The Coke Zero 400 At Daytona from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

Well… it’s that time again. Every summer at this time two things happen with regularity. The first is we celebrate the birth of our nation and the declaration of our independence and the second is a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at Daytona. Although it has gone and goes by different names over the years, one thing that hasn’t changed is the excitement and drama that has always been a part of this race. This year it is once again called the Coke Zero 400 and it is one of the races most looked forward to by the fans and probably best of all, it is a Saturday night race.

One thing that probably makes this Coke Zero 400 of more interest to many is the fact that it will be Dale Earnhardt Jr’s final race at Daytona. Well… at least it will be his final race in regular competition in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series at Daytona. Who’s really to say if it really will be the last time he runs at Daytona in either the 500 or the 400 in the future. He has already hinted he wouldn’t turn down a chance to win more races at Daytona. He just doesn’t want to continue in the regular week to week grind that is the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as driver.

One thing this fan has to admit it that Dale Jr. is a great restrictor plate racer. He has won many races at Daytona although not all of them have been in the Cup series. He and his dad have definitely been dominators at the restrictor plate tracks and especially at Daytona.

Jr. Nation is particularly excited and happy about the race tonight because he is the pole winner and will lead the field to the green flag. It is his first pole of the season and could bode well for his chances of winning tonight. His car is fast and he is confident. The two together could mean he ends up as the one celebrating in Victory Lane when all is said and done.

Three of the Hendrick teams are starting in the first two rows and it does look as though the HMS Chevys have shown up ready to take it to the rest of them. Even Kasey Kahne looks strong and sounded confident in his car and chances for tonight also. Another one to look out for from the HMS garage is Chase Elliott. He is starting outside his teammate Dale Jr. on the front row.

The only one from HMS that didn’t show the same speed was Jimmie Johnson but that doesn’t mean we should count him out as one to watch when it comes down to the final laps. It all depends on how things go. After all… this is restrictor plate racing.

From this fan’s view, it does appear some of the changes NASCAR has made to the down force package has changed the face of restrictor plate racing again. Along with the addition of the stages, the restrictor plate races have become more aggressive and it no longer seems as possible to just sit back and wait for the final few laps to make a move. These days, the drivers seem to press for an advantage almost every lap and try to do their best to stay up front ahead of their competitors.
It’s just not like the “old days” of just a few years ago. At that time, just those few years ago, the plate races could be rather hum drum, particularly in the middle laps, and there wasn’t any real racing going on until the last fifty miles or so. With the lower down force and the stage racing, a lot goes on during almost every lap. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some times when the racing isn’t as intense. It just means there does appear to be a whole lot more intensity and drama since they lowered the down force and added the stages.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I love restrictor plate racing and I particularly like it when they run in large packs door handle to door handle and bumper to bumper. I don’t think there’s anything quite like it and I don’t think I’m the only fan that feels that way. From my view, I see a lot of people showing a lot of interest in the close pack racing and the renewed intensity of the restrictor plate races. I also recognize the drivers have their own thoughts on restrictor plate racing and some of them simply tolerate them because it is part of the NASCAR season.

Hmmm… Or maybe it’s just because they don’t like playing Chess all that much…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 1, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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