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Nascar at Martinsville: The Chase for the Sprint Cup Continues and the Pressure’s On … Everybody.

Apparently, the obvious question for this week’s “Tums Fast Relief 500” race at Martinsville is, “Will this be the week of Jimmie Johnson’s mulligan?”


If you listen to many of the reporters and commentators, it’s the only thing that can save Nascar’s 2009 season from becoming a ho-hum experience the rest of the way to it’s finale in Homestead… that is, if you listen to all the doomsayers…

Personally, I don’t think they have a valid point, but then who am I but “Just A Nascar Fan” with my own point of view, (just like most other Nascar fans.)

For a season that started with so many question marks because of the present economic situation of our Nation, I think it has been a pretty competitive year, full of excitement, drama and suspense and the stands may not have been full every week but, there have been lot of people sitting in them at every stop.

Do I like Jimmie Johnson? Yes, but he isn’t my favorite driver, (at least not yet), although I have been a Hendrick Motorsports fan for a long time. Now before you cop an attitude, let me quickly add I’m also a fan of most, if not all, of the teams in Nascar and over time I have grown to appreciate the individual personalities of almost every driver and visible team member involved. (Yes, there are still a few I can’t, or don’t understand, but hey, that’s racing!)

Admittedly, I have mellowed over the years and some of the ones I could hardly stand at all, I now have a greater respect and appreciation for than ever. I like the diversity of personalities represented in this “Great American Sport” and though I know none of them are perfect, I love the competitive spirit they display on a weekly basis. They prove to me every week that it’s okay to be real.

Taking a look at the top twelve in the standings shows an interesting fact that has kinda been the story for much of the season this year. As of last weeks race at Lowe’s, there are four of the top five that are Hendrick or Hendrick associated teams and five out of the top eight. If we just take a little closer look those top four guys we find that three of them are multiple Cup Champions, (so, is it any wonder they’re running up front?? I think not…)

Of course those names are familiar names and would be the likes of Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. If we throw the qualifying positions out the window, any one of those three could come away with the victory this weekend along with about ten others I can think of right off the top of my head.

Well, I guess it’s time to talk more about the question of Jimmie Johnson having a bad week. We all know it can happen and if you’re one of those that has been enjoying the racing rather than looking for everything you can find wrong with it, you probably noticed how one bad week affected Juan Montoya’s position in the Chase. He was in third place before Lowe’s and everyone was saying he was the one to look out for because he had finished all of the first four races in the top five. After Lowe’s, he had lost three places in the standings and is 195 points behind the front runner, Jimmie Johnson. That’s why Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson keep reminding us there are still five races to go. They know as well as anyone, the very same thing could happen to them this week at Martinsville or next week at Talladega. (In fact, they also know something could go wrong both weeks and everything would be tightened up again in the standings.)

Taking an honest look at the points before the race this weekend, I have to say, barring the unforeseen, anybody that’s more than 155 points out of first is probably not going to have much of a chance at taking the top spot.  That doesn’t mean I’m ruling anybody out, but I have to agree with a statement I heard earlier this week. It is possible that one or maybe two of the front runners could have problems over the next weeks but it isn’t likely that all of them will.

For that reason, it’s getting hard for me to decide who I would like to see win this weekend and which one of the teams I’d like to see take the Sprint Cup Championship. Like many others, I’d like to see Mark Martin win his first Cup Championship; I think he deserves it. But then I’d like to see Jimmie Johnson make history with four in a row, Jeff Gordon win his fifth and Tony Stewart win his first as and owner driver and his third over all.

I don’t think many will disagree with me when I say this has truly been a ‘feel good’ year. A lot of good things have happened this year in spite of what many have tried to focus our attention on. I’m looking forward to the Tums Fast Relief 500 Sunday afternoon and let’s not forget those double file restarts and the short track racing with the rubbin,  bumpin’ and bagin’…

Yeah, you bet that’s what this weekend is all about and I can’t wait!

See ya next time…


(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© October 24, 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman

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By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.