MENCS Take It To Bristol from a NASCAR Fan’s View

The MENCS teams take it to Bristol this weekend, OR, maybe I should say Bristol takes it to the MENCS teams. I don’t know which is best, but I do know that Bristol is in a class by itself. That’s not to say other tracks aren’t in their own class but, well, Bristol is Bristol. (Okay I admit I’m trying extremely hard not to say, “It’s Bristol, baby!!)

Yeah, it’s true. That phrase has been used and re-used so often that it really is what many NASCAR fans think first when the MENCS teams head to Bristol. Go ahead and try it yourself. You won’t have to search very far to find someone that will use that phrase if you just ask where the MENCS teams are racing or what they’re expecting the racing to be like for the weekend. Depending on how you look at it, truer words have hardly ever been spoken about a track on a regular basis – it really is “Bristol baby!”

It does look like the Chevys are making headway on their quest for more speed and, after two weeks of being pole winner and front row starters, there may be some hope for them to finish at, or near, the front when the checkered flag drops in the not-so-distant future. Jimmie Johnson on the pole last weekend and Chase Elliott this weekend with teammate William Byron starting outside pole says Hendrick Motorsports is finally realizing some better results in this 2019 MENCS season. (Well, at least from this fan’s view. I guess being a long time HMS follower and fan, I could add, it’s about time.) No matter though, I was a Chevy fan a long time before and I am just happy the Chevys are showing some potential in their second year of working with the Camaro. Been waiting a while now…

From my view, the Chevys aren’t the only ones struggling at least somewhat this season. One of the strongest performers last season was Kevin Harvick and he hasn’t lived up to expectations for him and his team and teammates so far this season. Everyone expected the Fords to struggle a little with their new Mustang body style but not many expected SHR teams to be outperformed as much as they have by the Penske teams. Now it’s not as bad as I just made it sound but, the Penske teams are running very good. Of course, they’re all being outperformed by the Joe Gibbs Toyotas so far this season.

Taking a quick look back at last weekend, from this fan’s view, it was definitely better racing overall. I don’t know, maybe it was because the Chevys showed some life last weekend even though they didn’t win. (Sorry to let that Chevy thing show up again but, after all, I am a fan and as a fan, I would really like to see a Chevy in Victory Lane at least once before too much more of the season passes. Of course, as a Chevy fan I do have a preference as to which one I would like to see there but, at least a Chevy winning would be good.)

So far this season, NASCAR’s attempt to improve the qualifying disasters has, from this fan’s view, been shy of actual good results. Probably this weekend was the closest we’ve seen to improvement, but it still has that boring aspect to it. Of course, I don’t think that tells us that much about improvement or lack thereof. That will probably have to wait until a larger track or road courses but, I do have my own thoughts of how they can improve the situation.

First of all, they should eliminate the staging area all together. If you pull out, you go take your lap or laps. As it is, they are trying to negate the effect of someone having an advantage over another but, by doing so, they are giving the advantage to anyone not going out first. If they want to continue qualifying as they do presently, my remedy is to draw pills to see who goes first and they have to pull out in that order and continue on to take their time.

Of course, I do know there are some complications to that but those can be solved by timing. As it is, they don’t need ten minutes for two stages of qualifying and five minutes for the last stage because hardly anyone pulls out to qualify until under five minutes anyway. One possibility is that they have thirty to forty seconds to follow the driver in front of them or they are disqualified. In my opinion, this would add real drama to the qualifying sessions and keep them short for the TV coverage. (Hey look, there’s hardly any body in the stands for qualifying anyway, at least from my observations, so it’s not about them. I don’t know, maybe they want to return to single car qualifying or go by points every week. Could be they should try both of those at least once and see how that works. Could it be any worse??) Oh well, that’s my two cents on that issue…

No matter what way they determine to go in the future for qualifying, it won’t change the racing at Bristol. It has been and probably will always be a high speed, high emotion and action-packed race and one always worth watching right down to the final checkered flag. After all, it IS Bristol, baby…!!!

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 6, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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