Cup Teams Looking For Answers At Vegas


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Well, the Cup teams hit the track in Vegas this weekend and three things are still at the forefront of the 2014 NASCAR Cup season.

  1. –> Cup teams are looking for answers to the new rules and the changes to the cars for this year.
  2. –> Some of the drivers and teams are struggling with the changes to the car.
  3. –> The Penske teams appear to have qualifying figured out.


Do you remember when NASCAR was at Daytona and I said that there must be something wrong if the drivers are as happy as they are? Well, I may be overstepping my bounds just a bit but it looks like I may have been right. It appears that more than a few of the drivers (and their teams) are not all that happy anymore. Oh, they’re not that outspoken about it but, it’s obvious that the changes to the rules for qualifying and differing areas of cars are causing a bit of difficulty as they all try to adapt.


Now this is purely speculation on the part of this fan, but it does appear that some of the drivers and teams are struggling with the changes and a few even look lost. When you listen to them talk they try not to blame any one thing but it seems they all use the same word (or at least one that’s very similar.) That word (at least from this fan’s view) is, “adapting.” It’s true, and very obvious, that some are really having trouble adapting to the new rules package. So far, that struggle hasn’t affected the racing that much but it has made the interviews during practice and qualifying sessions a little more interesting than they used to be.


As a fan, there are things that I do like about the new qualifying procedure and there are things that I don’t much care for it all. I don’t think I’m alone in that and it does appear that there are going to have to be some changes made by NASCAR to help the drivers and teams overcome some of the challenges they appear to be experiencing during those sessions. I’m not saying I have any answers at this point but I have seen some situations that are bothersome and could have major impact in the future.


One thing in particular appears to be a safety concern (at least from my view) and it has to do with cars that are slowing down or trying to cool down after making a run. I know that all of us are adapting to this new procedure and they can be stressful and exciting but perhaps a few changes could be made to make it safer.


Of course I know one of the reasons that they did it was to make qualifying more exciting and possibly generate more interest rather than having people sit and watch one car go around the track at a time. I think they’ve accomplished at least part of their goal because it is a little more interesting and possibly a bit more exciting. I’m willing to give it more time as they all adapt to this procedure but I hope we don’t have to wait for a few cars to get torn up or someone to get hurt before they figure out where the possible dangers are in the procedure.


Even while much of the field is looking for more handling and speed at this time, it appears that Penske teams are quite happy with the qualifying sessions and the new procedure. Of course that could be because for the last two weeks the two Penske teams have qualified on the front row. I do find it interesting that they are performing very well in qualifying and running near the front on race days but, I’m not sure whether or not the Penske teams are able to end up in Victory Lane even though they do qualify well. That’s another one of those “wait and see” situations and we won’t know the answer until one of them actually wins a race from the front row.


All of that aside it does appear that the Fords either run well or poorly and hardly ever in between. It doesn’t matter whether you look at the Penske teams, the Roush teams or even the Petty teams; they all seem to be at different levels in performance, whether it be handling or horsepower. Of the three I just mentioned, it appears that the Petty teams are struggling the most. Of course that could change at any time.


From this fan’s view (and this has very little to do with anything) is a statement that many of the drivers use but I’ve grown a little tired of. That statement is, “It’s Vegas, baby!” I guess one of the reasons that I’ve grown tired of it that they all say it and it’s supposed to explain why Vegas is so much different than anywhere else. From my view, nothing could be further from the truth.


I mean, I understand all the hype and the keywords but there are a lot of reasons why this race stands out. I’m sure there will be those that disagree with me but I might as well state the obvious. It’s the first race of the year where they face the type race track that they see more of in a season than any other. If they continue struggling with their setups and the rule changes keep on affecting them in a negative way, then it could be a very long year for many of them. Of course those that already have some of it figured out and appear to be doing well so far, well… I just don’t expect they’ll be complaining much…uh, at least until someone figures out what works better than them…


See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© March 09, 2014 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, and

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