Kentucky Speedway Is Next For MENCS from a NASCAR Fan’s View

The Monsters Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams take on the very challenging Kentucky Speedway tonight and, from this fan’s view, it looks like the Chevys just might be chasing mostly the Fords if they want to take home a win. That’s not to say there won’t be a few Toyotas in the mix, but the Fords seem to have the upper hand when it comes to consistent speed over both. Daniel Suarez took the pole with a very impressive lap time and the rest of the field might be chasing him all night… or, not.

Okay, I know that was a pretty safe statement and here is why I said it the way I did. Kentucky Speedway is one of the more challenging tracks on the Cup circuit for several reasons, the first being the difference between turns one and two and three and four. Of the two ends of the track, turns three and four are the biggest challenge because of the difference in the banking. With the package NASCAR has mandated for the cars, the drivers seem to approach one and two with more confidence than they do turns three and four. One and two have more banking and three and four have less. The difference is enough to make navigating the two ends of the track a very definite challenge.

Another item that needs to be considered is that this race is an impound race so we don’t really know which of them will have the most consistent speed throughout a stage. Since it is an impound race, they have to start the race with the setup they qualified with. That could mean there may be a discrepancy in how the competition will actually pan out over the course of the race. Daniel may have been setup to qualify better than to start the race with a setup that would keep him out front.

That is one question that will quickly be answered as the first stage progresses. I guess it would be interesting if Suarez was the first to win from the Stewart/Haas camp. The Stewart/Haas Fords have had the speed they just haven’t been able to bring it home at the final flag, a point that has to be a major disappointment to all at SHR.

Even though the Hendrick Chevys have been showing a great deal of improvement over the last several races, this fan isn’t sure Kentucky is a place where they will continue to show they are ready to be contenders for the Championship this year. Of course the fact of this being an impound race could show they were working more on race setup than qualifying and they may surprise everyone with how they finish. From this fan’s view, it isn’t something I expect but it would be a pleasant surprise considering how they qualified and looked in the practice sessions. That’s one of the interesting things about impound races. You never know how it will go until they actually start the race. Personally, I don’t really know how the Chevys will do but I do hope they are able to make it interesting.

Just for a moment I want to take a quick look back to last week at Daytona. We all remember how “Bad” Brad sent a message to the rest of the drivers about how he wasn’t going to be lifting for those that might try to block him. In last week’s article, I also said he may have unintentionally opened a door the rest of the field to think the same way. I really expected most, if not all, of the drivers would take the same attitude but have to admit, I was surprised at how aggressive many of them were.

Yeah, I know they were also trying to beat the possibility of inclement weather and a rain shortened race but it was definitely a different attitude in the way many of them drove. In the end, two things happened. First, and interestingly enough, Kevin Harvick drove Brad Keselowski the same way he drove him earlier in the race and Brad ended up in the wall and out of the race from the bump and run incident. Second, Clint Bowyer didn’t lift for Austin Dillon and it caused the “Big One” that took out much of the field and allowed a totally unexpected driver and team to win the last July race to be held at Daytona. I guess in a way, you could say it was fitting.

Anyway, taking a quick look at tonight’s race at Kentucky Speedway, I don’t think even the drivers know exactly what to expect when all of them take to the track. During the practice sessions there wasn’t a whole lot of cars running together to see how they might react with each other in traffic. It appeared to be more about how to handle the two different ends of the track and how reliant they should be on the “sticky stuff” in the upper grooves in the turns. I don’t know about you but that could mean one of two things for tonight’s race. Either it is going to be runaway for one or maybe several or, it could be a wreck-fest. I reckon we’ll just have watch to find out…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 13, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

The Coca Cola 400 At Daytona from a NASCAR Fan’s View

The MENCS teams take it to the Super Speedway at Daytona tonight, (if it doesn’t rain again), so let’s talk a little bit about this Coca Cola 400 at Daytona. It is the last time the summer race will be taking place on the fourth of July. Next year it will be the last race before the playoffs begin so it is the end of an era. It is, and has been, one of the most popular races of the NASCAR season and it is the place it all started.

Besides all the history and the changes coming in the future, it is a race both looked forward to and dreaded by the drivers. It is a race that many call an equalizing race because just about anyone starting the race can be the winner of it, whether a large well financed team or one of the lesser smaller teams. Winning at Daytona is something that every driver wants to do and, because of it being a Super Speedway with lots of drafting and door handle to door handle, bumper to bumper racing, it really is anyone’s race to win.

Oh sure, there are those that are expected to win and there are more than a few favorites, but there are absolutely no guarantees any of the favorites or biggest names will win. From this fan’s view, that makes this one of the more interesting races to watch.

You’ve already heard about the “fireworks” between Brad Keselowski and William Byron I am sure and that just may put a little different wrinkle in the race tonight. There is one thing that has always been at the forefront of everyone’s mind when it comes to the Super Speedway races and that is what has come to be called the “Big One.” With the statements that Keselowski made after the altercation with Byron, a door has been opened that could make the possibility of one or more “Big Ones” even more inevitable.

Hey look, I will be one of the first to admit that Brad Keselowski is one of the best when it comes to Super Speedway races and I can understand his frustration with being wrecked when he could have won several of the last Super speedway races. From this fan’s view, it appears he attributes those losses to being “to nice” because he lifted to keep from wrecking the person blocking him. Now he is telling everyone on the track racing with him, if they pull down or over in front of him to block his run on them, he won’t be lifting. Basically, he is saying he will wreck them, (or, at least move them out of the way), before he will lift to let them block him.

I have to admit two things. First, I do understand where he is coming from and his frustrations. Second, by taking that attitude, he is opening a door he may not have intentionally intended to open for himself and all the other drivers on the track.

When I first heard his statements about the incident with Byron, the first thing that popped into my mind was that he was, and is, one that uses the block to keep the others behind him. He has used it many times to stay out in front of the pack coming up behind him in the draft. Not all of his blocks have been “convenient” to those trying to pass him and he has had some that are closer calls than others. In other words, from this fan’s view, he has done the same thing to others he is complaining about what Byron did to him last time that cost him the race and a wrecked race car. It is obvious he is still frustrated by the move Byron pulled on him and he took the opportunity to give a little payback and send a message to Byron and the others on the track. He isn’t going to lift.

Here’s the truth as this fan sees it. He can have that attitude and he can do what he says he will do but, the door is now open for others to expect how he is going to race them and he can expect them to treat him the same way. From my view, I don’t think they’re going to be as willing to lift as they might have been in the past and he still might be the one spinning into the infield or up into the wall and taking a bunch of cars with him and ending up with a wrecked race car and another loss that could have been a win.

Now that I’ve said all of that, I can’t forget that there will be a lot of cars running together, and probably it will often be Chevys with Chevys, Fords with Fords, Toyotas with… well… you know. If they find it works as the race progresses, there may be a mixture of brands as they all try to position themselves for the final laps. All of this will be taking place at 200 plus miles per hour. That’s fast and it also means things can happen fast… Look out Brad, you might be coming for them but they’re going to be coming for you, too and it will all be happening at close quarters and around 200 mph…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 6, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Teams At Chicagoland from a NASCAR Fan’s View

So… what’s the BIG STORY for the race at Chicagoland this weekend? Well… from my view, (and in my opinion), there isn’t one. Well, actually, there are what some call “Big Stories” but, from this fan’s view they aren’t big – just more of the same. There is the same talk about the BIG winners so far this season and how they are the “favorites” to be out front when the final black and white checkered flag drops on Sunday afternoon. There is also the hope that there will be a finish like there was between Kyle Larson and Kyle Bush last season OR possibly something similar between some other drivers.

From this fan’s view, this has been a very different kind of year for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. I’m not so sure my view is of much interest to many but it is still my view and, for some reason, I’m not sure why, this season has been a little boring to me. I’m not sure if it has to do with the lack of performance from the Chevys or the lack of performance from some of the older and more accomplished drivers. Whatever it is, it definitely has made a difference in how or what I think as each week of racing approaches and arrives.

I mean, think about it. When has some of the best racing taken place over the first half of the season? Has it been when the starts and restarts take place or has it been when they are just clicking off the laps to get to the end of a stage or take the final flag? Has it been as hard for Ford fans as it has been for the Chevy fans to watch the Toyotas – and I hesitate to use the word – dominate the way they have this season?

Let me ask you some questions. Do you have a favorite driver other than those that have won most of the races this season? Do you have a favorite organization other than JGR or Penske? Have you lost interest in a race when your favorite has either dropped out due to accident or mistake that has put them completely out of contention? Do you find yourself hoping for cautions so you can at least see some aggressive racing for a few laps until things settle back down to the inevitable?

Yeah… that’s what I thought. Me, too.

Look, I still start out every race weekend with the hope that my favorite driver, drivers or teams will make a good showing. I have the hope they have found something that will allow them to at least run with the usual leaders or even win but, I have to admit, that hasn’t happened yet this season – at least with any consistency.

Contrary to what some may think, I am not just a one driver, one organization fan. I have several favorites, driving something other than a Chevy, on different teams and there are those I would really like to see win or, at least, do well on any given weekend. I have also found there are some drivers I didn’t used to like or want to win at all that I now find myself pulling for. I have watched how they have matured and have come to respect them as drivers whether they drive a Ford, Toyota or a Chevy. Of course, I am still am a big Chevy fan, still a Hendrick Motorsports fan and would like to see Jimmie Johnson win his eighth Cup Championship. I would also like to See Kevin Harvick get back into the same form he was in last season.

Now, I have to admit that waiting for Jimmie Johnson to win a race over the last two seasons has been a little like waiting for John Force in the NHRA to get his 150th win this year. (Yeah, I’m a big Drag Racing fan, too. Been a John Force fan for longer than I care to admit.) It has also been difficult to watch the Chevys be underdogs over most of the last two years and hardly ever be considered a threat to win. (Yes, I still have a heavy Chevy bias, never raced anything but Chevys when I was racing and my work van is a Chevy.)

So, you might be asking, “Are you losing interest in NASCAR racing?”

To that I can state an emphatic, “No!” I just decided to start off this part of the season in a little different way. After all, NBC is taking over the MENCS coverage from Fox Sports through the end of the season and they will have a different take on the way things look and are in NASCAR and, though it might be different, it will still be great coverage.

This weekend they will be running what is referred to as the 550 rules package and that will be one of the biggest differences the teams will face this weekend. I am anxious to see how the Chevys faire and can only hope they make a better showing than they have recently. I am also interested in seeing how Kevin Harvick and the other Stewart/Haas teams run. They haven’t been in victory lane yet this season at all.

Okay, just for fun, let’s say that the two Kyles face off the same way they did at the end of the race last season at Chicagoland. Does anyone really believe that Kyle Bush would be in the same jovial mood he was in last season after he and Kyle Larson got together on the closing lap and, when the bumping, banging and racing is done, Kyle Larson finishes first? Yeah… that’s my opinion, too…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 29, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Sonoma Road Course With A New-Old Twist from a NASCAR Fan’s View

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams take on the road course at Sonoma. It will be the same old road course with a new twist on the old course layout. Of course, I know you’ve already heard they will running on the old layout of the track which includes the carousel and it hasn’t been used for the Cup Stock Cars of NASCAR in a very long time.

So, what is so special about the race at Sonoma this weekend? Well… I guess you could say there are several things and one of them has to do with Darrell Waltrip. He is retiring from the broadcast booth after this race on Sunday afternoon after almost twenty years in that part of the NASCAR scene. He hasn’t been in an actual race in a long time but has been around NASCAR for most of his life. His first race in what is now called the Cup series was at Talladega in 1972 and he was a very important factor for many years. (I was a fan of his for a long time, too.)

Another reason this race is special, (and not just this season), is because it is a challenging racetrack and demands a lot from the drivers and teams for the entirety of the race. To add to the challenge for the MENCS teams is that this is the first time in twenty years the series has used the carousel part of the track and it is the first time any of the present day drivers have driven the course in this fashion. That should make an always interesting Sonoma Road Course race even more interesting and it could open the door for someone that hasn’t won this season to win and that appears to be the way many are thinking.

Of course, we all know there are those that are expected to perform at, or near, the front and there are those many think WILL win simply because they have won in the past. From this fan’s view, I’m not at all sure which of them might win but I will say there are those I would rather see win than others.

I won’t go into that just yet but, I will say something I never thought I would say. “I’m tired of seeing the same few drivers win,” even though several years back, I liked it when my favorite driver was winning a lot of races. I couldn’t understand, then, why other fans felt the way I do now. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that none of my favorite drivers are winning and it could be that the Chevys still struggle to find speed and track position when it counts, even after two years of working with the Camaro.

Yeah, I know they are making progress but I’ve been a Chevy fan for a long time and, in my opinion for whatever reason they chose the Camaro, I still think it was a bad choice and there is something about it that just doesn’t perform like the Fords and Toyotas on the track. I’m not sure exactly what the difference is but I don’t think it’s all about horsepower. That may have something to do with it but there is something about hooking it all up to the track that is different. I’m not an engineer, never claimed to be, but in my amateur opinion something makes the Chevy struggle more than the other two makes, even when they are out front in clean air. (Now that I’ve said all that, maybe it does have “a little” something to do with horsepower after all, even though NASCAR has limited the amount they can have…)

One thing about the race Sunday afternoon at Sonoma is that I think it will be much more interesting than the race at Michigan two weeks ago. The Sonoma track is narrow and yet fast in some areas even though the average speed is under 100 mph for this two plus mile circuit. To this fan, Michigan was a rather humdrum race and, if it hadn’t been for the cautions and restarts, it wouldn’t have had much action at all. I disagree with those that say it was a great race and heard more than one say it was great to see that the leader couldn’t pull away from the rest when they got out front. That didn’t make it interesting any more than the little bit of two and three wide racing there was. That may have been true but there was still a limited amount of passing and a lot of follow the leader.

It is likely that the usual and expected ones will run out front. To name a few would be the most talked about drivers like, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Kurt and Kyle Bush. Personally though, this fan would really like to see someone win that hasn’t won so far this season. Though there are many that fall into that category, a few I would really like to see win would be David Ragan, Michael McDowell, William Byron, Alex Bowman and, yes, even Jimmie Johnson. Though the others mentioned are the most talked about, these have a good shot at winning on Sunday afternoon also. It all depends on how the strategies play out and how many mistakes AREN’T made…

Well… at least that’s this fan’s view…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 22, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS Take On High Speed Michigan from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Well… it’s another one of those races that not too many are willing to admit how they think it will go. There are good reasons for that but the main one has to do with the fact this is the first time this package has been used at the Michigan International Speedway by the MENCS teams. As in recent previous weeks, there will be limited horsepower and maximum downforce and it should prove to be a very interesting race.

From this fan’s view, it looks like the Fords could have a very solid day if practice and qualifying give us any idea of performance for the race. I’ve never been one to put too much stock in qualifying times but, the Fords and Toyotas both appear to have a slight advantage over the Chevys. The Stewart/Haas teams do appear, at least so far, to be the fastest over the rest on the long runs and it could be a long day for those that can’t keep up the same pace.

Now I know you probably think Kyle Bush should have a chance at taking the win away from the Fords and I agree. That could be a real possibility with the way he’s been running over this first part of the season. Last weekend at Pocono, Kyle had the fastest car and, although he didn’t win going away from the rest, he did win handily. That could carry over to this Sunday afternoon but I’m not all that sure.

Since I’ve brought up the Pocono thing, it might be good time to offer my opinion of the race last weekend. (I know, I know… this is just about where I do this every week lately, huh?)

The race last weekend at Pocono was one of the more interesting ones there I have seen in recent times. To start off with, I wasn’t sure what the competition was going to look like but it turned out to be interesting all the way through. (Notice I didn’t say “very interesting.”) It really was a very good race but I have to be honest and say it wasn’t spectacular, but I admit, it was “very good.”

It is also my opinion, Kyle Bush wouldn’t have won it if Kevin Harvick and the #4 SHR team hadn’t beaten themselves. Yes, I admit, Kyle was fast but I’m not so sure he was going to beat Kevin Harvick without the error and part failure. Be that as it may, Kyle did win and was on the outside pole when the race started, so there is no doubt he had the speed needed to do what he did.

I have to admit, Kyle Bush is probably one of the best ever to sit in a MENCS stock car. He has a lot of talent along with a lot of desire to win. I know there will be a lot of you that disagree with me but not everything about him is all that great. Now don’t go jumping to conclusions. I’m not going to say he isn’t all that great because he is. He shows his talents and abilities week in and week out and not just in the Cup series. It all shows up in his win record and by where he usually finishes at the end of a race – often very near the front.

Yes, this fan thinks Kyle Bush is one of the best ever but this fan also thinks he is the biggest griper. If he’s not winning, he moans and groans and blames the cars and the 2019 NASCAR mandated rule package for his inability to win every race. Who knows, he might be right but someone wins with this same package even when he doesn’t.

Oh well… Back to this weekend’s race.

As I stated earlier, the Fords do look to be the ones to watch based on what I observed in the practice and qualifying sessions. Joey Logano took the pole position and there are a bunch of Fords in the top five and even in the top ten.

Unfortunately it appears the Chevys aren’t quite up to the task except for Kurt Bush. From this fan’s view, they just might struggle to gain spots on Sunday afternoon and even the Toyotas looked to be more competitive than the Chevys, especially the JGR Toyotas of Kyle Bush and Denny Hamlin. They were particularly noticeable in the speed category compared to the Chevys.

Since this is an impound race, I’m sure the race will show much of what I’ve said here may not happen the way I think it will and is just because you can’t tell much from practice and qualifying. Still, I do believe this could be a banner day for the SHR Fords and the Penske Fords. Which of them might win is anybody’s guess and they might get beat by themselves or because of the way the cars were set up for qualifying as compared to race setup.

One thing is certain. The Michigan International Speedway is a high speed track and all of them will be running flat out, even in packs running two or three wide. If nothing else, it should prove to be very interesting to watch and, if there are a bunch of cautions and restarts, it could be anybody’s race, including someone driving a Chevy…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 8, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Pocono May Or May Not Be As Tricky This Time from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Once again, it’s time for the MENCS teams to take on the “Tricky Triangle” for the first of the two races there this summer. BUT it is still up in the air as to whether or not it will be as “tricky” this time around as in the past. With the latest rules package they have been using over the last several races with lots of downforce and which limits them to only 550 horsepower, this fan isn’t sure just how the racing will be on this long “what turn 4” racetrack. I’m not even sure the drivers and crews know how this one will go until it actually gets started.

From this fan’s view, practice didn’t tell us very much other than the speeds on the straights are down and the turn speeds are up. After paying close attention to qualifying, another thing was quite obvious and it had to do with speed through the turns. Once they gave up time in a turn to the other drivers, it was quite a gap to make up afterwards. That could give an idea of how the racing could go on Sunday (barring rain, that is) and it is another reason I just can’t figure out what kind of racing it’s going to be. Of course I realize no one really cares what I can figure out and I’m okay with that. What I do want to say is that I really do hope the racing is good and not just another follow the leader type of thing.

Now let me add, I don’t think it will be a runaway for one or two drivers but, with the way things go at times, chances are high that one person could dominate the whole race. Let me also add, it depends on which driver and team it might be that dominates that will make all the difference in whether I like it or not.

Taking a quick look back at the 600 at Charlotte last weekend, many people have stated they thought it was the best 600 ever. I can’t say that I disagree and it was a very interesting race for the entirety of the 600 miles.

My biggest question (along with many others) is, “Why was it that way. What might have been the reason or reasons for it being viewed that way?” Was it because of the package they ran with high downforce and marginalized horse power? Was it because there were four stages? Was it really just a better race or did it have to do with the sixteen cautions?

Well, I can’t answer for everybody but, I do have to give you my opinion. I think it had more to do with the multiple cautions along with the four stages resulting in a large number of restarts and closer racing which, in turn lead to a more interesting and exciting race. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

Some mentioned it was because this particular package NASCAR mandates is particularly good at night races. That also may be the case or, at least, one possibility but there is one other reason I would like to bring up. Although I know there are a lot of possible reasons for the more interesting and exciting racing with this particular package, I have another opinion to offer. It may just be my imagination, but it seems since they mandated the higher spoiler on the rear deck lid that it had at least something to do with equalizing the competition.

Before the higher spoiler, the Chevys had trouble keeping up with the Toyotas and Fords. Afterwards – and, admittedly, it could be coincidental – it seemed the Chevys immediately became more competitive. I realize all the teams put in a lot of work to go fast and the Toyotas and Fords have been faster than the Chevys for almost two seasons. Now we not only see the Chevys consistently qualifying at or near the front but, they are more competitive at the end of the races, too.

Okay, now that I’ve stated my view, I have to ask, “Will the racing be as interesting at Pocono with the same package they’ve been running (including at Charlotte and Kansas?) If all we have are the breaks at the stages and long green flag runs, I’m not so sure. I’m not saying that’s the way it will go, but it is a possibility. It is also possible there could be some extra cautions and that the race could be wrought with accidents. We haven’t really seen how they will run when they actually start the race and all of the drivers are jostling for position as the enter the first turn, head to turn two, the tunnel turn, and make a near 90 degree turn towards turn three (or that area that’s missing turn four.)

Just a thought a I close this out. William Byron has won his third pole starting position and I can’t help but wonder if he might not show us a repeat of Denny Hamlin back in his rookie year when he sat on the pole and won both races that year. Will this be Byron’s first win in the MENCS and at one of NASCAR’s trickiest tracks? Well, I’m not making any predictions but… let’s just say… um… It’s a possibility…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 1, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

The Coca-Cola 600 And The Memorial Day Salute from a NASCAR Fan’s View

It’s stock car racing’s longest race – 600 miles. It goes from late afternoon to evening and into the night. It will be hot, even later at night, and it is a tough race that will test the drivers and crews of every team. More than that, it is a spectacular salute to those that made the supreme sacrifice for us and NASCAR and the Charlotte Motor Speedway do it right. Though the reasons are many, it’s just another reason why I’m a NASCAR fan. We will always remember those that made the supreme sacrifice for us.

Say, how about William Byron in the Hendrick Motor Sports #24 Chevy taking the pole position? By taking the pole, he became the youngest driver ever to win the pole position for the 600 in NASCAR history. He continues to make a statement about how the Hendrick Chevys are turning the corner in performance along with his teammates.

As a Chevy fan, (and a fan of HMS), I have to admit it is good to see. I’m not sure how they will do in the 600 over all but they have made some real advances in becoming competitive again. Aside from how Byron has been doing, just look at the performance of Alex Bowman over the last few weeks. He has been in the hunt for wins with strong performances and second place finishes. I can’t help but wonder if this might turn out to be his first win in the Cup series.

The RCR and Ganassi Chevys are showing strength, too, and it is good to see all three makes beginning to tighten up the competition between themselves. Both Kurt Bush and Kyle Larson have looked good with Kurt being very consistent in the early season and Kyle Larson struggling through a lot of challenges to win a million dollars last weekend at this same track. Along with them, both Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric of RCR have been showing good speed and could end up contending for the win at the end of 600 miles.

From this fan’s view, the Fords once again look to be very strong and, in particular, the Stewart/Haas teams made a good showing in qualifying. Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez all qualified in the top ten. In fact, there were only three Chevys, one Toyota but six Fords qualifying in the top ten. There is no doubt in my mind all of the Fords will be competitive and the Toyotas won’t be content to sit back and watch the Chevys and Fords fight it out without joining in.

Okay, I really just can’t let the opportunity pass without giving my assessment of the All-Star race (AND continue this NASCAR fan’s view of Kyle Bush and happenings for him in recent races.)

But first – and I don’t say this lightly – last weekend was absolutely the best All-Star Race I have witnessed. I really don’t know if it had to do with the test aero package NASCAR had them use or if it was the way the stages were set up. Perhaps it was a combination of all of them but it was still a great race, very fitting for a Saturday night under the lights at Charlotte.

Of course not everyone was happy with the way things went and there was some complaining about several things even though there were no points on the line. That is one thing about the All-Star Race that never changes – it really is “All about the money.” It seemed to bother a few more than it bothered others. One of those bothered most was, Kyle Bush.

So, is it just me or is the only time we see Kyle happy is when he is winning. If he isn’t winning, from this fan’s view, he is generally whining. When he was winning earlier in the season he was smiling, had a spring in his step and generally seemed to be friendly to all. When he started finishing 2nd or further back – and once again, this is this fan’s view – he seemed to blame everything on the rules package NASCAR mandated for the cars. He says he thinks these are the worst cars he’s ever driven in his career and isn’t happy, which he is quick to let everyone know, including his team.

As a long time NASCAR fan and observer of many that have driven in the Cup Series, I can honestly say, Kyle, is one of the best to ever sit behind the wheel in a stock car. He can do things as a driver not all can do and has shown himself to be able to win in just about anything he drives. Maybe that’s what bothers me about his constant complaining and whining. He was running strong and won several races earlier in the season before the latest package and though he’s still running strong, he hasn’t won in a short while. He complains about the rules package, the aero and the cars in general but, he can’t seem to win over that person in front of him. Does that mean he will only be happy when the package they are all required to use suits his driving style? Can it be that even with his enormous talent he can’t seem to figure out how to drive and win with this package even though others have and can? Hey, I don’t mean to pick on Kyle so much but he does whine about a lot of things when he isn’t winning as often as he thinks he should.

That’s another reason I can’t wait for the Coca Cola 600 to get started late Sunday afternoon. There are a lot of great drivers taking to the track and one of them will win the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Will it be someone in a Chevy? Will it be someone from the Stewart/Haas teams or one of the other Ford teams? Maybe it will be someone in a Toyota like Kyle Bush or maybe it will someone else in a Toyota. Whose to say? I just wonder if… well… what if Kyle does win? What do you think he will have to say about the package then…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 25, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

All Stars Go For the Million At Charlotte from a NASCAR Fan’s View

No matter how you look at it, this definitely won’t be just another Saturday night under the lights. The All-Star race is special for fans and drivers alike. When you put a certain number of what are called the best drivers in the world in fast racecars on the 1½ mile track at Charlotte Motor Speedway and hold a million-dollar carrot out in front of them, you can bet it will be a different and exciting night of racing. That’s the thing about the All-Star race. It’s all about fun and chasing the carrot more than anything else.

Lately there’s something NASCAR brings to this race to try out under racing conditions and it’s the same this year. There will be a few things different on the cars and it remains to be seen how it will affect the handling of the cars when they pull up to pass. Usually they stall out and the one with the advantage is the one out in clean air. Since that seems to be the biggest driver complaint – not being able to complete a pass – hopefully this will be step in the right direction.

So, what is it that makes the All-Star race different from all the others? Well… the biggest difference is that it is all or nothing. It’s about winning the million dollars and that’s about it. There are no points to be gained and finishing second or worse won’t really be remembered. The winner is the one that takes home the money – or at least him and the team take it home – and they get to bask in the glory of being the All-Star race winners until next year.

For just a moment, I just have to give my thoughts on last weekend’s race at Kansas. Many have stated it was the best race on a 1½ mile oval in the 2019 season. I have to agree with that and it was good to see something closer to real racing going on, with multiple grooves and side by side, two and three wide rather than so much follow-the-leader laps.

Another thing about Kansas was the performance of the Chevys. They are finally beginning to look like they can compete with the Fords and Toyotas and even on 1½ mile tracks, which have been their biggest weakness, particularly over the last two years. It looked like a Chevy was actually going to win it but, right at the end, Brad Keselowski managed to pull away on the final overtime restart and take it to Victory Lane. Alex Bowman finished second for the third race in a row and almost got his first win in Cup. the Hendrick Chevys are finally showing they can run up front even at the end of a race and three of the four HMS teams finished in the top six. That could mean they might make a race of it in the All-Star on Saturday night.

I have to admit, with the competition being so tight between all the manufacturers, the All-Star race could prove to be one of the best ever All-Star races in recent history. If last week at Kansas was a precursor to what might happen in Saturday night’s slugfest, well, let’s just say it should be intense. There will be chances taken that normally wouldn’t be seen and they will be coming from every driver on almost every lap in every stage.

Most importantly, the final fifteen lap stage will likely be a total slugfest and it will be interesting to see just which of them will cross the finish line in one piece and out front of the rest. We all know that it’s pretty much “anything goes” when it comes down to how the drivers will take it to their competitors. In the past it has sometimes gotten pretty rough and particularly when there are several cars coming to the checkered flag and it’s door handle to door handle and bumper to bumper.

Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I don’t think anyone is trying to intentionally hurt anyone but, sometimes the racing gets rougher than normal and some have been hurt in past years. Fortunately, most of the damage is to the cars and from high emotions accompanied by hot tempers and heated “discussions” as they survey their damage and loss. Will there be fisticuffs when all is said and done? Well… that remains to be seen, doesn’t it…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 17, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Kansas – Just Another Saturday Night Under The Lights from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Well… here we are… just another Saturday night, under the lights. But, will it really be just another Saturday night under the lights at the Kansas Speedway? This is one weekend that many have been looking forward to, especially those in the Hendrick Chevys. What they really want to know is the answer to the question, “Have we really made advances in performance or are we only making improvements on what are called ‘specialty tracks’?”

It is a valid question and one that needs to be answered sooner than later since many of the tracks they face in a season are mile and a half tracks. If the Hendrick and other Chevy teams make a good showing at Kansas, it could mean they are making steps in the right direction. As it stands at the moment, they have proven they can perform well at the Super Speedway of Talladega and shorter tracks like Dover and Martinsville but, those just aren’t the same as the one and a half mile tracks they will face this weekend and those coming in the near future.

With the way the practices and the qualifying went, the Fords look very good. In fact, the Chevys AND the Fords looked to have good speed in qualifying. I do find it interesting that two Stewart/Haas racing teams sit on the front row and one of them is, Kevin Harvick, the pole winner. The next three positions are also Stewart/Haas Fords comprised of Aric Almirola, outside pole with Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez taking the third and fourth starting positions.

In a quick look back, I have to admit, last weekend’s race at the Monster Mile was different and it definitely didn’t go as I expected it would. It was actually a pretty good race and the speeds were extremely fast, especially in the turns. It seems some drivers liked it and others didn’t and some even expressed their dissatisfaction with the package NASCAR had them run.

What I find interesting is how several drivers complained about the latest package NASCAR required them to run at Dover and I know you’ve already heard what Kyle Bush AND Kevin Harvick had to say about NASCAR and the package this last week. What I find even more interesting is that the ones complaining so much, (actually, I call it whining), are drivers that have been dominate in the past and can’t seem to find their way to the front lately. I guess they think the package is to blame for their lack of performance. Frankly, I just don’t see it that way.

What I see is drivers not being able to pass like they think they should. At times, it seems they think that everyone should just move out of their way so they can go by. Unfortunately, those they are trying to pass are using the very same tactics they would use to keep those other drivers behind them. When the shoe is on the other foot, it appears they just don’t think it is fair, or that the package is keeping them from passing or from taking the win or whatever else they want to blame on the package rather than their ability to find a way to make it work.

The two most well-known to register complaints were Kyle Bush and Kevin Harvick and is it just me or, did Kyle Bush show us another time he wasn’t happy. Could it be that he wasn’t happy because he could only manage a tenth-place finish? Funny that his teammate, Martin Truex Jr. won the race at Dover coming from the rear while Kyle could only manage a tenth-place finish. Same make, same car, same team just different drivers.

From my view, I honestly think the only time we ever do see Kyle happy is when he wins. All other times he does his usual “whining” about the track, the tires or the package and wears a frown for hours, and sometimes days, until he finally shows up and has a chance for contending for the win. If he has another bad day, his attitude is the same almost every time.

Well, I don’t apologize for that little rant, but it is time to move on to my view of what it will be like at Kansas Speedway under the lights. After all, the answer to the question I started off with won’t be answered until the green flag drops. That’s when the… well… you know what it is that stops when the green flag drops…

Judging from the qualifying and just the general consensus after qualifying by the SHR teams, this may just be another “Saturday Night under the lights” at Kansas Speedway. One big difference could be that the Chevys actually make a good showing against the Fords and Toyotas, perhaps even coming away with a win and wouldn’t that be something different than recent times at the one and a half mile tracks. But wait! Didn’t Chase Elliott win at this track the last time the MENCS teams visited last fall???

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 11, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

MENCS And The Monster Mile At Dover from a NASCAR Fan’s View

There’s a reason why they call it “The Monster Mile.” It’s because it really is a monster of a challenge and a monster to face for 400 miles and, for the MENCS teams, it will be even more of a “Monster” than it has been. This weekend at Dover is a totally different experience for the drivers and teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

This is the first time the MENCS teams have taken to the Monster Mile with this particular package. There is more downforce and more speed (on an already high-speed track, I might add) and it will be a different experience for all. There has never been any time when The Monster wasn’t a challenge but this time, the first time competing with this package on this track, it will definitely be a challenge and a learning experience. Add to the new package a different tire brought in by Goodyear and you have all of the elements for a dramatic race, UNTIL, they adapt to all of the nuances of this new package.

There is one statement we all hear about the NASCAR Cup drivers and it’s often repeated and has been with regularity this weekend. That statement says that these are the best racecar drivers in the world. From this fan’s view, it looks like they get another chance to prove that statement true again this weekend.

Now, I am not trying to add any negative input into the statement because I do think they will once again prove it to be true. I have noticed while observing the statements and observations of the drivers that there is a bit of concern and hesitancy in how they think the race on Sunday afternoon will go. Not getting to practice in the scheduled early morning practice on Saturday because of pretty dense fog may or may not have a large impact on them but I expect they will adapt anyway. It is just less time for them to know how their cars will react when running in groups of other cars and how the tires will wear and affect their ability to compete. Add the fact that rain is presently very likely for Sunday, this fan can’t help but wonder if we will even see them race on Sunday.

It was good to see NASCAR decide to go back to single car qualifying and, I have to admit, what I saw this weekend looks good to me, at least so far. As I have admitted many times before, I have been around stock car racing since I was very young and, whether it was at the dirt tracks in Southern Illinois or the asphalt tracks in Florida, qualifying was always pretty much the same. It was one car and one driver at a time against the track and the conditions for that moment in time. There weren’t any second chances. The time you got was the time you were stuck with for that qualifying session. I don’t see any reason why it can’t be the same on a continuing basis for the MENCS teams

It seemed the racing was still good and, no matter where the better cars qualified, they did everything they could to work their way to the front. Sometimes they didn’t qualify well and other times the rules for the night might be to reverse the lineup just to make it interesting for the fans. It didn’t matter, at least from this long-time fan’s view, the racing was always exciting and filled with emotion and drama. Sometimes the favorite would win and sometimes the favorite underdog would. It didn’t matter and I’m kinda glad NASCAR decided to make it simple and to the point again.

Just a quick mention about last weekend at Talladega. Since I am a diehard Chevy fan, it was great to finally see a Chevy end up in Victory Lane. It has been a long, hard struggle for them and congrats to Chase Elliott for the race he drove and the way the Chevy teams pretty much followed their plan and strategy for the Super Speedway in Alabama. Last weekend’s race at Talladega was, in this fan’s opinion, one of the best races of the 2019 season and not just because Chase Elliott won it in a Chevy. That was good too, but the racing was even better than I had hoped. I really kind of expected to see them run a bunch of laps in single file and sort of make their play or moves very near the end of the stages. I was pleasantly surprised to see double file, close racing for almost all of the laps of the race.

There are two things I just have to mention. You remember I started off this with the statement that there is a reason why they call this the Monster Mile. First, this is a one mile oval with lots of banking and, with the added downforce of this package, high speeds. That could mean there might be some unexpected happenings as the race progresses. Things like broken parts and tire failures and any number of problems, whether on the track or in the pits. Second, along with all of the possible unknowns as we enter into race day for the Gander RV 400, we can only hope it doesn’t rain and that the race goes on without a hitch weather-wise.

There have been a lot of statements about which of the drivers might win and, of course, many have brought up the names of Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott. I’m not willing to pick one of them directly but I will say I would not be disappointed with any of those three winning.

Now, considering how the Chevys have performed so far this weekend I have to ask this question: Could it be that the size of the rear spoiler and the added downforce have been what the Camaros have needed all along? Well… I guess we’ll see as the season progresses…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 4, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated