Cup Teams Take On Vegas With The Next Gen

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

The Cup teams take it to Vegas on Sunday afternoon and it will be another “first time” visit to a track for the Next Gen Car. Even though it does seem they are all beginning to adapt to the new car, there are still some unanswered questions and unknowns. I still haven’t made up my mind about the new car yet but, I will admit it is beginning to look better as the teams adapt to it and the season progresses.

One thing I’ve noticed right at first here is that the younger drivers seem to be adapting to the car somewhat faster than those that have been around the sport for a while. In fact, if you listen to the interviews from some of them, they never fail to mention how much fun they’re having. To me it seems they almost think it’s funny. Maybe that’s because they haven’t had to “unlearn” so much as those that spent so much time in the old cars.  I’m  not sure if some of the veterans feel the same way but, it does seem as though they have all accepted the challenge and deal with the new car because they really don’t have any other options. Still, from my view, it does seem the younger drivers are smiling more than the others.

I will admit, with all the changes made this year with the car and other things, I do like the way they’ve decided to have practice and qualifying. I think it makes it much more interesting and, once again offering my opinion, it somehow makes the whole weekend more interesting. There is no substitute for track time but I have no problem at all for making it a little bit more challenging for the entire field. As I mentioned, when they had no practice and no qualifying, it is pretty obvious, at least to this fan, which of them depended on the extended practice times to get their cars right.

Looking back at the race last weekend, I was surprised by several things. First, and I don’t know why, but I was surprised to see Kyle Larson win. I just wasn’t so sure the Chevys had the right stuff at first and then it seemed they came to life. Even though Kyle and Chase had their run-in, they were running up front and Chase was up there even after being laps down. Eric Jones was another one and it was good to see him running competitively and with a chance to win. Daniel Suarez was also in a Chevy and almost won but was outmaneuvered by Larson at the very end. So, to say I was surprised at the performance of the Chevys would kind of be an understatement.

This weekend’s race at Vegas could prove to be one of the more interesting races so far this season. I know we’re only at week three and there’s one more to go on the West Coast swing but it is possible that things could pick up as the teams get better and better at figuring out how to make this Next Gen car handle better and go faster. I’ve often heard people talk about how the West Coast swing shows more about the cars and which teams have the best grip on it.

So far, it looks pretty even for all of the teams and it does seem many of the drivers are struggling with the same things about the car. No doubt you’ve heard many of the drivers complain of how hard they are to drive and how hard it is to adjust to some of the new features of it. Not one of them has actually said they have it figured out and not one has said they want to give up on it. In fact, it is my opinion they secretly like the challenge it is offering them week in and week out. I’m not saying they are happy with their results so far but I am saying they like the challenge and look forward to race weekends at the different tracks with this new and different car.

I know you’ve heard all the talk of how Kyle Larson is the favorite to take the win this weekend and his team has given him a fast car from the looks of it. It may not mean a thing he is sitting on the front row this weekend and he may have his work cut out for him to take a second straight victory, but it could be he is on his way to another double figure season of wins. He does do well at all three of these tracks but I’m not so sure he will win at Vegas.

It looks like some of the other teams have shown up with some speed, too. Just look at which of them is sitting on the pole. Joe Gibbs driver, Christopher Bell didn’t beat Larson by much for the pole but he did beat him. Even the Fords showed some pretty good speed and we all know how badly Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Chase Briscoe and Kevin Harvick want to take a win. Don’t rule out those other Ford Teams either. There just isn’t that much of a speed difference between the Chevys, Fords or the Toyotas and, given this track is a favorite of many, anything could happen.

Since there is a lot of pressure on the drivers as they try to work through the problems and the difficulties of this new car, it does seem to this fan tempers are shorter and emotions are running pretty high. I don’t think it will take much to set one or two of them off and retaliation become the word for the day. I know it happened in the Xfinity series and even if NASCAR warns them to stay calm, I’m not so sure they will be all that willing to listen. I could be wrong, but…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view. See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© March 6, 2022 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, and

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