No matter what the qualifying says, the Price Chopper 400 is going to be a race that shows just how serious some teams are to make up some needed points. Judging from the lineup, it may be the first chance that some of the teams in sixth to twelfth positions have an opportunity to make up some points on the front runners. This is a week that will either narrow the field or show that it is just that much closer to being narrowed down to just a few.
The only exception is front runner, Mark Martin who is once again starting on the pole. One of the advantages of starting on the pole is choice of pit selection and that can make a big difference on getting out of the pits during the pit stops for fuel and tires. Since track position will most definitely make a difference this weekend, Mark will likely have an advantage that could allow him to open up a little more distance between him and second place.
I’m not one to jump the gun, but pretty soon the statistics begin to rule over hopes and conjecture. It is beginning to get to the point where those that are more than 150 points out of first need to have lot of help from those out front in points or they have to begin to crush those ahead of them every week. Even at that, without some sort of large separation in finishes in the coming races, the guys out front have the advantage.
I do think it is interesting that, once again this week, the Hendrick teams are showing themselves to be strong, with Mark Martin and Dale Jr starting on the front row. In fact, Hendrick or associated Hendrick cars are starting first, second, third, fifth, ninth and eleventh. If that doesn’t say something about the strength of the organization, I don’t know what does.
Another Hot Topic for the weekend was Nascar’s warning to the #5 and #48 teams about being close to tolerances for their cars. Although they DID NOT say it showed any intention on their part to cheat, they DID say being so close to allowable tolerances made the possibility of having to make a negative decision against them after a race much more possible.
What that really means from this fan’s view is being so close to tolerances leaves very little margin for error and raises the chances of finding a problem after a race. After their stellar performances this year, not even Nascar wants to see that happen. (And people say Nascar has no heart…)
There are those that think the Chase is already down to the top four (or maybe five) and I do agree that it looks that way at the moment, but we’ve only had two races and there are eight left to go. As I said earlier in this article, there does come a time when the actual statistics do begin to affect the final outcome. After only two races, I still think there is a chance that anyone can have a bad week and lose some or all of the advantage they have acquired after those two weeks and that includes the three at the top of the heap. No one, (and I repeat), NO ONE is exempt from having something unexpected break or happen on the track.
Although it hasn’t proven out yet, we have to take into consideration that someone besides the top Chase contenders can win a race and it could happen this week. I’m not saying it will but I do have to once again remind us all, anything can happen in Nascar racing (and usually does) especially when you least expect it. Kansas can be just that kind of place.
Jimmy Johnson is looking mighty tough this weekend and I do believe he is the one of the Chasers that is most likely to win barring any of those things happening we just mentioned. It is all going to come down to those near-the-end-of-the-race cautions and fuel mileage. And that, my friends, is why this fan thinks the race will be decided in the pits and the the strategies that play out from there.
See ya next time…
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
© October 4, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman