It shouldn’t be like the usual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at Loudon, New Hampshire Sunday afternoon – it should be different. The reasons why (at least from this fan’s view) I’ll get to shortly but this one should be a very interesting afternoon at the races for the drivers, teams and fans alike.
The New Hampshire Motor Speedway is basically a flat track which makes for a very interesting entry into the turns from the long, fast straights. In the past it has been basically a one groove race track and a place where it has been hard to pass. NASCAR (in its infinite wisdom) has allowed the track to put down a substance to give more traction on the higher groove and also added a section on the low groove.
As a long time fan, I have mixed emotions about trying to make the racing more interesting to the fans by adding “Sticky Stuff” to the track. Look, I’m all for closer racing and being able to get more traction but there comes a time when one has to question that enough is enough. Why they choose to put the extra grip substance only on certain parts of the track is interesting in itself and I marvel at their creativity. I do realize they are trying to make the three grooves more equal but I do question putting something on the track that will likely go away as the race progresses. Whether or not it will work as they hope remains to be seen and it also remains to be seen if they will change where the substance is applied by the race on Sunday afternoon. After all, they’ve already changed it once since the first practice.
From my view during the practice and qualifying sessions, it appeared that the only thing really accomplished by the addition of the Sticky Stuff was to move most of the drivers up to the other groove or down for that matter. It was also a precarious thing and, if they got out of it, the loss of traction was very obvious, especially if they got out of it on the high side. Also, at least from this fan’s view, they had to manage how they exited the turns so they wouldn’t lose control as they left the turns and entered the straights. Like I said, I have mixed emotions about the addition of the Sticky Stuff but I am willing to save my final assessment until after the race on Sunday afternoon – (or I may forget about the whole issue completely because the racing was so good.)
Be that as it may, the racing at Loudon is always interesting simply because of the character of the track. Since it is basically a flat track (as I mentioned earlier) and is an extremely fast track to boot, passing is not something that can be done with regularity and that means emotions readily surface and are often displayed openly. This will definitely be a race where the emotions and frustrations will become obvious as the race wears on to its finish. It will be obvious by the actions drivers take on the track and by the conversations between the drivers, crew chiefs and spotters. Don’t be surprised if there are some “not-so-nice” things said in both directions in communications between drivers and their teams and with the front bumpers of the cars. It could get quite colorful and there may even be a few “apologies” from the commentators on some of the emotional frustrations verbally expressed on-air. (In other words, there just may be a “whole lotta bleeping” going on.
Once again, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson led the way in practice and in qualifying. Actually, Kyle Larson qualified for the pole but his time was disallowed when his car failed inspection after qualifying. That put Truex Jr. on the pole and moved Jimmie Johnson to the second spot. That’s the second time Larson’s car has failed inspection in two weekends and it is beginning to add up to some pretty hefty penalties aside from having to start in the rear again this weekend. In this fan’s opinion that probably won’t matter all that much since he is very good at moving from the back to the front during a race, sometimes more than once and especially lately.
It still remains to be seen if the JGR Toyotas can finally pull off a win for 2017. What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time they were dominating in their performance and wins and this year it is just the opposite. Not that they haven’t shown up with good speed and not that they haven’t been running with the possibility of taking a win. They just haven’t done so yet and it just wasn’t what this fan expected from them this year. I suppose all of that could change very quickly but it is interesting that a JGR associated Toyota is leading in the points (of course that would be Truex’s Furniture Row Toyota) but the rest of the Toyotas just haven’t been there at the end of the races.
From this fan’s view, it does appear there have been a lot of penalties handed out this year and almost every week lately there have been many cars having to go through inspection multiple times before they could qualify or race. That tells me the crew chiefs are pressing the envelope on every possible thing they can. It also tells me the competition is extremely close. One thing it doesn’t tell me is why it seems just a few cars seem to be really dominating in performance almost every week. One of those is Martin Truex Jr. and he just might take this one from the pole and do it in dominating fashion. Of course, there are those stages we need to take into account and the strategies the crew chiefs come up with to put their guy in front…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 15, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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