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, and
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