Cup Teams Take On Loudon With The Next Gen

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Well, it’s that time again. Another weekend on a track with the Next Gen for the first time and it could be a race with a twist. What I mean by that is, there could be a very unexpected winner or at least one that hasn’t won in a while. From the practice and the qualifying, it did look like the Toyotas have come with speed and the Chevys, in particular the Hendrick Chevys again, are showing speed off the trucks also.

Everyone knows the track at Loudon is a track that will test the drivers throughout the afternoon and that part hasn’t changed all that much. What will really make it different will be the Next Gen car and what it brings to the racing since it has been introduced at the beginning of this season. You know what I mean don’t you? The way it has to be driven to make good pace on the track. Pace good enough to pass the competition and a car that is able to run just about any line to keep pace and pass without too many laps being wasted to advance.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well… so far it doesn’t look that easy from my observations. I saw struggles by drivers exiting turn two and entering into turn three. If you listened to the talk from the drivers and the talking heads, you heard the bumps going into turn three were making it difficult because they are in a braking zone and it was upsetting the entry enough to throw the drivers off as they entered it. Of course, qualifying is much different than the actual racing. In qualifying they can use the whole track. When it comes to the actual race, especially on starts and re-starts, there is limited space to maneuver around the turns. That means there could be trouble in several ways for the field as they try to advance their positions at the most opportune time.

At first glance looking at the lineup, it looks like it is going to be a race between the Toyotas and the Chevys. From my view, it looked like the Fords are struggling a bit for speed but, I caution that looks can be a bit deceiving. It could be that come time for the race Sunday afternoon, the Fords could end up being the strong ones and the other two makes could drop like rocks to the back.

Sure, I know that could be a totally false assumption and the Toyotas and Chevys could run away with the stages and one of them could end up in Victory Lane. To be totally honest, in my opinion, this race could go to just about any one of the expected contenders. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, it could go to an unexpected driver and team and totally mess up the playoff picture. After all, time is winding down for drivers and teams to make the playoffs and the picture isn’t totally clear yet.

It is clear that there have been thirteen winners so far this season. That only leaves three spots left to fill “IF” they are all filled by winners. There is still the possibility that one or two might point their way in but, in all honesty, it is possible that there could be more than sixteen winners and then the playoff picture would be delegated to the ones with the most wins and points to separate the ones in and the ones out.

There are those that need a win to make the playoffs. Some of the more obvious ones would be Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Eric Jones and Austin Dillon. To add to the drama for this weekend, anyone of these drivers can win this one. They all need a win, they all would like to take a win and they would all like to win. The question is, which one will pull off the victory and change the course of their playoff hopes.

There is a problem with the above-mentioned drivers, though. There are others that are performing better than they are this weekend. It is possible one of the expected ones like, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Bush and others starting in the top ten could end up in Victory Lane. Since several of them have at least one win, it is also possible any one of them could add to their win totals. Wouldn’t that add at least one new wrinkle to an already interesting season… ?

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 16, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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