From a NASCAR Fan’s View
In a quick turn of events, Denny Hamlin somehow managed to win the pole position for the Ally 400 at Nashville Speedway. Uh, maybe I should say had it handed to him. In case you missed it, the rains came before they had a chance to run the actual qualifying laps for the final ten and they’re to be lined up according to the order from the first part of the qualifying session. Now, I don’t know if that is some kind of and omen for the Toyota teams but it was a bit of a surprise to me. That’s not to say Hamlin didn’t have speed but, I just wonder if he would have actually won the pole had qualifying continued.
Honestly, I’m not so sure the Toyotas will fair all that well even though a JGR team is on the front row. Just as well for them but, there is a fast Penske Ford on the front row and there are two fast Hendrick Chevys on the second row. In fact, the top ten look pretty interesting because they are from a variety of the teams and their position for the start of the race is just a little bit of a surprise. Well, not really but, there is a good mixture of Toyotas, Fords and Chevys as well as different drivers and teams throughout the top ten.
Actually, comparatively speaking, the Fords did look to have some good speed in qualifying, but without the final qualifying session, it is hard to tell if they are good for the long runs or just a lap or two. Now admittedly, I’m not a Ford fan but there are some Ford drivers that I do like. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m rootin’ for them to win at Nashville but it does mean I’m okay with it if they do.
Two of those drivers are Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick. Both have had their struggles even though Blaney did win the Million dollar All Star race. Harvick, on the other hand, has had one struggle after another and would really like to take the win this weekend and silence all the speculation. Judging from the performance of the Fords from the partial qualifying session, this could their weekend. Unfortunately, it just may not be one these two Ford drivers that do win. It could be someone like Joey Logano (starting outside pole by the way) or Chase Briscoe. It could even be someone driving a Ford and winning totally unexpectedly, I just don’t know.
That brings us back to the Toyotas and Denny Hamlin in particular. It does appear, at least to this NASCAR fan that things have been kinda landing in his lap lately. I know it sounds strange but it is interesting. He hasn’t had the fastest car but has been performing pretty well lately. I won’t say he’s been lucky because everyone knows you make your own luck but and you have to be there at the end of a race to take advantage of any circumstances that arise. Fortunately for Denny, that has happened twice so far this season and the pole this weekend was pretty much handed to him so, who knows what will happen at the end of the Ally 400 for him.
Christopher Bell is another Toyota driver that has been real close taking a win several times this season and he is starting ninth, a little further back than was expected by him and his team because he had a fast racecar. Unfortunately, he had a little problem in his qualifying lap and he didn’t have time to make it up. He has been very fast just about every race weekend and, as much as I may not want to, he could take the win at the end of the day even though he is starting ninth.
Kyle Bush hit the wall in his qualifying lap and his fate for the race is in the hands of his team and we’ll just have to wait and see how he makes it through the day.
When it comes down to it, the Chevys have a lot to prove in this one. They have been fast just about every week but they have also had their share of problems with penalties all over the place. Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez and his teammate, Ross Chastain are running very strong and any one of them could end the day pulling into Victory Lane if they can manage avoiding all the little things that have been holding them back recently either on pit road or the track. Daniel Suarez is riding a little momentum since winning two weekends ago at Sonoma so, it is hard not to say he could pull another win out of his cap.
As it stands, at least from my view, this one is anybody’s to win and everybody’s to lose. They just have to keep their Next Gen cars out of trouble and in contention for those final laps at the end of the day. I’m not willing to pick a winner but, I am also not willing to be surprised if someone totally unexpected wins this one. I believe this is going to be a hard fought victory no matter which of them wins.
By the way, I do think it’s about time for Kyle Larson to win again. Wouldn’t that be a statement since he is without his crew chief, Cliff Daniels for this and three more weekends. I don’t know about you but I do think he can, IF…
Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
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