The race in Loudon last Sunday gave Nascar fans everywhere something to consider about the remaining nine races in the Chase. It won’t be wise to look for a bunch of teams to just run around hoping to finish ahead of everyone else in the points race to the end of the season.
From this fan’s view to anyone that thought the Chase guys were going to lay low and see what the others did in the Chase races, well they can rest assured there is going to be plenty of excitement in the weeks to come.
To briefly recap the weekend in Loudon, Mark Martin, the ‘old guy’ that’s been racing like a ‘young guy’, held off an aggressive Juan Montoya to take home the trophy from the Sylvania 300 Sunday afternoon. The racing was close and exciting right down to the wire and the double file restarts didn’t hurt the “excit-o-meter” at the end of the race, either. If this is what we have to look forward to for the next nine races, it’s this fan’s opinion not even NFL football will have a larger audience. Now, all of that remains to be seen, but, I wouldn’t recommend missing any of the action in the coming weeks.
One of the hot topics after the Sylvania 300 concerned how a few of the “Chasers” just didn’t have a good weekend. Now, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards not performing well wasn’t too unexpected by many in the know, but Jeff Gordon was another story.
At the start of the race, Jeff was competitive as many expected he would be considering how strong they ran in June. However, they quickly lost the handle on the 24 car and never returned to the hunt for the checkered flag which I know was very disappointing to Jeff and crew chief, Steve Latarte along with the rest of the team.
Amidst quite a bit of seeming chaos over at RPM in the past week, Kasey Kahne’s loss of an engine sent up all kinds of flags about the coming changes in that camp. I won’t go into it here because I think too many have said too much already, but I will say that it put Kasey’s Kahne’s team in a very bad position for the remainder for the Chase. The odds are pretty much against them making a real run for the Sprint Cup from here on out. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a chance in the hottest of places, but it does mean they have major hurdles to overcome if they want to finish near, or at the top, of the standings by the time the season ends at Homestead in November.
Even though Greg Biffle did climb three places in the standings this last weekend, it doesn’t mean that much except that it puts an accent on how bad the others, now behind him, finished. It is this fan’s opinion the Roush teams are experiencing one of those years that all teams dread facing and can’t wait until next year to hopefully get back on the competitive side of the track. Although Greg and Carl haven’t been performing all that bad, (seeing as how they made it into the Chase), they obviously aren’t happy with the way the season has shaped up so far. (As Mark Martin would say, “The racing gods just aren’t smiling on them this year.”)
If you check what I said about the Hendrick teams in the pre-race article (Nascar at Loudon: …) you will find that I expected Dale Jr to have a strong performance. As it turns out, he was having a great day until a racing incident with David Reutimann put him into the wall and out of contention for the day. Dale Jr was noticeably disappointed and made some strong comments about the incident after the race. It is my opinion as a fan, that it was mostly adrenaline and disappointment speaking and we all know that stuff just happens.
Although I know it is w-a-a-a-y too early to start naming the winner of the Sprint Cup, the first week was interesting and really shook up the standings of the top twelve. Just take a quick look at how Juan Montoya moved up seven places. A minor setback during the race with an axle cap moved Tony Stewart back four places. His teammate, Ryan Newman, moved up three places and Kurt Bush moved up two. That the leaves the Hendrick teams of Mark Martin and Jimmy Johnson at the top of the heap along with JGR’s Denny Hamlin, in week one of the Chase and although not too many didn’t expect the 48 team to be up there, Mark Martin is having a dream season and, in his own words, “The time of his life.” Perhaps a little unexpected, Denny Hamlin is riding a wave of momentum that started and has carried over from the last several weeks of racing up to the Chase.
Any way you look at it, those that had a bad week at Loudon need a couple of really good weeks to gain back some of the spots they lost and those that had a good week would have to have a couple of really bad weeks to help them gain those spots back. To this fan, that makes the next couple of weeks very important to all involved and, to tell the truth, I can’t wait to see how it all pans out…
See ya next time…
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
© September 23, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman