Michigan Will Be Fast, But… (from a NASCAR Fan’s View)

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Rusty Norman
Is there ever a point where an oval track begins to be thought of as something else other than what it used to be simply because the speeds reach a point where other tracks had to have restrictor plates? With the speeds they have been running at MIS this weekend, one would think NASCAR would have slapped restrictor plates on the the engines to keep the speeds down and the tires unblistered. As it turned out, both the sanctioning body and Goodyear decided changing the tires would be a better choice. From this fan’s view, I think they will be criticized no matter how the race turns out.

It has definitely been an interesting week in NASCAR Sprint Cup. With the return of Kurt Bush to the driver’s seat of the #51 team, lap speeds of over 200mph and tires that liked to blister, one has to wonder what else could happen to add more drama to the weekend.

I’m not so sure that the tire problem isn’t going to change the outcome of the race. I’m not saying anyone had a lock on winning it, but it is for sure it will challenge the crew chiefs and will probably test the metal of every driver that made the field. The extra time on the engines could prove to be a major problem when it comes down to crunch time. In my opinion, we could see more engine failures than might have normally been expected and that could open the door for someone completely unexpected to take the win. That definitely doesn’t mean more will happen, but it sure will add to the stress on the engine builders and crew chiefs for most of the afternoon. In particular, I think we will see more sweating and frowning in the closing laps than we normally would at MIS.

There is absolutely no reason to expect a normal race. The track has been resurfaced and is faster than ever and this afternoon’s race will likely have quite a few surprises. I am not sure anyone knows exactly what to expect but it was obvious some of the drivers were unhappy with the turn of events. They spent a lot of time on the track tweaking their cars for the tires they thought they would be running and then they only had a little over an hour to adapt to the shakeup because of the tire situation and try to get maximum comfort in a very short period of time.

Some of the drivers were quite outspoken about their concerns and many of them have valid points. The only thing this fan can say to their objections is that they claim to be the best drivers in the world and they should be able to quickly adapt to the challenges as fast, or faster than any others. I realize this was a major curve ball, but I also think most, if not all, will rise to the occasion. The question is, which ones of the 43 teams entered will find the setup first. That is something we probably won’t know until the race starts and it definitely could be more in the middle of the race that things begin to come together for several of them. Unfortunately, it is possible that one or two of them hit it from the drop of the green flag and that would be a complete disaster for the rest of the field.

There is nothing new about Michigan International Speedway being fast, it’s just faster this weekend than it was the last time the Cup teams competed there. It is still wide which always allowed for passing but with the new surface passing will probably not be like it was in the past. Maybe by the end of the race a good second groove will come in and some sort of normalcy will return to MIS.

From this fans’ view, today’s race is going to be a toss-up but it’s my opinion it won’t be so much because of the tires. I think it will be a fuel mileage and strategy race. The biggest unknown from my view is whether or not the engines begin to blow because of the high speeds and the number of laps they put on the engines. Almost everyone seemed to be concerned about the added practice time’s effect on the engine life. Before the decision was made to change the tires and add the practice, many had already run the maximum number of laps their engine builders thought should be run and not affect engine life. Now, all of that is up in the air.

It could be that the high speeds and extra laps have no effect at all on how the race ends. What could happen and what will happen remains to be seen. Any of the four brands could end up in Victory Lane by the end of the day and any one of them seem to have an equal shot. The Fords were very strong but then so were the Chevys and Toyotas. Will it be someone like Greg Biffle or Jimmie Johnson or will it be a Dale Jr, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon or someone completely unexpected?

Hm-m-m… that’s a good question and one I just don’t have and answer for at this very moment. What I do think is… it depends on who is still running at the end and that is the big question…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 17, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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