Well, I told you it would very likely be a surprise ending to the race in Atlanta on Sunday night and it was. I never really expected Kasey Kahne to be the one to pull it off though and I never really expected the top three to be Kahne, Harvick and Montoya. Even the fourth place going to David Reutimann was quite a surprise to this fan…
As the teams prepare for the last race before the Chase this coming weekend at Richmond, things have tightened up just a bit more for those trying to keep their places in the top twelve and those that are trying their level best to get in the top twelve.
I admire the resiliency shown by a few of the teams in the face of adversity this last weekend. One in particular would be Bryan Vickers. Even though he broke an axle, the Red Bull #83 managed to pull off a seventh place finish and that says a lot for a team very close to breaking into the top twelve in points and how bad they want it. All things considered, changing out that axle on a caution near the end of the race and not even losing a lap was pretty spectacular.
The Atlanta race was a race that made it very obvious, if it can go wrong it will and plenty of teams had problems on Sunday night. To some it didn’t make any difference since they are locked in the Chase already, (like Jimmy Johnson’s broken axle), but others saw their hopes either disappear or diminish greatly as they tried to hold on even through the problems.
Clint Bowyer watched as his hopes disappeared for this year, but they can be proud of the showing they made this season. It is this fan’s opinion, next year looks very promising for them as Chase contenders. In fact, I think we will see all of the Richard Childress teams perform much better in the coming year. It appears, at least on the surface, they’ve begun to get a handle on their new cars and engine packages and this fan thinks the worst is behind them.
Kurt Bush and Carl Edwards didn’t quite have the kind of night they were hoping for either.
Kurt fought a loose car all night and finally ended up putting it in the wall with a little help from Reed Sorenson with less than a hundred laps to go. For one that looked like he would lock himself in the Chase by the end of the night, now he has another week of having to perform well, just in case the unexpected happens.
Carl Edwards quite simply had a bad week and a bad night making the Race for the Chase even tighter for him this coming weekend, although he does have about a 105 point cushion. Another week like last week and it is anybody’s guess where he will finish. It is just an observation from this fan, but he has not had what could be called a stellar year. I’m sure Carl thinks the year so far has been a pretty mediocre year to his standards. Even though they have been performing well, they have had their problems all year long (along with all the Roush cars.)
Okay, let’s take a look at some of the most important things about the race to the Chase as the teams depart Atlanta and head for Richmond. Going into Atlanta, only 89 points separated the 7th spot from the 14th spot. Coming out of Atlanta, 112 points separate spots 7 to 14 but only 86 points separate 10th to 14th. That makes the outlook for the race in Richmond to be full of drama, in particular for those 5 spots.
A closer look at what actually happened with the points and the top six to twelve positions shows Kasey Kahne moved up 5 positions, Kurt Bush lost 1 position, Juan Montoya gained 1 position, Ryan Newman lost 2 positions and Greg Biffle lost 3 positions. With movement like that and the few points separating those just outside the top twelve from Matt Kenseth, it makes for very interesting possibilities at Richmond.
Bryan Vickers and Kyle Bush are only 20 to 37 points behind Matt Kenseth while David Reutimann is 132 points out. Mark Martin, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth have to have good finishes this coming weekend or it could totally change the last three spots of 10th to 12th.
Considering how this year has gone with its ups and downs for some of the teams either finishing up front or in the back, I still say ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN this weekend in Richmond and that definitely makes it one of the most important Nascar races to watch. This one is going down to the wire folks, and barring the unforeseen, we won’t know everything until the checkered flag falls at Richmond…
See ya next time…
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
© September 9, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman