Nascar at Homestead: The End of ‘The Chase’ for 2008

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This weekend officially ends the 2008 season for all the Nascar series and will be a welcome end for some and an unwelcome time of finding out what the future may hold for others. Although ‘The Sprint Cup’ series could prove to be a historic event for Jimmy Johnson, the end of the race may still hold some drama for all Carl Edward’s fans out there.

The Chase is still slightly in doubt, but a lot of things have to go wrong for the 48 team for the outcome to be different than I expect it to be. I’m not so sure his qualifying spot needs as much attention as it is getting, but, a lot can happen that is completely out of their control when a team starts that far back in the field.

Because of being wa-a-a-a-a-y to busy this week, I didn’t get to hear, or watch, the qualifying attempts and couldn’t help but notice that the big three of the Hendrick camp apparently struggled (as usual) at Homestead. The fourth member, Casey Mears, was the best out of the camp and he is starting 12th.

On the surface, it doesn’t appear to be the way the 88, 48 and 24 teams wanted to start the final race of the year. (Maybe they were just sandbagging or were teasing the competition? Or maybe they were lowering their competitors’ expectations of them for next year hoping to gain an advantage on the “No Testing” rule recently instituted for next year. (I doubt it … I do expect them to move to the front once the race starts. Maybe I am just dreaming, though.)

Barring the unforeseen, it is likely Carl Edwards will finish at, or near, the front of the field simply because of the strength the Roush Teams always demonstrate at these type tracks. While we’re at it, let’s not discount the determination the 99 team has shown to take this championship away from the 48 team. Carl has, and will continue, to drive aggressively, and all out, to win this final race and hope that Jimmy has unexpected problems that cause him to finish at least thirty eight places behind him. (That is, ‘IF’ Jimmy Johnson actually leads a lap during the course of the race.)

I’m not going to be able to gather any input from the Cup practices on Saturday because of previous commitments but I am sure they will give a better idea of how all of the competitors will fare in the race on Sunday. That just means I will have to give you my opinions without the benefit of that input. (Ah well, worse things have happened … I suppose.)

So, what do I think is going to happen this weekend in Homestead? Hmm … Just looking at the starting lineup tells me that some were definitely prepared for qualifying and were able to run quick qualifying times while others were not.

I don’t think being able to run a couple of fast laps is going to make much of a difference on Sunday though. However, I do believe that being able to run laps consistently faster than the competition throughout the race will make an enormous difference in the final finishing order on Sunday.

I firmly believe ‘the long green flag run’ is going to be the norm on Sunday; that it will almost make the race seem boring at times and that decisions made in the pits to gain spots on the track will ultimately determine who the winner of the race will be. It is my opinion that the winner of the race may have no relation at all to who ends up winning the Sprint Cup. I firmly believe that will ultimately be decided when Jimmy Johnson can finish no worse than 36 places behind Carl Edwards due to possible accidents and normal attrition during the race.

Depending on what happens early in the race as far as accidents or part failures, the actual Chase for The Cup could be decided long before the race ends. Hopefully, the winner of the race will get a few moments of fame before all attention is turned to the Champion of the Nascar Sprint Cup Series.

I think this week is the absolute hardest week to pick an actual winner of the race, at least for me. I am thinking it could be a first time victory for someone or, at least, a first time victory for someone at this track.

I do believe the Roush cars are going to be very strong and that the winner could be from their camp. It is also possible that the winner could come from Michael Waltrip Racing or Roger Penske. I even like the possibilities for Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton of Richard Childress Racing and I would be extremely lax if I didn’t mention the possibility of Kyle Bush, Tony Stewart or Denny Hamlin out of the Joe Gibbs garages. As much as it may hurt some for me to say this, Kyle Bush could very likely finish out this year with another trip to victory lane in what has been an extraordinary year for him in all of three of the Nascar series.

All in all, I do not think the race winner will come from Rick Hendrick racing. That being said, I would like to see Jeff Gordon get a victory this year if for no other reason than continuing his record of winning every year since his first victory in the early nineties. It would not be a total surprise to see Casey Mears pull the unexpected victory out of the hat to finish off his year and career with Rick Hendrick Racing.

So, I guess that brings me down to the “Just A Fan’s View” choice of who will win the race in Homestead and my JAFV choice for The Nascar Sprint Cup champion for 2008.

Man … this is tough … but … I think it is a toss up between Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle for the race victory and I do believe it will at least be an interesting race, not necessarily an exciting race, right down to the finish. Probably the worst thing that could happen would be a green-white-checker finish for the one that finishes second.

Although that green-white-checker thing is always a possibility, I don’t think that will have an affect on who ends up winning The Sprint Cup. I do think that will be Jimmy Johnson and I do think he will finish in the top ten when all is said and done Sunday afternoon.

See ya next time …

Rusty

©2008 PCN Productions and Rusty Norman

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Author: Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.