Most Nascar fans weren’t disappointed after the race in Fontana Sunday afternoon, but the same couldn’t be said for some for the top teams in the Chase. For some, the race pretty much ended their hopes for taking the Sprint Cup; For others, their hopes are renewed, that is, IF, they can find a way to keep the #48 team at bay.
Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne would probably be the most obvious ones on the list of those that found the weekend a disappointment. This just hasn’t been an exceptional year for Kahne and, since the Chase began, he has struggled at best. He may have been running good at times but the finishes haven’t been there.
Now, it’s just this fan’s opinion, but I think the #83 Red Bull team of Brian Vickers used up all they had just getting into the Chase. I hate to state the obvious but they just haven’t performed the same way they did since they made it into the Chase. Personally, I’m sure they are glad they made it in but I don’t think they’ve been extremely happy with their results so far. Unless things change about 180 degrees for them, I expect they will stay in twelfth place where they are right now.
Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman aren’t out of it yet, but it is another one of those situations that I say there just about has to be some kind of “miraculous intervention” if they are to be close to the top. I haven’t actually paid that close of attention to Ryan’s plight over the last 3 weeks but Denny pulling down to block Montoya on Sunday and sliding into the inside wall near the pit exit put the brakes on his hopes for a Sprint Cup this year.
Ryan has been struggling, especially since the Chase began,and just hasn’t been finishing well. He made the Chase but has been another one of those drivers that just hasn’t been able to finish at, or near, the front. I really don’t look for him to to finish much further up in the points than where he is right now, but next year… well, I guess that remains to be seen.
That brings me to Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. I think where they are in the standings right now, is pretty much a statement of how the year has gone for Roush/Fenway Racing. After Matt Kenseth won the first two races of the year at Daytona and Fontana, I really expected The Roush teams to be the ones to beat for the rest of the year.
Somewhere along the way, the wheels fell off and they have been struggling ever since. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they’re out of it completely, but I am saying it’s going to take more than just them performing well for the next six races; (IN this fan’s opinion, the wheels are going to have to fall off for about four out of those top six that are ahead of them.) It is just this fan’s view also, but I think the odds are very much against them and they will probably not move up much further in the points.
Jeff Gordon moved up two positions to 5th place and still managed to lose a few points to the leader, Jimmy Johnson. Kurt Bush didn’t have that bad a day but he is beginning to get to the point where something different has to happen to the top four before he can even begin to think about winning the Sprint Cup.
You see, this is where it gets a bit sticky for those in 4th, 5th and 6th places because, without something going wrong for the top three, they can’t really move up even with some wins. What this means for Kurt Bush, Jeff Gordon and even Tony Stewart is they have to finish the next races in the top three and the others have to finish much further towards the back.
I know that is a bit of a stretch, but it is true. The facts say that even if the #2, #24 and #14 finish 1-2-3 over the next races it won’t help much if the #48, #5 and #42 finish those races in 4th, 5th and 6th. There has to be several spots of separation for the points race to tighten up much before they all get to Homestead for the final race of the Chase.
I hate to say it, but it is beginning to look more and more like it is becoming a three or maybe a four car Chase. That’s not to say it won’t get interesting before they get to Homestead, but I think it’s more likely the real excitement is going to happen between the top three cars of Juan Montoya, Mark Martin and Jimmy Johnson.
When I think about it, that’s not too bad either. It’s still better than one car running away with the Chase and several of the others running for second place…
See ya next time…
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
October 14, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman