MENCS Taking It To Chicago from a NASCAR Fan’s View


Rusty Norman

Chicagoland Speedway is the place for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this weekend and this fan is anxious to see IF the Chevys can mount any kind of a competitive challenge to the Fords and Toyotas at all. It has been a rough half year for them and, so far, they haven’t made much of a competitive gain on their competition. If it sounds like this Chevy fan is tired of watching the Chevys being “also rans” I think it would be hard for me to deny. It has been along time since the Chevy teams have looked so – how do I put this gently – hmmm, that’s a tough one. All I can say at this point is, ‘gently’ just won’t cover it at all. (Well, at least from this fan’s view.)

Let’s just say I’m weary of several things this season. It has to do with much more than just the Chevys not making a good showing at all over most of the season. It has to do with only about three teams showing they have the capability to win on a regular basis and the rest of the field is hardly mentioned except in passing. Those three teams have won most of the races this season and it is getting a little tiring seeing almost the same three (or maybe four) drivers contending for the wins each weekend. (Okay, maybe that’s not quite the way it goes but it sure seems that way lately.)

One thing is obvious to this NASCAR fan. The Stewart/Haas Racing Ford teams are definitely showing dominance over the rest of the field and have shown that dominance over most of this season. I really don’t have a problem with that because I’m a Tony Stewart fan and also because I know they haven’t been sitting on their haunches hoping they will do good. They have worked hard to make what’s happening happen and it shows every week when they unload from the trucks. I do think Tony Stewart has lot to do with the success at SHR simply because he has a real talent for putting the right people in the right places to get the best results. I know it isn’t only him but I do think it has a lot to do with his leadership and knowledge as a driver as well as his savvy in other areas of motorsports in general.

Alright, I know some of you are going to bring up the fact that nothing is permanent when it comes to racing (and in particular NASCAR) but, I don’t think the dominance of the Fords is going to end any time soon in the near future. Honestly, I have been paying attention to the way the Chevys have been slowly improving over the last several weeks but I don’t see them making that much improvement yet.

Admittedly there are a few (and I stress the word ‘few’) Chevys that do make a reasonable showing of competitiveness almost every week. What is disappointment is that it seldom carries them all the way to the end of the stages or the race. Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and, yes, even Jimmie Johnson are members of the Chevy “few” I point out that are making the most noticeable improvements. Unfortunately, I’m just not sure the improvements are big enough to put them in front of the Fords or the Toyotas.

The Chicagoland Speedway is definitely a challenging track and the heat this weekend isn’t going to make any less of one. The track is a well-seasoned track and hasn’t been resurfaced since 2001 and that just adds to the overall character of the track and the challenges it presents to the drivers. It will be slick, it will be hot and it should show some pretty good racing throughout the afternoon on Sunday. The heat will likely have its effect on the drivers more than anything else but I don’t discount how it might affect the tires and the engine performance. Both will be important on Sunday afternoon and could dictate who wins the stages and the race.

Now that I’ve stated my case on the performance of the Chevys in this 2018 season, I have to admit the Chevys could surprise us all and win this one. When it comes to Chicago, the Hendrick teams have usually performed well and they haven’t looked all that bad during the practice sessions and qualifying. Other Chevy teams are showing improvement also and I won’t totally rule them out either. The problem I see is consistency during the extended runs. The Chevys just don’t seem to be in the same ball park as the Fords or the Toyotas yet. They need more speed in both the short and long runs.

Until they show more speed, I don’t see them finishing out front just yet. Will I be disappointed if a Chevy wins at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Not in the least. Surprised maybe but not disappointed…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 30, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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