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It’s two to go to make the show and there are more than ten drivers that still have a chance to make the Chase, depending of course on how well they perform this coming weekend at Atlanta and how poorly some of the others perform. Yes, it is true, some of them are extreme long shots and it would almost require divine intervention, yet the possibilities are there. But that’s getting just a bit ahead of what went on in Bristol last Saturday night under the lights.
There is no way you can’t know that Brad Keselowski has had a stellar four weeks since his accident during a test session at Road Atlanta, but there is no denying he has been out-performing almost everyone in the Cup series. Since this is NASCAR (and you can never tell when a streak is going to start, or end) he may or may not have another outstanding performance this coming weekend, but he has definitely taken advantage of what looked to be a bad situation. As just about everyone must know, he now has three victories, is in eleventh place in the points race to get in the Chase and looks to be one of the top contenders for the Championship when the Chase actually gets started.
To say this fan has been surprised by his performance in the last four weeks could just be added to the growing list of understatements I’ve made over the last couple of months, but, let me ask you this question; “Did you think he was going to make the Chase after YOU heard about that testing accident ?” (Uh, huh… that’s what I thought…)
I’m thinking you thought, much as I did, he should forget about the Chase, focus on next year and just turn the rest of the season into R&D, at least until he healed up a bit. Man, you talk about adversity turning a season around… this has to be one for the books and Brad Keselowski has sure stepped up to the plate, driven through pain, a sore back and a broken ankle and delivered some stunning blows to several NASCAR drivers that still hold on to slivers of hope, as far as the Chase is concerned. The only thing he has to do over the next two weeks is stay in the top twenty in points and he will definitely be in the Chase. In fact, from my view, unless he cools off a bit performance-wise, he is going to be one of the ones to watch as the top twelve contend for the Championship (and could very well end up being the top dog when it’s all over for this year.
Now, don’t get your underwear in a wad… I only said “he could” do these things. It is no where near definite and it is nowhere near time to start calling him the 2011 Champ yet. Still, it is amazing what he has done in this latter part of the season.
There was another situation that surprised this fan just about as much as seeing Keselowski take the checkered flag last Saturday night and that was how strong of a car, Jeff Gordon had and how close he came to winning. As it was, we all know he finished third, after battling Martin Truex Jr for second place over the last several laps and all but locked up his spot in the top ten for the Chase. He and Kevin Harvick are tied at the moment for fifth place and both only need to be forty-nine points ahead of eleventh place to be locked into the top ten no matter what else happens. Say what you will about the four time Champ but he is definitely running strong (and honestly, I don’t think he’s peaked just yet…). I’m not really making a statement one way or the other here at the moment, but Jeff Gordon has been running strong over several weeks now.
I’m sure you noticed that Kyle Bush and Jimmie Johnson are already locked in and tied for first while Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards are also locked in to the Chase. Matt Kenseth has been quietly running consistently good enough to be in third place for much of the season and Carl Edwards has appeared to be struggling over the last several races. They say they’re not, but perception is reality and they are perceived to be struggling (and not just from my view either.).
The race at Bristol this last weekend was one of the more interesting Bristol races and yet it was essentially the same. One thing that appeared to be missing, at least from this fan’s view, was an over abundance of hot tempers at the end of the night. I just didn’t see that much tension between different teams (although David Reutimann may disagree with me about that.)
With just two more races to go until the Chase starts, there has to be concern in the Richard Childress Racing camp. They didn’t just have a bad night, they had a terrible night and that is worth taking notice of as the Cup teams head for Atlanta. I’m sure if you ask them, there is no time like the present to start showing some muscle and gaining a little momentum…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 02, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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