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Tonight’s race at Darlington – the track too tough to tame – is another race that is going to either add to some drivers and teams dilemma for the season or possibly help them start a turn around in it. Not very many expect the latter to happen and some have already resigned themselves to dealing with the standings pretty much the way they are. I, however, am not one of those. Since we are only 10 races into the season, I am one of those that thinks the season is only 10 races old and from this week on, a team can do exactly what they haven’t been able to do – win and finish consistently in the top five or ten, (preferably in the top five.)
How can I say this you may ask?? Well, I just look at last year and what happened to Brad Keselowski before and after his accident at a practice track. Before the accident, no one thought he had a chance of even being close to the top ten in points and after the accident, he almost made the Chase on points alone. He didn’t but, he did make it with the victories he got after it happened.
Greg Biffle has been riding a wave of consistency (along with showing up to the tracks week after week with fast race cars) and sits on top of the points. Does that mean he is a definite threat to be the Cup Champion by the end of this years Chase? Not at all… in fact, the very same adversity that has been affecting others this year, could begin for him tonight and go on for the next 10 – 16 races and he could be struggling to make the Chase when the time arrives.
Carl Edwards is another good example of what I’m talking about from last year. He was number one in points for much of the season last year but that didn’t matter when it came to the Chase. He ran consistently upfront, scored points regularly and still finished second (although tied for first with Tony Stewart, a story we all know too well.)
What I am saying, is there are still 16 races left to make it into the top ten in points or score a few victories and claim a wildcard slot. Just because it looks like there is no way some can make it doesn’t mean there is no way they will. I know the competition is closer than ever in the Cup series and there is a lot to be said for momentum in this sport but, NASCAR has not always been predictable and “racing luck” can turn for the worse for anyone. No one is guaranteed to be able to continue on through the whole season with the same results they start with and carry for only ten races of 26 to qualify for the final ten races of the Chase.
Sure, I do admit for some things do look mighty bleak but I have seen more than one of them go on a tear and win several races and totally turn around their season over the final sixteen races to qualify for the Chase (and contend for the Championship.) I have also seen some go an a tear toward the negative and completely miss the Chase and not be contenders at all for the rest of the season.
It doesn’t really matter that much for tonight’s race either. Darlington is a challenge for all that sit in the driver’s seat tonight and just because someone qualified near the front doesn’t mean they won’t have problems and end up several laps down or with a DNF. Unfortunately with the way things can change, the ones finishing in the back tonight could be the ones highest in points and it just could be the beginning of a slide into oblivion for the next 15 races.
Greg Biffle still looks strong since he is starting on the pole for tonight’s race but I still look at qualifying as a very poor way of judging how a race will end. Even though he is enjoying very consistent season, tonight could be the beginning of someone else enjoying the same level of consistency and passing him in the points in the near future.
Names like Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson come to mind just as quickly as possible winners for tonight’s race. Heck, I’m not even ruling out a possible turn-around for Jeff Gordon beginning tonight but, it is going to have to be a turn-around that lasts more than one race and some others are going to have to start having his luck from this first part of the season for much to happen quickly for him (although a win would certainly help a lot in many ways.)
It seems the more people talk about the possibility of #200 happening for Rick Hendrick, the more things go wrong for all four of his teams (even when it looks like the win is inevitable.) Yeah, this could be the night and all four teams have a good chance at winning it for Hendrick MotorSports, that is at least until the green flag drops…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 12, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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