Denny Hamlin won the Gillette Fusion Pro-Glide 500 at Pocono Sunday afternoon. (So what else IS new?) He continues to amaze many with his consistency and, whether you like him or not, he is proving he and his #11 FedEx – JGR team have what it takes to be considered a threat to win a NASCAR championship. (In fact, many think this could be the year he and his team unseat Jimmie Johnson and the #48 Hendrick team from repeating taking the championship for the fifth year in a row.)
Now, hold on just a minute! Isn’t it a little too early in the season to start predicting who will actually win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship for 2010? (Well, it is at least from this fan’s view.)
I do find it interesting so many are so quick to write off Jimmie Johnson, (or any Hendrick Team for that matter), for being in the hunt to win the Cup Championship. I mean, let’s get real here… There are still 22 weeks of racing left to decide the Cup and 12 of those are outside of what is now called the Chase. I do admit the Joe Gibbs teams are looking pretty tough right now, but then so are the Childress teams and let’s not forget Kevin Harvick is still leading the points although Kyle Bush is beginning to press him hard for that spot. There comes a time when Kevin Harvick is going to have to win a race or two to stay on top instead of finishing 2 or 3 spots behind those that are closing in on him.
I do think the ones that are going to struggle to be able to make the Chase this year are the Roush teams. (Wow, there’s some real rocket science for you, huh?) Even though three of them are in the top twelve at the moment, I’m not so sure how long they will be able to stay there. Bad breaks and poor performance have definitely been eroding their chances for several weeks now. At the moment, (once again from this fan’s view), the only Roush team I think might have a chance at staying in the top twelve for the Chase is Matt Kenseth, even though Gregg Biffle and Carl Edwards are still hanging in there for the time being.
Kurt Bush is another one that has been performing consistently well and his spot in the top twelve is relatively safe. That doesn’t mean he is a shew-in to stay there, but unless something really drastic happens over the next twelve races, it is this fan’s opinion he will be there.
A quick look at the standings for Sprint Cup tells an interesting story for Stewart/Haas Racing. As of this last weekend, both Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman are sitting 13th and 14th ready to break into the top twelve. A few weeks ago they definitely looked like long shots to make it in (or stay in as the case may be), but now, their chances look much better. One can only wonder if Tony Stewart will do what he usually does in the last half of the year. Usually, the last half of the season is when he performs his best.
Taking a little closer look at the 5th to 13th spots shows only 151 points separating them and if someone (or even several someones) has a bad week, that someone could make a big jump in the standings. Now, I’m not saying anyone will… I’m just sayin…
It is just my opinion, but one of the things that is different this year for the Hendrick teams of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin is their inconsistency. Sometimes they look ready pounce and at other times they look absolutely lost. It is such a different look than last year when they seemed to dominate the rest of the teams. One has to wonder if they’re just experimenting for the Chase or if they really are playing catch-up.
Unfortunately for them, I think it is the latter and they have their work cut out for them up to, and through, the Chase this year. That’s one great thing about NASCAR Racing the way this fan sees it. It may take a little time, but eventually the ones that are dominating lose the edge they have over the rest and have to find a new one to get back to the top again. It’s all about competition and when someone does get an advantage over the rest, the rest take it as a challenge to find an advantage that will put them on top; and then… the cycle starts all over again…
See ya next time… Rusty
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 9, 2010 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and NascarFansView.com
(All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PCNProductions.com)