The field is set for the race at the Monster Mile at Dover this weekend and it remains to be seen whether or not there will be a major, or just a minor, shake up in the top twelve positions in the Chase for the Nascar Sprint Cup Championship.
The top sixteen qualifying spots contain ten of the top twelve Chasers for the AAA 400 at the Monster Mile this Sunday afternoon and four of them start in the first two rows. Jimmy Johnson and Juan Montoya fill up the front row and will lead the rest of the field to the green flag. To this fan, it looks like another exciting race shaping up in the Chase for the 2009 Championship.
The big questions this weekend are about the tires and how they are going to wear first, and second, whether or not they will allow the racing groove to widen to at least two wide and make the racing even more interesting.
The ones in contention for the Chase for the Championship that didn’t finish well at Loudon are looking to turn their fortunes around at the Monster Mile this weekend and see if they can establish some momentum for the coming weeks. People like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards are trying to reverse the downward trend in their performance witnessed at Loudon last weekend and make up a bit of ground on those that faired better.
The Magic Mile didn’t destroy their chances for contending for the Cup Championship but the poorer than expected performances did make finishing closer to the front over the next few weeks much more essential. One bad week does not end a bid for capturing the Sprint Cup, but if those weeks keep on adding up the chances reach critical mass very quickly. I think that is an incentive for the Chasers to be smart but press hard to finish at, or near, the front this weekend and hope that somebody ahead of them has a bad week this weekend.
With the way Mark Martin, Juan Montoya, Jimmy Johnson and Denny Hamlin have been running lately, it could be a tough road ahead for the other guys if they don’t run into some sort of problems over the next few weeks.
Any one of the four mentioned above could win the championship if they don’t run into to some of those unexpected problems over the next few weeks. Momentum is great thing as long as everything keeps working in your favor, but it only takes one really bad week followed by a not so good week to turn that momentum into a minor panic which can cause a total reversal of that momentum.
Racing can sometimes be a funny sport and momentum (or what some would call racing luck) does have a tendency to sometimes turn on a dime and take a team in a completely opposite direction. Those that have enjoyed fairly comfortable performances in the past several weeks could suddenly find themselves struggling and fighting to keep from falling to positions seven to twelve. Now, I’m not trying to put a curse on anyone in the coming weeks, I just know it can, and does happen.
If anyone needs to drastically turn things around this weekend it would be Kasey Kahne. He cannot afford the luxury of anything less than a top three finish and would consider a win a major step in the right direction. Even with that, he would need another great performance over the next several weeks and the ones at the front would have to have terrible weeks over that same period of time.
Does that sound impossible to you considering the chaos we mentioned in the last article happening at RPM? (see Nascar at Loudon: After Chatter) Barring some miraculous intervention in the near future, this Nascar fan thinks Kasey Kahne’s chances for taking the Cup this year are over.
From this fan’s view, this is another week that could have the unexpected team take the win. I don’t think it will be someone running in the back of the standings but there are several that could pull off the victory at the Monster Mile. Admittedly it will require some unexpected events to take place, but it is possible. Names like A J Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick and David Reutimann don’t quickly jump to the front of my mind when considering who could win this weekend, but, it could happen.
There are always those names that stand out as possible winners this weekend and one of them is Kyle Bush. Since this is not a flat track, I think his chances are higher than they were last week at Loudon but I’m not so sure he will pull it off. I do look for him to enter into the mix over the next few weeks though.
I’m just not in the mood to name a winner this weekend, but I am looking forward to the race. I do think the ones that are more likely to win are Jimmy Johnson, Juan Montoya, Mark Martin, Kurt Bush and Denny Hamlin. Even though momentum says they should be near the front at the end of the AAA 400, I see and hear a lot of determination in the actions and voices of Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon. If a dark horse was to win this weekend I would pick either one of these guys and possibly add the names of Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and Bryan Vickers.
Whatever happens this weekend at DIS will be another view of how the whole thing is going to pan out. Should the same ones finish in the top five that did in Loudon, it would appear to me that a mold is being cast for the final few races. If the roles reverse, look out! It could be a nail biting eight weeks for everybody …
See ya next time…
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
© September 26, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman