NASCAR Cup Teams Take It To Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View

The NASCAR Cup Teams take it to Phoenix this weekend in the final race in the West coast swing. If anyone was expecting it to be “business as usual,” well… perhaps they should rethink. There are a lot of things different since the last time the Cup Teams visited Phoenix and it could have a great impact on how the racing goes for this Spring race and possibly the gathering of information for the finale at the end of the season.

So, what are the obvious changes for this trip to Phoenix? Well… there are several big ones and they need to be considered for the Sunday afternoon race.

First, there is the big difference in downforce. The most notable change is the size of the spoiler on the rear of the cars. It is much smaller. In fact, it is almost unnoticeable from a short distance. Compared to the one used last weekend, it is a difference of night and day and, from this fan’s view, the difference in downforce has affected how the cars handle. Since all of the teams have to contend with the difference, they may all struggle in the same way adapting to it.

Second, there is more horsepower. More horsepower means faster throttle response and could mean faster trouble when and if it raises its ugly head. Now, it is true that more horsepower isn’t always a better thing but, with the changes to the downforce it just may make things more interesting, especially when they get together in groups. It may also make the restarts even more exciting especially when they enter that first turn, two or more wide. At Phoenix two, three, four and more wide is nothing unusual in the past.

Third, there is the new tire compound Goodyear brought for the downforce changes and other reasons. It should make for very interesting racing also. Every time they make a change to the compounds, it does seem things on the track get more interesting when it comes to grip and the ever-changing strategies that happen every week.

Although there are other things that have changed since the NASCAR Cup Teams last visited the Phoenix track, one thing stands out pretty clear. Of course, that would be the improved performance of the Chevys over their last two seasons.

I realize it may too soon to be making any rash statements about the Chevys and their performance but, looking at the first race weekends, they are showing themselves to be much more competitive and, as a life-long Chevy fan, I have to admit it makes me happy and gives me hope they will continue to make waves throughout the 2020 NASCAR Cup season.

Last year the Toyotas and Fords really had the upper hand over the Chevys most of the time. In particular, the Toyotas ruled and won over half of the races last season. When it comes to looking at Phoenix from last year, they did kind of dominate and not just at Phoenix. This season, however, they do appear to be struggling. Well, at least somewhat considering how they were last year. I’m not saying they’ve totally lost it… I’m just saying they “appear” to be struggling a bit if you can say that, after a Toyota won the Daytona 500 and finished second last weekend at the Auto Club Speedway, and consider that to be struggling. I do think there are many teams that would like to struggle in like fashion.

There are many that think Alex Bowman could win this one at Phoenix this weekend but, I’m not going to jump on that band wagon just yet. It is true he has momentum and confidence on his side but, I think the competition is pretty stiff for this weekend and, although I would like to see him win two in a row, I’m not so sure the Chevys are that strong yet.

Well, to clarify, I’m not so sure the other makes are struggling all that much in this early part of the season. Yes, it is true the Chevys are showing great improvements. It is also true the Toyotas aren’t performing as many expected but they are managing to show some strength even though losing a little in speed. The same goes for the Fords. They, in particular the SHR Fords, have shown they have the speed to start with but seem to fade at the end, much as the Chevys did over the last year or so. This race at Phoenix may give a better idea of what’s going on in all three camps and what to expect throughout the rest of the season.

As for me and from this fan’s view, I will just be happier when Jimmie Johnson wins and puts himself in the playoffs so he can go out competing for the 2020 Championship, maybe even taking his eighth. I know that may be asking for a lot, but then again, it is what I would like to see. You see, it’s my view and I’m sticking with it…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 7, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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