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Over the years the track at Darlington South Carolina has acquired lasting nicknames. One of those is “The Lady in Black” and another is “The Track That’s Too Tough to Tame.” No matter which one you choose, either one fits the place and a lot of cars will receive their “Darlington stripe” before the day is done (or maybe I should say before the night is done.)

 

“The Lady in Black” is an interesting race track and it is an exceptional challenge all through the 500 miles for the drivers and crews. There’s not a whole lot new to say that hasn’t been said this week as the teams prepare for the Bojangles Southern 500 and I don’t intend to drag this article out. I do have to make a few comments though…

 

Even though this is a track that is considered to be too tough to tame, every year someone does tame it and takes home the trophy and ends up in Victory Lane. One thing that hasn’t changed that much and never seems to is that tires are definitely a key to winning. With the challenges that Goodyear has had this year with their tires because of the extra down force from this year’s rules, I can’t help but wonder if tonight might not be another race where the outcome could be decided by those that don’t have tire problems. I really don’t expect any tire problems tonight at the Darlington Raceway but considering what’s been going on over the last several races, there is the remote possibility that there could be problems once again.

 

Another thing that is always key to winning a Darlington is staying out of the wall and as I mentioned earlier many cars tonight will receive their Darlington stripe. It just depends on how hard they actually hit the wall whether or not it’s going to help or hinder their progress throughout the race. In some ways a brush with the wall in the past has caused cars to handle better. At other times a hard brush with the wall has resulted in someone who could’ve won, finishing the night in the garage area. As at any other time is possible either one of those could happen tonight.

 

It has been interesting to watch the progress of all the Fords as they have become more competitive, at least judging from the practice and qualifying sessions and it’s possible that someone as unlikely as Marcos Ambrose could win tonight. I don’t mean that as a cut Ambrose because I actually like him and would not mind seeing him win at all. It would be great for him and for the Petty camp in general. In fact I have to admit that the Fords have looked very competitive at times over the last couple of weeks. (Oh, that’s right, Joey Logano did win last week in Ford, didn’t he?)

 

All of the Chevys are showing up on a regular basis very competitive rights off the trucks. Some of them look more competitive than others and a few of those would be Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson and Kurt Busch. Now they’re not the only ones but they are the ones that stand out in this fan’s mind.

 

Quite unexpectedly to this fan has been the relative lack luster runs of the Toyotas. That’s not to say they haven’t been competitive but when it came down to the end of several of the races so far, they just haven’t been there. I expect that could very likely change tonight but from this fan’s view, I reckon I’ll have to say that’s a wait-and-see kind of thing.

 

From this fan’s view I honestly think it’s going to be a Chevy that ends up in Victory Lane tonight but I am having a tough time choosing between several drivers. The obvious would be pole winner Kevin Harvick and a close second choice would be Jeff Gordon. That leaves a lot of room for just about anyone that drives a Chevy in particular a name we haven’t heard mentioned that much this year, Kasey Kahne. In reality, there are a lot of names that could be mentioned here but I just won’t do it.

 

Tires and no mistakes in the pits just might be keys to victory for tonight’s race. Of course, it seems that we can say that every week but tonight tires will definitely be first choice for every driver and even though they might be able to gain spots by taking two, four is going to be the better choice, at least from this fan’s view…

 

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© April 12, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Tire Troubles May Once Again Surface At Texas…


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Say what you will but, the 2014 NASCAR season has had a very interesting start. There’s been rain, six different winners over six races, some technical glitches that possibly affected the outcome of a couple of races and tire issues especially over the last couple of weeks. There’s nothing new about rain, it’s always unpredictable. Having six different winners over six races just shows how competitive the teams have become. Now tire issues… well… That’s a whole different ballgame.

 

Yeah, it’s been an interesting start and many attribute the competition and the tire issues to the rule changes that were made for this car this season. From this fan’s view, they’re probably right. The speeds are higher at every track so far this year and that means the stress on the particular component that hooks up all of the horsepower to the track is greatly increased. As we all know, Goodyear does a very good job of trying to keep up with all of the stresses put on their tires but this year is proving to be a challenge for them.

 

It’s true that the team engineers and crew chiefs try to take advantage of any edge they can find to become more competitive and because they press that envelope, they may not always take the conservative route Goodyear suggests. In addressing the tire issues so far this year, both NASCAR and Goodyear have “suggested” that it is the competitiveness of the teams and their willingness to press the envelope as the largest contributing factor for the tire issues. As a fan (and former racer) I can’t really disagree with them. When it comes right down to it, no one really knows where the line can be drawn until they cross it and failures occur. Whether it be tire pressures and different setups in the geometry or looking for that little bit extra horsepower in the tuning of an engine, lines have to be crossed to find out if they can be moved.

 

I don’t think anyone really faults them for looking for that little bit of extra performance because that’s what racing is all about… Competition. If there’s one thing that’s proven this year it’s that there is a limit to what the present tire designs can take and when that limit is exceeded, failures can and do happen.

 

Texas Motor Speedway is a big track and it’s also a fast-track. No matter what happened in the practice and qualifying sessions, whether or not the lines have or will be crossed won’t be known until they hit the track Sunday afternoon. I’m not saying that there will be problems with the tires but it is a very good possibility.

 

If anything can be taken from the practice sessions, at least in this fan’s opinion, it would be that the Chevys and the Fords look awfully tough for this weekend. I’m sure that along with the SHR teams, the Hendrick teams will also make a good showing. I guess it remains to be seen if Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle will make a race of it along with Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano from the Ford camps. Even the Petty teams are beginning to show some muscle although I don’t think they’ve quite arrived yet.

 

Jeff Gordon didn’t qualify all that well but I do expect him to be running at or near the front when today’s race is over. The same goes for Jimmy Johnson; either of them could walk away with a victory today and both of them are little bit overdue, at least in this fan’s opinion. Both of them have been consistently showing up with fast cars every weekend. From this fan’s view is just a matter of time before both of them make their appearance in Victory Lane in I do think it could be sooner than later.

 

It’s just an observation but I do think that the Toyotas are struggling at least a little bit so far this year. Sure, I know that Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch along with Clint Bowyer have also been very competitive so far this season but so far it does appear that they’re still searching for consistency.

 

In looking at the race today at Texas, three things will be important when it comes to being in the hunt for the win. As always this could become a fuel mileage race so fuel strategy will probably be important when it comes down to the final laps. Track position is going to be very important and there won’t be any room for mistakes in the pits. When it comes down to tire management… well… that’s going to depend on whether or not the ugly tire failure monster raises his head…

 

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© April 5, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

NASCAR Cup Teams Take On Martinsville


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Well, it appears that NASCAR just can’t catch a break this year. Martinsville is just another weekend of several so far this season with rain in the forecast. Even though rain is something all racers have to deal with at some time or other and it is to be expected, rain is not and has never been a friend of stock car racing. In fact, in looking at the weather forecast for the weekend it appears that there could be showers on Sunday afternoon also although the percentage for the chance of rain is very low. But no matter how you look at it, rain and racing are generally not good for fan turnout especially if the weather is a bit chilly along with the rain.

 

If they do get to race on Sunday afternoon, (or even if they have to move to Monday), Martinsville will be short tracking at its best. It is one of the best anywhere and reminds all of us of the type racing most of us grew up around. To be honest, this fan thinks that short track racing is probably some of the most exciting NASCAR racing that we see. I know I will get some arguments about that, in particular from those of you that like restrictor plate racing, and that’s okay because I like them both, but I am just a bit more partial to short tracks.

 

I really don’t think, or maybe I should say I don’t really expect to see that many differences in the ones that are running up front this weekend from any other time NASCAR Cup teams visit Martinsville. Kyle Busch definitely runs well at Martinsville along with Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson and Denny Hamlin. Of course I have to add to that mix Matt Kenseth, Clint Boyer and Brad Keselowski and a number of others. I do have to admit I’m anxious to see how the racing goes on this popular short track this year if for no other reason than the rule changes and the higher speeds. I’m really not expecting a lot of tire problems even though it is a possibility again this weekend.

 

It seems that Goodyear (at least from this fan’s view) thinks that it’s the crew Chiefs and teams that are trying to gain more speed out of the cars and therefore they don’t run enough air pressure. According to Goodyear, that’s what caused, or at least contributed to all the tire problems last weekend. I’m not so sure I agree with that but it is likely that they are right simply because there were some teams that didn’t have any tire problems and there were others that had a lot of tire problems. One would think however that once the teams started having the problems, they would make changes to their setups (especially something as simple as tire pressures?) during the race and not have the problems that they continued to have right up to the very end at Sonoma last weekend.

 

I’m generally not one that thinks that Goodyear makes excuses, but it is possible that they actually just didn’t have enough information to work with whenever they chose the tire they wanted for Sonoma last weekend. No matter what the reason, they did have tire problems last weekend and it did affect the outcome of the race. Even though there hasn’t been much said about the tire issues last weekend, the person that was leading at the time near the end  was a bit upset for several reasons and only part of it was related to the tire issues. Of course you know that would be Jeff Gordon and he is the person I picked to win last weekend in my abridged version of this NASCAR Fans View and he was leading when the last caution came out with two laps to go.

 

Well, when all is said and done, there are several things you can take to the bank this weekend for the racing at Martinsville. One is, don’t expect people to be running close to the wall in the turns in particular. If they are doing that it’s probably because they got bumped or just because they just flat missed it going into the turn. Getting out of the groove and up into the marbles is not a good thing at Martinsville which is something that everyone knows. The second thing that you can take to the bank (and this could quite likely affect the outcome of the race in some way or another) is what happens when the pit stops come around and where the drivers pit stalls are. Martinsville doesn’t have a lot of room for mistakes in the way the pit road is laid out. It should prove to be very exciting and can have a great effect on the race outcome Sunday afternoon (or Monday should that be the case.)

 

The third is probably the most obvious and one of the reasons short track racing is as popular as it is. Yeah, that’s right… you got it. It has to do with tempers flaring and some emotional displays that just might seem a little unusual compared to most weekends. Yes, it’s almost a given there will be some that leave Martinsville more than a little upset with some of their fellow drivers and… well… you know how that goes…

 

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© March 29, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

NASCAR And the Auto Club 400 At Fontana

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Okay… hold on to your hats… this may be the shortest NASCAR Fan’s View ever. Because of a very busy schedule this week, I just haven’t had time to do the usual full NASCAR fan’s view I’ve been doing every racing week for several years now. My apologies but I just had to say something and here it is…

 

Judging from the possibility of tire problems plaguing some, many or all of the Cup teams this afternoon at Fontana, it is this fan’s opinion that Jeff Gordon is going to win this Auto Club 400.

 

Do I think he will win simply because there might be tire issues?? No, not at all… It has been this fan’s opinion he was going to win since they unloaded the cars from the trucks and hit the track for the practice and qualifying sessions.

 

If he doesn’t win, it won’t be the end of my world and I really won’t lose any sleep over it, but, if he does… well… let’s just say, I told you so…

 

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© March 23, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Bristol Is the Next Test For the New Rules


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Just in case you didn’t notice or hear the latest, there have been some changes made in the past week. In last week’s article, you might recall I said I thought NASCAR might want to think about making changes to the qualifying process. I wasn’t alone in thinking that and many had expressed how much of a safety issue it was. Well, just in case you haven’t heard or didn’t watch NASCAR Cup qualifying, they did make changes to the process and there will no longer be cars going very slowly, cooling down their engines so they can make more attempts at qualifying better while others are going at full speed. Now NASCAR will allow the use of cool-down boxes on pit road but they still can’t lift the hoods of the cars to do so. That means they can cool the engines down much more efficiently and have a better chance at improving their qualifying times. It also means the crews had to come up with an innovative way to perform this procedure without lifting the hood of the cars. From this fan’s view it appears they were up to the task and did find ways to do so.

 

When the NASCAR Cup Teams take on the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon, it remains to be seen just what kind of effect the new rules will have on the racing. This is the first time the new package has been in effect for a track of this size. We’ve already seen higher speeds in the practice and qualifying sessions and a few teams have already had to pull out their backup cars. Some are attributing the problems with handling to the higher speeds along with the colder temperatures and different tires Goodyear brought. Others just think it is because there is no rubber on the upper part of the track and the once popular upper groove is very touchy because of that lack of rubber.

 

From this fan’s view, it did appear that missing the black (laid down tire rubber) in the upper groove by just the two outside tires did make for some very interesting rides up to, or into the wall. We can only hope that by Sunday afternoon this particular problem will be a thing of the past and that the drivers will only be dealing with the higher speeds as a problem. (Well that is if it doesn’t rain out the race and move it to Monday and the chances are high that could happen.)

 

It does appear the Penske teams continue to have a bit more advantage at the tracks visited so far and this fan wonders if their top five finishes will continue. They do continue to qualify consistently in the top five and as I mentioned last week, it does appear they have the new qualifying procedure figured out.

 

Of course, from this fan’s view, the other teams are going to figure it out too and the new rule changes will make a difference, also. Denny Hamlin being on the pole, and the strategy they used to run their fastest time in the qualifying session didn’t go unnoticed by other drivers and crew chiefs as well. From this fan’s view, qualifying will continue to take on a new look (depending on track size) and strategies used will definitely be taking into account the number of laps on the tires.

 

Since many struggled with the upper groove on the Bristol track this weekend, the favorite groove now appears to be on the bottom and it is this fan’s opinion the bottom will be where most run and the line they will want to guard the most. That could make it interesting when someone faster comes up on the bumper of a driver just a tick slower trying to guard the lower line. I expect there will be a few tempers exhibited and some close encounters with the wall unless there is a little give and take between them. I also expect a few will make it a point to offer some not-so-friendly payback depending on their mood at the time.

 

So let’s see, the speeds are up, the tires are good, and the racing groove could tend to be a bit finicky depending how much rubber gets laid down and where it is. Sounds to me like it just might be the usual stuff we’ve all become accustomed to at short track racing and particularly at Bristol, what do you think…?

 

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© March 16, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Cup Teams Looking For Answers At Vegas


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Well, the Cup teams hit the track in Vegas this weekend and three things are still at the forefront of the 2014 NASCAR Cup season.

  1. –> Cup teams are looking for answers to the new rules and the changes to the cars for this year.
  2. –> Some of the drivers and teams are struggling with the changes to the car.
  3. –> The Penske teams appear to have qualifying figured out.

 

Do you remember when NASCAR was at Daytona and I said that there must be something wrong if the drivers are as happy as they are? Well, I may be overstepping my bounds just a bit but it looks like I may have been right. It appears that more than a few of the drivers (and their teams) are not all that happy anymore. Oh, they’re not that outspoken about it but, it’s obvious that the changes to the rules for qualifying and differing areas of cars are causing a bit of difficulty as they all try to adapt.

 

Now this is purely speculation on the part of this fan, but it does appear that some of the drivers and teams are struggling with the changes and a few even look lost. When you listen to them talk they try not to blame any one thing but it seems they all use the same word (or at least one that’s very similar.) That word (at least from this fan’s view) is, “adapting.” It’s true, and very obvious, that some are really having trouble adapting to the new rules package. So far, that struggle hasn’t affected the racing that much but it has made the interviews during practice and qualifying sessions a little more interesting than they used to be.

 

As a fan, there are things that I do like about the new qualifying procedure and there are things that I don’t much care for it all. I don’t think I’m alone in that and it does appear that there are going to have to be some changes made by NASCAR to help the drivers and teams overcome some of the challenges they appear to be experiencing during those sessions. I’m not saying I have any answers at this point but I have seen some situations that are bothersome and could have major impact in the future.

 

One thing in particular appears to be a safety concern (at least from my view) and it has to do with cars that are slowing down or trying to cool down after making a run. I know that all of us are adapting to this new procedure and they can be stressful and exciting but perhaps a few changes could be made to make it safer.

 

Of course I know one of the reasons that they did it was to make qualifying more exciting and possibly generate more interest rather than having people sit and watch one car go around the track at a time. I think they’ve accomplished at least part of their goal because it is a little more interesting and possibly a bit more exciting. I’m willing to give it more time as they all adapt to this procedure but I hope we don’t have to wait for a few cars to get torn up or someone to get hurt before they figure out where the possible dangers are in the procedure.

 

Even while much of the field is looking for more handling and speed at this time, it appears that Penske teams are quite happy with the qualifying sessions and the new procedure. Of course that could be because for the last two weeks the two Penske teams have qualified on the front row. I do find it interesting that they are performing very well in qualifying and running near the front on race days but, I’m not sure whether or not the Penske teams are able to end up in Victory Lane even though they do qualify well. That’s another one of those “wait and see” situations and we won’t know the answer until one of them actually wins a race from the front row.

 

All of that aside it does appear that the Fords either run well or poorly and hardly ever in between. It doesn’t matter whether you look at the Penske teams, the Roush teams or even the Petty teams; they all seem to be at different levels in performance, whether it be handling or horsepower. Of the three I just mentioned, it appears that the Petty teams are struggling the most. Of course that could change at any time.

 

From this fan’s view (and this has very little to do with anything) is a statement that many of the drivers use but I’ve grown a little tired of. That statement is, “It’s Vegas, baby!” I guess one of the reasons that I’ve grown tired of it that they all say it and it’s supposed to explain why Vegas is so much different than anywhere else. From my view, nothing could be further from the truth.

 

I mean, I understand all the hype and the keywords but there are a lot of reasons why this race stands out. I’m sure there will be those that disagree with me but I might as well state the obvious. It’s the first race of the year where they face the type race track that they see more of in a season than any other. If they continue struggling with their setups and the rule changes keep on affecting them in a negative way, then it could be a very long year for many of them. Of course those that already have some of it figured out and appear to be doing well so far, well… I just don’t expect they’ll be complaining much…uh, at least until someone figures out what works better than them…

 

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© March 09, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Sprint Cup Teams Take On Phoenix


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If you ask a lot of the Sprint cup drivers you’ll find that they consider Phoenix to actually be the first real race of the year. I guess that’s because they don’t consider the Super Speedway at Daytona to be anything more than a restrictor plate race and we all know restrictor plate races are a type all their own. It’s true, Daytona and Talladega are different types of races and I guess that means they could qualify as a whole different category.

 

As for the track at Phoenix, the cup teams always seem to make a good show there and judging from the way things went in qualifying the Fords just may be a little tougher this year than they’ve been in the recent past.

 

Speaking of qualifying, it really went much better than I expected it would but I can also see that there is a learning curve to it for the drivers and teams. From this fan’s view it is apparent that there will be a little bit of trial and error going on as they adapt to the new qualifying procedure over the next several weeks. It’s pretty obvious, looking at this first experience of the new qualifying procedure, that some things might have to change and the approach will definitely have to change for many of the teams and drivers. In fact, is very possible that the sanctioning body will have to make some changes to how they go about the qualifying sessions without dictating how they think the cars should approach it.

 

Well, no matter how you look at it (at least from this fan’s view) qualifying will take a little getting used to for all of us. I’m not sure what you thought of it but, it was interesting and except for the short delay after Justin Allgaier hit the wall, it seemed as though qualifying progressed quite quickly and didn’t take a couple of hours or so.

 

Once again it comes down to this fan’s opinion about qualifying. Although it’s true that the Penske Fords will be starting on the front row, this fan is not so sure that it’s going to be a Penske Ford finishes in Victory Lane. In fact, if you just look at the practices on Saturday afternoon (Eastern time, that is) you’ll see that the Chevys didn’t do too bad. Kevin Harvick dominated the earlier practice on Saturday for the cup teams and this fan firmly expects he will be one to contend with tomorrow if someone other than him wants to end up in Victory Lane.

 

Getting back to the Fords for a second or two, all of the Fords were looking very good as far as speed goes when it comes to the main teams. Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano all looked strong in qualifying and practice for this weekend. I’m not saying that any one of those four is going to win but it is very noticeable that their stock has improved quite a bit so far this year. If this fan had to pick one of the Fords to win it would definitely be between Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards with Greg Biffle running close behind. For some reason I’m just not convinced that Joey Logano, will do all that well this weekend. (It’s probably precisely for that reason that I may have to eat crow when Monday morning comes around.)

 

It’s interesting to me that the Joe Gibbs Toyotas seem to be getting a slow start even though they didn’t do all that poorly at Daytona last weekend. It seems like they’re searching for something. Now I know that’s pure speculation on the part of this fan but even though Denny Hamlin almost swept the weekend last weekend, he just hasn’t looked that strong to me this weekend and it looks as though the JGR Toyotas are struggling slightly. Of course as we all know, that could change drastically when it comes to race time Sunday afternoon.

 

The Hendrick Chevys whether it be the regulars or the Stewart Haas teams, appeared to be looking for some handling but I expect they will all be pressing the issue when it comes down to taking the checkered flag. In case you don’t know what I mean by that statement, I’m expecting that any one of them could be taking the checkered flag and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it happened.

 

The Richard Childress teams have been running under the radar this weekend or at least, they haven’t been making much noise like last week at Daytona when Austin Dillon brought the number three back to Sprint Cup racing. Just as a side note, this fan thinks it’s good to see the number three back on the track in Sprint Cup and I don’t think that it does anything but enhance the memory of the “Intimidator” and that is a good thing for NASCAR and Earnhardt fans everywhere.

 

Well… It’s a brand-new season with brand-new rules for the cars and new challenges for the drivers, crew Chiefs and teams alike. There aren’t a lot of visible changes to the cars, at least not things that are easily recognizable without taking a real close look but, there have been a lot of changes and that means a lot of things to learn for all the teams and drivers in Sprint cup. So what does that mean for us as fans? Well, in this fan’s opinion, that means that the Phoenix race should be a very exciting and interesting race even though it will probably turn into a fuel mileage and strategy race by the time it’s over…

 

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© February 25, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

Adapting to the New Qualifying Rules at Phoenix

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The NASCAR Cup Teams have some new challenges ahead of them at Phoenix this weekend and one of the biggest will be the way they qualify for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. We all know the cars have a new rules package but the qualifying will be a brand-new experience for the cup drivers and fans and it remains to be seen how it will all pan out. I’ve listened to many of the drivers and crew chiefs express their opinions on how they think it will be and, if it goes anywhere near the way they think it will, it should prove to be a very interesting time.

 

As a fan, I look forward to the new qualifying procedure in two ways. First of all, it sounds interesting but it is also complicated and I’m still trying to figure it out in my own mind. Second, the drivers and crew chiefs think is going to prove to be interesting and they expect to have many different strategies to accomplish a good starting spot. However, it does raise the question as to how many cars are entered and how many cars will actually fit on the track safely. Well, at least that’s how this fan views it.

 

Apparently, this will leave room for tempers to flare as some drivers may think that other drivers are interfering with their ability to run good laps and it could carry over into – (how shall I say this?) – “heated” discussions when they return to the pits or garage area. For some fans, I’m sure that will be a welcome change and a possibly what might be considered a mild return to the older days of NASCAR. For others, well… let’s just say they might find it more than a little upsetting and some may even think it a little childish. From this fan’s view I say, “Have at it, boys.” (And, No, I haven’t forgotten that Danica is one of the drivers, too, but you know what I mean.)

 

Now I’m not really one that likes changes, especially in NASCAR but, I’m willing to give this a chance and see how it works. We know it works in other modes or types of racing and apparently many want more excitement during qualifying which might in turn get more fan involvement during the qualifying for the race and the pit selections. At any rate, it remains to be seen how the change to qualifying will affect the lineup for the race and the selection of pit stalls. As we all know, that selection can make a gigantic difference during the course of a race.

 

Well I’m not willing to stick my neck out too much further and make any rash statements about what may happen in the qualifying session late this afternoon but, I will be watching the qualifying session if for no other reason than to see exactly how the qualifying goes and whether or not the tempers flare up before all is said and done. Who knows, NASCAR may have opened a new can of worms for themselves or, they may have found a way to make something that can be relatively humdrum at times, exciting…

 

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© February 28, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

The Rains Came and the Game Changed at Daytona

        • >> Rain delays the 2014 Daytona 500 over six hours
  • >> Worth The Wait - Dale Jr wins his second Daytona 500 ten years later

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Well, the Daytona 500 started off pretty much the way I thought it would but, the game changed when the rains came and everything including the competition and excitement level picked up. Before the rains came we saw a lot of single file racing lap after lap and, at least from this fan’s view, a general feel in attitude of, “Hey, this is a long race. Let’s just take our time, feel it out and see what happens later on.” Sure, I know that’s my take on it as a fan but, anybody that was paying attention to the first 30 some laps and the laps after the restart saw two different races.

 

Of course we all know that Junior Nation was completely ecstatic with the end result of the night and it really was good to see Dale Junior win his second Daytona 500 in 10 years. It was also good to see Steve Letarte get his first Daytona 500 win as a crew chief in his last year working for Hendrick Motorsports.

 

When it came to the race being interrupted by rain, it appeared that it would not be long before it restarted. Even NASCAR thought that the light shower would be short-lived and they immediately began drying the track as the rain let up. It was then that the skies over Daytona decided to open up and it rained and rained and rained again and they even had severe weather warnings in the area. Finally, after over a six-hour delay, the race restarted but there was a new intensity because there was no guarantee that it was not going to rain again. All they had to do was make it to halfway and the race could have legally been called a race by NASCAR and everyone would’ve gone home.

 

Fortunately, for all NASCAR fans, the weather did hold and what could have been a relatively humdrum Daytona 500 turned into one of the more exciting Daytona 500s in recent history. Even more important than Dale Junior winning the race was the intensity that all of the drivers brought into the restart because none of them knew when the race might be called because of bad weather. All they had to do was be in the right place at the right time should it have been called early.

 

There is no doubt that the Hendrick cars flexed their restrictor plate muscles once again and Dale Junior’s Hendrick Chevy proved to be stronger than the rest and the driver proved he was up to the task even though at times near the end it appeared he might not take the win, especially after his grill picked up that big piece of black tape…

 

Denny Hamlin almost pulled off a sweep of Speed Weeks. After winning twice before the Daytona 500 actually started it was easy to see he did have a fast car and just might be making the trip to Victory Lane after the 500. Throughout Speed Weeks it was obvious he was driving one the fastest cars on the track and very well could have taken the victory from Dale Junior if given the proper opportunity. As it turned out, he did manage to muster a second-place finish behind Dale Junior but in this fan’s opinion, no one was going to pass Jr, not even Hamlin.

 

Well, next week even more changes take place in the Cup series and, from this fan’s view, it should prove to be a very interesting weekend, too. I reckon we’ll know more when the Cup teams take to the track at Phoenix…

 

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© February 25, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

The 2014 Daytona 500

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The Daytona 500 kicks off the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup series and is the beginning of another season of changes for the drivers, teams and owners. Along with all of those comes a lot of changes for the fan’s as well and all of us have to adapt to the newest rule changes and the changed faces of teams that have new or different drivers. It all adds up to business as usual in our favorite sport.

 

If the last couple of weeks tell us anything, it would be that the Toyota teams of Joe Gibbs run very well in the draft. Denny Hamlin in particular, has had an outstanding Speed Weeks thus far. I would say, at least from this fan’s view, that he should be looked at as a contender for winning this Sunday afternoon at Daytona. Even he would probably say that (and I think he already has) and unfortunately, I can’t disagree.

 

In typical fashion, this year started off much the same as years past with one team or another experiencing difficulties with engines, cars or any number of detail items. It looked like there might be concerns for the Hendrick engines and several of them did fail, but so far since those failures early on, we haven’t heard any more talk of the Hendrick engines. From this fan’s view, that could either be a good or bad thing and should it turn out to be a bad thing Sunday afternoon could very well be a disappointment for several.

 

It has been interesting to see the way things are shaping up for the new look of some teams with new or younger drivers. It has also been interesting to see, at least from this fan’s view, how happy the drivers are with the cars this year at Daytona. I don’t know about you but there is always a little bit of suspicion when the drivers are as happy as they been for the last couple of weeks.

 

In watching the duels I noticed that the racing was not quite what the drivers predicted it would be (especially in many of the prerace interviews I heard.) There is no doubt the cars are much more stable than they were last year at the Super Speedways but, this fan doesn’t know whether or not that will translate into really good racing. After all, this is a restrictor plate track and lately they’ve usually resulted in a lot of single file, follow the leader type of racing as we all watch the laps click off until about the last 50 miles or so.

 

Speaking of the single file, follow the leader type racing, it seems that we saw a lot of that during the duels and not much in the way of excitement happened until about the last 20 miles or so. In fact, in this fan’s opinion, had it not been for the multicar pileup in the second one, there may not have been very much to talk about at all.

 

As usual, strategy will play a big part in the race Sunday afternoon. Fuel mileage, the amount of time spent in the pits and possible mistakes on pit road will either make or break someone’s race as Jimmie Johnson can attest to. One thing I don’t think anyone wants to do is what he did when he ran out of gas. In typical fashion, with the cars running close together either nose to tail or door handle to door handle, any mistake can, and likely will, affect more than the person that starts it all.

 

Personally, I am a big fan of plate racing but I am not a big fan of single file racing on the Super Speedways. I was very happy to see the return of pack racing last year and was hopeful that it would be even better this year. Judging from what I’ve seen over the last week and a half, it could go either way. The hope is that we’ll see many laps of two and three wide, side-by-side racing lap after lap. Anything less just may not be as exciting as we all hope it could be.

 

Putting all of my concerns aside, I do expect the Daytona 500 to be an exciting race and start off the 2014 season in grand fashion. There is always something special when the cup teams take to the track for the Daytona 500 and I don’t expect this year to be any different. In fact, it is highly likely any of the concerns I have raised will be put to rest by one of the most exciting Daytona 500 races ever.

 

As is the usual case for a restrictor plate race at Daytona or Talladega, anything can happen and anyone can win. What remains to be seen and cannot be foretold, at least at the time of this writing, is whether or not we see the “Big One” and when it will happen during the race. If it happens early, it may make for a very unexciting finish to the race and if it happens late… Well, let’s just say staying with it to the end was well worth the wait…

 

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© February 22, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

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