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

Talladega Damage Assessment From This NASCAR Fan’s View

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Talladega lived up to the expectations many people had for it even though many were upset when it was over. For much of the first three fourths of the race it was mildly interesting and almost caution free. Just because I say it was mildly interesting does not mean it was without intensity or drama if for no other reason than because of how the Chasers were moving in and out of the top eight in the points battle. That alone was entertaining but this fan was really looking forward to the last thirty to fifty laps because I was really interested in seeing how things were going to finish up and I expected some fireworks.

Before the race started, a whole lot of emphasis was put on the incident between Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano. I don’t see much of a reason to expand on it further here so I won’t but I do have to say once again as I have said since it happened, I expect that move to come back and haunt Logano more than once in the future. I would only bring up that anyone doubting that should go back and look at his teammate Brad K and his actions last season and this season. The only thing I can say for either one of them is that they will learn and mature and discover that wisdom comes with age. Many drivers say they are going to race others the way they race them but they find it difficult to admit they’ve stepped over a line. Respect is a hard thing to regain when you prove you cannot be respected and, like it or not, what you do on the track in the heat of the battle says a whole lot about your character. (There… I’ve said all I want to say about it and I’m done. Now we’ll just see how it all turns out.)

There seemed to be a lot of criticism of NASCAR when the race ended under caution but, honestly, this fan thinks they made the right calls, even though I am not a fan of ending a race under caution at any time other than for weather issues. It is my personal opinion that races, especially races with so much on the line as there was at Talladega should be ended under green racing conditions. I understand why they made the change to the
G-W-C but the change immediately pointed out its own shortcomings with what happened. I don’t envy NASCAR their job at all and they do a very good job overall. Personally and from this fan’s view, they may have to tweak the rule a time or two yet.

I do have to admit that I never expected Denny Hamlin to be one of those eliminated from moving on to the next round. With the strength the Joe Gibbs teams had been demonstrating over the last couple of months I just didn’t see it. Even more unexpected was that they knocked themselves out of the running with a mistake or two and a roof hatch problem. In reality, the roof hatch problem did the most damage to their chances. I guess it just goes to show that anything that can go wrong will go wrong and generally at the worst possible time. So now, at least for the Joe Gibbs teams it’s down to two, Carl Edwards and Kyle Bush.

Speaking of Carl Edwards and Kyle Bush, Carl has quietly been performing consistently and has shown that consistency pays good dividends. He hasn’t shown the same strength as Matt Kenseth or Joey Logano have recently but he definitely could come out of this with his first Championship. I’m not picking him – or anyone for that matter at this time – but his chances do look good up to this point. I guess we won’t actually know for sure until at least two of the races are done in the Elimination round. Let’s put it this way, he didn’t do himself any damage at Talladega and he is looking solid when it comes to the tracks in the next three weeks.

I’m sure Kyle is one of the happiest drivers in the group coming out of Talladega. Considering he was not at a likely contender at all after his accident at Daytona in February, he has made it this far in the Chase and that has to be encouraging in a couple of ways for him. First he has made it into round three and has as good a chance as anyone to go all the way to becoming Cup Champion as any of the remaining eight. Second, even with all of the lackluster finishes in the Chase so far, he is still in contention and that has to make him happy – well, at least somewhat, anyway.

That brings us to Ryan Newman and Dale Jr.

Ryan showed a lot of consistency but he never did look as though he had much of a chance at moving on. He may have been hoping for a repeat of last year but this year is different all round. His team just hasn’t shown the speed for me to ever think of him as a contender this year and I was surprised he made it as far as he did.

Dale Jr. did everything he needed to do except win at Talladega and he probably would have had the circumstances worked out just a little bit differently. In fact, I would say he was damaged the most by the way the last restarts went along with the changed G-W-C rules. Junior Nation is disappointed. I don’t blame them. He overcame a lot of adversity every time it reared its ugly head on Sunday afternoon and it really was disappointing to this NASCAR fan to have him eliminated in such a way as he was. He drove a great race and he was proud of his and his team’s performance. He didn’t whine or complain, he just accepted the way the cards fell and will move confidently and happily on to the next races and then on to next year.

Oh, and by the way… did anyone notice how happy Jeff Gordon was to be moving on to the next round??

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 27, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Chasers Face Uncertainty At Talladega from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Only thirteen points separate Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. The problem with that for both them and all of those in between them is Denny is second in points and Martin is eighth. I don’t remember in recent times so many Chasers facing such uncertainty for one race in the Chase. Since this is the third race in this second round of the 2015 Chase, four of the twelve drivers presently in contention will be eliminated from moving on into the next round. Well, I guess we could say four of the eleven since Joey Logano is already locked in to moving on to round three by winning two of the races in round two.

Okay, let me get this out of the way right up front. Thanks to Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth only has one chance to move on to round three of the 2015 Chase and that is to win. I don’t think there is anyone that doesn’t know why that is the case and that includes those that watch football, too. Kenseth led the most laps last week and was leading when Logano made the decision to put him out. Some have said he just moved him out of the way but I think they are being very generous and are probably Joey Logano fans anyway. Oh and by the way, I guess you can tell, I am not but I won’t go into that here. Let’s just say I think that one move will one day come back to haunt him for several reasons, but I think I will have opportunity to talk about that someday in the future.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in the same boat although he just had a bad couple of finishes over the last two races rather than a run in with Logano. His only opportunity to move on into the next round is to win and that can’t make him or his fan’s very happy. It has to be disappointing for him since he was one of the favorites to be in the final round at Homestead as the Chase started.

I still say, as I did earlier in the week, if it comes down to the final lap and both he and Kenseth are in contention to win, it could make for a very interesting finish. Personally, I think both of them have a great chance to win Talladega but only one of them will move on by winning.

Ryan Newman and Kyle Bush just about have to win to make into the next round but they aren’t limited to only winning. With this being Talladega and the uncertainty everyone faces in a restrictor plate race, anything can happen and both of them could be vaulted back into contention IF the ones in second through eighth get caught up in a “Big One” or just have a bad day. Any way you look at it, both Newman and Bush have to finish up front or win to make it to round three.

Getting back to those thirteen points that separate the second in points from the eighth; anything can happen and two of them can be eliminated from the Chase for the Championship. None of them are guaranteed to be able to move on UNLESS they have decent finishes. One of the key words in that statement is, they have to “finish.” Depending on where they finish in the running order if they don’t finish the race could either allow them to move on or be eliminated.

One of the interesting things about those presently in the top eight is the tie in points for three of the bigger names. Of course those would be Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon. Since they are tied in points at the moment, any one or two of them could be eliminated from moving on if they have a bad finish. (Of course, we all know having a bad finish at Talladega is hardly possible for such big names and popular drivers… NOT!) The “Big One” could take any number of the Chasers out and, at this point, only one driver would not be affected even if he finished last and that would be Joey Logano.

From this fan’s view, this could be either one of the most exciting or most boring races at Talladega depending on what happens with those trying to not be eliminated from moving on in the Chase. I prefer to think this is going to be one of the most interesting restrictor plate races simply because so much is riding on it. Unless something happens to take those still able to make it into round three out early, the final laps on Sunday afternoon could and should be some of the most intense and dramatic laps at a restrictor plate track in a long time.

At the time of this writing, eleven still have a chance to make it into round three. Unfortunately four of them won’t make it and we may not have to wait until the checkered flag drops to know which ones it will be. I’m just wondering what the talk will be like after the race if someone other than one of the Chasers wins. Whatever happens, we won’t know which ones are moving on and this one won’t be over until it’s over…

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

Kansas Damage Assessment from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There is no one that doubts Kansas lived up to every ounce of the expected drama and intensity. Although it may be a bit too early to say it, the Chase just may be over for a couple of those that haven’t fared well in round two. One of those would be Matt Kenseth but, I’ll talk more about that shortly. However you look at the way the Chase is set up, you have to admit it is anything but business as usual when all is said and done. The intensity, the drama – all of it – is off the charts as far as keeping the fans interested throughout the Chase.

With Talladega looming this weekend, there are two things that are definite. One is that there is hardly any way (in fact many would say, “no way”) to predict which driver will win. It could be the one that desperately needs to win to be able to move on to the next round or it could be someone absolutely unexpected, maybe even someone that gets their first win in Sprint Cup. It is almost impossible to call or predict the winner. Unfortunately, that’s just the nature of restrictor plate racing. The second thing is that Talladega is a race that four drivers will be eliminated from moving on to the third round of the 2015 Chase. As we have all heard many times already, Joey Logano is the only one that has absolutely no worries to face no matter where he finishes.

The four considered to be “on the bubble” after the race at Kansas are, Kyle Bush, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth. Only having one way to move on to the third round is Matt Kenseth. Points-wise that’s his only chance – he has to win Talladega. Dale Jr. is in the same boat; he has to win or he is eliminated and that presents a dilemma between the two right off the bat. The only way either of them can move on is to win and only one of them can. Tell me that won’t add to the intensity of every lap, especially when it comes close to dropping the checkered flag and the two of them are in position to win. Wow! That could be very interesting.

The other two on the bubble are Ryan Newman and Kyle Bush but their situation is quite a bit different. Either of them could win and move on or they could finish in the top three or so and just about guarantee they’d move on. Of course that depends on how seven of the eight ahead of them finish and it would mean that a couple of someones in the top eight would have to have terrible days or, at least reasonably terrible.

With only six to eight points separating the two of them from Martin Truex Jr. in eighth place, they have to finish up front and let the cards fall where they may. And don’t forget, there is a three way tie for fifth, sixth and seventh between Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski. From this fan’s view, that makes eight in very precarious situations and I imagine they are having a few stressful moments as they prepare for this weekend.

I just can’t close this one out without giving this fan’s view of the situation between Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. I have heard and read the views of many since Sunday’s race in Kansas and they are pretty much all over the map.

I have never changed my opinion since my own days of short track racing at my local tracks. We’ve all heard the cliché statements like “rubbing is racing” and that is supposed to be one of the cover all statement for moving someone out of the way. Another would be “using the chrome horn” which is another way of saying “putting the bumper” to someone slower than another.

My opinion is that “rubbing is racing” and that there is a big difference between putting the bumper to someone to win and spinning someone out to win. When you use the “chrome horn” you usually move someone out of the way but they don’t generally end up spinning out or into the wall. You’re just letting them know you’re there and you usually give them more than one warning before you do. In this case, I think a lot of it has to do with the maturity level (or the lack of it) of Joey Logano. He is still young and is a talented driver but his attitude is one of win at any cost and, it is my opinion, it will come back to haunt him in the days and seasons ahead. I have no problem with him being really competitive and it will serve him in the near future but, if it continues, he won’t win much respect from those he drives with and he won’t make too many friends.

All of these drivers know how to win and win cleanly but they also know how to take someone out. It is a choice they make to either race someone or just run over them. Many of them choose to not run over but they are not above moving them when they need to.

My hat is off to Matt Kenseth for the maturity and restraint he showed during and after the race at Kansas. It is my opinion he showed what makes him a champion and he showed what his character is. He may not win this coming weekend at Talladega but he also knows his time will come in two ways. First, he will likely win another Sprint Cup Championship and, second, a time for a little payback to Joey Logano will come and he will “choose” to take advantage of it or let it go. Personally, I think he’ll take the opportunity to educate Joey Logano about another old adage… “What goes around, comes around,” which is just another way of saying, “You reap what you sow…”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 20, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Expect High Intensity at Kansas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the race Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway will be intense. In fact, I would go so far as to say there just might be a sense of desperation in the intensity level especially for those that didn’t run and finish all that well last weekend.

If you’ve been listening to the Chase drivers this week, you’ve heard most, if not all, of them talking about this second round of three races in the Chase. It is their opinion this is the most intense round and all twelve of them want to make it to round three. We all know that’s not going to happen since only eight of the twelve still in the Chase will move on.

For some, that’s more than stressful and for others, it’s downright frustrating and they know they have to perform well in this weekend’s race at Kansas and hope for the best at Talladega next weekend. Well, that is unless one of last week’s poor performers wins. Then they will be able to slip into Talladega with only having to worry about what happens to them after Kansas all the way into round three. I think to simplify what I am saying is that they want to be one of the eight trying for the final four.

As I stated in the mid-week article/podcast, the only one that doesn’t have to worry or stress out over this race in the Chase is Joey Logano. Since he is already qualified for round three, he could run one lap, blow his engine, hit the wall hard and still move on. I don’t think he would want to do all of that but he could and it wouldn’t make any difference to his situation. For the rest of the twelve still in the Chase, it’s still about winning or finishing as close to the front as they can.

As an observer, it is this fan’s view that the Hendrick teams have to be at least somewhat disappointed with their performance so far. The way their year started and the way it is finishing are worlds apart. I know it is usual for there to be an ebb and flow amongst the teams but peaking at the beginning of the year and struggling at the end is not something that sits well for any teams or organization.

Take for example Kasey Kahne. He didn’t make the Chase and his year has been dismal to say the least. Even when he shows up and qualifies well, he has generally had mediocre to poor finishes. This week at Kansas hasn’t started any better but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a chance to win. What it means is this fan doesn’t expect him to.

I can’t say the same for Jimmy Johnson even though he is no longer in the Chase either. He is always a possible winner but hasn’t had very good racing luck recently. From this fan’s view, it is hoped that he doesn’t win and take away a chance for one of the Chasers to get back into the hunt or seal their deal for making round three, in particular one of his own teammates.

Dale Jr. is sort of on the bubble and needs to win or have a really good run in the Hollywood Casino 400 tomorrow. Since he didn’t show much in the first practice and qualifying on Friday, one can only think they are a little stressed and their intensity level will be quite elevated considering Talladega looming next week with no guarantees of finishing well or at all.

The only one showing real promise from the Hendrick camp at the moment is Jeff Gordon. Don’t get me wrong, his performances haven’t been earthshaking but he has been consistently finishing in the top fifteen and higher when he needed to. I suppose we could put all of that responsibility at the driver’s feet but my opinion is that it is just because the whole organization is a little behind the curve at the moment. I’m sure all of them at Hendrick are hoping they are on the road to recovery so they might once again be considered the ones to beat week in and week out.

Brad Keselowski showed a lot of strength in the practice and qualifying sessions and, had it not been for the written warnings they received keeping them from being able to choose their pit stalls, I think he might have just walked away with the win this weekend. As it stands, there is a bit of uncertainty about that. Even though he starts on the pole, his pit stall is going to cost him every time they have to stop simply because they won’t have the number one pit stall. That just might not be a good thing when it comes down to the end of the race.

As I said at the beginning of this one, expect the intensity to be extreme if for no other reason that so much is riding on this race for so many. The elimination round isn’t set yet and, with the uncertainties that surround running at Talladega, only one driver is guaranteed to be in it so far and that makes the other eleven want to win this one at Kansas…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 17, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions