|08/29/19||DIBENNEDETTO NASCAR'S ROCKY BALBOA|
|06/26/19||FROM JOURNEYMAN DRIVER TO HALL OF FAMER|
|06/18/19||WINNERS NOT ADDING UP|
|05/25/19||THE 600 IS STILL A CROWN JEWEL|
|05/15/19||NEXT TWO WEEKS COULD BE TOO GOOD|
|04/10/19||WALTRIP A TWO-WAY HALL OF FAMER|
GUARANTEED ATLANTA WILL BE DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT
Since NASCAR announced major rule changes to the Cup cars for the 2019 Monster Energy Cup Series season, there's been a lot of debate on what the racing would look like and would it really improve the competition on the 1.5 to two-mile tracks.
Well, the time for talking is over. Sunday, when the green flag flies at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the "doctors of speed" will show us if NASCAR's prescription will indeed revive the patient.
There's a great chance it will.
The drivers aren't exactly sure what will happen. They're going to be racing in bigger packs, almost like Daytona and Talladega at times especially on the restarts, and when you squeeze them into a situation where a small error can mean huge consequences (Rewind your DVR and watch the Daytona 500 again) that's a recipe for mayhem.
I love that idea and so will the fans.
"I totally expect to crash more cars," says Joey Logano matter-of-factly. "As cars are closer and drivers are more aggressive a mistake will create a bigger crash and we can't get away from it if you're right behind the guy. You know how it is on the highway and they check up right in front of you. You can't stop quick enough and you're only going 70. Try going 180, you know?"
"So, yes, I assume there will be more crashes. I assume that we're all going tear more stuff up this year, and usually when there are more crashes there is more conflict, so I think there will be some of that, so it'll be interesting. Hang on."
Show me the tree and let's grab a big branch.
Jimmie Johnson took part in the recent test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where drivers ran several "mini" races to get a genuine sense for how the competition will shake out with engines choked down to 500 horsepower and the cars loaded up with a lot more downforce to keep firmly planted on the track.
"We're going to see a lot of aggressive driving with the new rules package. When you're three and four-wide in a test session, it's just a precursor to what the year is going to be. There were 13 cars there in drafting practice, and we were four-wide twice. When you're playing a game of inches, cars are traveling at a high rate of speed, things happen. There's going to be some hurt feelings over the course of the year."
That wouldn't bother me a bit and I'd sleep like a baby too.
Running practice laps, even exciting ones, is one thing, but it's about to get real in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500. "We need to see how they race in front of each other, behind each other and with whole pack going around the race track," Kevin Harvick claims. "This is why I wished we could have raced it before we got to Atlanta. Until you put all 40 cars on the race track and pay points everybody is not going to prepare like they do in a points paying race."
Although he claims to clueless on how this all with play out, Harvick does add, "The only guarantee I have for you it's going to be drastically different".
I really like the sound of that.
Yes, I want it to be drastically different, but just like the IROC races run at Atlanta back in 2005 and 2006, both of which were won by Martin Truex, Jr. The cars were running in the mid-160 mph range, so slow track president Ed Clark ordered the speed be taken off the scoreboard. He didn't want fans focusing on how fast they were not going when the racing was flat out crazy. It got four-wide at times and cars could easily draft back and forth by each other, almost like the old "slingshot" days at Daytona. The Cup cars will still be running a lot faster than the IROC machines manufactured to be exactly alike, but the hope is the race will look like it did 13-14 years ago.
If we get anything close to that it's winner, winner chicken dinner.
There will be some growing pains as teams figure out the new rules and patience will be needed. It won't be until we run eight to ten races with this package before the media, the fans, and the drivers can give a true assessment pro or con.
NASCAR went big with these changes and they need to work. The sport can ill afford another major stumble. My hope is this is the beginning of a new surge in the sport's popularity and I want to be able to say I was there the day it began at Atlanta Motor Speedway, describing the frantic final laps that led to a a finish dripping with drama, drivers getting out of their cars frustrated and furious. The fans will be jumping out of their seats and the phones will start ringing off the hook in ticket offices at other tracks hosting upcoming events.
I can live with that, I really can.