Cup Teams Take It To Road America

From a NASCAR fan’s view

The Cup teams take on the Road America road course for the first time in a very long time. Probably most of us were either very young or not born yet the last time they were there in 1956. Personally, I was about five years old and don’t remember if I really knew NASCAR existed. I know I’m not alone in that but I have been a stock car fan for a very long time and a NASCAR fan for almost as long.

I will admit I haven’t been one to watch a lot of races at Road America so I don’t have a whole of knowledge of the place. What I do know is what I’ve read and what I’ve gleaned from listening to people talk about the place. It is easy to find out specs about the track, how fast it is and how slow some of the turns are. It’s even easy to find how long and narrow it is for the most part but what I have a tendency to do is look at it from a driver’s point of view.

I think some of that comes from being a driver in the past and just my general love for all kinds of motorsports. Looking at taking on the Road America course from that perspective makes a difference in what I watch for and expect. I know I haven’t ever raced in what is called the big time but, I have raced and I have raced competitively enough to be high points and season champ more than once. I know what it’s like to press the envelope and make it work and what it’s like to totally blow it. Of course, when you blow it, it usually means you lose and have a bit of repair work to do, sometimes even build a new car or mostly rebuild the old car.

So… what does that have to do with this weekend’s race at Road America? Not a whole heck of a lot really but, it does change the perspective as you watch a race on a track as challenging as this one. That just may be one of the biggest reasons I so look forward to this weekend’s race. Because I know so little about this track, you know I’ll be watching for my favorite drivers to attack this track, push the envelope and yet, not overdrive to the point they walk away with a wrecked car and nothing to show for the effort.

It used to be that drivers that put extra effort into performing good at road courses and those that were commonly called “road course ringers” were the ones ending the race at or near the front and often taking the checkered flag and trophy. These days, however, just about all of the drivers take road course races seriously and many of them could end up winning this race. Not all, mind you but, many. They still have to be in good equipment and still have to have the talent to outdrive or, at the very least, drive with the best ones. In this one, it is going to take every bit of the talent they can muster, they can make no mistakes and have to run consistent lap times even better than the rest. Even then, there is no guarantee they will finish first.

I don’t know about you but, from this fan’s view it seemed even some of the best road coursers were struggling to find a handle at this track. I’m not picking on anybody, just stating the facts. Kyle Bush wrecked his primary car and had to go to a backup for Sunday afternoon. Many weren’t showing the speed I thought they might but, admittedly, they might have been taking their time getting to know the track and taking care of their equipment.

Look, I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how I view going into this race and what I’m watching for but, it is important to remember how important this race is to those that aren’t yet locked into the playoffs or those that haven’t yet won a race this season. You know their names. I don’t need to tell you. You’ve heard all the hype and all the talk and the only thing left is to view the outcome of this one. It is going to be a wild one and it is going to be hotly contested. I expect there will be high emotions and more than a few hot tempers by the time this one is done. The playoffs are coming quickly and the season is winding down. I don’t expect anyone to be letting up, not even those already guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. This will be a tough race for all.

It is impossible to tell what is really going on in their minds with only fifty minutes of practice time and some never having been on the track before. What is important is that to win this one, the old adage is true… “To win it, you have to be in it when the checkered flag drops.” Wrecking out or sitting in a runoff gravel pit will do no good for any of them if they want to win this one. It’s going to take concentration, consistency with no mistakes and maybe even a little bit of luck. Oh, and by the way, Kyle Larson may win this one… would that be a surprise??

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 3, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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NASCAR Fan’s View