NASCAR at Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 18, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

AfterThoughts on Vegas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

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

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

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

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

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

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 14, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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

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Rusty Norman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 11, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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

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Rusty Norman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 7, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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

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Rusty Norman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 28, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

The Clash Is Back In 2017 from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Rusty Norman

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

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

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

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

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

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 17, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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

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Rusty Norman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will I See ya next time… well… we’ll see…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 19, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

The Heat Is On At Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

Look at it anyway you want but the truth is there are six drivers going for the two remaining spots for the final round of the 2016 NASCAR Cup Championship and, (if you’ll excuse my language), “ain’t but two of ‘em gonna make it!”

Hardly anyone is thinking about pointing their way in – they want to win!! Another hard truth is that one of them just about has to win to make it in. That driver is Kevin Harvick and, from this fan’s view, he either has to win or the other six have to have really bad days while he has a very good one. The reality is, at least in this fan’s opinion, he isn’t looking at this race as just another race at Phoenix, he is looking at it as one he not only can win but one he must win.

There are five others looking to win the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix and one of them is Kurt Bush. His only real chance to make it in is to win (barring some kind of miracle) and he is a long shot from this fan’s view. Even though he is capable of winning this one and this has been one of the most interesting and unpredictable Chases yet, I just don’t see it happening for him. I won’t completely rule him out but it is my opinion he won’t be one of the ones to move on to the Championship round at Homestead next weekend. Of course if he does win his way in, well, that would just be another time in this 2016 Chase that I, along with many others, was surprised and quite frankly, shocked. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he is capable of winning or advancing, I just don’t see it in the way they’ve been performing lately.

Okay, that takes care of two of the six competing for those last two spots and both of them likely need a win to make it in to the final four. Joey Logano on the other hand could make it on points or he could win. He is approaching this one as if he has to win to get in and he has looked fairly strong again this weekend in the practices and qualifying. However, he cannot afford to have a bad day compared to those he is competing against and he absolutely has to outrun three JGR Toyotas with his Penske Ford. Depending on how things pan out, he could be in the final four or outside the final four and this fan isn’t sure which of those two places he will be. We do know he will be giving it his best shot and letting the cards fall where they may.

This is where it gets really interesting to this fan… the three remaining drivers competing for those two remaining spots in the finale at Homestead are all JGR teams and at most, only two of them can actually make it in. Those three are Kyle Bush, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. With what has gone on in the last few weeks, one has to wonder just how nice they will “play” together. Kyle Bush said they were so nice to each other two weeks ago that they “let Jimmie Johnson win.” I didn’t really see it that way but he might have been right, except for the fact that, from this fan’s view, J J had the field covered that day. In any case, that week is gone and only two of these three can or will advance and that will only happen if either Kurt Bush or Kevin Harvick doesn’t come through with a win.

With the way this year’s Chase has gone, this fan hesitates to make any predictions because (as I stated earlier) this Chase has been one of the most unpredictable ones I ever remember. Those that looked as though they would easily advance to the final four earlier in the year and Chase are no longer competing for the Championship. Sure, they are competing for wins and even higher finishes in the points standings for the year but they aren’t eligible to win the Championship.

There is a very good possibility that one of this year’s rookies could win this one and nothing would make Ryan Blaney or Chase Elliot happier than that. In fact, Alex Bowman won his first career pole in Sprint Cup competition this weekend and this fan wonders if his performance will present him with a win or at least an opportunity for winning this one. If any of these three does take the win, that likely means one more of the six still eligible definitely won’t be moving on to the final four at Homestead. It is precisely at times like these that that two letter word, “IF”, looms awfully large.

That is one of the harsh realities facing all six of these drivers this weekend – the heat is on all six of them to win and guarantee themselves a spot in the final four. “IF” they don’t win this fan wonders “IF” they will be in and which ones it will be…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 12, 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

For Chasers It’s All About Winning At Texas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

Okay… this is the way it is. Jimmie Johnson is in the final four at Homestead and the rest of the Chasers are trying to get there. Unfortunately for four of the remaining eight only four will advance and four of them won’t and they only have two more races to make it into the final four. The easiest way for them to make it in is to win. Although there are a couple that could make it in by points, winning removes all doubts and that is what it is all about at Texas this Sunday afternoon. One other unfortunate thing about this weekend – or any race weekend in NASCAR – there are forty drivers that want to win and only one can. That means there are thirty nine drivers wanting or needing a win this weekend and only seven of them are still in the Chase for the Championship.

The point that really brings this home is that Austin Dillon took the pole for Sunday afternoon’s race and he is no longer in the Chase. Of all of the ones running in the AAA Texas 500, there are more than a few that could win it and only eight of them are still qualified to move on.

So, which of the present eight need to win this one the most? My choice would be Carl Edwards. He is lowest in the standings for the Chasers and needs a win more than he needs points. Well, that is unless the other six that haven’t locked in a position for Homestead have really bad days on Sunday afternoon.

Next in line for really needing a win is Kurt Bush. He has been running consistently but not consistently in the top four or five and he presently sits seventh in the Chase grid. If he just continues as he has been, it just won’t be enough to make the final four. A win, however, could make a drastic difference in his future but also in the future of a few others as far as the Chase is concerned.

Probably the biggest surprise to this fan is where Kevin Harvick is in his quest for his second Championship. Some would call it just bad racing luck, others would say he just hasn’t gotten the breaks he needed to be higher in the standings and still others say his performance just hasn’t been there. Any one or all of those may be true in one way or another but one thing is certain from this fan’s view; he can’t continue on like he has in his quest for his second this year. Well, that is unless he wins or finishes in the top three over the next two races and hopes his competitors have finishes near the back of the field. Otherwise, well, this fan just thinks he might have to continue his quest for his second next year.

Joey Logano sits in an interesting and precarious position if for no other reason than he is eleven points out of fourth and looks pretty strong for this weekend. Of course this wouldn’t be the first time he has looked strong and finished a race relatively poorly. All it would take for him to not move on is to have two relatively mediocre races over the next two weeks and watch another opportunity pass him by. It isn’t outside the realm of possibilities for him to not move on but having really good finishes over the next two races could really make a big difference. Of course, he could win at least one of the next two and cinch a spot in the finale at Homestead.

Defending Champion, Kyle Bush, hasn’t had a great time so far this weekend. Before he even completed the first lap in the first practice, he bounced hard off the wall and had to move into a backup car. In qualifying he had a loose water hose and didn’t qualify well. Now both you and I know that doesn’t always mean trouble on race day but it could mean this race could be struggle for him and his #18 M&M JGR team. I never rule out Kyle Bush but he has had his struggles in the Chase in the past.

Let’s see… Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin are basically tied for second in the grid and either one of the two could make the trip to Victory Lane on Sunday afternoon. I’m not picking either one as a definite winner but have to consider the possibility of them winning. If one of them does win, there is definitely one I would rather see win than the other but I won’t even go there because I think you know which one I’m talking about. With the way the Chase has been going so far, anything can happen and they could both be put in a must win situation for next week.

Texas is a fast, slick track and it can be a tricky track to figure out as the race progresses. Not only is it fast but there are spots and times during a race that brushes with the wall can make a difference in whether or not one might finish. There are some bumps that have upset some and they could make a dramatic impact on any one or several of the Chasers on Sunday afternoon. Of course that doesn’t mean it will happen but only that it could and then there is the possibility that the end result could play a large part in which of the remaining seven have a chance to move on to the final four.

So it does come down to the fact that it is all about winning at Texas this weekend and if someone other than a Chaser wins, well, that really means next weekend at Phoenix could be one of the most dramatic races in Chase history. Should things pan out that way, there will still be seven drivers and teams contending for the remaining three places in the final four and that will definitely make it one to watch and it will be filled with drama and emotion not often matched on a NASCAR race weekend. But then again, well… you know…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 5, 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

Short Tracking Chase Reset for Eight at Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

Okay… from this fan’s view last weekend was one of the least eventful races at Talladega in quite a while. Oh, I know what you’re thinking about that statement… “What do you mean uneventful; there was a lot going on?” Yes there was a lot going on if you were a Chaser but as a fan, well, that was a little bit of a different story. It wasn’t really a ho-hum race because it was interesting but it wasn’t really an “on the edge of your seat” race either. It was just a typical restrictor plate race without the “big one” and a few surprises that shook up the standings a bit for those in the Chase.

So that brings us to the reset at Martinsville with the Chase field reduced to eight competitors vying for the four spots available when the Cup Teams reach Homestead for the finale in four weeks. I have to admit, the field of eight does look a lot different than many projected but it should make the next three weeks of competition very interesting. There was only one position that was really close and that was the eighth position which was decided by the slimmest of margins between Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon.

Of all the possible ways the eight qualifying for the next round of the Chase could have gone, that one probably surprised me the most other than I had high hopes but not expectations of Chase Elliott winning the race and him moving on. It just wasn’t in the cards for him this year but if his performance for this year carries over to future years – look out – we just might have another multiple Championship winner in the Cup Series in the years ahead.

Joey Logano has shown up at Martinsville this weekend with lots of speed and momentum coming from his victory last weekend at Talladega. I can’t say this fan is all that happy with that result but I have to concede that he is a formidable competitor for the rest of the teams in the Chase. I’m really not much of a Joey Logano fan but I can’t argue with his performance and results. He has been successful and is often one of the ones to beat at when the checkered flag drops just about any weekend. Whether I like him or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is he continues to out-perform his competition regularly and that makes him one to watch for this one at Martinsville and in the weeks to come. I still haven’t decided if he will be one of the final four, but, I do have to admit he very well could be.

The last two weekends were very rough for Logano’s teammate, “bad Brad” Keselowski and he didn’t qualify to move on to this round as a competitor for the Championship but he could end up a winner of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 and I am sure that wouldn’t bother him one bit. In fact, Martin Truex Jr. is in the same boat and he would not surprise this fan one bit if he walked away the winner. I’m not saying either one of them will win but I am saying they could win and that would make the two weeks ahead after Martinsville much more stressful for the eight Chase contenders.

I do suppose you’ve noticed that much of the conversation about the race this weekend at Martinsville has centered around the thought that a “spoiler” could win and do just what I mentioned above; make it all the more stressful for those still competing for the final four at Homestead. I agree with many that have brought up the subject and there is probably more of a possibility it happening this weekend than any other in the weeks ahead.

A short track can be the great equalizer, especially when it comes to which of the teams can win. Sometimes a smaller team has a better chance at a short track race than at any other and there are several that could win and play that “spoiler” part this weekend. There is no guarantee a smaller team with less resources will win against larger teams with a bigger budget but there is that possibility and that possibility could play a part in the way the final four pans out for Homestead.

I do think the eight still in the hunt for the Championship have just as good a chance at winning on this Sunday afternoon but it did appear to this fan, many of them were struggling a bit on this legendary short track during qualifying and the practices. I really believe this could be another one of those strange weekends where anything can, and probably will happen. In fact, I am expecting the unexpected to happen more than I am expecting something normal to happen. In my book, this one is wide open and it could be that a non-Chaser wins the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 and really makes the next two races interesting.

Of course there is always the consideration of at least one more player in the field that could make life more difficult for the eight if he wins and there is a very real possibility that he could. I’m sure you have already guessed I am talking about none other than Jeff Gordon. He has nine wins at Martinsville in his career and he could make it ten this weekend.

I know there may not be many that agree with me but that really doesn’t matter all that much to this fan. I confess, I was and still am a Jeff Gordon fan and there is really nothing I would like better than to see him win this one, add a win to his stats and make it more difficult for those that want to make the final four. If anyone can do it this Sunday afternoon, he can (at least in this fan’s opinion) and I wouldn’t be the least bit disappointed if he did.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 29, 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