent long enough and it’s time to offer my view of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series so far this year. It is also time to get back into my weekly articles and podcasts (although the podcasts will have to wait a bit longer simply because my voice just won’t cooperate yet. Honestly, it has been a tough couple of months – health wise – and I am more than ready to get back into the swing of things. (Nothing serious going on with my health, I just think my body decided to catch everything it could and get it all over in one long month and a half… ha, ha.)

I’m not sure how some will take my comments and opinion of the racing in the Cup series so far this year and, let me tell you right up front, I welcome your opinions and agreement or disagreement at any time, but, I’m going to give you mine, too.

First of all, I have had a hard time deciding on which of the drivers I would like follow as a favorite. With the retirement of Jeff Gordon, the injuries sustained by Tony Stewart (putting a cramp in his year of retirement) and an overall lack of performance from some others I’d like to see do well, I just haven’t been able to get too excited with anyone yet. In fact, it pains me to see a few that I’ve not been all that fond of anyway over the last couple of years doing better than I would like for them to. That’s just my way of showing you that this fan has drivers he likes and ones he doesn’t even though he does have at least moderate respect for all of them.

Second, the first races of the season weren’t really all that exciting (at least from this fan’s view) and I was really disappointed with it starting at Daytona. Even the 500 was a bit of a letdown to me and it just wasn’t like Daytona’s of the past few years. Throughout the race I kept looking for something to attract or keep my attention but overall, most of the race was rather lack luster until the final few laps. So as fans, we all had to sit through about 490 some miles to get to what some called “an exciting finish!” Honestly, in this fan’s opinion, it wasn’t really worth the wait to see such ho-hum racing for all but the last few laps. I realize in racing it isn’t over until the checkered flag drops but without much of anything going on for most of the race until the last two laps, we might as well just have ten lap sprints and see who comes out on top. At least from my view, that would be much more exciting.

The next two races at Atlanta and Las Vegas were very much like the way things went at Daytona. I, as a fan, sat through all of the laps of the races finding myself having trouble staying interested. If it weren’t for some of the drama going on in the pits both Atlanta and Vegas would have been some of the most unexciting Sprint Cup races I’ve experienced in recent years. If it weren’t for the last couple of laps in both of them I just may have come away with an attitude worse than I already had.

I’m not sure whether it is the new rules package or just because I’ve had trouble staying interested without a favorite to root for to win. It hasn’t helped that some of what I would call my favorites haven’t performed like had hoped they would but so far, something is missing from this season but I’m just not sure what it is yet. It could be me or it could be that the racing just hasn’t been that good in this early part of the season but whatever it is I am hoping it will get better or I may have to take up golf.

Now that I’ve said all of that (and I could say more but I won’t) I would like to say a few words about Martinsville, one of the toughest short tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Although the year is a new year and there are a few new faces around the Sprint Cup side of things in NASCAR, some things never seem to change. Martinsville has all the things drivers and fans alike love about racing. There will be contact, impatience and tempers that flare. All of those things are what so many love about their own local short tracks and that is the drama, intensity and emotion that goes with the territory. As all of us that grew up around our local short tracks know, “rubbin’ is racing” and there will be plenty of that at Martinsville Sunday afternoon.

Although some have already made their choice for taking the win, I am still a little undecided. There has been talk of Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson taking the win simply because of their past performances. Those are all good choices but I’m not so sure this Sunday’s race won’t be won by the likes of Kyle Larson, Chase Elliot or maybe even Carl Edwards. Martinsville has often been a place of surprises and I think this weekend could prove to be as surprising as any. I would be a bit surprised if either Larson or Elliot wins their first race in the Sprint Cup series but I refuse to discount the possibility of someone like Jimmie Johnson taking home another Grandfather Clock when this one is over…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 2, 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

2015 – One Era Ends and a New One Begins from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Kyle Bush won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship and did it by winning the last race of the 2015 season. He wasn’t always out front and didn’t necessarily dominate the race but, when it counted, he and his team came through with a dominating performance for the last several laps of the Ford Ecoboost 400. Kevin Harvick was in his mirror for those final laps but never really pressed Kyle at all for the victory and finished second in the race and in the standings.

Those are some of the historical facts of the finale at Homestead in this 2015 NASCAR Cup season. It was also the end of an era. Jeff Gordon ran his last race in the Cup series and is retiring now that the race is over. He won’t necessarily disappear and ride off into the sunset and he won’t likely become invisible anytime soon but his life will be different and so will the NASCAR Cup series. Fortunately for all Jeff Gordon fans he will be in the broadcast booth next season with Fox Sports and will still be involved with Hendrick Motorsports and Rick Hendrick for the foreseeable future.

There isn’t much that’s left to say about Jeff Gordon, his career and what he brought to NASCAR because, from this fan’s view, everybody and their brother (including their sisters) has said so much about the life and times of Jeff Gordon. Much was said over the entire season but most of it was said in the last several weeks as the time drew near for this, his final race in the NASCAR Cup series. It seemed to this fan that everyone had something to say about Jeff Gordon and 99.99% of it was definitely positive (and trust me, nobody is concerned about that .01% that may not have been.)

This fan is old enough to remember when Jeff Gordon broke into the Cup series (and honestly it doesn’t seem all that long ago.) Along with many other long time NASCAR fans, I wasn’t that much of a fan of his at first. He was just a kid coming in and we all had our own favorites at the time that we had followed for many years. I even remember that I wasn’t happy with him for the way he departed his ride in the Bush series and felt that he dumped them for an opportunity that wouldn’t amount to much. Besides, I still had my old favorites that I wanted to see keep on winning and his entry into the Cup Series was little more than a media distraction. I have to be honest with you and say that I didn’t think he was going to make it and in his first year, not all that much was said about him other than what often are considered, “honorable mentions” and that was about it, (well… at least from this fan’s view and memory that’s what it was.)

It wasn’t long before my attitude began to change. Like all tried and true NASCAR fans I paid attention to, not only his accomplishments on the track but also, how he represented himself after a race and away from the track. Believe me, nobody is perfect and Jeff Gordon wasn’t either but there was something different about him that began to, and kept on attracting my attention. I still had my old favorites but he was beginning to impress me in many ways and particularly on the track. I made a point to pay attention to what was written about him as his time in the Cup series began to add up and I found that he was quite a talented driver even as young as he was. I knew early on he had won at least 600 races before hitting the Cup Series and I thought that was impressive to say the least.

After his first couple of years in the Cup Series I have to admit I was watching him closely and eventually became one of his biggest fans even though I still held on to some of the ones I had been a fan of for a long time. It was obvious “the Kid” had talent but just his winning races wasn’t the only thing that impressed me. It was the fact he was a real person, he displayed emotion and exhibited his competitive spirit in more than one way, including getting in someone’s face when necessary. On the track he showed what he was capable of and that he had the talent to win and win often. I even remember Dale Earnhardt, Sr. once said after a race, “… that just goes to show “the Kid” can win with anyone as his crew chief,” and I don’t think that meant The Intimidator was intimidated by him but that he did have respect for his talents even though he was young.

The four-time Cup Champ was and is a legend in his own time and represented NASCAR with honor and Class. He never lost sight of those that came before him and made a lasting impact on the sport he loves and he did everything he could to be a good representative of NASCAR as a Champion, a driver, a mentor to drivers coming into the sport and an ambassador for NASCAR Stock Car racing in general. Jeff Gordon will always be a Champion no matter what direction his life takes him from this point forward.

Kyle Bush wasn’t one of my favorite drivers until the last few years. I don’t know what it was about him but I just never really liked him all that much. I don’t think it was because of his age but it could have been because he seemed to me to be a whiner in his early Cup career. It was obvious he had a lot of talent and a lot of natural ability when it came to car control. Even though he was showing moments of exceptional talent, he was also often showing his obvious lack of maturity – from this fan’s view it was like he was trying to show everyone he deserved what he had not yet earned. His first years in the Cup Series he just didn’t impress me and I had concerns as to what kind of a representative of the NASCAR Cup Series he might be if he won a Championship. He was and is very talented and, as I said in the last article, he has become very likeable in many ways.

I noticed a difference in him over the last two or three years in particular and watched his progress throughout this challenging year with great interest. As just an observation from this fan’s view, I think his meeting his wife had a great deal to do with where he is and what he has become over the last couple of years. There is absolutely something to be said about having a good and strong woman beside you, helping you and making you better along the way. Believe me; I know this is true simply because of the blessing and strength my wife of thirty-six years has been to me. She has made me a better person over all and I am thankful for her. Of course, I think his joining Joe Gibbs Racing has had something to do with his success also as well as the person he has and is becoming.

Unlike some of his detractors that have never set foot in a race car or never faced a possible life altering accident or challenge, I have absolutely no problem with the fact that NASCAR allowed him to compete for the Championship this year even though he missed the first eleven races of the season. He had that horrendous accident at Daytona in February and many wondered if he would ever be able to drive again or at least be competitive. He worked hard to get himself back into the race car as quickly as possible. He met all of the criteria they laid down for him to be able to compete by winning three races and working his way into the top thirty in points to qualify for being in the Chase.

Kyle Bush showed great determination to accomplish the necessary things he had to accomplish so he could be a contender in the Chase for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship and he drove his heart out to win the race and become the 2015 Champion. Though some don’t think he deserves to be there, this fan is not one of those. He is every bit as much a Champion and winner as anyone that ever was or is in NASCAR. This fan thinks he will make a great Cup Champion and will represent the sport extremely well.

As this 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season draws to a close, we see one era coming to an end. Jeff Gordon is departing the Cup Series with style and class and like the Champion he has been over these twenty- three years. Without a doubt he is destined to be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame and will be remembered as one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history and rightfully so. He has been a great Champion and will be remembered as such for a long time.

The end of one era usually heralds a new one and the possibilities moving forward are vast. There are a lot of great drivers now and this fan knows there are more coming. Although it is unknown which one of the present or future drivers might be the next “great one” there are several waiting in the wings to prove themselves. To name a few would be, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and others. Kyle Bush is one to watch and watch closely in the years ahead and this could just as likely be the beginning of the Kyle Bush era as any of those I just mentioned. Congratulations to Kyle Bush, the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 24, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

It’s One and Done at Homestead from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship is unique to itself and the Championship race itself is too. One of the most interesting things about this final race for the 2015 season is that none of the four running for the Championship has to win. The only thing one of them has to do is finish in front of the other three. Of course if you ask the four competing for the Sprint Cup Championship you’ll find none of them are approaching this race any differently than they would any other elimination race in the Chase – that’s right … they want to win!

As a longtime NASCAR fan I find it very interesting that four drivers compete with each other for the Championship while competing with thirty-nine others that could possibly win but their winning doesn’t have any effect on the outcome of the Championship. The champion comes from which of the four left competing for the Sprint Cup finishes ahead of the other three. Any way you look at it that is definitely different than any other sport I know of.

The 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship has been one of the most intense, dramatic and emotional Chases this fan has ever experienced and the race this weekend at Homestead won’t be any different. The four drivers, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush, Martin Truex Jr. and Jeff Gordon all have unique stories surrounding them as they have competed and qualified for the Championship round throughout this season and any of their stories would be a crowning moment on their season and careers. None of these four were necessarily expected to be where they are this weekend considering how their seasons started and progressed throughout the year.

We all know the stories surrounding these final four and that’s pretty much all we’ve heard about all week long from every known talking head since last Sunday’s race finally ended at Phoenix. There is still a lot of talk of how these four shouldn’t even be competing for the Sprint Cup and that had NASCAR made “the right decision” there would probably be a little different look to the final four. Of course this fan suspects the main reason for those thoughts is because their driver didn’t make it in. It is true the calling of the race because of rain did affect one or two of the finalists but, from this fan’s view, the ones that should be competing for the Championship this year are the ones that are. I’m not saying that just because the ones I wanted to be there are but because they deserve to be there and everything they did throughout the year and the Chase has put them there. Circumstances aside, these four drivers and teams worked hard to be where they are.

I know you know all the stories surrounding these four drivers but a quick review is in order, well… at least from the way this fan sees them.

Kevin Harvick has overcome many adversities to be where he is this weekend and no one can say his team gave up when negative things happened to them week in and week out. The driver and his entire team seemed to thrive on adversity and their determination to put them in the final four. Even this weekend, Harvick didn’t qualify as well as he hoped he would but he isn’t moping around hoping things go better, he is looking at where they’ve been and what they’ve accomplished this season. He is contending for his second Sprint Cup Championship in a row and has a very good chance at repeating.

Martin Truex Jr. surprised many by making the Chase as a single car team and he and his team have performed well enough to make it through the three rounds leading up to this one to be strong contenders for taking the Cup Championship which would be his first. Many consider him to be the dark horse in this one and probably rightly so – he only has three victories to his credit so far in his Cup career but winning on Sunday is not out of his reach.

Kyle Bush is a different Kyle Bush than he was a few years ago. He has matured over that time and has handled the adversity of this season with determination and class. From this fan’s view, determination has never been his weakness but me using the word “class” to describe him is new. As I said, he has matured and become more likeable over the last couple of years. After his accident at Daytona at the beginning of the season, no one thought he would be in the Chase, let alone competing for the Sprint Cup in the finale. He has had his best Chase performance ever and he is going for his first Cup Championship in this one and he and his team worked hard, won races and did everything they had to do to be where they are this weekend.

That brings us to the four-time Champion, Jeff Gordon. He has had what many consider to be an up and down year. After some of the trials and tribulations he and his team faced throughout this year, not too many thought he would make it to the final four at Homestead this weekend to compete for his fifth Cup Championship. In fact, there were those that didn’t think he would even have a win in this, his last year in NASCAR let alone make it into the Chase. In typical Jeff Gordon fashion, he came through when it counted and his win at Martinsville, the teams overall consistency throughout the year and some sheer determination on all their parts put them in the finale and he has a chance to be successful in his Drive for Five.

It will definitely be “one and done” for more than one reason at Homestead this weekend. This has been the most dramatically intense and emotional Chase since they instituted this format into the mix and I expect it to be nothing less on Sunday afternoon. Forty-three cars competing for a win, four drivers of those forty-three competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship and a four time Champion trying to retire while on top – Can it get any better than this? This fan doesn’t think so…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 21, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

After Phoenix Damage Assessment from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Well, the final four are set for Homestead and many came away from the Phoenix race with mixed emotions. It was an unusual day at the track in the desert and the race scheduled for daytime turned into a night time race. Rather than it coming down to a white knuckle, edge-of-your-seat finish at the end of the race, it was the relentlessness of the on and off rain that proved to be the undoing of four of the ones hoping to move on to the Championship race. I’m not going to say it was a great race but it did turn out to be an interesting one. Even after the multi hour rain delay…

From this fan’s view, I think the one damaged the most by the race being called because of rain was Carl Edwards. Of the four that were trying to race their way into the final four, he was the only one that really had a chance to point his way in and he was running ahead of Martin Truex Jr. when it was called – just not far enough ahead. He was only able to gain two of the seven points he needed and, because of the race being called, he finished five points behind Truex and was eliminated. That was unfortunate but he’s not the only one that the calling of a race because of rain has ever happened to except that this one happened in the final elimination race in the Chase. It may have been a unique circumstance but it was still a consistent call by NASCAR according to the rules.

As for Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano not making it into the finale, well… the way the eight in the Elimination round were running, they really only had once chance and that was to win. Either way it went between them, the other one of the two Penske teams was going to be eliminated. There has since been a lot of speculation about the “what if” factor and how it might have changed things had there been a re-start after another extended track drying delay, (which, by the way, could have been another couple of hours.) A lot of the speculation appeared to be based on the fact that Joey Logano was in third place and could have possibly passed the two in front of him and won the race, putting him in the finale.

Okay, let’s just say they did have another re-start and Logano had another chance at taking the lead. How would’ve Logano handled that re-start? Would he have “done whatever it took to win” which he previously proved it could mean taking those ahead of him out rather than, “racing them for the win?” I find it interesting that Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski put on quite a performance last weekend at Texas showing how drivers could race each other using the same tactics of blocking and intimidating but never touching. Listening to Logano after the race at Phoenix when he was asked what he would have done if there had been another re-start he answered quite directly that he would have done whatever it took to win. I don’t know what that meant to him but to this NASCAR fan that meant he just might drive through them to win. It makes me wonder if he is still as arrogant as he sounded after the incident with Kenseth and learned nothing from it or whether he would do it differently. I guess we’ll never know for sure, the rain ended that. Personally, I don’t think he was going to win anyway but we’ll never know for sure about that either. Oh well…

Kurt Bush put himself in a hole right from the drop of the green flag when NASCAR called him on a little remembered rule about the start of a race and how the pole sitter cannot be passed until after he – (or she for that matter) – crosses the start/finish line. That rule only applies to the start of a race and not the re-starts. Somehow, this fan thinks that rule might be revisited during the off-season. It may or may not be changed but I personally think it will come up in discussion at some point before things pick backup at Daytona in February. Personally it doesn’t matter much to this fan which way they decide that one.

To his credit Kurt did do everything he could to catch back up but when the rain returned, it all came to nothing and he wasn’t going to be moving on to the Championship round. He just couldn’t overcome the deficit caused by being in the wrong place at the right time at Martinsville. Even though he was in seventh position when the Phoenix race was called, it wasn’t enough to move him up in points and besides, he needed to win or everyone else needed to end up in the garage to make a place for him in the final four without the win.

I hate to keep bringing this up but, Kurt Bush not making the final four is just another example of what this fan considers started the much talked about actions at Martinsville between Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. Matt was in second place when Brad Keselowski ran into him and took him out for whatever reason on that day. Kenseth had most of the blame placed on his shoulders for what followed but this is what I considered to be the final straw that caused him to decide it was time for a little payback, not only to Logano but the whole Penske organization in particular; (and just as a side note, I don’t think he made the decision totally on his own, although I could be wrong.)

Of course, now all of the talking heads use as one of their main talking points how Matt Kenseth changed the whole outcome of the Championship by his actions in taking out Logano. If that were the case and NASCAR thought it was, it is my opinion they would have re-instated Logano like they did Jeff Gordon a couple of years ago after the actions of Michael Waltrip Racing. I really do think they saw more of the total picture and the way things added up over time and that Martinsville was everything coming to a head at once. They determined they had to take action and do something and they did, but they also left the door open, at least for now.

I don’t know; I may be giving them too much credit but I do think they understand things better than we as fans think they do at times. The decisions they make are hard and at times, it does appear they are inconsistent in those decisions and some of their calls but if they didn’t make those calls when they do, would we really have much else to talk or complain about? Hmmm, I wonder…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 18, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

The Chasers Face Last Chances At Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Say what you will about this race at Phoenix but, all things considered, it’s going to be one of the most intense and dramatic races of this 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season. It seems I say that almost every week so far in this Chase and with this Chase format. This format, along with the way the points now add up, has totally changed the way the Championship is decided. All it takes is one bad day or one win to completely change those considered to be the final four that will compete for the Championship at Homestead. Consistency still plays a part in the sense that a driver can’t afford to have a bad day, especially at certain critical times in this format and this weekend’s race at Phoenix is one of those critical times. Seven of the eight still qualified to contend for the Championship have to either win or they have to finish near the front, ahead of those they’re competing against I might add, to make it into the final four.

Joey Logano’s last chance to make it to the final four is winning this race. He has no other options. All it took was one bad finish, whether or not it was because of his own actions or not. He can do exactly what his teammate Brad Keselowski did last weekend – lead the most laps and run up front all day long – finish second and still not move on. Even though he had plenty of wins this season and won three in a row during the second round of the Chase it won’t make one bit of difference. All it took was one terrible finish and one not so good finish and he could be eliminated unless he wins on Sunday afternoon.

The pole sitter, Jimmie Johnson, didn’t even make it to this round. He was eliminated by a parts failure that kept him from advancing even though he was in the original sixteen contenders. A win by him this weekend won’t put him in the final four but it could very well help someone else move on to the final four. It may be the only chance that one, or possibly two, has to move on.

Kurt Bush’s last chance isn’t quite like Logano’s but it is quite similar. He doesn’t have to win to move on but it would almost take a miraculous intervention for him to move on to the Championship round without a win at Phoenix. He and Logano really are pretty much in the same boat. Even if one of them does win, the other one won’t be moving on.

Brad Keselowski can advance into the Championship round without a win but a win would make it quite easy for him. Unfortunately if he wins, his teammate Logano’s chances are done. As it is, he has to finish very near the front without the win and all of those ahead of him that are still in contention have to have very bad days. The likelihood of that happening is like zero and none without the win but it is his only other chance. This present format and existing points system has added that drama and intensity to the Chase.

Carl Edwards could move into the final four simply by winning or by having a much better finish than the three ahead of him in points. He is only seven points out of the final four going into this weekend but those ahead of him have been finishing better than him on a regular basis every weekend. Even though he likes this track and usually performs pretty well at Phoenix. His biggest problem is that of the three ahead of him in points, two of them usually do too. Of course, those two would be Kyle Bush and Kevin Harvick and Harvick has the best record of all of them. I can’t rule out Martin Truex Jr. and the way he’s been performing throughout the Chase. He could win but all he really needs to do is what he’s been doing over the last few races.

There really isn’t a way that this fan sees any of the seven left contending to get in as safe going into Sunday afternoon at Phoenix. The Chase this year has certainly been one of the most entertaining and dramatic ones, at least in my memory. NASCAR has certainly come up with what it wanted as far as making the Chase for the Championship as intensely interesting and dramatic, more so than any other sport I am familiar with. Of course those that aren’t into motorsports will probably disagree with me but they wouldn’t watch or get involved in it anyway. Too bad for them, they’ll never know what they’re missing because they’re just not watching or paying attention.

The way the Chase this year has been going, there is no telling what the results will be until the checkered flag falls and the engines go silent at Phoenix. I don’t know about you but I expect this one race could be even more exciting to watch than the one that will follow it at Homestead next weekend. Well… maybe not that exciting; but it will certainly be one of the most intense and stressful ones for fans and drivers alike as the laps click away and drivers chances for being in the final four either advance or diminish along with them. To that this fan says, “Boys, have at it.”

There is one thing more I have to add and it is probably the only certainty for this race. Jeff Gordon IS going to be in the final four, his drive for championship number five is still alive and winning, losing or even not finishing at Phoenix this weekend won’t change that…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 14, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

After Texas Damage Assessment from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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The Texas Motor Speedway is considered one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR Cup circuit and it was no different on Sunday afternoon. The speeds were fast and it looked as though it was going to be the usual race that fan’s and drivers alike usually experience. Well… as you already know, it wasn’t at all business as usual and the day was once again filled with intensity, emotion and unexpected drama right down to the final laps until the checkered flag fell.

Just as a slight review, before the race started things kind of shaped up like this. One person didn’t have to do much of anything except try to keep his and his team’s momentum going. In case you’re wondering or have forgotten, that was Jeff Gordon. He didn’t run badly but he was never much of a threat for the win. He did finish in the top ten though and that was a decent finish.

Those in the top four in points going in to Texas were determined to try and win or at least finish as near to the front as they could. By doing so they would either punch their ticket into the finale or, at least, make their chances better by increasing their point’s leads.

And then you had those that entered the weekend after having a disastrous weekend at Martinsville. Amongst those were Kurt Bush, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Of course we all know Joey Logano’s situation and how he arrived to the place he did. The important thing is that all three of them needed a very strong showing or possibly a win.

The worst thing that happened to all of them before the race ever started was the rain that kept them from practicing and possibly finding more speed or some problems with the tires. Even with all of those happenings, that just isn’t what made the race at Texas Motor Speedway one of the most dramatic in the Chase so far.

So… what was it that this fan thinks made this race so different? Well, I’m glad you asked (even though I was going to give you my opinion anyway.)

With all the talk that went on all week long before the race at TMS about the incident the week before between Kenseth and Logano, I don’t see how anyone could not know just how important this race was going to be. It was absolutely imperative that the Penske teams finish at or near the front. Brad Keselowski did his part on Friday and qualified on the pole for Sunday’s race. Logano didn’t qualify as well but still had a good starting position.

Matt Kenseth was sitting at home serving his first week of suspension so Brad and Joey wouldn’t have to worry about him upsetting the Penske applecart and both Logano and Keselowski appeared to be confident of having a good day on Sunday afternoon. All was good in the Penske world and it looked like it was going to go good for them. Even the Joe Gibbs team challenges to NASCAR’s rulings against Kenseth were kept in place except for the six month probation period being changed to just through December 31, 2015.

When the race started it did look as though it might be a good day for Brad as he immediately started pulling away from the rest into the lead from the pole. Even Logano looked strong and, from all appearances in the first laps, it just might be another Penske day.

Just when it appeared everything might be working out for Logano after his bad weekend at Martinsville, suddenly things changed for him. He blew a left rear tire on lap ten and it tore up the backend of his car so badly that it took over sixty laps to repair it in the garage. As some were heard to say, (at least where I was sitting), “Man, talk about it catching up to you… I guess the “racing gods” wanted to balance out the results between Joey and Matt.”

Well honestly, I don’t believe in “racing gods” any more that I do in a thing called bad Karma but it did appear something was going on since others had tire problems but not near the damage suffered by Logano. I hope you remember I talked about how a driver’s “racing luck” can change on a dime back in the article titled, “Martinsville resets the Chase to Eight.” I’ve seen it happen before and it could just be that his luck turned the weekend of Martinsville. Now he goes to Phoenix in a have to win situation. Nothing short of a win will get him into the finale at Homestead.

Just a few quick thoughts on Keselowski’s run Sunday afternoon. He led the most laps and looked almost untouchable. Well, that is until the final restart. Suddenly a race that almost nobody was going to remember as anything more that a race that Brad Keselowski dominated and punched his ticket into the finale at Homestead became memorable in two ways; First, Jimmie Johnson and Brad put on a show for several laps about how to block someone from passing you or how to pass cleanly, not spinning out your competition or running into them to win.

It was a dramatic and intense bit of racing on both Johnson’s and Keselowski’s parts and when Jimmie cleanly passed Brad it proved what many of us thought should have happened between Kenseth and Logano. Oh, and by the way, it also makes the race coming up at Phoenix all the more important, especially for three of the drivers, two of them on the same team. Definitely Logano and likely Keselowski need to win to move on to the Championship at Homestead BUT only one of them can win and definitely be in. There is one other possible scenario, but I don’t think we really want to talk about that right now. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out at Phoenix…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 10, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Chasers Take On Texas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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If you’ve been listening to the talking heads this week, you’ve probably noticed they’ve been mentioning a few happenings from previous times in the Chase over the last couple of years. Even so, they had a lot to say about the incident between Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano at Martinsville and how they felt it might be damaging to the sport. Then they talk about Texas and how intense it was last year and of course bringing up the heated “discussion” between Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski and other things. To me, that sounds a little hypocritical. First they say how things getting rough are bad for the sport and then they use some of the more intense items that happened to keep or gain the interest of the fans for the coming race this weekend. In fact, from this fan’s view it seems they look for something along those lines almost every weekend.

I’m sure they don’t mean it to be hypocritical and it does grab the attention of NASCAR fans on all sides of the issues but, they can’t really have it both ways. There is nothing about racing, especially NASCAR stock car racing, that is humdrum or without emotion. Add to the mix the adrenaline that flows from driving a race car, the competitiveness of the drivers and the present intense competitiveness of the latest Chase format and you come up with a formula that heightens emotions to their peak. Let’s be honest – the intensity and emotion on the part of the drivers is often what makes fans act like fans. The drama caused by rivalries and good guy, bad guy thinking drives fans’ interest or, at least, it has and does mine; and I really think does for fans too and always has.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. Nobody wants to see someone get hurt but most every fan likes to see their favorite driver take up for himself when he (and they for that matter) think or know he has been wronged. Sometimes payback doesn’t always come from the clearest thought processes. It often has more to do with the emotions and the adrenaline flowing in their system. Whether it be on the short tracks around the United States or the big ones NASCAR races on, it has always been like this. I personally don’t think it is a bad thing and it does add to the drama and thrill of racing or watching it week in and week out. (Well, at least from this fan’s view it does.)

There has already been a big build up for the race at Texas this weekend and how intense it will be for at least the seven remaining in the Chase that haven’t punched their ticket into the finale at Homestead just three short weekends away (counting this one of course.) There’s been a lot of emphasis on the ones that are in fifth through eighth and how they might be a little desperate going in to this one. Two of them would be Brad K and Joey Logano. After last week’s mishap, Logano is in the worst shape and has the most to gain by winning.

Both of the Penske cars looked very strong in the practice session and qualifying. That could mean trouble for five of the other cars still in the hunt for a spot in the Homestead Championship race. At the time of this writing, it was raining at Texas Motor Speedway and it was still questionable whether or not the teams would get more track time before hitting the track on Sunday afternoon. All of them were hoping to get on the track two times on Saturday and they may get to whether or not I get a chance to say anything about it here or not.

It doesn’t really matter either way. Just because the Penske team cars looked strong in the practice session on Friday and qualified well for the race doesn’t mean they will have an easy go of it in the race. Joey just about needs to win although he doesn’t really have to at this point to move on to the Championship race. For him, he definitely needs to finish at or near the front. His teammate, Brad K, won the pole and will start up front (barring the unforeseen between now and Sunday afternoon) and isn’t in quite the same spot but he needs to have a good finish to stay in the hunt.

Unfortunately Kurt Bush didn’t have a very good race last weekend either and he joins the two Penske cars at thirty plus points behind the leader going into this weekend. If it was the last race in this elimination round instead of what it is, they would definitely be in desperate situations. As it is, all three of them need really good finishes or a win this weekend and maybe a little help from those ahead of them in points.

From this fan’s view, there are three things that are definite for Sunday afternoon’s race:

First of all, for once this season and in this Chase it doesn’t matter where Jeff Gordon finishes or how he runs all day. As a matter of pride, this fan knows it matters to him and his team how he finishes and he wants to run a strong race and be in contention to win when it comes down to the checkers. Even if he doesn’t win or finish well, he is already qualified for the Championship four at Homestead.

Second, the ones already in the top four in points want to stay there and it will be a very tense and intense dramatic afternoon for Kyle Bush, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. Any of the three could win but none of them want to have a bad day and have to win at Phoenix next weekend to move on.

Third, if Joey Logano doesn’t have a good finish or win he definitely won’t be able to blame Matt Kenseth for it…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 7, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

After Martinsville Damage Assessment from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Once again Martinsville, the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit, became the biggest for drama, tempers, excitement and intensity. A lot happened in the 500 laps around the .526 mile oval that possibly changed the entire outlook for the finale in three weeks at Homestead. The damage done to several of the possible contenders for the Cup Championship may or may not be able to be undone – only the next two races before the finale will tell the story.

It isn’t news to anyone that Jeff Gordon won his first race of the 2015 season and also is now one of the four that will be racing for the Cup Championship in three weeks at Homestead. This fan congratulates him for that. It also isn’t news of how he was able to do exactly that or that Matt Kenseth took the opportunity to give a little payback to Joey Logano for his actions at Kansas, along with things that happened at Martinsville. What is news is that people are still talking about it and NASCAR has made a decision about Kenseth’s actions as I write this but their decision doesn’t change mine at all. In fact, even though it might sound quite severe, it is fairly non consequential and its effect is not far reaching. (In case you haven’t heard, they suspended Kenseth for the next two races and put him on probation for six months.)

I have found it quite interesting to follow all (or at least most) of the talking heads since the incident and how they viewed Kenseth’s actions and how they think it is time for NASCAR to make a statement with some kind of severe punishment for him. They’ve found it difficult to believe that the fans don’t readily agree with them and many of the quick polls I have seen are quite in favor of Kenseth’s actions with Logano. I wrote about what actions I thought Kenseth might take in my article called “Kansas Damage Assessment” a couple of days after Kansas.

I’m sure the talking heads and “expert commentators” will have mixed emotions about NASCAR’s decision and punishment. I would even venture to say they won’t think NASCAR went far enough but even that doesn’t bother me or change my opinion either. What I do find fascinating from the commentators is how they think Logano’s move at Kansas was perfectly okay and that Kenseth’s seeming payback at Martinsville was completely out of place. They use as their explanation of those statements the fact that at Kansas Logano and Kenseth were racing for the win and at Martinsville, Kenseth was many laps down.

Although it is true Kenseth was about nine laps down at the time he and Logano had their on track “disagreement,” they seem to overlook how Matt once again got that many laps down. There was a team Penske thing going on at all of the restarts once both Penske teams got on the front row. Kenseth decided to try and stick to Logano’s bumper and break up the team effort of Keselowski and Logano for the restarts. Unfortunately, it did appear that Brad K did take Kenseth out although I’m not sure it was intentional. As some have said, that lit the fuse which led to the final result. Personally, I prefer to say it re-lit the fuse and everything together caused the explosion of emotion which ultimately led to the surprise but not unexpected result. (Well, at least it wasn’t unexpected by this NASCAR fan.)

When it happened I tweeted my opinion at the time and it really hasn’t changed at all because it is this fan’s opinion that I think what happened was mostly justified. Here’s what I tweeted: “So… it’s okay for Logano to take Kenseth out and ruin his championship hopes but not okay for Kenseth to do the same…” From the sound of the cheering crowd in the stands, it appeared they agreed much more with Kenseth’s actions than Logano’s loss.

Yes, I admit it was a bit emotional at the time but I do have my reasons. When the first incident happened at Kansas, I couldn’t believe how the talking heads took up for Logano’s actions and saw nothing wrong with it. They had the immediate and opposite reaction to Kenseth’s actions at Martinsville. Look, I used to race stock cars at our local tracks and I won my share of races and championships and lost my share too. I am very familiar with this statement I heard in my racing days although it was never directed at me in particular. That statement was, “Look buddy, I tried you high and I tried you low and then it was time for you to go.” (Of course, that’s the edited version because I prefer to keep my ‘G’ rating here on my sites.) I suppose Logano could use that example as his excuse if he wanted but this fan still thinks his actions were unwarranted.

Understand that I do understand what and why Logano did what he did but I also know that his actions eliminated Kenseth from the Chase for the Championship. If, as so many of the commentators have said, Logano clearly had the faster car why didn’t he wait to pass him without putting him out? If he had done that there would have been no need for retribution. If he was clearly faster as the heads stated, there was no need to take the action he took. As it was, he made the choice to put Kenseth out rather than continue to battle him for the lead. Choices like that often lead to hard feelings and we all know he sounded quite arrogant when he talked about the move afterwards – even Dale Jr. stated that in an interview.

As I said earlier, NASCAR has doled out the punishment to Kenseth and pretty much left the situation alone for the moment. It is this fan’s opinion their response was necessary but also guarded in the sense that they could say they did something about it. Not everyone will be happy about it on either side but who cares; after all, this IS NASCAR.

I still disagree with the commentators and their view of the accident. In listening to the replays of the incident, I suppose they called it as they saw it but I saw and heard something they never mentioned. They were too busy calling it payback (which it was) and never made mention that Logano pulled down into Kenseth. Even Logano’s spotter repeated several times, “He’s still inside, he’s still inside – still inside!!” Funny… I’ve never heard any of them mention that part of it at all…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 4, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Martinsville Resets Chase to Eight From a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Martinsville resets the Chase to eight. That doesn’t mean there are eight new competitors qualified to compete for the Cup Championship; it just means there are four less actually competing for it. Over the next three races the field will be cut once again down to four and those four will compete head to head for the Championship at Homestead.

We all know the most recent Chase format has increased the fan interest in the final ten races of the season and the quest for the coveted Sprint Cup, but from this fan’s view, it has also increased the intensity of the competition and the stress levels of the drivers as they try to make the cut every three races until the final four at the finale. It seems they get a bit testy when things don’t go their way and they look for someone to blame for their lack of performance. Admittedly, there have been some interesting things happen during the last six weeks of Chase racing but some of the ones that don’t move on to the next level seem to look for someone to blame other than themselves. Those choices range from other drivers and their actions to NASCAR itself.

Although there have been times in this Chase other drivers have affected another’s ability to move on – like the Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth incident from a couple of weeks ago – for the most part the ones that haven’t moved on have caused their own demise. Some would argue that NASCAR’s rulings at Talladega kept Dale Jr. from moving on but that’s a whole other story and he accepted the results without blaming anyone other than circumstances. From this fan’s view, mistakes and lack of performance on the track and in the pits have been the culprits for most of the ones that haven’t made it to this Elimination round of eight.

So far in the 2015 Chase, no one has really been a match for Joey Logano. Although some haven’t liked his tactics, there is no arguing with his success and his winning all three of the races in round two. If he continues to dominate the way he has recently it may be no contest when it comes to the championship race at Homestead. Of course that little word “if” always looms large when it comes to racing. It has happened that a driver’s or team’s “racing luck” and performance can turn on a dime and someone else get on a hot streak.

There have been those that have mentioned that Logano has peaked too early and that is always a possibility although not very suspect at the time of this writing from this fan’s view. Although his teammate Brad Keselowski hasn’t had the same performance, (sometimes described as luck), it is possible the tables could turn for Joey in the same way – or Brad for that matter. Since Martinsville resets the points for those still in the Chase back to even, and Brad and Joey are two of the eight still in the Chase, stranger things have happened in NASCAR Cup racing.

There are two drivers that are pretty much flying under the radar so far in the Chase and that would be Kurt Bush and Martin Truex Jr. They haven’t been talked about or mentioned much lately but so far no one can argue they haven’t been performing consistently well and keeping themselves in the battle for the Championship at least points-wise. If nothing else, they could be the dark horses for being in the Finale at Homestead.

The two Joe Gibbs drivers still in the Chase, Carl Edwards and Kyle Bush, are great examples of what I just talked about with Joey Logano. Coming into the Chase, all four of the Joe Gibbs teams looked as if they were going to be the ones to beat for the Championship. Since the Chase started, the Gibbs teams haven’t looked as strong and they do look much less indestructible and Kenseth and Hamlin have already been eliminated. With the Martinsville reset, Edwards and Bush once again have a chance to flex some of the previous muscle they displayed earlier. It is also possible they could both not make it to the Finale at Homestead.

I’m not sure what to think about Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick as this Elimination round starts. Both have had their ups and downs during the first six races of the Chase and if they don’t show a little more consistency I am concerned whether they will make it to the Championship round. I have to admit, as a NASCAR fan, I would like nothing better than to see Jeff Gordon end his final season with his fifth Championship. I do think that would be a fitting end to a very successful career but I am not so sure he has the speed to compete with Joey Logano or Kevin Harvick for that matter.

One thing that bothers me about this race this weekend and that is the fact that there are several drivers that could win and some of them were once competing in the Chase before they were eliminated. Any of them could win this one and that could make it very interesting for those still qualified to go for the Championship.

As we enter into this Elimination round I have to admit that I do have a few favorites and a few “I hope they don’ts” if you know what I mean. Only one would really be a disappointment to me, but then that’s just me…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 31, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions