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

The Food City 500 At Bristol  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Finally… the spring race at Bristol is back to concrete. I know there are those that think they should have kept it as dirt again but, in all honesty and from this fan’s view, there were several drawbacks to the Bristol dirt races. I don’t know exactly when I changed, but when I was young and living in Southern Illinois, I grew up around dirt track racing and loved it. I still do to a point but, I would rather watch the dirt races with different the different types of cars and on the shorter, more local tracks and the Cup cars on hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt. Oh, for a time or two it was something different and interesting to watch and see how the NASCAR Cup drivers handled the dirt but, in this fan’s opinion, it was just that… something different not permanent.

So, this spring race at Bristol appears to be different already judging from practice and qualifying. Between the A group practice and the B group, something drastically changed in the track surface – at least the most used low groove – and it showed up in the lap times and the handling first in the B group and then very obviously in the qualifying of the A group. Funny though; Ryan Blaney experienced it at the end of the A group practice session. I can’t say for sure but it may have helped him get the pole for today’s race. He and his team were the first to adjust correctly to the definite and somewhat sudden change in the track surface.

Bristol Motor Speedway has always been a crowd pleaser. It is a tough, intense track and, ask any driver, with hardly any time to breathe. It has been and will be again today, a physically and mentally draining track. The racing is always intense and there will likely be times of high emotions that will be displayed because of that intensity. Well, that and the elevated adrenaline that goes with racing and in particular at Bristol.

In the last two weeks, it seems the Chevys have lost a bit to the Toyotas and Fords. For a while in the first few weeks of the season, it appeared they were going to be the ones to beat every weekend. Even though they weren’t necessarily qualifying on the front row, they were finishing up front, taking home the trophies and racking up the wins. Then suddenly, things turned around for the Toyotas when they went out west. Armed with a new NASCAR rules package for short tracks, they managed to dominate Phoenix leading most of the laps last weekend. I suppose it is possible it could happen again this weekend.

Yeah, you know I haven’t forgotten Joey Logano qualifying on the front row almost every race to begin with but I also haven’t forgotten he didn’t finish all that well for various reasons. He has had a relatively difficult time so far this season. In fact, up till this weekend, the Fords still appeared to be struggling a bit even though they have shown signs of life as this young season has progressed.

Now, it appears the Fords may make a statement at Bristol. Well, at least if Ryan Blaney has anything to say about it. He made a very strong showing in the practice and qualifying sessions yesterday and walked away with the pole as well as good overall performance in the long runs in the practice session. I won’t say for sure but, it could be he will walk away with a trip to Victory Lane today.

Do I think the Toyotas and Chevys won’t have something to say about that? No, absolutely not. I expect there were a lot of late hours spent last night by all the teams trying to figure out how to show up today to be more competitive than yesterday when the resin appeared to break down relatively quickly during the Cup teams practice sessions. It appeared to this fan that the teams were relatively surprised by the sudden change in the track surface and most of them just didn’t have time to adjust to it in the limited time of practice and qualifying.

So, here’s how I think the race today will go. Although it is possible that Ryan Blaney could simply dominate the day, I think all of the teams have had time to think of how to adjust to the change the track went through. That could mean the Toyotas – and even the Chevys – could make it tough on the Fords even though Blaney’s Ford looks to be the one to beat entering into the Food City 500 today. After all, the lap times were very close together in usual Bristol fashion.

Of course, it also depends on what happens with the resin. At the time of this writing, I have not heard of how the track will be treated considering the way it broke down yesterday. I mean I understand why they use the stuff but it doesn’t appear to be the answer in the long run, (no pun intended).

I guess it will all come down to which of the teams have made good changes and continue to make them during the race as the track goes through its changes. They do have a lot of laps to make changes but I believe it will come down to how many cautions and long green flag runs they have. Will the fastest qualifier end up in Victory Lane or will it be one from further back in the field and will it be a Ford, Toyota or a Chevy?

At this point and looking at yesterday’s time on the track for all the teams, I just don’t have any idea…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 17, 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 Phoenix Raceway  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There is a difference this weekend as the Cup Teams take to the Phoenix Raceway for the Shriners Children’s 500. For the first time in this regular season, Fords aren’t on the pole. In fact, even though the Chevys have started the year by winning the first three Cup races, it is the Toyotas starting on the front row. So, it begs the question, “Did the changes NASCAR made to the downforce package for all the teams benefit the Toyotas more than the rest?” Or did the changes just fit into the Toyota body changes better?

Well… whatever the case, the Toyotas did show speed when it came to qualifying and even in the extended practice session. Four of the Toyotas are starting in the top ten with two of them starting on the front row. Denny Hamlin was the pole winner with a definite speed advantage over the rest of the qualifiers. That could be an omen to the rest of the field of competitors if his speeds hold up throughout the race.

It is interesting to me that the Fords and Toyotas have shown speed during qualifying every weekend so far but, when it came to the race, they seemed to struggle a bit. I guess you could say that struggle lasted all through the first three races. Yeah, I know there were some circumstances that also affected the eventual winners of the races being Chevys, but still, the Chevys have been the ones to beat every weekend so far.

Now look. I’m a Chevy fan and it is a personal thing. I owned Chevys most all my life. I raced nothing but Chevys and I liked them over Fords and I have my reasons though I won’t go into them here. Suffice it to say, Chevys were good to me, especially in my local short track racing career.

I am also a Hendrick Motorsports fan and have been for a long time, too. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the other Chevy Teams because I do. I’m just partial to HMS. As I’ve mentioned before, Ross Chastain of Track House Racing is from Alva, Florida and that is about thirty some miles from where I live and it is hard not to be a fan of someone from so close to home. RCR is also one of my favorites. In fact, the more I think about it, I guess I’m kinda partial to all of the Chevy teams. Maybe that is why I’m a little biased when it comes to the other makes and them possibly having an advantage.

Of course, all of this has very little to do with the Shriners Children’s 500 today at Phoenix Raceway. It is obvious to this fan that the Chevys are struggling a little for speed this weekend. A quick check back over the last three races didn’t really show them to be the fastest cars on the tracks when it came to qualifying. Except for Kyle Larson’s dominance last weekend, they had to work for their wins.

Most of the talk about Phoenix this weekend is how important it is for all the teams to learn all they can to be prepared for the Championship race here in November. It is true they need to get all the info they can on the new package but I have another question. What are the possibilities that NASCAR will make further changes to the package after this visit to Phoenix? I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time that happened would it? If they do, wouldn’t that throw a wrench into the info gathering from this race? Yeah, that’s what I thought you’d say. And yeah, me too.

I guess my biggest questions for today’s race center around what’s already happened in this early part of the 2024 season. The Fords looked like they were going to be tough in the first races – especially Joey Logano. After Kyle Larson fended off Tyler Reddick’s bid at the end of last week’s race is it really that much of a stretch to see the Toyotas finally showing a little muscle? The rest of that question is this. Even though in those previous races, it looked like the faster qualifiers would be the ones to beat, the Chevys managed to win all three.

Will the same thing happen today at Phoenix? Well… that’s a good question and one I’m not really expecting to be answered to the positive. Denny Hamlin looks awfully strong and the Toyota of Ty Gibbs does too. In fact, it is my opinion most of the Toyotas look to have what it takes to do well today. I guess the question is, “Will they?”

Yeah, you guessed it. I’m still pulling for the Chevys…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 10, 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

The Pennzoil 400 At Vegas   

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Once again this weekend, Joey Logano sits on the front row for the start of the race. Of course, there are other benefits to winning the pole but two of the most important are controlling the start of the race and first pick of pit stalls. Joey Logano has had great starting positions over the last three races as well as having one of the fastest cars on the track. Unfortunately, having all that speed hasn’t really helped his racing luck situation. Well, that is at least from this fan’s view in the first two weeks of the 2024 NASCAR Cup season.

I don’t know if it means anything at all for the Pennzoil 400 today but, there are four Fords starting in the top ten. There are also four Toyotas starting in the top ten and only two Chevys.

Of course those two Chevys have been the strongest Hendrick teams of Kyle Larson and William Byron even though they didn’t finish all that well last week at Atlanta. That’s not to say they didn’t have fast racecars. They just didn’t have good finishes because of being involved in accidents. Larson has already had his first DNF of the year because of being involved when he was running right behind Brad Keselowski when Brad’s RFK racing Ford spun in front of him. Byron on the other hand did manage a decent finish considering all the problems he had with being involved in or near the several accidents that damaged all but a few cars in the field. Last weekend at Atlanta saw a lot of torn up cars throughout the field by the time it was finished.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the first test of the Toyotas and Fords on a track that makes up most of the races in the season with their new body styles. It is a one-and-a-half-mile tri-oval and only the Chevys have notes from previous seasons since they didn’t change body styles this season. Will that make a difference? That’s a good question and my answer is that I just don’t know.

It is possible I suppose that the Chevys could have a slight advantage but, with the strength the Fords and Toyotas have shown over the first races of the season, their advantage will likely be small. After all, so far there hasn’t been that much difference in the ability of the three makes to gain much of an advantage over the others. In fact, and I know I’m not the only one saying this, at this point I don’t think there is much difference between one over the other. Competition has never been closer. (At least in all my years of following NASCAR Cup.)

So, how will things shake out in the Pennzoil 400 at Vegas today? Will it have as an exciting close finish like last weekend at Atlanta? Personally, I don’t think so but it is a tough call. Qualifying showed the speeds to be very close even though the Fords and Chevys do seem to be pretty closely matched. So far, the Toyotas have shown they can keep up with the other two makes but they just haven’t been able be in the mix at the drop of the final checkered flag. Well, at least not at the very front, anyway.

As a fan, I’m wondering how much strategy is going to play into this one. Will it be a fuel mileage thing or will it be a tire advantage thing? I just don’t know. I definitely think it will be a race that has a few surprises and I think the strategy for the long run over the short run will be what makes the difference. Of course, that could all change if there are one or more caution flags near the end. Those that might rely on long run speed to get them up front during the race could be adversely affected if they have to fend off the competitors in a short run situation.

Once again this weekend, there is a lot of talk going around on whether or not we could be in for another finish like there was last weekend at Atlanta. This fan thinks that is a little far-fetched. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time he was mistaken, either…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 3, 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