Nascar At Las Vegas: What Kind of Surprises Await in the Desert This Weekend?

Rusty NormanWith the surprises the season has had so far this year, one has to wonder what it will be like in Las Vegas this weekend. Will it be a race that is won by someone whose name is hardly ever mentioned? Will it be that someone just “Lucks” into the win (like many said Jimmie Johnson did)? Maybe it will be someone that everyone has been expecting to win but just hasn’t pulled it off yet, (and there’s quite a few of those, some going back to last year.)

I found it interesting the way many teams spent a lot of time on race setups and very little on qualifying because the weather people said that today would probably be a rain out for practice sessions. When it came time to qualify, 18 people broke the old track record and Kurt Bush came away with the pole position. When it came down to the practice times today, not a lap was missed because of rain.

The Bush brothers look pretty stout for this race at their home track. From this fan’s view, I have to admit the possibilities for both of them to do well in the race tomorrow do look good. Now, I’m not saying they’re going to finish 1-2, but both have a little more incentive to do their best to finish up front simply because it is their home track. Kyle won last year overcoming several setbacks to do so. I know Kurt really wants to win this weekend and his crew chief is the same as Kyle’s was last year, Steve Addington. Only time will tell if that turns out to be god thing or a bad thing on the day. (So far, it looks good for Kurt…)

I think this will be a weekend that both David Reutimann and Martin Truex, Jr will run well for Michael Waltrip Racing. I know they have had some problems so far, but it is only a matter of time until either one, or both, of them break into the win column. It may not happen this week, but both run well at this size track, David Reutimann in particular.

The big unknown for me remains the RCR teams of Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer. I be keeping an eye on them to see if their performance continues to stay strong. I can’t help but think back to last year and the strength that the Roush/Fenway teams showed at the beginning of the year. As I remember, it was in this third week of the season that things seemed to begin to slide a bit for the Roush teams and they struggled for most of the rest of the year.

Personally, I just think that by the third week, everyone is beginning to get a grip on where they are and there is the likelihood that other teams may begin to flex a little muscle at this time. I know the Richard Childress Racing teams have flexed a lot of muscle so far and I do think they will have to be contended with for the remainder of the season, but, I know that over the next few weeks of racing, a lot of things can change.

The Hendrick teams don’t appear to be hitting on all cylinders yet, but they are another  group that needs to be watched. Jimmie Johnson won last week, (some say by default and just dumb luck.) I say the #48 team played the hand they were dealt and turned a possible bad break into a trip to Victory Lane. I know some will disagree with me, but does it really surprise anyone that Chad Knaus can take a bad situation and turn it into gold?

Mark Martin has been steady compared to last year and Jeff Gordon has appeared to struggle a bit. Dale Jr has run hot and cold, but overall, I think he is getting ready to make a statement. It is my opinion he is going to win at least one race this season and possibly more. I do think he is going to make the Chase this year, (but it really is kinda early to begin making calls like that).

Now it’s just this fan’s opinion but the Joe Gibbs teams have been kinda silent, too. Oh, I know they’ve been in contention but they haven’t really shown any signs of taking the point. So far, I think you could say they’ve also been steady and it remains to be seen how things pan out over the next several races.

I’ve listened and read and heard a lot of talk about who might win this weekend and the choices are pretty diverse. I do think Kurt Bush looks pretty good for taking the checkers but I also know it is a long race and anything can happen, (especially since his brother Kyle is just as determined to win as he is.)

I really do think it is going to be a good race and I cannot discount the performance of the RCR teams. Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick will all figure into the final mix at the end, but, I’m thinking it is more likely going to be Carl Edwards or Jeff Gordon that ends up in Victory Lane. I think both of them are due and I think both of them are performing well enough this weekend to pull it off. It just depends on how things go down in the last ten laps…

See ya next time… Rusty

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© February 27, 2010 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman and