The 2024 Coca Cola 600   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Memorial Day Weekend is always special at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. NASCAR and The Speedway go all out to honor the soldiers that gave it all for us as a Nation and, of course, their families. As you have heard most all week, the soldiers gave their lives for us to enjoy the freedoms we have because of their sacrifice. The families gave up the lives they might have enjoyed with their loved ones that so willingly gave all they could give. I think it’s amazing how NASCAR honors all of them and how the whole thing goes from the beginning to the end.

Today was supposed to be the day that Kyle Larson was to attempt the double running the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600. Since the weather isn’t cooperating at Indy it will likely put a crimp in him getting to run the 500 and get to the Charlotte Motor Speedway to start the 600 for Memorial day. For me, that’s a shame because he and his team have worked so hard to be able to run the double and it appears to be falling apart at the present time. I guess we will just have to wait and see on that…

Once again, it appears the Toyotas have shown up with speed for the 600 and Ty Gibbs won his first cup pole. Honestly, he looked awfully strong and could have a chance to win his first cup series race. He has had a lot possibilities this season but he hasn’t been able to close the deal when it came time for the final flag to drop. Perhaps tonight will be the night. In fact, it would surprise me all that much.

Martin Truex Jr. is another that has a very good chance at pulling off the victory at CMS. Even though he has had his problems this season, He has been relatively consistent in his runs. Well, his consistency has gone both ways. He has mostly been on the positive side but he has had those times of struggle this season. With Larson maybe not making it to CMS until late in the race, it is possible he and Gibbs will be able to battle it out in the end. That’s another one of those, “Guess we’ll see about that,” when it comes down to the final laps.

There are other Hendrick Chevys showing speed for this one. One of the surprises to me is Alex Bowman. In practice and qualifying, he showed really good speed and this could be the race he turns things around. He is quite capable of winning the 600 and it will be interesting to watch and see. William Byron and Chase Elliott also showed very good speed for tonight’s race. I won’t rule them out either. Well, that is until the last laps of the 600 are winding down.

There are others that could win tonight and they could be in a Chevy, a Ford or a Toyota. I’m looking at Ross Chastain, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and maybe even Chris Buescher.

There are others but I don’t want to go int that right now. All I know is 600 miles and 400 laps is an opportunity for lots to happen. How it all pans out is anybody’s guess from this fan’s view. I reckon we’ll just have to wait and see.

By the way, is it possible that Kyle Larson could show up late and still win?? Well, that is a possibility…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 26, 2024 – 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

Time Again For The All Stars To Shine  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

It’s that time again… Time for the All Stars in NASCAR Cup to shine and they once again put it all on the line at North Wilkesboro. As is the case for every All Star race, it’s not about the points, it’s about the money and it brings out the best and the worst in pursuit of that big money. Well, maybe “the worst” is a little bit too strong of a word for what actually happens but, it does bring out the “strong competitiveness” of every single driver involved.

So what is the thing that makes the All Star race such a big deal other than just the money? Well, from my view, it is because of a lot of things. One of the most obvious things, at least to me, is the way the competition goes. It is usually wide open and it is generally exciting to watch. After all, first some have to qualify by running in the Open and then they get to compete in the big show. After that, there is the way the race is setup to run or the format for it. After that, it is generally just good hard racing and taking advantage of every opportunity to end up at the front, hopefully taking the victory – and the money – home. Of course, there are always the bragging rights that come along with winning the 2024 All Star race.

Mostly, it is about the racing and, as I mentioned earlier, it is about winning. With the winning comes the money and then it’s moving on to the next big race which is the 600.

It does appear the Fords have finally found some consistent speed. After the last two weekends with the RFK team of Chris Buescher finishing second in a photo finish with Kyle Larson and then RFK boss, Brad Keselowski, finishing first last weekend. And then there is the way qualifying went with Joey Logano winning the pole and Brad qualifying second. Then the pits crews took over and did their most to shine and that they did.

Speaking of Kyle Larson, it has been a busy week for him. After a few setbacks, he did qualify in the top twelve for the Indy 500 and will be pressing the envelope to make it on time for starting the All Star race tonight. If he qualifies in the top six this afternoon at Indy, he then can qualify to run for the pole position later this afternoon and, no matter what happens there, he will jump on a jet and, as I mentioned, press the envelope to make it to North Wilkesboro to start in the rear for the All Star race.

I don’t know how you feel about all of this but, for me, I am not only pulling for Kyle to qualify well at Indy – maybe in the front couple of rows – if not on the pole, and then go to the All Star race tonight and finish at or near the front there. After all, he is still leading in the points race by thirty points and has been performing well this season. It will be a challenge but I am sure he is up to the task. One plus for him though, There are no points to lose or gain tonight so his points lead is safe, at least until next weekend.

So… once again it is time for the All Stars to shine in the race tonight and I am not at all sure how this night race at North Wilkesboro is going to pan out. I am sure there will be some surprises and possibly an unexpected winner and that winner could be one that no one is even thinking of.

So, what do you think? Will it be a Ford or will it be a Toyota? Will it be a Chevy and will that Chevy be in the Hendrick camp and will that chevy be piloted by Kyle Larson or one of the others? I’m not sure which of the makes or teams will win but I am sure this All Star race won’t disappoint. It will be intense right down to the final flag and I know which of them I want to win, but then I am just the slightest bit biased. After all I am a fan, too.

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 19, 2024 – 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

Cup Teams Take It To Darlington  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Over the years the Darlington Raceway has gone by several names. The Lady in Black is one popular name it goes by and the Track Too Tough To Tame is another. Mostly right now, it simply goes by Darlington Raceway. The other names are still very much in the minds of fans and drivers, but that doesn’t change what it is. It is a track that is Too Tough To Tame for many and it ends up as The Lady In Black and she is really no lady to many of the competitors. For many today, she will deliver the Darlington Stripe.

One of the things that stands out to me as a fan is that, if she is understood and treated right and with the respect she deserves she will and does deliver a win to those that understand her. That seems to be the way of The Lady In Black.

There are those that understand that and they have been on the receiving end of the charms of the “Lady” and wins are proof of the relationship they have come to understand with this track. It is a track that eats tires up quickly and, since tires are most important for being able to finish up front, the drivers that can manage their tire wear the best usually end up as contenders for the win at this track. That’s not to say they will always be the winner but it does say they have a chance to win when it comes down to the final laps of a race at Darlington.

Over time, there are drivers that have learned the important lesson of racing at Darlington Raceway and that one lesson makes a big difference when it comes down to it. The lesson is that, to win at Darlington, you race the track and not so much the other drivers. Speed helps but speed out of control at this track will often cost the one that doesn’t understand the patience required to “tame” this track will often fade from being a front runner to an also ran.

From this fan’s view, there are several that understand what it takes to master Darlington Raceway. They don’t always win but they are usually regular contenders for the win. They don’t always start up front but they do often finish up front as either contenders or the winner at the end of the day.

As has been the case much of this 2024 NASCAR Cup season, the expected front runners are the Chevys and the Toyotas. In particular, the JGR and 23XI Toyotas and the Hendrick Chevys. To boil it down even further, most of them are starting in the top ten rows. Okay, maybe I’m boiling it down a little too much. There are a bunch of possible winners for today’s race starting in the top twenty.

There are actually several surprises starting in the top ten. Most notable are the Fords of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher of RFK Racing and Ross Chastain from TrackHouse Racing. I suppose some would say Chris Buescher starting in the top five isn’t that much of a surprise considering how he finished last weekend at Kansas, losing to Kyle Larson by one thousandth of a second. He and his boss are starting second and third and are ones to watch as the laps wind down for this one.

Some of the usual ones to watch are also starting in the top ten and, of course, they are from the JGR, 23XI and HMS teams. Tyler Reddick starts from the pole position and could be up front a lot today. Ty Gibbs starts fourth and he could be in contention and possibly take his first win in Cup today. William Byron and Kyle Larson start fifth and sixth followed by Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain and Martin Truex Jr.

From this fan’s view, the top ten is filled with people that could not only win but dominate today’s race. The other problem is there are others in the top twenty that could take the win. There are even some that didn’t qualify all that well but they have plenty of time and laps to move from their starting spots in the back, all the way to the front and end up in Victory Lane at the end of the day. Some them didn’t qualify all that well not because they didn’t have speed but because they brushed the wall in their qualifying lap which killed their momentum and put them far back in the field.

Yessir, today’s race at Darlington Raceway is going to be another nailbiter to the very end considering the way things have been going so far this season and on tracks like this or similar in length. At the time of this writing, I can’t really decide which of the drivers might dominate or win the Goodyear 400 today at the Track Too Tough To Tame… How about you… ?

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 12, 2024 – 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

Cup Teams Take On Kansas Speedway   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There are questions on many people’s minds for the race at Kansas speedway today. Some of them have to do with how the racing in this 2024 NASCAR Cup season has been going and some of them have to do with last year’s Spring race. The question is, will this be another battle to the very end between Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin and will the result be the same as last weekend at Dover and similar to last Spring at Kansas?

There are differences this weekend. For one, Christopher Bell is starting on the pole and Ross Chastain starts on the front row with him. Both were very fast in qualifying and both are hungry to win. Bell is looking to turn several bad weekends around and hopefully with a win and Chastain is looking for his first win in this 2024 Cup season.

Add to that the way Noah Gragson has been running this season and him starting third next to Kyle Larson on the second row could lead to his first win running for Stweart Haas Racing and things already get more interesting.

Another noticeable difference is the speed the Toyotas have shown with their new body style this season and how strong they have been almost every weekend when it comes down to the final laps. Truth be told, when it comes to finishes this season, much of it has been between the Hendrick Chevys and the Joe Gibbs Toyotas. Yeah, Hendrick teams have had the advantage but the JGR teams have been right there pressing them for the wins.

Sure, I know Daniel Suarez took a win earlier this season and that William Byron and Denny Hamlin have three wins each. Even though Kyle Larson is the points leader, has six stage wins and a lot of laps led, he only has one win with all the positive statistics he has accumulated so far.

Pole winner, Christopher Bell also has one win even though his statistics don’t quite measure up to Larson’s for the season, at least not yet. In the points standings, he sits in seventeenth. Most of that can be because he has had a rough several weeks as far as finishes go. That probably would be, in this fan’s opinion, the biggest reason he would like to take advantage of his pole position start with a win. (And we all know for the most part, qualifying has very little to do with how the race might go.

Noah Gragson has had an interesting and surprising start to his SHR #10 team. Although this is his first year in the #10 car, he and his crew chief, Drew Blickensderfer, appear to have hit the ground running. No, he hasn’t had a win yet this year but many believe one may be in the not-so-distant future. He has been consistently showing up with a fast race car whether or not he has good finishes. This fan thinks a win at Kansas Speedway today is a possibility although I don’t want to make a definite commitment to that at the moment.

Although I could, I don’t want to make a long list of drivers that could win today at Kansas Speedway. If I did, the list would probably take up about two thirds of the cars running today. I will mention a few obvious choices though. Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick, Bubba Wallace, Kyle Bush and Ty Gibbs. All of these drivers have shown up with speed whether or not they qualified well because some did and some didn’t. There are several others that could make this list but I just don’t want to go there.

As far as this race being similar or a repeat of last Spring at Kansas or even last weekend at Dover, I guess it is a very real possibility. This season, Larson and Hamlin have led very close to the same number of laps. Hamlin has won more races and Larson has more stage points and leads in the points so far. There are other factors to consider when it comes down to the actual race and its possibilities for these two but, when it comes down to the final laps a lot may depend on where they are and which of them might be leading.

One thing to consider though, and I admit it may have nothing to do with anything. I practice, Kyle Larson was the fastest in single lap, ten lap and fifteen lap times. Whether or not it will make any difference on the last lap I can’t say. What I will say is if he is leading when it comes down to the last few laps, well… you know what that could mean.

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 5, 2024 – 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

Who Will Tame The Monster At Dover This Time

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There is something very challenging about racing on the Monster Mile at Dover Motor Speedway. Go ahead; Ask any of the drivers and they will tell you. It is one of the toughest tracks on the Cup circuit and it’s only a one-mile oval. Of course, it does have banking in the straights and twenty-four degrees of banking in the turns. That means even though the speeds are actually slower than some of the super speedways, to the drivers the speed “feels” much faster. Also, because it is only a one-mile oval, there is very little time they are off the throttle.

So, there are a lot of things about this track that make it a challenge but, one thing that stands out to this fan is the fact that there is so little room for error. The track is concrete, it is very sensitive to temperature changes and, with the tire they are running this weekend, we can expect a lot of tire falloff and a lot of marbles if they get out of the groove.

A big surprise to me this weekend is that Kyle Bush won the pole in his RCR chevy. Even though he hasn’t had that bad of a start to this 2024 season, he has been on the bad side of racing luck in recent weeks. He has also just been struggling to finish up front even though he has had opportunities to finish up front. Judging from past experience with Kyle starting on the front row, he could be one to watch when it comes down to the final laps.

There is one Chevy driver that isn’t a surprise and he is starting in the second row. He has had a very good year so far and it wouldn’t surprise me if he wasn’t one of the ones running up front at the end of the race, challenging for the lead. Of course, you know I’m talking about William Byron. He has been a hot shoe so far this season but he isn’t always up front until it comes down to those final laps. He just may have something to say about taming the monster and taking home the trophy.

It will be interesting to see how this race compares to what happened at Bristol. After watching the practice and qualifying and seeing how much rubber was being shredded from the tires in just the minimal laps they ran we can only hope the race goes a little better. I also hope that we don’t see cars catching on fire from the rubber buildup in the wheel well area. I do think we have moved past that, at least with the Cup cars. Notice I said I hope but still, I guess it could happen.

Some of the usual stronger qualifiers didn’t qualify all that well. Joey Logano, Ty Gibbs, Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott and several others all qualified outside the top ten and into the upper twenties. Looking at the ones that qualified in those higher numbers makes this fan wonder if they were just running laps and preparing for the race and possibly expecting similar tire problems like happened at Bristol. I don’t know whether that is even a possibility but, it is a good question.

Alex Bowman looks like he could be a dark horse for winning this one today. He has shown consistency most of the season and he had good speed in qualifying. Could this be the day he breaks into the win column? I say a very positive, maybe. He was one of the two Hendrick cars that showed speed by qualifying ninth.

From this fan’s view, it looks like there are a lot of possible winners. There’s Ryan Blaney starting outside pole and then there’s last week’s winner, Tyler Reddick starting fourth. Noah Gragson is another dark horse but could very possibly be the one that ends up in Victory Lane. After all, he did qualify fifth.

In fact, there are a lot possible winners spread throughout the field and it is hard to say which of them might end up at the front when the final checkered flag drops on the day. As I have said many times in the past, I don’t put a lot of stock in where people qualify and this race to tame the Monster is just another one that qualifying probably doesn’t tell the tale. This one is likely going to be determined more by strategy and how tire wear goes. One thing is fairly certain, though. Whoever wins this one is going to have to work for it for four hundred miles and that is no small task when it comes to Taming the Monster at Dover…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 28, 2024 – 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

Cup Teams Take It To Talladega  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Well… it’s that time again. Yeah, it’s time once again for the Cup Teams to take on a Super Speedway and this time it’s Talladega. So far, the super speedways have been exciting racing every time they show up in the Gen 7 car. The last couple of races at the super speedways of Daytona and Talladega have been very intense almost all race long. What has made it so in this fan’s opinion has been the strategies taken by the crew chiefs and just the overall willingness of the drivers to be aggressive the whole race.

It looks like the Fords want to make a show of it this weekend since three of them are starting in the first two rows. Of course, in usual fashion from this fan’s view, qualifying doesn’t really tell much about how the race will go and earlier this year at Daytona, they showed qualifying speed but didn’t really run that well. In fact, they really got beat by the Toyotas and the Chevys but that’s a story that’s already been told.

Probably the biggest surprise to this fan isn’t the possibility of the Fords having a good day but the two Chevys starting fourth and fifth. No, they’re not Hendrick Chevys. They are the Richard Childress Racing teams of Kyle Bush and Austin Dillon. Since they have been struggling most of this early 2024 season, it is good to see them showing some speed. It has been a difficult start to this season for both of them and, though qualifying where they have doesn’t mean they will run well today, it is a good sign they are getting their act together at RCR and they could be running up front at the end. Both Kyle and Austin know how to win at a Super Speedway and maybe today could be the day. Well, that is, if they can stay out of trouble for five hundred miles.

Getting back to the Fords, Michael McDowell starts on the pole and Austin Cindric starts next to him. I can’t say seeing Michael McDowell on the pole surprises me all that much. He is a very good Super Speedway racer and could walk away with a win when this one is over even though he hasn’t had all that great of finishes this season. He has shown good speed at times this season and could run up front all day. Cindric on the other hand has shown good speed at times, but like Michael, he hasn’t had that great of finishes. The two of them sit pretty far down in the points with Cindric in twenty-first and McDowell in twenty-third.

There are other Fords that need to make a good showing today also and, like the rest of the Ford teams, today’s race would be a good day for them to make a turnaround in their 2024 season. Ryan Blaney is the only Ford in the top ten in points and he sits in seventh. The next Ford doesn’t show up until twelfth and that’s Chase Briscoe with Chris Buescher in thirteenth. Even the Fords of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski aren’t where anyone expects them to be including themselves with Logano in fifteenth and Kes in seventeenth. To me, that just says the Fords have been struggling so far this season and they are improving but have a ways to go yet.

It goes without saying the Toyotas will likely run pretty good in today’s Geico 500. Of course that all depends on whether they can stay free of being involved in the Big One that usually happens in these Super speedway races. Even though the Big One or Big Ones can affect anyone’s day, Martin Truex Jr. would prefer he be able to avoid it this time around. I do expect all of the JGR Toyotas to be a factor in today’s race.

The Chevys are looking to show themselves to be a factor today, too. Even though they haven’t been really visible since early this season, Track House Racing’s teams of Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez could be very visible when it comes down to the final laps or maybe all race long. We know Ross is hungry to win and Daniel too even though he already has a win this season.

The Hendrick Chevys are the question mark for me this weekend. Sure, I know they didn’t qualify all that well at Daytona but William Byron did win the Daytona 500. It is not uncommon for any of the cars to qualify poorly at Talladega and still be upfront when it counts at the final checkered flag. Elliott and Byron were the best qualifiers for Hendrick but I can’t rule out a possible good run or win by Alex Bowman in this one. He has shown a lot of consistency this season and, honestly, this fan thinks he might be due for his first win in a while. I guess we’ll have to wait and see about that.

Points leader, Kyle Larson, has certainly had his share of bad luck between the tire situation last weekend and the situation this weekend that kept him from qualifying. He will start dead last today. Does that mean he doesn’t have a chance to take the win? No, but it does mean he has his work cut out for himself. Super speedways aren’t really his strong suit but he could surprise us all and take the win away from all the rest at the end of 500 miles. Well, actually it wouldn’t be all that much of a surprise…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 21, 2024 – 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

Who Will Come Out On Top At Texas Motor Speedway   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There is a real battle going on in NASCAR Cup these days. It isn’t a battle being fought with weapons of war but a battle for which of the top NASCAR Cup teams will come out on top of heap. So far this battle has been mostly between the Hendrick teams and the Toyotas, in particular the Toyotas of the Gibbs and 23XI teams or twenty-three eleven depending on how you look at it. There is a chance even though it is not expected a Ford could come out on top this weekend and show they are ready to join in the fray. Except for a few bright spots, the Fords have really been struggling in this 2024 NASCAR Cup season.

Kyle Larson won his third pole in a row and has quietly driven his way to being the present leader in the points even though two other drivers have multiple wins. Ty Gibbs starts on the front row in his JGR Toyota and he and Larson were the fastest in practice and qualifying. In fact, both have fast cars and both have to figure into the mix to win when the final flag drops today.

But wait a minute. There are other fast cars in the lineup and five of the top ten starters are Toyotas of JGR and 23XI Racing. There are three Fords and two Hendrick Chevys. Of course, those two HMS Chevys are Larson’s and William Byron’s.

The Fords of Chase Briscoe and Ryan Blaney start fifth and seventh respectively and they figure high on my list of those that could win. Austin Cindric is right there with Blaney starting in eighth.

The Toyota teams have shown up with speed once again and they are looking to show not all of their speed shows up just in qualifying but in longer runs, too. That could mean a lot when it comes down to the final laps. Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick are starting in row two and Tyler Reddick did show very good long-run speed. In fact, he was one of the best in fastest long runs. Will he be the one the rest are chasing for the win when it comes down to the final laps? From this fan’s view, that is a very real possibility. Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace, starting ninth and tenth, both have shown they have a good chance at going for the win by past performance and the speed in their Toyotas.

I know I only mentioned the top ten starters in the lineup for starters but there are other fast cars in the eleventh through twentieth starting spots. Denny Hamlin has shown a lot of consistent speed in these opening weeks of the 2024 season and, even though he is starting eleventh today, there is very little doubt he will be pressing for the win when it comes down to the finish.

Ross Chastain starts twelfth and is the first of six Chevys starting in the top twenty. I could go on and on in comparing possible top performers for the race today and even a few dark horses. Not all of them would be from the top performing teams either.

There are those that have been struggling in this early part of the 2024 season but could turn their season around starting today at Texas Motor Speedway. One of those that jumps out at me would be Kyle Bush. It’s true, he has a lot of wins at the Texas track but Richard Childress Racing has just not had much speed or racing luck so far. Kyle has been relatively patient so far but is beginning to show signs of being weary with their lack of speed and accomplishment.

Between lack of having fast enough racecars and bad racing luck, he and his team need a good performance at Texas if for no other reason than to get a little confidence back. Unfortunately, the weekend hasn’t started out very well since he spun and backed himself into the wall in practice. That’s just not the way to start a race weekend no matter how you look at it, especially at a track like Texas Motor Speedway.

Ok, so I’ve left out a lot of drivers and teams in this but, it is important to ask who will come out on top when this one is over this evening. Will it be one of the two starting on the front row? Will it be someone in the top ten or top twenty starters or will it be someone totally unexpected? Well, that my friends is a very good question and I have to admit – as I did last weekend – I’m definitely a little biased in one direction and I’m pulling for one of the two starting on the front row.

I guess you can guess which one, huh?

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 14, 2024 – 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

Taking On The Paperclip At Martinsville 

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There are a lot of things that can and have been said about the short track at Martinsville. For a long time, it was called the paperclip and many still call it that. Others have said it is like two dragstrips and two left turns. It used to be dirt, now it’s concrete and asphalt. Over the years it has gone through changes and still it is one of the most popular tracks on the NASCAR circuit.

One thing hasn’t changed all that much in the last forty years. Forty years ago, in what could have been Rick Hendrick’s last race, his team won and that began the turn around they needed to be what they are today; one of NASCAR Cup’s winningest teams. At Martinsville, they have become the dominant team with laps lead and wins over the forty years. No, they don’t win every time they show up and there has been some heartbreak along the way but Martinsville is a place that Hendrick Motorsports shines. They are now celebrating forty years in the sport and are presently the best team in NASCAR.

Can’t say how the rest of the weekend may go but, three of the four Hendrick teams qualified in the top ten and Kyle Larson won the pole. It was his second consecutive pole and he beat Bubba Wallace’s qualifying time by a whopping one thousandth of a second. I guess you did detect that little bit of sarcasm there. I mention that because, not only is the track tight when it comes to racing but the qualifying times are very tight also. That’s just one of the things that makes Martinsville what it has become – a place for great short track racing with lots of action.

Now that I’ve said all that, I can’t ignore the fact there are some obvious things that could stand in the way of a dominating performance by the Hendrick Teams as they celebrate forty years in NASCAR. It’s pretty obvious the JGR Toyotas have shown up again with speed and there are several Fords also starting in the top ten. Actually, there are a bunch of possible winners in the field and you can bet they aren’t going to make it easy for the fastest qualifiers to just walk away with the coveted Clock trophy.

Although it’s true the Hendrick Chevys are fast and especially motivated for this race, there is no denying the JGR Toyota teams are just as motivated to put a damper on the forty-year Hendrick celebration. It’s not about just spoiling the Hendrick team’s celebration. It’s more about how close Martin Truex Jr. came to winning last weekend and how much speed and consistency they have shown over the last several weeks. I expect Truex would like nothing better than to get the win he felt he was denied last weekend. Admittedly, he was probably denied the win when NASCAR made a judgement call on the final restart when his teammate Denny Hamlin jumped the start. It’s true that he probably could have won but the call – or lack thereof – went against him.

Speaking of JGR teams, Bubba Wallace didn’t miss taking the pole by much and I expect him to be running up front and press for the win when it comes down to the final laps. Can’t ignore Christopher Bell either. He seems to always have something to show when it comes down to the final laps and we all know how the Toyotas have shown they can manage their tires though long green flag runs. When it comes down to it, I believe tire strategy is going to play an important part in the final laps of this one along with the overall strategy for the race in general.

From this fan’s view, it’s hard for me to pick which of the teams might have a possible advantage. Martinsville is one tough race and four hundred laps around the little over half mile paperclip can take its toll physically and emotionally. I expect, in usual fashion for Martinsville, there will be some “disagreements” that could lead to some pretty strong emotions by the time this one is over.

There’s no denying there are a lot of possible winners in the field today. There’s Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney, Chase Brisco, Josh Berry and a whole host of others looking to take home a Grandfather Clock. No one can deny that Kyle Bush knows how to win at this place. Although he hasn’t had the best start to the year so far, I expect him and his team to get it turned around and start performing more like we all expect, soon. I kinda hope he waits until next weekend to make that turn around because, even though I am a little biased, I’m hoping a certain other team wins.

Look, I told you I was a bit biased…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 7, 2024 – 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

Cup Teams Night Racing On Easter At Richmond   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Richmond Raceway is one of the oldest tracks on the NASCAR circuit and, though it has gone through a lot of changes over the last seventy plus years, it is still one of the most challenging short tracks the Cup Teams face. Add to that they face it twice a year and one of those times is in the playoffs. This spring race is on Easter and it is at night, under the lights.

This Toyota Owners 400 is already starting off in an interesting way and different than it has been for the last couple of weeks anyway. There are four Chevys starting in the top four and three of them are Hendrick Motorsports teams. The fourth is TrackHouse Racing’s Ross Chastain. I suppose you’ve already noticed that Kyle Larson won the pole and right beside him is Chase Elliott and they were only thousandths of a second apart in qualifying.

In fact, if you were paying attention to those qualifying times, there isn’t a lot of separation in the qualifying times of the field. Of course, I’ve told you numerous times what I think qualifying has to do with how the race will go. Yeah, that’s right, not much more than how the pit selections will go and the faster qualifying times get the better choices. That means Kyle Larson will be taking the first pit stall and the others will take what they think will help them be more competitive as the race progresses and pit stops take place.

The Toyota Owners 400 is four hundred laps and 300 miles. At a track like Richmond Raceway, there is a lot that can happen between that first lap and the last one. This track eats tires pretty quickly and according to many, the drivers will want four tires every chance they get.

So, what does that mean? Well, like we saw a couple of weeks ago at Bristol, tire management will be key and the ones that can do the best job will have a definite advantage, especially late in a green flag run. From this fan’s view, that could be more of a key to which of the drivers will win tonight as opposed to some other things. It will also likely affect the strategy the teams employ as the race progresses.

I can’t help but wonder if the Toyotas are struggling this weekend or if it only appears that way. In past weeks on the shorter tracks, they have managed to be the ones to noticeably be better on the long runs and, whether they have won or not, they have pressed the leader to the final flag. Sure, I know Christopher Bell was pressing William Byron right down to the end of last weeks race but that wasn’t as much of a tire management race as the short tracks before.

The Fords just haven’t shown they have a total grip on their new body style yet and it shows from the way they have finished even when they have qualified on the front row. Ryan Blaney has been the only real bright spot in the Ford camps so far and yet even he seems to be struggling lately. Joey Logano has been fast in qualifying but that hasn’t translated into a win either. In fact, he is having one of his worst years ever so far. I’m not just saying that myself. He has said it in interviews and, honestly, from this fan’s view it has been a bad year for him so far. Of course, some of his poor finishes have had nothing at all to do with him or the Fords not having speed but, he has been a victim of circumstances beyond his control. (In other words and to simplify, bad racing luck…)

What will happen in tonight’s race? Well, that’s a question that this fan can’t answer. I suspect there is a good possibility the Chevys could have a very good night. They certainly look to have the speed but then they have had that look before only to finish as also rans. Of course, Kyle Larson won last year’s spring race at Richmond and he did dominate at Las Vegas just a few weeks ago. I suppose he should be considered as one that could do the same thing again.

Of course, I know anything can happen tonight and it could be someone totally unexpected that walks away with the win. The only thing is there are those pesky Toyotas that have been showing a lot of speed especially on these shorter tracks. In particular, I’m talking about the JGR Toyotas of Ty Gibbs, Martin Truex Jr, and Denny Hamlin. At Bristol, Hamlin proved he knew how to manage tire wear and he got the win. Bubba Wallace in his 23XI Toyota qualified fifth and could lead the way to the checkered flag when all is said and done.

Unfortunately, and I don’t say this lightly; there are a lot of possible winners in the field tonight. Which of them will end up on top is anybody’s guess and I’m not willing to offer mine. I’m just going to watch and wait and see…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 31, 2024 – 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

Cup Teams Facing COTA Challenges   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There is always something challenging going on in the NASCAR Cup Series and this weekend is no different. This weekend not only do they face their first road course race of the 2024 season but they also face it with the newest NASCAR short track rules package for the first time. Judging from the practice sessions and the qualifying, it appears things are slightly different than the last time the Cup teams visited COTA. Well, that’s the way it looked from this fan’s view anyway. I don’t think I’ve seen as many people spinning out during practice as I did in these sessions this weekend.

I don’t know how you see it but, it does appear the Toyotas have not only found their speed but they have it hooked up to the track. Once again this weekend they are fast and they could be the ones to beat this afternoon at COTA.

This is just an observation but it does look like the new body changes to the Toyotas agree with them, especially the Gibbs Toyotas. They have been fast since the races have moved from the Superspeedways to the shorter tracks. The number of laps they have led in the last couple of weeks has been outstanding. In fact, they have dominated the field over the last two weeks.

In the first couple of weeks of the season, it looked like the Chevys were going to be running away with at least the first part of the season. Now, it appears that the Toyotas have taken the lead in that. They are obviously getting a grip on their new body style and they are obviously making up for lost time even from what they showed late in the season of last year with speed even before the new body style.

As it stands right now, I have to ask the question – Has the new NASCAR Cup downforce package for the shorter tracks had anything to do with the resurgence of the Toyotas and their grip on leading the field in speed and performance lately?

Well… that is a good question and one I’m not sure I have a grip on yet. It does appear their season began to turn almost immediately the first week this package was introduced.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that is the reason. What I am saying, or asking, is did this new package just fit into where they were at the start of the season or did it actually offer them some advantage over the other two manufacturers?

If we only look at the results from the first races with it, it does appear that it helped them close the gap on the Chevys and especially over the Fords. From my view, it does seem the Chevys still have speed but that speed has been surpassed by The Toyotas. Also from my view, as a whole the Fords appear to be struggling. Well, at least many of them when it comes down to the actual races. Qualifying is a little different part of the story but, except for Ryan Blaney, they don’t seem to be there at the end of a race.

Getting back to the challenges they appear to be facing at COTA this weekend, there have been changes to the track in the form of repaving some areas of the track. There is also a new starting area which may either help or hinder when the race actually starts. That is something that remains to be seen, especially when the entire field enters turn one at the top of the hill on the front straight.

As I mentioned earlier, the Toyotas have shown up with speed again this weekend but, taking a quick look at the front row shows there is a Chevy and a Toyota on the front row. William Byron squeaked by Ty Gibbs for the Pole position by a very, very small margin. Add to that there are six Toyotas starting in the top ten and four Chevys. The Fords don’t show up until eleventh through twentieth and then there are only three there. Not a very strong showing for starting this race at COTA.

Of course, you and I both know qualifying doesn’t always show how the race will go. Just because some cars run fast for one or two laps doesn’t mean they will even be in the top ten when it comes down to the final laps. When it comes down to Road Course racing, well, just about anything can happen by the time the checkered flag drops.

I won’t spend a lot of time talking about how I think the race will go for several reasons. One is the speed of the Toyotas and especially Ty Gibbs. He has been fast every weekend lately and only circumstances have kept him from his first win in the Cup series. It is possible he could get that win today at COTA. It is also possible any of the main Toyota drivers could take it to Victory Lane. The JGR and 23XI teams do look to be tough to beat, considering how they qualified.

Of course, there are several Chevys that could very likely have something to say about that. William Byron, Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain and, yes, even Corey LaJoie. There are several others and I won’t rule them out but the race will probably show a lot of difference between the some of the qualifiers and where they will finish. There are a lot of very good road racers a little back in the field. Remember, the qualifying times don’t show that much separation. I believe this one is going to come down to strategy and tires. Both of these could be affected by the number of cautions.

From what I’ve seen in the practice sessions, there could be more than a few of those but, even I admit it could come down to long green flag runs and that won’t be known until this one is over…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 24, 2024 – 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