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There is one thing about Loudon that won’t change this weekend no matter what else happens – there are those that need to have a very good finish if they want to stay in contention for being or getting into the Chase and there are a few that could help their chances even more if they could win on Sunday afternoon. The reason winning would help them is because they are already close to being in by points but don’t have a win and there are others that have a win even though they are lower in the points standings. According to the way the Chase format is set up, the two wildcard slots are only available to those in the top twenty that have the wins and the points.
As it stands right now, Tony Stewart is eleventh according to points but David Ragan would be in by virtue of his one win. If that doesn’t add interest to the next eight races, I don’t know what does.
Just for grins, let’s take a quick look at some of those in eleventh to twenty-second in points. Now, we’ve already talked about Tony Stewart’s situation and right after him comes Clint Bowyer. Even though Bowyer is only thirteen points behind Stewart, he would still be behind Ragan if the Chase started today because he doesn’t have a win. In fact, Ragan would jump over all four of those ahead of him in points which includes Juan Montoya and Greg Biffle, too.
Brad Keselowski is in twenty first place, but he also has one win. If he could break into the top twenty, he would also jump over all of those ahead of him and would be in the Chase with Ragan and the two of them would be in the eleventh and twelfth place, leaving all of the others out in the cold. Of course you know, that is if the Chase started today, (which it won’t, but after all, it is only about eight races away.)
Well, that’s enough conjecture for now, but it does give us several things to think about and watch over the next several weeks.
From this fan’s view, this should not only be an interesting race but a pivotal one as well. With Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart both starting on the front row that tells me they know what they both need to do and I am sure they hope to take those positions right on down to the end of the race. Tony needs the win (and the good finish) and Ryan is in the top ten but needs a win and a good points day to feel more secure about his position. This is an opportunity for both of them to make a statement as we get closer to the twenty sixth race when they will either be in or out of the Chase.
Since Loudon is a flat track, it’ll be pretty obvious who has the best chance to take the trip to Victory Lane. It is this fan’s opinion the one who can get into the turn and rotate through the center of it and still hook up all of their horses to make the drag race down the straights on a consistent basis will be running at or near the front. The one that does it consistently better than the rest (especially at the end of the race) will be the one being interviewed as the winner.
Now, that presents us with figuring out who that possible winner will be. Because of the type track NHMS is, it isn’t necessarily an easy task to pick a winner. Because of the closeness of the competition in Cup racing these days it makes it even more difficult, at least from my view. You see, I think several things are going to figure into who wins and from my view, it could any one of several teams.
Momentum is going to be one big factor and several drivers and teams are coming in with renewed confidence. A couple of those are David Reutimann and Joey Logano. Martin Truex Jr would also have to get a nod from me simply because Michael Waltrip Racing has shown some very positive improvement recently. He and Reutimann are both good short trackers and I expect they will be at least visible in the top ten or fifteen. As for Logano, he seems to be trying to get a win and make it into the mix for the Chase.
When it comes right down to it, it is another one of those weeks that track position is going to play a big role (uh, like it doesn’t every week?) and there will be no room for errors on the pit stops. Like other tracks of this type, the best place to pass at NHMS is in the pits and unfortunately, it is the easiest place to be passed, too.
From observing the practice and qualifying sessions, it is hard to completely rule out the Dodges or the Toyotas. I expect to hear both of the Bush brothers names mentioned but I’m not so sure it will be for them winning. I guess I can’t completely rule out Denny Hamlin either, but he has had a run of bad luck this year.
In truth, this fan hasn’t see that much to impress him about the Fords for this weekend either. Oh sure, I know they can totally surprise me, but I really think this is going to be a Chevy weekend and I really do think it is going to be a Hendrick or Hendrick associated Chevy at that. As for which one, well… I just haven’t decided yet, but when you see one of them in victory Lane when it’s over, just remember I told you so…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 16, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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