Cup Teams Take On A Different Kentucky Speedway from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman
The NASCAR Cup Teams take on a different Kentucky Speedway tonight. It is different because it has been repaved and, not only repaved but changes were made to the track as well. Turns 1 and 2 are different and the front straight has been changed a little. The track needed to be repaved and, since they were doing the repaving, they decided to make some changes to the track to make it more of a challenge for the drivers.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that so far; the drivers like challenges that make them better or show more of their ability to adapt. After all, they are spoken of as the best race car drivers in the world (and I don’t argue with that) and they should be up to the challenges presented to them at any track at any time in the NASCAR season. One other little change for this race is they are back to the reduced down force package they used a few weeks ago. The track changes and the reduced down force should make for a very interesting Quaker State 400 when they take to the track this evening.

Once again the weather has intervened and the qualifying was rained out so they will line up according to points. That could be an advantage for some and a disadvantage for others. In fact, some would say it is a blessing for some and a curse for others. Personally, this fan doesn’t think it will make that much difference other than the way the teams get their pit stalls.

For Kevin Harvick, well, it just might be a good thing but considering how things have been for them lately he and his team will have to maintain good track position throughout the race to take full advantage of that number one stall. Considering performance in the practices, that may or may not be within their realm of possibilities. They have been struggling speed-wise lately and that is going to make track position all the more important (which is really nothing new to any team these days.)

One thing that has eliminated a little of the drama from this season is Tony Stewart’s getting a win and moving into the top thirty in the points. As long as he maintains his position in the top thirty in points, he is already qualified for the Chase. For that reason the only drama left in his situation is whether or not he can maintain or better his position in points and not drop below the magic number of thirtieth. If he does, that means he has a chance for winning another Championship in this his last season in NASCAR competition. That would really re-establish some drama for when the Chase begins. For right now though, he is qualified and most of the stress is off for now.

It’s at this point I just have to make a personal statement on what is going on with the networks and how they are covering NASCAR these days. I know I am not alone in this thinking and I do quite often hear about the frustration many fans express with where they can watch the TV coverage of their favorite sport. For the last few years I have heard complaints about the racing coverage not being on channels they can’t receive unless they have cable, satellite or some other provider. Admittedly, I have even complained about that myself (and honestly still do a little.) It seems it is one of the things we as fans have to put up with because of the popularity of our favorite sport and the money it generates.

I understand why the networks do what they do and why they try to get viewers to watch their additional sports channels. It is mostly about marketing and what they can charge for advertizing which helps their bottom line. That doesn’t mean I like it but it does mean I put up with it even though I don’t see everything anymore simply because I don’t want to pay for that extra tier of programming just to watch one or two more channels. I liked the days when it was on the main networks and I could watch it from my off-air antenna. It is the same for the technology for phones, pads and computer viewing. If you want to use it to view it live, you generally still have to have that account with one of the programming providers like your cable or satellite company. In my opinion (and I know I am not alone) it does somewhat limit at least the television viewing audience which is disappointing for some that don’t have access or don’t want to pay extra for the access.

Oh well, I guess that’s enough of my disappointment rant for now…

In case you haven’t noticed, the Joe Gibbs Toyotas have shown up again this weekend showing the strength they have exhibited most of the season. Even though the track has made changes and NASCAR has once again instituted the lower down force package that part of the race hasn’t changed. From this fan’s view, I do expect them to be very visible at the end of the night when the checkered flag falls. That is, if they don’t succumb to some of the possibilities the changes for this race might cause.

Some of those possibilities have been very obvious during the practices. We have witnessed more than one or two get out of the groove on this newly repaved track and slide up into the wall with varying degrees of intensity. Some have pancaked their cars on the right side and some have simply brushed the wall with minimum damage but damage just the same.

Kyle Bush has always performed well at Kentucky and tonight may not be any different. Even though I expect either a JGR or possibly a Penske team to be in Victory Lane when it is over, I’m not so sure it will be Kyle Bush. Even though he has done well at this track, he doesn’t perform all that well on newly paved or repaved tracks. Still, he has to be one of the favorites for taking the trophy along with several other Toyota drivers if only because JGR has looked so strong this season… But then again, there are a lot of others not associated with JGR that could end up with the trophy when it is all said and done and that is what’s going to make for an interesting Saturday night at the races…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 9, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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