Monster Energy Cup Teams Take On The Brickyard from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

You can pretty much ask any race fan and they will tell you there is something special about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. What really made it special to NASCAR fans was when they started racing at the Speedway and it has been interesting to see Stock Cars make their way around the 2.5 mile oval, reaching speeds of over 200 miles per hour on the straights. Considering the size of the cars and their weight, it is amazing how well they traverse the turns after the high speed runs down the straights. This year’s Brickyard 400 should prove to be as interesting, and probably more so, as any of them so far.

New challenges face the drivers and teams this year since the rules have changed for the cars from last year. They will still be running down the straights and entering turns one and three at, or over, 200 miles per hour but they have a much shorter spoiler and lower down force. For some, that could spell trouble especially when they enter the turns in a pack or during starts and restarts. In fact, the double-wide starts and restarts have always been exciting at Indy and this fan doesn’t think that has changed at all and could be even more exciting because of the rule changes, especially those affecting the down force.

Another thing that might make the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 a little more interesting on Sunday afternoon would be the stages. The first and second stages end at lap 50 and lap 100 respectively and the final stage ends at lap 160. Well… that is if there isn’t overtime and that is a definite possibility. I’m not saying there will be overtime but I do think this one could come down to the strategy for fuel and tires and which of the teams really wants to stretch both.

A few things to remember about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; it is a large track, (2.5 miles), it is a relatively narrow track, it is a fast track and it is essentially a flat track. All of those things considered together add up to exciting and dramatic racing. Another couple of things that might surface would be frustration and impatience which could lead to some emotional outbursts either verbally or with bumpers. I really think the speeds are too high for retaliatory paybacks but one never knows these days.

There are a few drivers that really need a win to possibly clinch a spot in the playoffs and that is adding to the stress and drama each week as we move closer to them. There are five in the top sixteen points places that have no wins yet this season. That makes every week a little more stressful for them as the races wind down to the playoffs. Even though they may be good in points, they are vulnerable to someone that is a new winner for the 2017 season. Wins pretty much assure one to be in the playoffs at least until the top sixteen spots are filled or the time is running out for some to take a win outside of points standings. Like the format or not, it does make things v-e-r-y interesting.

So those that don’t have wins but are in the top sixteen in points are, Kyle Bush, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, and Matt Kenseth. Any one of them could win the Brickyard 400 and any one of them would love to have a lower stress level for the next several weeks if they do. Unfortunately all of them have run good enough and could have won already – they just haven’t.

There are several that already have wins this year and would like to add to their numbers. Some would like to have more stage wins and bonus points to take into the playoffs and some would just like to take their first win at the Brickyard. Winning at Indy isn’t quite the same as winning at Daytona but it is big and those that haven’t won at least one at Indy definitely want to.

Of course all of the drivers want to win, especially at Indy but some just don’t have what it takes, equipment wise, to do so. Others do have what is needed to win and very well could end up in Victory Lane when this one is over. It could even be one whose name isn’t mentioned all that often. Can you imagine what winning the Brickyard 400 could mean to them and their team?

Probably the fan favorite to win (and hopefully qualify for the playoffs) would be Dale Jr. This is his final year in full time competition in Cup and it is his last time to try and win the Championship. His chances of qualifying for the playoffs are winding down and, at the moment, he isn’t in the top sixteen in points either. No matter how you look at it, he NEEDS a win and he is quite capable of winning at Indy. The question is, will he?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 22, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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