The Final Four Race For The Championship At Phoenix

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

The Championship race is always a different kind of race compared to others in the NASCAR season. It is basically two races in one. Most of the time it turns out that the winner is usually the winner of the Championship and the final race of the season but, this is the year 2022 and it is the Next Gen car. From my view, that means just about anything can happen and probably will.

So, everyone is, or has been, talking about the move that Ross Chastain pulled off to put himself into the final four and I admit it was spectacular. I can’t even imagine how many things had to go right for that to happen the way it did and whether it was a once-in-a-thousand move that just happened to work or if it could even be duplicated on a regular basis. Honestly, there were a lot of things that could have gone wrong and Ross said it wasn’t something he would readily like to duplicate but he was happy it worked the way it did. He also recognized the results could have been much different if just one thing in the many that went right had gone differently. From my view, Denny Hamlin was the most surprised to see Chastain pass him for the coveted spot that put Ross in and Denny out of the final four.

I’m not so sure about the outcome for today’s race at Phoenix. The way this season has gone, there could be a totally unexpected winner for the actual race and a totally unbelievable finish for which of the four walk away with the Championship. Since there are actually two races in the one race, there could be some real drama play out before the final flag falls on this 2022 NASCAR season. We all know that the Championship is only between the four qualified for the final four. The one that finishes ahead of the other three will be declared the 2022 Champion. One of them doesn’t even have to win the race – although they likely will if things go as they usually do. There are a bunch of other drivers that can win the race but won’t be declared the Champ.

Although there are several reasons to think the Final Four drivers will be running up front for most, if not all, of the race, there are also a lot of other reasons to think they may not be up front when the days is done. Just to name a few drivers that might rank as spoilers, I would go so far as to bring up Tyler Reddick, Kyle Larson and Chase Briscoe. All three of them are capable of winning and all three are capable of winning at Phoenix along with several others. (Did I mention Kevin Harvick, William Byron or Cole Custer? Well maybe I should…)

Considering how the three I mentioned first have been running and the fact that they were in the playoffs, it isn’t beyond the possibility of seeing one of them take the win. In particular, Kyle Larson is one of two that stand out to me as being likely to win if one of the four doesn’t take the win. The other one would be Tyler Reddick even though it is a hard choice between him and Chase Briscoe. All three of these guys are hard chargers and all three would like nothing better than to be spoilers in this event and close out the year with a win.

So… if you’ve been paying attention to all the talk and hype – and I’m sure you have – you’ve heard all the reasons why any one of the four finalists should win the Championship. You’ve also heard all the hype as to why one of the final four will win not only the race but the Championship. When it comes down to this fan’s opinion, well, I’m just not sure exactly what will happen by the time the final flag drops on this 2022 NASCAR Cup season. But, if things go as usual, the race and the Championship will be won by the same driver. If not, then things will likely be very intense until the last lap is run. Of course, for a few minutes the race winner will get his accolades and then all eyes will turn to the driver that has just won the Championship and the winner will fade into the background and be mentioned in passing for a short while. And then, it will be on to the 2023 NASCAR Cup season…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 6, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Short Track Intensity For The Cutoff At Martinsville

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Everyone knows Martinsville is special track and a challenge for everyone that takes it on. This weekend will be no different and it may be even more intense than usual if for no other reason than just one of the remaining eight drivers is a definite for the final four. Of course, that would be Joey Logano and he hasn’t had to work very hard since winning his way into the final four but, I personally don’t think his finishes or qualifying have been by choice but have been either experimental times or just poor performance. Whatever the case, he has no pressure to qualify for anything this weekend. He is ready to move on to the final four.

For the other seven, the story is quite a bit different. None of them are actually guaranteed a place in the final four and all seven of them are going to try and win. From this fan’s view, that means a very intense and emotional race lay ahead of all of them and two of them are in a must win situation.

Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, the two in a must-win situation from my view are Chase Briscoe and Christopher Bell. I don’t think you’ll find many that disagree with my assessment of their situations but I do agree that Christopher Bell could actually get in IF something really strange happens other than a win. Will that happen? I guess it could seeing as this the year 2022 and a lot of very strange things have happened. Rest assured, Christopher will do everything he possibly can to get everything he can out of his car to try and win. Since he pulled off something similar a couple of weeks ago, I guess I won’t totally say he won’t but I don’t think it is very likely.

Since Kyle Larson dominated last weekend and is sitting on the pole this weekend – with that coveted number one pit stall – it is possible he could win and take away the chances of both Bell and Briscoe. Of course, nothing is written in stone and there is still some very strange things that could happen but, I think the final four will come from five of those seven drivers.

A quick look at the starting lineup shows several of the round of eight starting in the front rows for Sunday afternoon. Chase Elliott, Chase Briscoe and Ryan Blaney start in the top four. After that, well, then it gets really interesting.

Ross Chastain starts ninth and he is eight points ahead of Chase Elliott. By the end of the race he could be challenging for the win. He has been making a very strong showing in the playoffs and has finished near the front for the last couple of weeks. He is also in a Chevy and the Chevys have run strong at Martinsville, especially the Hendrick Chevys.

William Byron is one of those Hendrick Chevys but he is only five points ahead of Denny Hamlin in the starting lineup except Hamlin starts eleventh and Byron starts twenty-fifth. Man, talk about starting off in a hole. Byron sure put himself in one and I expect his day is going to be very intense. I’m sure he will have to control not only his own intensity but also his emotions and temper. I believe he really has his work cut out for himself. Hamlin, well, I think I’ll have to reserve my opinion for him and where he might finish. He has struggled in the playoffs often and the Toyotas just haven’t looked all that capable of beating the Chevys this season. That’s not to say the Toyotas won’t run good, I’m just saying they also have their work cut out for themselves.

I expect the intensity and emotions to run high and I think their might even be a few tempers displayed. There is too much on the line for there not to be and it could rear it’s head at any time during this one. Martinsville is a challenging short track and it will challenge every driver on the track. I expect it to be hard to pass and, of course, I expect there to be a lot of bumping and banging and pushing and shoving. There may even be some payback opportunities show up at the most inopportune times. Whether it will affect the outcome of the race remains to be seen but, chances are, it very well could…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 29, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Homestead Is Next In The Playoffs

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Hello from the Southwest coast of Florida. Gee, it’s good to be back in touch with you all again. Hurricane Ian forced me to take an extended break from posting anything NASCAR related and actually kept me from getting much of anything done. It was tough. We were without power for ten days and internet for several weeks. In fact, I just got back online about two to three days ago. We even had difficulty using our cell services for a long time and that made it hard to keep in touch.

Speaking of keeping in touch, a lot has happened since last I blog-casted. I was shocked to see Kyle Larson get eliminated from continuing his quest for a second Cup Championship in a row. Of course, he admitted much of the blame lay on his shoulders because he has made a lot of mistakes this season. In other words, he beat himself and his team but, I believe there is a high possibility he could win in Homestead this very weekend. I’m not saying he definitely will but, I am saying he has a very good chance, unless he makes a mistake that defeats his chances.

I think the Hendrick teams just may make a good showing this weekend at Homestead. It appears they have at least short run speed and Larson and Elliott are in the top five and William Byron took the pole position. Admittedly, the Toyotas also look pretty tough this weekend and it could be a real battle between the Chevys and the Toyotas at the end of the day. I guess we’ll find out when the final flag drops but I have a feeling a lot is going to happen between the drop of the green flag and the drop of the black and white checkered flag when the winner crosses the finish line.

So… thanks to a little disagreement between Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson last weekend, Christopher Bell is now just about in a must win situation. Depending on what happens to the drivers ahead of him, I suppose that is a strong possibility but, he could still make the final four on points or by a win. He did pull off a win at the Roval which moved him on to this round of eight but, if that hadn’t happened, he would have already been eliminated.

I hate to say it but he didn’t sound all that confident in being able to pull off a similar win either this weekend or next. However, I will admit it wouldn’t surprise me if he did end up in the final four and possibly even with a Cup Championship under his belt when all is said and done. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying it will happen that way but, I am saying I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. Afterall, this is the year 2022 and just about anything that could happen has happened and every weekend comes and goes with lots of surprises.

Joey Logano is already in the final four, just like it happened once before for him in recent years. That year, he came away with the Cup Championship and many are wondering if it might happen again. From this fan’s view, I suppose that is a very real possibility and it could make the next couple of weeks very interesting. He now has no pressure to win or even finish these next two races although I think him not going for the wins or a good finish is a little bit outside of reality. That’s just not Joey Logano’s style. He will be pressing for the victories and the best finishes he can muster.

A lot can happen to change things around this weekend at Homestead and I do expect there may be another shakeup in the points. I am not so sure one of the playoff drivers will win and be in the final four any more than I was able to predict the path that hurricane Ian took and hit our area and caused such devastation to us all here. Afterall… this is 2022 and the year of the Next Gen and you can bet I’ll be watching just to see what else unexpected can happen…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 23, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Texas Starts The Playoffs Round Of Twelve

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

So… round one of the playoffs is in the books and, as unbelievable as it sounds, not one playoff driver won any of the three races in it. Yeah, I know you’ve heard that a lot in the last week or so but, it is worth repeating. I mentioned last week that I didn’t blame everything on the Next Gen car but I do believe it has had a negative influence in a positive way. I know that sounds strange as well but, it has been a hard car for many of the teams to get a grip on and, for whatever reason, it has been difficult for many of the drivers, too. Personally, when it comes to the drivers that have been around for a longer period of time in the Cup series, there has been things they have had to forget or unlearn simply because this car is unforgiving.

What do I mean by that? Well, shifting is different and they had to get used to not having the old H pattern. Before the Next Gen, many of them had several years in the old car and it had different handling characteristics. With the Next Gen they just can’t always save it from the rear getting away from them, even slightly. Tires are the last thing I will bring into this conversation. There have been numerous tire problems and there have been a number of tires just not secured properly. With all of that going on, it has been a race changer at times, depending on where the tires either blow, go flat or simply come off the car.

That’s why I believe the Next Gen car has had a lot to do with how some of the races have gone. I’m not saying it is a bad thing but it has had its impact throughout the year. With this race at Texas, one has to wonder if the Next Gen will have a very visible effect on the outcome or if it just turns out to be a really interesting 500-mile race.

So now we enter into the round of twelve and it could be one of the more dramatic rounds in the whole playoff. These next three races are at some of the more difficult tracks to have a good finish at. Maybe not Texas so much but Talladega and the Roval do have a tendency to be somewhat of a crapshoot. At Talladega, you can be doing everything right and end up in someone else’s mistake or problem and end up in the garage and down in points and suddenly on the outside looking in. At the Roval, well, it’s the Roval and just about anything can happen and probably has in recent times.

Is it any wonder most, if not all of the drivers in the playoffs, want to finish with a lot of points or the win at Texas? They just don’t want to go into Talladega or The Roval needing to win to continue on into the next round of the playoffs. Aside from that fact, there are still several drivers not in the playoffs still very capable of winning any of the three races in this round. The last thing some of the playoff drivers want to see is two or three more drivers that haven’t won yet this season.

Of course, they can’t all win and be less stressed until the round of eight. Only one of them in the entire field can win on any given weekend and it could be a playoff driver or it could be someone outside the playoffs. The hope for the playoff drivers is to end the day with the win and not have to worry about the next two races. It is possible that one of them will and they will get the stress-free ride into the next round. For the rest of them, they will have to press on or, at the very least, hope for stage wins and a big points day.

This is one of the most difficult races to try and pick a winner for because so much is riding on the outcome. Sure, I know I don’t have to pick a winner or even give a prediction of which of them I think will win. I admit the RFK car of Brad Keselowski looks pretty tough and he could be the one that ends up in Victory Lane. Joey Logano has shown speed but he hasn’t been able to deliver recently, even when having a good qualifying run. Chase Elliott has struggled almost every race in the playoffs so far but somehow ends up pressing for the win. The Chevys once again look strong this weekend from both the Hendrick teams and RCR teams. But will they be able to pull off the win? I think it is going to be much too difficult to tell until a bunch of laps are in the book.

Although I’m not sure what will happen Sunday afternoon, I do believe there is going to be a lot of emotion and drama and maybe even some hot tempers. I’m not saying all of that won’t be a good thing but, it sure could mix things up…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 24, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Bristol And The First Round Elimination

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

It’s more than just another Saturday Night under the lights. It’s more than just a catch phrase of, “It’s Bristol, baby.” It’s even more than just another elimination race. This one is important in so many ways it’s even hard to put into words – although many have tried and will try. This one is a testy, five hundred laps at one of the toughest tracks on the NASCAR circuit and anything can happen in the playoff part of the whole thing. When it is over, it will have four less drivers moving on to the round of twelve in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs for the Championship.

There’s a lot riding on this race. Well, that is, for one driver in particular. His name is Kevin Harvick and, so far, this first round of the 2022 playoffs hasn’t been kind to him. In fact, if it could go wrong, it has for him and it has put him in a must win situation for this Bristol night race. I agree with his statement saying when asked what he thought his chances for winning at Bristol this weekend. He said, “Better than most…” That is more true than even the fact his car caught on fire at Darlington or that he finished dead last, last weekend at Kansas. He is one of the drivers that knows what it takes to run well at Bristol and he usually has run strong there. If he wants to move on in the playoffs, he has to win Saturday night.

Harvick isn’t the only one in a tight situation if moving on is in the cards for several others. The obvious ones are already below the cut line but, if the last two races have made anything at all clear, no one is really safe other than Christopher Bell IF they have a bad night at Bristol. Now I’m not saying every one of the remaining fifteen drivers are in trouble but, it is pretty obvious to this fan, a really bad night could spell trouble for just about any of them.

Kyle Bush seems to be the name heard most when it comes to which driver might win Saturday night. A lot of people seem to think because of his many previous wins and the fact that he has now a place to settle in for next season at Richard Childress Racing, he is the obvious choice to end up in Victory Lane. Personally, I’m not so sure about that. He might win and it would definitely move him on to the Round of Twelve but, I’m just not as firmly convinced as some are. After what happened to Tyler Reddick last weekend, something like that could happen to any of the drivers and the only one of them it wouldn’t really affect is, once again, Christopher Bell. In my opinion, even someone with the number of wins in all of NASCAR like Kyle Bush, anything can happen and keep both him and Kevin Harvick from moving on.

Looking back at the last two weeks, it is obvious that many of the playoff drivers are struggling, at least a bit. The first week, at Darlington, the top drivers coming into the playoffs found themselves moved down the list and kind of appearing dumfounded. I’m not saying they were but the circumstances of that first race in the playoffs was, in my opinion, a definite wake up call for all of them. It showed just how little could be assumed in this 2022 NASCAR Cup season.

I mean, look at Chase Elliott. He was in the same place that Christopher Bell is right now just two race into round one and can’t afford another race like Darlington, at least not this weekend. Whose to say the same thing can’t happen to Bell at Bristol?

Look, I know this has been a very unpredictable season, especially with the introduction of the Next Gen car, the lack of practice time and all of the unforeseen things that have happened with the new car. There have been tire problems that have surfaced several weekends and even as recently as last weekend that took out the dominate car of Tyler Reddick. I don’t blame everything on the Next Gen car but it has been a challenge for the drivers and teams no matter which of them we mention.

Yes, it’s true, the Chevys have consistently been running strong almost every week but, they have also had their problems. It seems that a few weeks the Chevys have the upper hand and then next the Toyotas for a week or two and then the Fords. Personally, it has been frustrating for me and, if it has been that way for me, I can only imagine how it has been for the engineers, crew chiefs and drivers throughout the season. Even now there are unanswered questions about the engines, the tires and the cars in general.

Bristol is said to be short track racing at it’s best and I don’t necessarily disagree with that. It is a tough track and 500 laps around it can be emotionally and physically draining. Because this is an elimination race, I expect the emotions to be high and the tempers to be short. With what we have all witnessed this season, there is no doubt in this fan’s mind that this is going to be a wild night and there is definitely going to be some bumping and rubbing, pushing and shoving. But then, according to many, that’s just Saturday night short track racing. In other words, “It’s Bristol, Baby!!!”

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 17, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Pressure Ramps Up At Kansas

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

To this fan, this has been a different year all round and it has been a difficult one to figure out. Well, at least in my opinion. I do believe the Next Gen car ahs a lot to do with that but I can’t blame everything I see on the car itself. I know everyone started out at the same place and it appeared some seemed to get up to speed faster than others but, now that we’re in the playoffs, things seemed to have changed again. What I mean by that is, those that seemed to be struggling to get up to speed are now much faster and those that seemed like they had the others covered are struggling to get that little extra bit of speed they need to run up front.

Now that I’ve said that there is no doubt the pressure is ramping up on the sixteen playoff drivers to make up for what they lost last weekend at Darlington. So, Kansas is a make-or-break weekend for at least nine drivers and teams that had bad finishes last weekend.

According to the practice and qualifying, one of those that appears to still be struggling is Chase Elliott. He entered the first race at Darlington with a commanding lead over the field and left Darlington licking his wounds and having to make up a lot ground at Kansas. Another race like the one at Darlington and one has to wonder whether he will even be around for round two let alone the final four.

He wasn’t the only one struggling last weekend. A total of nine of the playoff contenders had problems of some sort. Chase wasn’t the worst of all of them but he did drop from first to ninth just fourteen points above the cut line for making it to the next round. Kevin Harvick’s fire cost him greatly and kind of quenched his momentum from his two wins late in the season. Kyle Larson made up three laps to move into the top ten last week but lost a bunch of spots when they had to pit a second time for a possible loose wheel. Kyle Bush looked to have the race won until his engine blew before the last restart. That’s just a few of the ones that struggled to make points last week.

At one time this season, the Chevys looked to be the ones to beat moving towards the playoffs. Now, the Toyotas and the Ford of Joey Logano are definitely looking like the ones everyone will be chasing, at least for now. I guess that is a fairly bold statement seeing as how we’re only coming to the second race of round one and maybe I am jumping the gun a little bit. After all, Kansas can be tricky and qualifying may not have anything at all to do with the final results of the Hollywood Casino 400.

All of the sudden, the Fords and Toyotas seem to have the upper hand as far as improving their performance compared to the Chevys here at the end of the season and entering into the playoffs. The Chevys are still showing speed but their gains seem to be less than the Toyotas and Fords and everything seems to have tightened up competition-wise.

Does that mean I’m counting the Chevys out? Not at all. I mean just look which driver took the pole. That’s right, Tyler Reddick in a Chevy. Of course, right next to him on the front row is Joey Logano in a Ford. Right after them are Alex Bowman in a Chevy and Christopher Bell in a Toyota.

Admittedly there are three of the Hendrick Teams starting in the top ten but the one missing is the 2022 season champ, Chase Elliott. I’m not counting him out at this point but he is starting in the twenty-second position Sunday afternoon and has a lot of ground to make up IF he wants to move up in the points or even win. At this point, and from my view, it just looks like the number 9 team is struggling a bit. It could be that everything could turn around for Elliott and all the Hendrick teams this weekend but that doesn’t mean it will and it could make next week’s race all the more of a “must win” situation.

So, from this fan’s view, it could be day Tyler Reddick dominates the field since he is starting on the pole and has the number one pit stall. He has been running very consistently at the end of races even when they may have struggled during a race. It could also be a race that those that struggled last weekend have great trouble-free days and the others struggle from lap one to the final lap. I’m not saying it will go that way… I’m just saying it could. There’s just no way of knowing since no one expected what happened last weekend and the way the standings were shaken up.

In the end, there very well could be another non-playoff driver that wins this one and it could mean just another shakeup in the points no matter how they lineup from the qualifying sessions. I’m not really expecting a really unexpected finish or winner but, it could happen and, considering just how the 2022 season has gone, that wouldn’t be unexpected…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 10, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Wondering Who Will Win As The Playoffs Begin

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

As the playoffs kick off at Darlington, there has never been a season, at least in my memory, quite like this NASCAR season of 2022. What with the Next Gen car, all of the unknowns and the unexpected happenings with tires, pit stops and wrecks of all kinds, it’s just hard to determine which of the drivers and teams may have the upper hand as they start the round of sixteen. I think there are a couple of drivers that are confident of their chances here at the start but there is a lot of skepticism for most of them. It’s like their wanting to get this first race under their belts before they want to commit to any hard facts about their chances.

I think there is another reason it gets complicated. That is because, even though there are sixteen drivers competing for the Championship and able to win this first race, all of the drivers in the field are there to win every weekend whether they are in the playoffs or not. With the state of the competition with the Next Gen cars, there are a lot of possible winners almost every week. From my view, that makes everything a bit more complicated, don’t you think?

I mean just look at the ones that didn’t quite make the cut. There’s Martin Truex Jr. that missed the cut by just three points. Since he almost made it in by points and no wins, it is possible he could go on a tear and win several races during the playoffs. Should that happen, it could make the first round even more interesting than it might be anyway.

Hey, Truex Jr. is only one of the possible non-playoff winners. There are a bunch of drivers with cars that are competitive enough to win one or more of the playoff races. Shucks, there’s Chris Buescher, Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse, Cole Custer and Brad Keselowski. Need I go on? Okay, I will name at least one more. It is even possible that Ty Gibbs could take a win. It is just so difficult to pick one out of all the possible winners.

Even though I hardly ever put a lot of stock in qualifying, it is awfully hard to overlook the speed of Joey Logano this weekend. He had the fastest time in qualifying and did win the pole. He also made a clean sweep of the poles for this year at Darlington since he also won the pole in the spring. As long as he is out front, he may be hard to beat this weekend and he could very well dominate the race.

Since this is the playoffs and a lot of strategy goes into the mix, it is also possible that he may not be around at the end to take the checkered flag. I’m not saying he will have mechanical problems or anything like that; I’m just saying, much like most of the other races this season, “it ain’t over till it’s over” and he may not be leading when it comes down to the final checkered flag. Sometimes it has more to do with luck and timing than having the fastest car.

It does appear the Fords have shown up with some speed this weekend. There are four of them starting in the top ten and others that are likely not going to be happy just running in the middle of the pack. I can think of three right off and that would be Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe. Any of these three could make their way to the front and win the Cook Out Southern 500.

Two of the Hendrick cars qualified in the top ten and that is William Byron and Kyle Larson. The surprise from the Hendrick camp was Chase Elliott. He qualified twenty-third and didn’t even brush the wall like his teammate Alex Bowman and Alex qualified sixteenth. Now I’m not going to make any negative statements about how that looks for the NASCAR regular Cup season champ. I am almost willing to bet that he and crew chief Alan Gustafson can and will make the necessary adjustments to put them in contention to be at or near the front at the end.

Christopher Bell and Kyle Bush both qualified in the top five and either of them could have an impact at the end of the night. The same goes for Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon even though Dillon did qualify in thirteenth. Another possible winner (without naming everybody, of course) is Austin Cindric.

Like I said, there are a lot of drivers that could win this one and some are in the playoffs and some are not. There are a lot of fast cars and there is always the possibility of something going wrong or a driver or crew making an error on pit road. After all, this is a 500 mile race and just about anything that can go wrong, could and likely will…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 3, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Daytona Will Decide The Playoff 16

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

All eyes are on the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona and it is expected to be a real barn burner. With the announcement of Kurt Bush withdrawing from the playoff picture opening up another available spot in the final sixteen, the intensity has quadrupled. Fourteen of the spots are already set for the playoffs but now there are two spots available to fill out the final two places for the top sixteen. Kurt’s decision has made an already intense situation even more dramatic for this, the regular season finale leading into the playoffs.

Even though there are fourteen drivers and teams that don’t need to worry about winning this one or even really finishing, it is awfully hard for someone to just sandbag and move on to the playoffs. I just don’t recognize any of the top fourteen that aren’t competitive enough to not go for the win at Daytona. I just don’t think it’s in their blood to be content to just go out and run around. In fact, I’ll just say, if anything, this could make them even more willing to take chances and press the envelope since they’re already in. At Daytona, one of the most prestigious tracks to win at in NASCAR, a win there is something that everyone of them wants to have.

I have the utmost respect for the decision Kurt Bush made about his recovery and unknown time of being able to return to driving his racecar. Actually, it was something I didn’t quite expect to happen. Kurt has been in NASCAR for a long time and, it goes without saying, to do what he has done week in and week out for the number of years he has been doing it had to have been a very hard decision to make. I think he made the right decision and I’m sure it was his own decision and not some pressure from NASCAR. I may not have agreed with everything he has ever said or done in the series but, I do have the highest regard and respect for him and his abilities and also this decision to not continue with his health waiver.

The real race is between Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. At the time if this writing, Blaney has a twenty-five-point lead over Truex Jr. That means, unless Blaney has big time problems, he just needs to stay ahead of Truex Jr. and he will be in the playoffs. If Truex wins or outpoints Blaney by more than twenty-five he could be in. The real problem is that there are a bunch of drivers that could knock one of the two drivers out of the playoffs just by winning the Coke Zero Sugar 400. That can’t do anything but add pressure to Blaney and Truex Jr. and add to all they have to think about during tis one.

It is unfortunate that qualifying was rained out and there was absolutely no time on the track for any of the drivers and teams. That could either make for a very interesting start or a big swap of positions after the first few laps. This is another one of those races that this fan doesn’t put a whole lot of stock in where everyone starts. That’s mostly because this is the type of race that just about everyone has a chance of winning. In other words, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish and this one usually isn’t over until the final checkered flag waives.
I’m not sure whether or not starting up front on the front row like Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will be an advantage or not. I’ll be interested to see which of the drivers intentionally drop back in the field just to hopefully stay the slightest bit safer from possible carnage. It remains to be seen if dropping back turns out to be plus or a minus, if for not other reason, out front is usually a bit of a safer place of staying out of other peoples’ problems. That is unless something happens like a flat tire or a spin because of the unruly characteristics of the Next Gen car.

You see, I think there is going to be added intensity for the whole race simply because everyone wants to acquire as many points as possible and then there is that unquenchable desire to win at Daytona. Whether it will be a Ford, a Chevy or a Toyota that ends up in Victory Lane won’t make a whole lot of difference other than the obvious possibilities of “winning and you’re in” scenario of making the top sixteen if you’re not already qualified. This one thing I know for sure. At the end of this race, it won’t matter where Chase Elliott finishes because he has already locked himself in as the Regular Cup Season Champ. As for the rest, well, we’ll pick that up again when the playoffs start and the eliminations begin…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 27, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

The Glenn Means Two To Go Till The Playoffs

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Say… has it registered with you yet that there are only two more races before the playoffs start? Yeah, that’s right. This season is coming down to the final weeks and it just isn’t clear which of the drivers and teams might have the best chance at walking away with the 2022 Season Championship. I’m serious, after these next two races, the playoffs begin and the next ten races will happen at a speed faster than the lap times at The Glen this year.

There is still one spot left to qualify for to fill the top sixteen and two weeks left to make it. That means a lot to Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney even though it appears Blaney has the upper hand at the moment. Neither of them has a win yet this season and either one of them, or both, could end up with a win either of these next two weeks. (And wouldn’t that make things interesting, depending on which of them wins first and which of them has the most points.)

All of what I just said may not mean a thing if someone else wins for the first time and qualifies to make the playoffs because of that. There is a lot riding on this race at the Glen and the one next weekend at Daytona. We all know that the time is short to qualify and, depending on what happens, the sixteenth spot for the playoffs may not be actually settled until the race is over at Daytona. That’s another thing that could make for a very interesting situation. This has been the kind of season that has been full of unknowns and it could still end up that way, depending on how things go for the next two races and then the playoffs.

I hate to bring this up but, the Toyotas seem to be struggling this weekend. Not to say that they haven’t struggled at road courses for most of the season but one of them needs to win or do extremely well. Of course, that would be Martin Truex Jr. that really needs a good finish tomorrow. Ryan Blaney would much rather things go as they did last weekend and he, at a very minimum, gains more points on Truex Jr. I’m sure it wouldn’t bother him at all if he wins the race and makes it extremely hard for anyone else to gain a spot in the playoffs.

Of course you know what I think about qualifying and how races generally go but, this weekend might be different. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the top qualifiers will run up front all day and there is no way of knowing for sure the Next Gen won’t show up with challenges for strong performing cars. It’s not that we haven’t seen someone lead a bunch of laps and end up either not finishing or having a problem that puts them out of contention. Unfortunately, with this car, there just is no way of knowing whether it can take the grind of the extremely fast road course at the Glen. I’m not thinking there will be any major problems but, judging from past experience with this car, nothing is beyond belief as far as performance goes.

Along with the unknowns of the Next Gen is the matter of strategy. This is likely going to be a race decided by strategy and a lack of errors on pit road by the crews or the drivers. Of all the things that can’t be foreseen, errors on pit road are generally the most damaging to someone’s finish and it can either be a driver error or a crew error.

It is a fact there are nine Chevys starting in the top fifteen. On top of that, four of them are in the top six and three of those are Hendrick Motorsports cars. To top it all off, three of the top four are Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and William Byron. Chase has won twice at the Glen and Kyle won last year’s race. William is looking for his first win at the Glen but he has looked very strong this weekend, not only in Cup practice and qualifying but also in the Xfinity series, until he and Ty Gibbs got together… then it was a race between Kyle Larson and AJ Allmendinger and Kyle pulled off the victory. That may or may not bode well for the competition and, who knows, there could be four Hendrick Cars in the top four at the end of the day.

It is possible Chase Elliott could dominate the day but… I think it’s going to be battle right down to the wire AND it may be a Ford or a Toyota leading the way to the checkered flag. In fact, it could be Ryan’s Blaney’s Ford or Martin Truex Jr’s Toyota. I don’t know about you but, it could be a completely unexpected winner like, say, Michael McDowell…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 20, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Richmond Looms Large For The Playoff Picture

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

With three races left in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season, the race this week looms large in the whole playoff picture. It depends on whether or not there will be three different first-time winners for 2022 and shake up the whole thing, or, whether there will be at least one or two to really make things interesting. Naturally, depending on what happens this weekend, the next two weekends become even more important for those drivers not yet qualified for the playoffs.

Right at the outset, I can think of two drivers that are very interested in which of the other drivers win this week at Richmond, next week at Watkins Glen and at Daytona to end the regular season. The interesting thing about their situations is that they both could qualify for the playoffs by points IF there hadn’t been so many winners this season.

Just in case you don’t know which of the two drivers I’m talking about, I would think it would be very obvious. Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking about Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. Both of them were in by points last weekend until Kevin Harvick won last weeks race at Michigan. All of the sudden, one of them was in and the other one was on the outside looking in. That’s just how fast it can happen again this weekend. It all depends on who wins the race and whether or not it is either Ryan Blaney or Martin Truex Jr. After all, It could be either one of them since they both run good at this track.

I guess the problem is that there are a number of other drivers that would like to win this weekend and it could be anyone, or at least just about anyone. I say that because we’re talking about NASCAR Cup racing with the Next Gen car. Although it hasn’t shown itself to live up to all the hype as the great equalizer in Cup racing, it has just about done so in recent weeks. With the unknowns about tire wear, flat tires, loss of control for several on a regular basis and just about any other known equalizers you can name, just about anyone can win.

I have to agree with some of the talk going around this week that the Toyotas have finally found a speed advantage they didn’t have earlier in the season. Well, at least it looks that way so far over the last couple of weeks in particular. Shucks, even the Fords have actually sprung to life in recent weeks as shown by Kevin Harvick’s win last weekend.

I have to admit, I was at least a little surprised by his victory last weekend, if for no other reason than he just hasn’t been there at the end of a race. Oh sure, he may have been in position to win but he wasn’t actually pressing for the win at the end of a race. I’m sure there will be those that disagree with me on that but, that is the way I’ve seen it from my view.

Getting back to the Toyotas for a moment, one of the JGR drivers that has been struggling would be Denny Hamlin. Oh I know he finished in third at Michigan but, he has struggled on pit road quite often this year. Another would be Kyle Bush. He just seems to be in the wrong place at the right time to get into either his or someone’s mix up which either puts him behind or completely out for the day because of damage. It is so unlike both of them to “appear to be” struggling so often like they have been recently.

Just one more quick look back to Michigan from last week shows there were three Fords and four Toyotas in the top ten but only three Chevys. I don’t know what is going on with the Chevys but they had better pick up their game a bit or they just might not make past the first round of the playoffs.

Take Kyle Larson and William Byron for example. Both of them have had their problems over the last several weeks and, considering how they were running earlier in the season, they just haven’t been showing up with the usual Hendrick strength. Oh, they’ve had their moments but, they just haven’t been able to maintain consistency through to the end of a race lately.

The only one that has shown any real consistency from the Hendrick camp would be Chase Elliott but he hasn’t always been a contender week in and week out even though he has had several races finishing second or first. I understand he is the points leader but, from my view, he is either running close to the front or he just doesn’t have the finish at the end that he needs.

So, the race this weekend at Richmond is very important for some and, for others, well… let’s just say they want the regular season to be over so they can get after racing to make it through the playoffs to the final four for the Championship…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 13, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated