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Well, NASCAR Cup qualifying was rained out for this weekend and that should make the race at the Monster Mile even more interesting than it might have been, at least in the beginning. For some it will be an unexpected advantage and for others, it will be a definite disadvantage.
Well, that was easy enough to say but I’m not so sure it makes a lot of sense, that is, unless we look at the way the lineup will be for tomorrow’s race. For the first time since NASCAR changed the procedure for line-ups in case of rain-outs, this weekend they will line-up according to the speeds they put up in practice. I find it a much more interesting way of starting the race than going by the old way which was based on owner points (and a few other things, which only made it more complicated than it needed to be.)
The good thing about the change is it doesn’t give an advantage to someone who has accumulated a good point’s standing, but shows up to the track on a qualifying rain-out weekend with a bad setup, and the rain-out just makes their starting position a gift. Of course it remains to be seen how this will work out, but it does seem a bit more fair to all involved, (except those of the go or go homers that may have been able to out qualify some of the others.) I think it is a little too early to pass judgment on the procedure at this point, though, but it does appear to be an improvement, at least from my view.
So, I don’t know how you saw it, but it looked to me that some were definitely struggling with getting their cars to hook up the way they wanted. I hate to keep bringing up this name, but Jeff Gordon knocked off some faster laps early in the first practice session but it did appear he struggled from that point on. That may or may not mean anything when it comes down to race time, but even with his success at the track in the past, it may not be a good weekend for him. (Gee, now that I’ve said that, one has to wonder if he and Alan Gustafson didn’t just decide to turn it into a test session. I guess that is a possibility since he usually does perform fairly well at the Monster.) Aw, heck, for that matter it also looked like Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin were having trouble finding good speed, too, (just so you won’t think I’m just picking on Jeff Gordon…)
That brings us back to the actual starting order for Sunday afternoon. Many will be happy to see Dale Jr starting in third, which is a plus for him (and his fans) no matter how you look at it. (Well, that is unless he quickly drops like a rock to the back of the field after the race starts.)
The Bush brothers are starting sixth and seventh and that may mean they will be at the front before too long, especially Kyle who is looking for another good finish as he has fairly well tamed the Monster in the recent past. When it comes to brother Kurt, I’m not so sure. He has looked good in practice at other times this season only to end up well in the middle to back of the pack at the end of the race.
AJ Almendinger and Jimmie Johnson will be starting on the front row and with the way Jimmie’s stats look for Dover, that may not bode well for the rest of the field. Based on those stats in recent history, he looks like he may be the one to beat, (but his year has been a little up and down, although not at the end of a race that much.) As for AJ, I know he is thrilled to be starting outside pole and I’d be willing to bet he will try and make the most of his starting position.
Lurking right there near the front of the line-up are three other guys, hungry for a victory. That would be Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex, Jr. Although starting up front doesn’t necessarily translate into finishing up front, with the luck these three have been having this year, any one of them just might be due to take the trip to Victory Lane by the time the race is over, (and wouldn’t that be interesting if one of them did?)
According to some, there are those that are thinking there may still be some action going on between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Bush this weekend, but from this fan’s view, I just don’t see it. They both sort of blew it off last weekend and I’m thinking with the way NASCAR will be keeping an eye on them, they will probably have enough to think about just trying to tame the Monster Mile and not draw too much attention to themselves in the eyes of the NASCAR officials…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 14, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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