From a NASCAR Fan’s View
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I know this title sounds a little strange but it is true. The Next Gen car is taking it short tracking at Richmond and that also means it is taking it to the drivers and teams and another weekend of unknowns and learning experiences. To hear the drivers and crew chiefs talk, the next gen car is taking time to figure out and some are making headway and others are not. It seems the ones that aren’t are the ones that have been around in the Cup series longer and, as I have said before, it could just have a lot they need to forget about the old car and the years they had driving it.
So, this weekends race is on what is now a three-quarter mile track – which still qualifies it as a short track – and a track that was challenging before the Next Gen car. It is definitely going to be an interesting afternoon of racing and, to be honest, it could be another weekend that TrackHouse Racing stands out above the rest. I’m not saying they will, judging from where they qualified but, I’m not saying anything about qualifying as far as how the race will end.
Just a quick glance at the lineup for Sunday’s race shows that the Hendrick cars didn’t qualify all that well, except for William Byron qualifying outside pole. The rest of the HMS teams qualified fifteenth or worse. I guess you could ask the question do I think that’s where they will stay all race long or whether things might work out that they are up front. To be honest, I’m not sure. I do expect them to finish better than that but it also appears they have been struggling a little bit here and there lately. Will that continue into this weekend’s race at Richmond Raceway? That’s another question I don’t have a solid answer for. I’m sure that depends on how much they figure out between the first laps and the last one.
Once again Ryan Blaney has shown up with a fast racecar this weekend. He qualified on the pole and he has been running well all season so far this year. Yeah, I know the season is young and there is a lot more to go but, he is one to watch almost every week. From my view, he has had numerous opportunities to finish up front but circumstances have not allowed that to happen… yet! I expect Ryan will be a multiple race winner this season, although I’m not sure it will start this weekend. Of all the Fords, he has been one of the most consistently faster one to show up each weekend, so far.
Of the Penske teams, Ryan has been the best performer and he could take a win this weekend. He has a lot of challenges ahead at this feisty Richmond Raceway short track, but if he can avoid the pitfalls ahead of him, he just might take this trophy home.
First, he will have to stay ahead of one of the hottest performers this season and that would be Ross Chastain of Track House Racing. I never got to race against Ross because he is a lot younger than me but, he is from Alva and I am in Fort Myers. That’s not far away from me and I am happy to see him doing so well this season. He starts eighth and his teammate starts fourteenth but it wouldn’t surprise me to see both of them running for the win when it comes down to the time it counts. They both have some challenges ahead for them to finish up front but, I expect they will make it interesting.
So, let’s take a quick look at what this weekend might be like. One out of the four Hendrick cars are qualified in the top fourteen. Chase Elliott qualified fifteenth. whether or not William Byron or Chase Elliott can either stay out front or move out front is questionable. I not wishing them any bad luck but they have not shown a lot this weekend. The different Ford teams seem to be hit or miss on their speed and Richmond is a track that requires a lot of consistency.
Actually the Toyotas look to be in better shape but, well… you know how their season has gone so far. There are those that think Kyle Bush may win this one but this fan isn’t so sure. I mean, he hasn’t had the best of luck this year either. Of course I know racing luck can happen to anyone but he has had his share so far this season. The thinking may be true and he just might pull this one off. He will have to contend with his three teammates though. Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell are just as hungry and just as capable of winning this weekend as Kyle and I guess we’ll see when all is said and done.
From what this fan can determine from observing the practice and qualifying sessions is that there just might be one thing that makes a victory sure for any of the contenders this weekend. It looks like the keys to getting ahead and staying ahead are track position and managing the falloff of the handling and speed over all the laps of the stages. The one that can run consistently faster than the rest for the longest period of time will likely be the winner when this one is done. Well… that is unless they have to face those pesky green- white -checkers one or more times…
Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 2, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated