Atlanta will prove to be interesting for those trying to stay, or make it into the Chase for 2009. Spots 7 to 14 are only separated by 89 points with two races to go and even Clint Bowyer in spot 15 has a chance to still make it in. Of course, it will almost take two miraculous interventions over the next two races, but it is still possible he could make it … That is, “IF” … and it is anawfully big “IF”.
Of all the teams that had a chance to move into the top 12 in the last few weeks, Clint Bowyer’s team has had the worst luck of the ones that even had a chance. From just not being able to get a good finish, to being accidentally spun out by his team mate, Kevin Harvick, his chances are way down from the rest of the contenders for the top twelve spots. I really feel for him and his team, but as I said, unless some of the the others ahead of him have some really bad problems, he doesn’t have much of chance. I know they will come back strong next season and I am sure they will be in there contending for the top twelve in next years race for the Chase.
When you think about their performance this year, they’ve done a pretty good job for what could really be considered a first year team.
Looking at the starting lineup for today shows an interesting mix at the front of the pack. We see Martin Truex on the pole with Kasey Kahne on the outside. Second row is all Hendrick with Jimmy Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Third row is the Bush brothers Kyle and Kurt, one of them is definitely trying to get into the top twelve and the other one is in. In the fourth row we see Mark Martin and Bryan Vickers, one trying to stay in the top twelve and the other trying to get in. Just those fours rows make the drama very obvious for the race tonight. With the points the way they are in positions 7 through 14, anything can still happen.
So what else could possibly make this Chase more dramatic than it already is? I’m not sure, but I know that after the race finishes tonight, a lot of things will either be much clearer or a lot closer and more muddy. It all depends on who finishes where… and it depends on whether or not anything strange happens to one the drivers trying to stay in that top twelve area in the Chase points, (like what happened to Carl Edwards this week while playing frisbee.)
I can’t remember when the race to The Chase has been more interesting than it has been this year. We have had several teams kinda “in there” all along and others that have been in and out and in again for most of the last half of the season. I can tell you, if the season continues on the way it has over the last several weeks, I have no idea who is going to be in the last 6 spots of the Chase standings.
One good thing about all these goings on has been the interest it has managed to generate in the drama of the Chase. With so many on the edge of making it, or not making it, people are as interested in it as the playoffs for the World Series. I have heard more people talking about the possibilities more this year than any I have since the Chase began. As a long time Nascar fan, I am happy to see the interest, but it hasn’t taken all of the uncertainty to keep me interested. I just love the fact that the drama continues right up to these last two races.
As for who is going to win this weekend, I really think it will be an unexpected victory. It could be someone like Martin Truex, Jr, Bryan Vicke rs, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Bush. Some will likely insert the names of Kyle Bush (who really needs a win to get in the top twelve), or Matt Kenseth. I just think it is going to be a hard one to call because of the closeness of the gap between those so close to being in or being out of the Chase.
I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see Jeff Gordon pull off the victory because I know that he and his crew chief would like to go into the coming weeks with a little momentum. It is awfully hard to rule out any of the Hendrick teams along with the 24 although I do think Mark Martin and Jimmy Johnson have a better chance than Dale Jr. Also, I can’t rule out the Stewart/Haas teams. Both can run very strong at Atlanta and that should make for an interesting mix come tonight.
I think I’ll just leave it where it is and root for the guy I would like to see win. I won’t be disappointed if he doesn’t, but, I would like to see him take not only this race in Atlanta, but the Cup Championship, as well. Who is that … well, if you don’t know by now, I don’t see any reason to let you in on all my secrets just yet so we’ll just leave it at this… He’s been around a while … Does that help??
See ya next time …
© September 6, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View & Rusty Norman