No matter how you look at it, the season for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has been filled with changes. From the first weeks in Daytona to the ISM Raceway at Phoenix, there have been changes to the horsepower, the downforce and other things, making it a very interesting time for the MENCS teams. It has to have been a real stressful and trying time for the crew chiefs and engineers in particular with every weekend being just a little different. I guess we could also include the drivers along with them since they have had to adapt to the new feel and horsepower changes to their driving style. All of it has made life very interesting for all of them I’m sure.
Before getting in to the talking about this weekend’s race, I just have to mention a few thoughts about last weekend at Vegas.
Without being too critical of the racing so far this season, I have to admit I don’t see it the way many of the talking heads and others do. All of the changes to the cars this season were supposed to make the racing better and closer but, at least so far, I haven’t seen all that much change. If you listen to some, they say how exciting the racing has been even going so far as to say it has never been better. Others give their opinion of the overall race and still talk about how “exciting” and close it has been.
Look… I’m not trying to cause a ruckus, be overly critical or anything like that but, I just haven’t been impressed by the racing all that much so far. Oh sure, there have been moments that could be considered “exciting,” but for the most part, (at least from this fan’s view), I just haven’t seen it. Yeah, they still press to get points near the end of the stages and still want to win at the end but, at least from my view, the races have been relatively lack-luster. Not that there haven’t been moments. It’s just that it’s been quite a bit different than even last season. It seems that the intensity is missing, (except may be at the restarts.)
Now maybe it’s just me but I have seen a lot of griping and complaining about how some drivers just won’t get out of the way of one driver or another and they just can’t pass or they’re being held up from being able to chase down the leader. I mean, come on! Isn’t that why we call it racing? Isn’t the idea supposed to be about finding a way to move past those holding a driver (or drivers) up.
I realize that may sound like I’m talking about bumper cars but, I’m not. There are ways to let a slower driver know your intentions and, like I said in last week’s article, there’s always the, “I tried you high, I tried you low and them it was time for you to go.” Eventually it comes down to out-driving or moving someone. That doesn’t mean a driver has to wreck another one. It does mean they have to use measured aggression, knowing full well that they will be raced the way they race. That may be a fine line and, once it’s crossed, it usually opens up a whole new can of worms (or, it could start a whole new set of rivalries. Who knows?)
(Well, now that I’ve made that point, let me move back to ISM Raceway at Phoenix.) It was my hope that the Ford’s moving to the Mustangs might be a little bit of an equalizing factor with the Chevys and, to a lesser degree, the Toyotas. As it turns out, that hasn’t been the case and the Fords have picked up right where they left off last season. From this fan’s view, the Fords appear to have an advantage, at least for the present, and that may or may not make things hard for Chevy fans wanting to see a Chevy in Victory Lane.
If there are any signs of how the race Sunday afternoon might go, it would be that the Fords (and Toyotas for that matter) will likely finish ahead of the Chevys again. Now I am not making a definite prediction but, I am saying there are several drivers looking very strong going into Sunday’s race and unfortunately, they aren’t in Chevys.
Now perhaps the return of horsepower along with the increased downforce available this weekend at Phoenix could make everyone happier. The drivers seem to be happier to have the horsepower back along with the increase in downforce and maybe they will gripe less and pass more without so much whining. (Hey, I’m just saying…)
Now that I’ve said all of this, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Chevys prove me wrong. Chase Elliott looked very good in practice and qualifying and could be the first Chevy to win in 2019. Of course, there’s Kyle Larson along with him and he is a likely competitor as well. I can’t discount the RCR teams either since they have also shown strength in the last couple of weeks. One thing to consider is there is a very good possibility there could be an unexpected winner this weekend and even more as the season continues. Personally, this fan would like to see someone other than a Ford driver in Victory Lane but, that just may not happen. Well… at least not yet…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 9, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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