Monster Energy Cup Teams Take On The Brickyard from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Get royalty free music from TwoBuckThemes.com
Rusty Norman

You can pretty much ask any race fan and they will tell you there is something special about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. What really made it special to NASCAR fans was when they started racing at the Speedway and it has been interesting to see Stock Cars make their way around the 2.5 mile oval, reaching speeds of over 200 miles per hour on the straights. Considering the size of the cars and their weight, it is amazing how well they traverse the turns after the high speed runs down the straights. This year’s Brickyard 400 should prove to be as interesting, and probably more so, as any of them so far.

New challenges face the drivers and teams this year since the rules have changed for the cars from last year. They will still be running down the straights and entering turns one and three at, or over, 200 miles per hour but they have a much shorter spoiler and lower down force. For some, that could spell trouble especially when they enter the turns in a pack or during starts and restarts. In fact, the double-wide starts and restarts have always been exciting at Indy and this fan doesn’t think that has changed at all and could be even more exciting because of the rule changes, especially those affecting the down force.

Another thing that might make the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 a little more interesting on Sunday afternoon would be the stages. The first and second stages end at lap 50 and lap 100 respectively and the final stage ends at lap 160. Well… that is if there isn’t overtime and that is a definite possibility. I’m not saying there will be overtime but I do think this one could come down to the strategy for fuel and tires and which of the teams really wants to stretch both.

A few things to remember about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; it is a large track, (2.5 miles), it is a relatively narrow track, it is a fast track and it is essentially a flat track. All of those things considered together add up to exciting and dramatic racing. Another couple of things that might surface would be frustration and impatience which could lead to some emotional outbursts either verbally or with bumpers. I really think the speeds are too high for retaliatory paybacks but one never knows these days.

There are a few drivers that really need a win to possibly clinch a spot in the playoffs and that is adding to the stress and drama each week as we move closer to them. There are five in the top sixteen points places that have no wins yet this season. That makes every week a little more stressful for them as the races wind down to the playoffs. Even though they may be good in points, they are vulnerable to someone that is a new winner for the 2017 season. Wins pretty much assure one to be in the playoffs at least until the top sixteen spots are filled or the time is running out for some to take a win outside of points standings. Like the format or not, it does make things v-e-r-y interesting.

So those that don’t have wins but are in the top sixteen in points are, Kyle Bush, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, and Matt Kenseth. Any one of them could win the Brickyard 400 and any one of them would love to have a lower stress level for the next several weeks if they do. Unfortunately all of them have run good enough and could have won already – they just haven’t.

There are several that already have wins this year and would like to add to their numbers. Some would like to have more stage wins and bonus points to take into the playoffs and some would just like to take their first win at the Brickyard. Winning at Indy isn’t quite the same as winning at Daytona but it is big and those that haven’t won at least one at Indy definitely want to.

Of course all of the drivers want to win, especially at Indy but some just don’t have what it takes, equipment wise, to do so. Others do have what is needed to win and very well could end up in Victory Lane when this one is over. It could even be one whose name isn’t mentioned all that often. Can you imagine what winning the Brickyard 400 could mean to them and their team?

Probably the fan favorite to win (and hopefully qualify for the playoffs) would be Dale Jr. This is his final year in full time competition in Cup and it is his last time to try and win the Championship. His chances of qualifying for the playoffs are winding down and, at the moment, he isn’t in the top sixteen in points either. No matter how you look at it, he NEEDS a win and he is quite capable of winning at Indy. The question is, will he?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 22, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.con m and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Monster Energy Cup Teams Take On Loudon from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Get royalty free music from TwoBuckThemes.com
Rusty Norman

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
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.con m and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Cup Teams Take on Kentucky from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Get royalty free music from TwoBuckThemes.com
Rusty Norman

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Teams take on the Kentucky Speedway Saturday night and it should prove to be a very interesting race. It’s another Saturday night under the lights and for this fan, there’s just nothing like NASCAR’s Saturday night races. It reminds many of us where we used to spend many of our Saturday nights whether we were just fan’s or whether we were drivers sitting in our cars waiting for the green flag to wave as we started our races at our local tracks. Like I’ve said many times before; there’s just something special about Saturday night racing and NASCAR races on a Saturday night are no different.

The Kentucky Speedway is a challenging track and this fan doesn’t think it was by accident. They built it the way they built it for a reason and it is a unique track with its own character. If they had built it the same at both ends it likely wouldn’t have been the challenge that it is. Instead, they made turns one and two different from turns three and four and that’s one of the things that makes it so challenging.

In case you’re not familiar with the Kentucky Speedway, turns one and two have 17 degrees of banking and turns three and four have 14 degrees of banking. To add to the challenge of getting through turns three and four, it is a little downhill from the entry to the exit. The difference between the two drives the crew chiefs and engineers crazy when it comes to setup and frustrates the drivers to no end, looking for the right feel at both ends of the track.

Qualifying was cut short after only two of the three planned rounds but Kyle Bush set a new track record and won the pole for the Quaker State 400 for Saturday night. Not only that but he also qualified first for the Xfinity series race that was delayed for the same weather reasons until Saturday afternoon. That makes for a very busy day for any of the drivers expecting to run in both series races. It all adds up to at least 700 miles they will run if they complete all of the laps in both series races. Hopefully it won’t be a real hot day and night of racing for them but hey, I know they’re in much better shape than most of us fans. I’m sure they’ll know they’ve had a workout when both races are done though…

The speeds are definitely up this year at the Kentucky Speedway and, during qualifying, Chase Elliott was the first to break the old track record and he was at the top of the list for the first round. From this fan’s view, it looks like he might be one to watch when it comes down to the final laps of the Quaker State 400. He is looking for his first win and looking to be qualified for the playoffs – well, at least hopefully be qualified.

If anything can be said or assumed about the Hendrick teams for this weekend, it did appear all of them had good speed and qualified in the top fifteen. That means it could be a Hendrick team celebrating in Victory Lane at the end of the night. Kasey Kahne looked very strong and, if any one of the HMS Chevys need to have a good night it would be him. He has struggled almost all season long and it hasn’t always been his fault. He just needs a few breaks to go his way and he could take the checkered flag and the trophy. I’m not saying he will; I’m just saying he could…

It is definitely coming down to crunch time for the JGR Toyotas and all of them were showing good speed in practice and qualifying. It could be that Kyle Bush wins it from the pole or it could be that one of his teammates ends up in Victory Lane. I just don’t know how it will go for them. They haven’t shown the same strength and domination they did last season by this time and it does seem they have been struggling at least somewhat. All of them, Kyle, Denny, Matt and Daniel, have had good runs but just haven’t been there at the end. Maybe this night will be different for them. Who knows… they may sweep the top four (and wouldn’t that be something…)

I haven’t talked about the Stewart/Haas teams much lately but it seems they might be poised to have another winner soon. It may not be at Kentucky but it could be any of them over the next few weeks. Clint Bowyer has been steady but just hasn’t quite been in first place at the right time. I’m not saying it will but, it could change for him right here at Kentucky.

When it comes down to the final laps, I’m expecting it to be a battle and not really a runaway for just one of them. Of course I could be wrong (and it wouldn’t be the first time) but there are a lot of drivers looking to win and needing a win. I expect that to show as the laps wind down and the strategies play out. Who knows… Dale Jr. might be able to actually finish and could easily end up in Victory Lane. But then again, so could several others I haven’t mentioned. Oh well… that’s just the way it is in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup racing…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 8, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.con m and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

The Coke Zero 400 At Daytona from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Get royalty free music from TwoBuckThemes.com
Rusty Norman

Well… it’s that time again. Every summer at this time two things happen with regularity. The first is we celebrate the birth of our nation and the declaration of our independence and the second is a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at Daytona. Although it has gone and goes by different names over the years, one thing that hasn’t changed is the excitement and drama that has always been a part of this race. This year it is once again called the Coke Zero 400 and it is one of the races most looked forward to by the fans and probably best of all, it is a Saturday night race.

One thing that probably makes this Coke Zero 400 of more interest to many is the fact that it will be Dale Earnhardt Jr’s final race at Daytona. Well… at least it will be his final race in regular competition in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series at Daytona. Who’s really to say if it really will be the last time he runs at Daytona in either the 500 or the 400 in the future. He has already hinted he wouldn’t turn down a chance to win more races at Daytona. He just doesn’t want to continue in the regular week to week grind that is the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as driver.

One thing this fan has to admit it that Dale Jr. is a great restrictor plate racer. He has won many races at Daytona although not all of them have been in the Cup series. He and his dad have definitely been dominators at the restrictor plate tracks and especially at Daytona.

Jr. Nation is particularly excited and happy about the race tonight because he is the pole winner and will lead the field to the green flag. It is his first pole of the season and could bode well for his chances of winning tonight. His car is fast and he is confident. The two together could mean he ends up as the one celebrating in Victory Lane when all is said and done.

Three of the Hendrick teams are starting in the first two rows and it does look as though the HMS Chevys have shown up ready to take it to the rest of them. Even Kasey Kahne looks strong and sounded confident in his car and chances for tonight also. Another one to look out for from the HMS garage is Chase Elliott. He is starting outside his teammate Dale Jr. on the front row.

The only one from HMS that didn’t show the same speed was Jimmie Johnson but that doesn’t mean we should count him out as one to watch when it comes down to the final laps. It all depends on how things go. After all… this is restrictor plate racing.

From this fan’s view, it does appear some of the changes NASCAR has made to the down force package has changed the face of restrictor plate racing again. Along with the addition of the stages, the restrictor plate races have become more aggressive and it no longer seems as possible to just sit back and wait for the final few laps to make a move. These days, the drivers seem to press for an advantage almost every lap and try to do their best to stay up front ahead of their competitors.
It’s just not like the “old days” of just a few years ago. At that time, just those few years ago, the plate races could be rather hum drum, particularly in the middle laps, and there wasn’t any real racing going on until the last fifty miles or so. With the lower down force and the stage racing, a lot goes on during almost every lap. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some times when the racing isn’t as intense. It just means there does appear to be a whole lot more intensity and drama since they lowered the down force and added the stages.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I love restrictor plate racing and I particularly like it when they run in large packs door handle to door handle and bumper to bumper. I don’t think there’s anything quite like it and I don’t think I’m the only fan that feels that way. From my view, I see a lot of people showing a lot of interest in the close pack racing and the renewed intensity of the restrictor plate races. I also recognize the drivers have their own thoughts on restrictor plate racing and some of them simply tolerate them because it is part of the NASCAR season.

Hmmm… Or maybe it’s just because they don’t like playing Chess all that much…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 1, 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

Sonoma from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Get royalty free music from TwoBuckThemes.com
Rusty Norman

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup teams take on the Road Course at Sonoma this weekend. There will be some different faces (though at least one of them will be familiar, Boris Said) and a whole lot of right turns to go along with a few left ones. Why does this matter? Well… I’ll give you my opinion of that but just maybe it is because this race at Sonoma will be very different than those in the past.

Although there are several things that come to mind that will be different, one in particular is there are some new faces taking to the track with the rest of those “seasoned veterans” and some of them have never been on this track in a cup car. That may or may not make a difference but it is interesting to watch them learn the nuances of Sonoma.

There always seems to be some media hype about the addition of the stages and their addition to this road race at Sonoma just might make for a more interesting race over all. (Well, that is this fan’s opinion anyway.) Since the track is long, a little over 2.5 miles, the race is short lap-wise and is probably as physically demanding as it is mentally and does tend to elicit strong emotions at times.

I don’t know why the media folks talk so much about the stages since we are so far along in the season. From this fan’s view it definitely has already been shown the stages have added drama and intensity to the races this season. I wasn’t one that really cared one way or the other about the addition of the stages when they were first introduced to us at the beginning of the 2017 season but I have noticed the change they have made.

In most every race, the stages have been a force in driving the interest in the races even through the middle and latter parts of the races before the end press to the checkered flag. It appears the drivers want to take all the possible playoff points to the playoffs as they can. So far, Martin Truex Jr. has the most and he is a good enough road racer that he could take a few more this weekend and maybe even the win.

But before I start talking about more of the possible winners for this event, let’s talk about another thing that is different for this one over the last one at Sonoma.

One of the most noticeable changes to the cars this season, at least in this fan’s opinion, is the much reduced spoiler on the rear. Along with that change there is the change in the front splitter and between the two, there has been a noticeable reduction in down-force. That reduction has been noticeable in several ways at many of the tracks but the most important is the way it has affected the braking of the cars. Since there is reduced down-force and drag the speeds have been faster, especially on the straights, and that has resulted in many having to change the way they brake going into the turns.

At some tracks this has resulted in brake failures along with torn up race cars and early exits from those races. In any of those circumstances, some of the wrecks haven’t been pretty and the drivers have often emerged from their cars stunned or with the breath knocked out of them. No matter how you look at it, the reduced down-force is going to be something the drivers are going to have to deal with. At Sonoma this weekend, this fan expects there will be some problems caused by the reduced down force and it has already been shown during the practice sessions that wheel hop is going to be a very real problem for some, if not all of the competitors at some point in the race and could be a deciding factor in who wins.

Sonoma is a track that requires finesse and smooth transitions at just about every turn of the track. It isn’t a track that can be attacked with reckless abandon and it will require patience and perseverance for the entire race. There will be no room for mistakes on pit road and mistakes on the track can lead to disaster for any of the drivers. Speeding on pit road is going to prove very costly for anyone that doesn’t keep it within the timing limits and it could also make a difference in winning and losing this one.

There are a lot of really good road course racers in the cup series right now and there are some we just don’t know how they will do. The Bush brothers, Kyle and Kurt, are both excellent road coursers and either of them could win. Clint Bowyer is another and, with his performance so far this season, he is about due for a win this season. Besides, he has won here before and it wouldn’t surprise this fan if he does it again on Sunday.

Some others that deserve mention are Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick along with a host of others. In fact, there are many that could win this one but I am just not sure which one has the best chance.

Of course we all know this is Dale Jr.’s last race at Sonoma since he is retiring from competition at the end of this year. He is also a good choice for a possible winner on Sunday afternoon and, judging from his practices and performance over the last few years, he has as good a chance of winning as any in the field. Personally, I’d like to see it but he isn’t one of my top choices even though I do like surprises…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 24, 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

Michigan High Banks And High Speed from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Get royalty free music from TwoBuckThemes.com
Rusty Norman

After last week’s high speed, low down force venture into braking mayhem at Pocono, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup teams are probably looking forward to a little less of those type problems at the Michigan International Speedway Sunday afternoon. With the lower down force the speed on the straights at Pocono were faster so the brakes were used more and that was a big problem for some, especially when it came to the Hendrick Chevys.

Dale Jr. missed a shift twice on the weekend and blew two motors which added up to an expensive and poor finish. Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne both had brake failures and hit the wall also making for an expensive and poor finish for each of them. Of the two, Jimmie Johnson’s was the worst and his impact with the wall was hard and made another true test of the safer barriers that have been mandated by NASCAR in recent years. It totally destroyed his car and, though he exited his car he definitely had to sit down on the track and catch his breath. The crash looked extremely bad but as the oft used phrase goes, “It could have been much worse.”

Kevin Harvick also missed a shift but his Ford engine didn’t blow like Jr.’s and he finished second and almost took the win away from Ryan Blaney. Not only was it amazing that his engine didn’t blow but it was amazing to him and his crew chief that the engine didn’t lose any noticeable performance. Ryan Blaney simply outdrove him in the final laps or he would have likely won, even after over-revving the engine to over 12,000 rpm.

So what will be the difference between the high speeds at Pocono and those we will see at MIS? Well for one, the turns have higher banking along with a little banking on the straights. Even with the lower down force package, there should be less demand on the brakes even though the entry speeds will be high, especially the entry into turn one. Besides, the race last fall had this same package so the teams know a little bit more of what to expect. Michigan also has lots of racing room and being three or more wide in the turns won’t be unusual. That doesn’t mean nothing will happen but it does mean they have a bit more control over the situations when they do go several wide.

One thing to keep in mind as this race progresses is how close, speed-wise, a bunch of the teams are. There isn’t that much separation in speed and that usually means it will be hard to pass even though there is a lot of racing room. To this fan that can only mean a couple things and that is it could be a race that doesn’t have that much action and possibly a lot of single file laps.

Of course it could also lead to some interesting moments as drivers press the envelope of the car either next to them or in front of them. Judging from the practice sessions, it appears most of the drivers are spending most of their time in only one of the racing grooves. Venturing out of that groove has led some to lose control and some into the wall. That may or may not be a good thing as the race progresses and the only thing that might keep them from doing a lot of follow the leader could be the Stages.

From this fan’s view the addition of the Stages has definitely added some intensity to the first and middle parts of the race and it appears they no longer “cruise” for the first 60% to 75% of the race, waiting to begin pushing it until the last 50 miles or so. Now there is more of a reason to try and run up front, or at least close to it, for more than just the final checkered flag.

Many of the cars are entering turn one at, or in excess of, 215 mph. That’s fast at any track and let’s not forget at this two mile oval they don’t run restrictor plates. It does make one wonder what these guys would be running at Daytona and Talladega with no restrictor plates. Michigan has always been fast and it is no different this year than in the past.

As far as this fan is concerned there are a bunch of possible winners for this one. I’m not going to get into that here but I do have to say this could be a complete surprise when it comes to who celebrates in Victory Lane when it is over. What do you think? Will it be a JGR Toyota or a Penske Ford? Don’t know, do you? Neither do I but one thing I do know is the winner and his team are going to have work for it and they will have to win it not only on the track but in the pits and with their strategy calls…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 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

The Tricky Triangle Challenges The Cup Teams from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Get royalty free music from TwoBuckThemes.com
Rusty Norman

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race for this weekend is definitely a challenge for all the Cup teams and, if things go as usual, it will definitely be a test for the drivers and teams as one of them tries to make the trip to Victory Lane. The Tricky Triangle at Pocono is fast, tough and unique. One thing it isn’t is predictable and that is just one of the things that makes it one of the tougher tracks on the NASCAR Cup circuit. It has three turns, two long straights and one that isn’t quite as long. The drivers will shift at least one to three times every lap and hope their drive trains last the full 400 miles.

The track may be different this week but the front row looks the same as it did last weekend. Kyle Bush won the pole and Martin Truex Jr. joins him there on the front row just as he did last week. Of course we all know that Kyle had some difficulties and lost more than the lead last week but Martin had a decent run for the win even though he finished third.

One of the big questions every week lately is, “When are the Joe Gibbs Racing teams going to get their first win for this season?’ Well, it could be this weekend (much as it could have been last weekend) but at least one of teams that would likely have stopped them last week, Kyle Larson, looks very strong again this weekend. (Well that is before Jimmie Johnson pulled out the win from both Larson and Truex.) There is no denying Kyle Bush has had strong cars lately but has not been able to show that strength when it comes down to the final checkered flag.

Another interesting fact, at least from this fan’s view, is two of the JGR teams are starting this one in the top three and Truex, a JGR associated team, is starting second. That puts three JGR or associated teams in the top three for starters and could mean this really is the week for a JGR trip to Victory Lane. By now I’m sure you all know I don’t put much stock in qualifying other than for possibly getting a good pit stall. When it comes down to the race, especially a 400 mile race on a Tricky Triangle that challenges every driver and team, it usually has very little to do with the way the race actually goes.

I guess now is as good a time as any to ask the question I usually do when it comes to the Tricky Triangle at Pocono. Why is it that at most any other track they visit they number the entries and exits to and from the turns. You know what I mean, don’t you? Yeah, they enter into turn one and exit from turn two. After the straight they enter into turn three and exit from turn four. Why isn’t it like that at the Tricky Triangle at Pocono? It seems to me they should still enter into turn one and exit from turn two, hit the straight and enter into turn three and exit from turn four. At Pocono, then they would enter into turn five and exit from turn six but that’s not the way it is. Seems like it could, or maybe should, be but they choose to just use three turns to describe the track. I get it but I don’t really understand their reasoning (but then again I don’t think they or anyone else cares what I think about it. I just thought I would bring it up just to see if someone wanted to straighten me (or them) out…)

Oh well… back to the matters at hand…
As of the practice and qualifying on Friday, I still have questions about the strength of the Hendrick teams. Taking a look at where they qualified, they really didn’t impress but then again I have to resort back to my thinking on the importance of qualifying – it really only matters for pit selection. Although that is important and can make a difference on how they finish on Sunday afternoon, it really doesn’t say much about how they will perform during the race.

Jimmie Johnson qualified 19th for this one but last week started last and ended up the winner. Kasey Kahne has had moments where he looked like he was going somewhere only to have something happen.

Chase Elliott is due for a win and has also looked like he was going to take his first victory in Cup only to miss out when it counted. Dale Jr. just hasn’t had that zing when it comes to finishing first. He has just had a lot of bad luck and some miscues but overall, he and his team are going to have to step it up if they want to make the playoffs.

The Penske teams also have struggled a bit and Brad in particular has just been in the wrong place at the right time to change his whole day. Yeah, this fan knows he has a couple of wins but lately, he just hasn’t been there for one reason or another.

In this fan’s opinion, it is really good to see Michael McDowell being talked about when it comes to his and his team’s performance this season. I have always liked Michael and it is really good to see him getting some recognition these days.

When it comes to Bubba Wallace, well it is just great to see him get this chance with Richard Petty Motorsports. This chance couldn’t have come at a better time since his Xfinity #6 team is being closed down after this weekend not because of his performance but because they just haven’t been able to gain needed sponsorship to keep going. It is a shame when any team has to close down for lack of funds but it is one of the realities of competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series. At the time of this writing, this fan thinks it would be great if he wins the Xfinity race on Saturday and makes a great showing on Sunday. Winning may not be in the mix… yet… but I know I and many others look forward to seeing how he does in his first Cup outing…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 10, 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

Taking It To The Monster Mile from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Get royalty free music from TwoBuckThemes.com
Rusty Norman

This weekend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup teams take it to the Monster Mile at Dover. There is no mistaking this is one of the driver favorites and there is no mistaking it is a monster of a challenge when it comes to the toll it takes on the drivers as they navigate the concrete surface of the one mile oval.

Go ahead, ask the drivers what they think about the Monster Mile and they will tell you two things in particular. First, it is a track they love to race on (probably because it is such a challenge to their abilities.) Second, it is a track that they “feel” all of the physical stresses it puts on them with its speed and the 24 degree banking in the turns and the 9 degree banking on the straights. Of course there are also those expansion joints and a few bumps they have to contend with along with those speeds they are traveling.

One thing is certain, the JGR Toyotas showed up ready to take it to the rest of the field. Well, that is if the first practice and qualifying says anything at all about how things might go on Sunday afternoon. Considering Kyle Bush is starting on the pole and Martin Truex Jr. is right next to him on the front row with Daniel Suarez and Matt Kenseth starting right behind them. Denny Hamlin starts tenth, Eric Jones seventh and both were looking pretty stout along with the other JGR and associated teams. It could definitely be a Toyota day “IF” (and notice I stress the word “if”) they continue as they have so far this weekend.

As has been the case most of the season, Kyle Larson once again showed up with a very fast Ganassi Chevy. In fact, he and Austin Dillon were the only Chevys in the top ten and, from this fan’s view, Kyle could be the one to challenge the Toyotas’ seeming readiness for the weekend. Larson has been strong all season, well at least so far, and is almost weekly considered as the one to beat if someone wants to take a win. Of course, things do happen and it is only approaching mid season but, he is definitely looking like he will be a strong contender in the playoffs at the end of the season.

Martin Truex Jr. is another that has been impressive this season and this fan thinks will continue to perform well as the season progresses. Since I’ve been talking about the JGR Toyotas and he is an associated team, I have to mention he has actually been one of the stronger performers of the group almost every week. I expect he will definitely be one making a bid for the win on Sunday afternoon. After all, he was only beaten out for the pole by Kyle Bush by about a thousandth of a second. That also might mean something when it comes down to the checkers at the end of the day.

Although not many want to get their hopes up, Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified eleventh and actually showed some speed in the first practice and in qualifying. Of course it remains to be seen how he will do in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism race on Sunday afternoon. As fans, we all want to see him do well and possibly even win since this is his final season in Cup racing competitively. A win would also mean he could compete for the Championship at the end of the season and much to the delight his fans, could depart full time competition in NASCAR Cup with a chance at becoming the 2017 Cup champ. (Wouldn’t that be something…?) I guess in some ways, we all would like to see that happen even though we might be fans of some other driver.

Of all the ones running in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism race, Jimmie Johnson is the one with the most victories at the Monster Mile. From this fan’s view, he hasn’t really shown that much in the first practice or in qualifying – he qualified 14th – but considering past performances he can’t be ruled out as one to be there when it all comes down to taking the checkered flag. It wouldn’t be the first time he showed up as winner on race day when it seemed he was going to be an “also ran.”

He already has a couple of wins so he is already in the playoffs for the Championship so we never really know what he and Chad are working on. It’s not like he “has to” win or to make an impression and his past performance at this track shows he is quite capable of ending up in Victory Lane no matter where he starts. I guess it just remains to be seen how he does on Sunday; well, at least from this fan’s view.

Once again, the stage racing instituted this season has made things very interesting and I expect this Sunday’s race will be no different. They have definitely added to the intensity and drama of the races and, though I wasn’t so sure about them to begin with, I am definitely a supporter of them now. Every race on the Monster Mile is intense and filled with emotion and I don’t expect this one to be any different. I will say this though… This is one of the only shorter tracks in NASCAR Cup racing where we even think about the “Big One” and how it can change the entire outcome of the race, but it can… and quite likely will…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 3, 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

Cup Teams Take On Their Longest Race from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Get royalty free music from TwoBuckThemes.com
Rusty Norman

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup teams take on stock car racing’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600, on one of the racing world’s longest days at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Of course all racing fans know the three I’m talking about are The Grand Prix of Monaco, The Indy 500 and The Coca-Cola 600 and it definitely makes for a full day with three different types of racing. Some call it a racing enthusiast’s dream day while others just shrug their shoulders, smile and say they’ll be watching one of them or at least checking in on all three during the day.

This weekend we also celebrate Memorial Day weekend and, of the three racing types and venues, it is this fan’s opinion NASCAR is the best at honoring our Troops. Also in my opinion, they do a fine job of recognizing the importance of those that serve in the Armed Services and those that gave their lives protecting our country and preserving the freedom we all enjoy and often take for granted. Not only do they support our troops and honor those that gave the supreme sacrifice serving and protecting our country and freedoms but also recognizing and supporting their families and the loss and sorrows they have experienced. My thanks go to those that were willing to make that supreme sacrifice for all of us and particularly for my family. God bless them and the USA.

The Coca-Cola 600 is always an interesting race. NASCAR has made this one a little more interesting by adding another stage to it (there will be four of 100 laps each) and more points to be gained by those that do well in the stages. So let’s see… there were already more laps in this race, more miles and more hours in the seat for the drivers and now there are more stages and more points. Naturally the extra points won’t matter until the playoffs but that hasn’t been something that has held any of them back. It appears all of them are pushing harder to qualify better, run better and get some of those stage points and wins to apply when they get to the playoffs.

Fortunately (or some may say, unfortunately) it appears at least one of the JGR teams showed up ready to make a statement and take home a 600 win. (Of course this fan is sure you know I’m talking about Kyle Bush.) Since he already took home a million dollars, it just stands to reason that he could be one to consider for taking the trip to Victory Lane when this one is over on Sunday night. A closer look at the lineup shows there are three JGR teams starting in the top ten and if you want to consider an associated team too, Martin Truex Jr. is right there also. Daniel Suarez starts from the twentieth position so I’ll let you draw your own conclusion of what kind of overall statement the JGR teams have made. They do look strong and that’s a pretty obvious fact.

So… we have Kyle Bush starting on the front row with pole winner, Kevin Harvick. Does that say even more about which teams to watch for the win when the checkered flag drops on the Coca-Cola 600? But wait a minute; isn’t that Chase Elliott with HMS starting third right behind them? Both the JGR and SHR teams are due for a win and either one of them could make the trip to Victory Lane but there is a whole lot more to it than that. Running strong in the practices and qualifying at, or near the front could always mean something good for a team but not necessarily for the whole 600 miles.

Chase Elliott is definitely due for a win when it comes down to it and he is another one this fan thinks could end up as the winner when all is said and done. Ryan Blaney and Eric Jones also enter into the conversation and it is good to see these young guns being talked about so often as ones to watch and possible winners. After all, these guys are definitely the future of the sport and they represent themselves and their families well.

The Coca-Cola 600 is a long race and goes from evening into the night. This fan has to admit that in the past, it usually didn’t really get interesting until the final 100 miles or even less and if someone has a night like Martin Truex Jr. had in last year’s, well, it can seem relatively uneventful. In fact, some have even gone so far as to call it boring; something this fan doesn’t necessarily agree with but does understand what they mean. It is the hope the addition of the Stages to the mix will add what they have added to the racing so far this season.

With the addition of the Stages the racing has been a bit more intense and it does break up the monotony of 600 miles with only one checkered flag and a long waiting game. The drivers have much more incentive to push a little harder and can gain points toward the playoffs for finishing near the front or winning one or all of the Stages. In the end, it still comes down to winning that final stage and that is usually when the cream rises to the top. It could be one of the young guns or one of the seasoned veterans. It could be someone completely unexpected or it could be, well… you know…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 27, 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

Cup All Stars Racing For A Million from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Get royalty free music from TwoBuckThemes.com
Rusty Norman

There is absolutely nothing on the line for the drivers and teams taking to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the NASCAR All Star race Saturday night. Well, that is unless you consider the winner will walk away with a cool million dollars. Since there are no points to gain and not much else offered for the nights work, I guess racing to possibly win a million dollars IS incentive enough to do what it takes to end up as the winner. I know it would be for me and I’m guessing it would be for you too. I do have admit, there is something awfully enticing and motivating to do something you really love and possibly make a million dollars in the process.

Because it is mostly about the money and not much else other than bragging rights likely explains why it is such a wide open race. If past All Star races tell us anything as fans, this one will probably not be any different and it should prove to be a very interesting night of competition. Some of them have ended quite dramatically in the past, with cars, car parts and some with varying forms of damage strewn all along the path to the flag stand and beyond. It never ceases to amaze this fan what some of the drivers will try or do to win that million dollar prize. (Sometimes I think they even surprise themselves.)

So what does it take for a driver to make it into the Monster Energy All Star race? Well that is a very interesting question and though many of you may know the answer, I will answer for those that may not be familiar with the process or, at least, are new to NASCAR or just a casual fan. It may sound a bit complicated but trust me, it really isn’t. So here we go…

For a driver to qualify for being in the All Star race several factors are considered. First of all, they have to be an active driver in the Cup series and, at the time of this writing, there are sixteen drivers locked in. They either have to be past winners from the 2016/2017 season or past All Star winners or series champions. If they are none of the above, they will compete in the Open which will consist of three stages. Two of those stages will be 20 laps in length and the final stage is 10 laps. The winner of each of the three stages qualifies to be in the All Star race. After that, there is one final driver that will qualify to be in the All Star race and that will be the one voted in by the fans.

That’s what makes the Open so intense. If a driver doesn’t win one of the three stages, he (or she) won’t make the big one and will miss a chance to win the Million dollars. Another thing about this late afternoon and evening of racing is that a fan does have a chance at winning a million dollars and that is if Kevin Harvick wins the cool million for the Monster Energy All Star race. Gee… that doesn’t sound like it puts any extra pressure on Harvick, does it? Oh well, that’s just another thing about this race – it is all about the fans (and of course, the money…)

There are a few things about this race that make it interesting and one of those is that they all practice in the heat of the day and the All Star race takes place in the cooler temperatures of the evening into the night. That means the crew chief and engineers have to make decisions about setup and if they miss it, well, their driver may not have much of a chance at winning, especially if they miss it big. On the other hand, if they miss it, take big swings at it and make their driver happy, they put themselves back in the hunt for that million dollar payoff. Now that really doesn’t sound all that complicated, does it? Well don’t forget to throw in the three twenty lap stages and the ten lap final stage along with that different tire with the green lettering. Even the rules for using that will make it very interesting from this fan’s view.

There is no doubt in my mind that this could be one of the most intense and dramatic All Star races that we as fans have witnessed in while. The addition of the stages has definitely added something to the racing so far this season and I expect it will be the same tonight when they take the green flag to get started. One thing about the All Star race is it has always been flat out once the green drops and, with the stages set the way they are, they all know it will be twenty laps to make it to the front in all of them except the last one. Remember… this is all about the money they are racing for. That million dollar prize is all this is about. There are no points – just money – and it only goes to the winner and his team.

When it comes down to those last ten laps for the million dollars, it could prove to be very exciting and emotional. In the past, there have been some very interesting things tried to try and be the one taking the checkered flag and the million dollars. Sometimes it gets pretty rough and sometimes it gets messy but it is always exciting and it is one time it is never over until it is over. That means, at least from this fans view, there could be a big one at the finish or an unexpected winner – it is hard to tell. All I know is it is always worth watching to the very end. Well… that is except when one of the drivers runs away from the rest in those final few laps. Then it is actually over before it ends and that isn’t what this fan is hoping for the way this one ends…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 20, 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