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It may not seem like it but Michigan is a track that all the drivers love, yet at the same time, they get frustrated with how the racing goes there. There can be a lot frustration from the way they think they are running and then finding someone is running better in a different groove. Now, that’s not to say the other person is going to outrun them but it sure can be aggravating to think you’re running well and find you’re going to have to work much harder than you thought, just to be able to keep up.
First, let’s look at some of the obvious reasons Michigan is such a likeable track for the drivers. It is a wide track, made for speed and has multiple grooves for racing. Each one of the drivers can find a place on the track that is comfortable for them to run consistently fast for as many laps as they can. It is a track made for racing with plenty of room to pass and there aren’t generally a lot of cautions so strategy and fuel mileage come into play, which also puts a little more of the end result in the driver’s hands. If they can milk enough miles out of a gallon of gas, there is a good possibility they can take the trophy even if they aren’t the fastest car on the track.
If qualifying consistently on the pole says anything about winning then Kurt Bush should be a strong candidate for ending up in Victory Lane Sunday afternoon since he took his third straight pole this weekend. Yeah, I know one fast lap doesn’t a whole race make, but even at that, it would appear he has been running consistenly fast at the end of the last several races, even though he hasn’t taken the win in a while. Say what you will, but eventually the law of averages has to come into play somewhere along the way. Unless something drastic happens to him or his car on Sunday afternoon, I think he is a strong candidate for taking home the trophy this weekend.
Now that I’ve said that, I have to remember the Fords seem to always run well at Michigan and I think the Roush Fords in particular are going to be mixing it up in the final laps of the race Sunday. I am sure Carl Edwards wants to show last weekend was just a fluke part failure and not a trend for the future for the #99 team. Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle should be considered as contenders for this one too.
The Hendrick teams seem to be suffering from a little lack of speed again this weekend. I’m not saying they won’t race well, but I am saying they didn’t show much in the qualifying session. Dale Jr was the fastest Hendrick entry but that was only fifteenth. No matter how positive I try to make it sound, they all have a long way to go this weekend. (But it wouldn’t be the first time I was surprised by their raceday performance over qualifying either.)
Do I dare leave without mentioning the Toyota teams of Michael Waltrip or Joe Gibbs Racing? No, but I do think it is possible any of them could win although I’m just not sure how much of a long shot that would really be. If one of them could pull it off this weekend, it could prove to be interesting in the weeks to come.
When it comes to the RCR cars, I feel the same way about them as I do the Hendrick Chevys. They didn’t qualify well, (other than Paul Menard), and I am at a loss as to how they will fair on Sunday afternoon. It could be the Chevy teams were actually hurting for speed, or maybe, they just didn’t want to show all they had; (you be the judge on that one.)
400 miles at Michigan goes fast, but not necessarily according to plan. I’m looking for the biggest factor to be fuel mileage unless there is a caution near the end of the race. If that happens and fuel mileage doesn’t actually prove to be the deciding factor, then I reckon it will just come down to who has the fastest car on a consistent basis all day…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 18, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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