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NASCAR at Loudon After Thoughts: The Chase Begins, Clint Bowyer Wins… on Fumes

Clint Bowyer is on a roll… His performance over the last several weeks has been enviable and he won the Sylvania 300 on fumes Sunday afternoon. To say no one expected him to win it would not be quite correct, but he was the “twelfth seed” going into the Chase and he received the least amount of attention as to who would win at Loudon. Oh, and by the way, he probably wouldn’t have won, IF, (and that’s a mighty big if), Tony Stewart hadn’t run out of gas about a lap from the end.

I find it interesting how things sometimes go in racing. I mean, if you take a good close look at the end of the race Sunday afternoon, three teams chanced not coming in for fuel and possibly tires and two of those three ran out of gas. (In case you weren’t watching, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Tony Stewart were the three and we all know who didn’t run out of gas.) To me, it just goes to show that sometimes a thing called luck, or possibly that thing called “Big Mo,” has to figure into the mix.

Now, I’ve heard some say, “It just wasn’t in the cards for Stewart to win” and others say, “The ‘racing gods’ weren’t smiling on him.” I don’t agree with those evaluations, but, I do know that sometimes things just don’t go the way you think they should, or could. Why Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton ran out of gas and Clint Bowyer didn’t is a good question (and don’t forget, the #31 team of Burton is also a Childress team like Bowyer) but I don’t think it had anything at all to do with ‘cards’ or ‘racing gods.’ I do, however, think it had everything to do with fuel mileage and the driver’s right foot. (I guess we could also figure in which one used the least amount of brakes and did the most coasting over the last laps doing that thing called “saving fuel.”)

I’m not sure whether it was the race only being 300 laps or because it was a shorter track, but the racing on Sunday was aggressive to say the least. No one, and I mean no one, could accuse any driver of just laying back and waiting for the last fifty or so laps. Many were aggressive (and some overly aggressive) from the drop of the green flag on the first lap. It really set the tone for the day and the intensity was high for the whole race. Even though the intensity was high, the Sylvania 300 had minimal cautions even though there was quite a bit of pushin’ and shovin’ going on.

If anyone questioned whether the thirty one cars vying for 13th place in the Chase were going to move out of the top twelve’s way or just lay back and let them go, well, I think that thought can be put to rest. From what this fan observed on Sunday afternoon, they don’t really care too much about those other twelve drivers… its racing as usual for all of them and that tells me this is going to be an interesting Chase. The top twelve may still be the ones finishing up front, but they are going to have to work for it if they do; (hey, I’m just sayin…’)

One thing I like about the first couple of races in the Chase is how fast the points’ situation gets shaken up. Considering how they all started the day and how they finished, there was a gigantic shakeup in the top twelve. By not running out of gas and winning on Sunday, Clint Bowyer jumped ten spots, going from twelfth to second. (Okay, maybe gigantic is a bit of an over statement, but there was a lot of movement in the top twelve spots even though Deny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Bush somehow managed to stay in their positions but I don’t think Jeff Burton is very thrilled about staying in the tenth spot after he ran out of gas in the final two laps while running in the top five.)

All in all, Sunday’s race a Loudon was a great start to the 2010 Chase for the Cup and, if it is any consolation to those that had a bad start, there are still nine weeks to go to move up to the top of the points standings. How they handle the adversity they experienced after struggling during the Sylvania 300 for the next few weeks will determine what their chances for taking the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship really are.

I’m not ready to make a pick for who will take the Cup this year, but if the start of the Chase on Sunday is an example of what we as fan’s have to look forward to for the next nine races, it is going to be an exciting and dramatic time ahead. Who knows, maybe Matt Kenseth will surprise all of us and make a move from the twelfth spot to the top of the list over these next nine weeks… or, maybe not…

See ya next time… Rusty

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© September 22, 2010 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman and NascarFansView.com

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By Rusty Norman

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