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It’s twenty-six down and ten to go for the 2012 NASCAR Cup series and it is anybody’s guess who might end up with the Sprint Cup. I have heard some claim they already know who is going to end up in the top spot at Homestead but this one could be too close to call for quite a while yet; at least until the first Chase race is in the books.
I do agree with many that say this is one Chase that anyone of the twelve could win. I don’t remember anytime since the Chase format was instituted that the Chase had more possible winners in it than it does this year. Between just four of them there are thirteen Cup Championship titles. Of course those four are Jimmie Johnson (w/5), Jeff Gordon (w/4), Tony Stewart (w/3) and Matt Kenseth (w/1). Any one of them could add another championship to their stats this year and have to be considered when the season winds down if for no other reason than they already have so many Championships between them.
Of course, everyone knows Denny Hamlin has been on a hot streak and he definitely has to be considered as a strong possibility for winning his first Cup Championship this year. If ever there was a hot shoe coming into the Chase I think he qualifies. With four victories in the first twenty-six races and because his new crew chief this year, Darian Grubb, was last years winning Cup Champion crew chief for Tony Stewart, I’d have to say his chances are pretty high. (At least I think I have to say that until a few Chase races are behind us.)
At this point, those are the five strongest contenders if Championship wins and regular wins on the year this year mean anything. In fact, if you listen to many of the voices making predictions about who will win the championship, they’ve already given the nod to Denny Hamlin.
The problem with that is last year’s Chase which Tony Stewart won by breaking the points tie with Carl Edwards by having more wins. Hardly anyone, including Stewart himself, thought he had a chance at winning the championship until the Chase actually started. He had no wins and walked away from Chicago with a win. He followed that with four more before the Chase was over.
Now, you may be asking why I even bring that up and the answer is because of the twelve that are in the Chase this year. Anyone of them could win and it could be someone completely unexpected. Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, Dale Jr, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr all have to be considered along with Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick.
From this fan’s view, there is not one of the twelve that cannot take the Championship if for no other reason than how closely matched the teams are this year. Competition has never tighter and the talent of the drivers has never been more closely matched. All of them are quite capable of winning over the rest on any given day.
Not only are any of the twelve mentioned above capable of winning today at Chicagoland but, there are others in the field that are just as capable. I don’t want to go through the whole list but I will mention Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and even Kyle Bush. Any of these could easily end up in Victory Lane this afternoon and the Chasers all racing for points rather than the trophy. Do I think that is going to happen? Well, I really don’t know but common sense says it is more than just a possibility.
What I saw as I watched the practices and the qualifying appeared to be a lot of teams being cautious and unwilling to show all they had. I’m not saying they didn’t all want to qualify near the front, but I am saying it appeared to this fan they were being cautious during the practice sessions and that may have had something to do with the end results. It also looked as though many were having a problem getting a hold of the track. After all, the surface is getting old and has lost its grip and the tires fall off rather quickly.
Of course there are six of the twelve contenders in the top ten starting positions. Jimmie Johnson sitting on the pole already has several thinking he will take his sixth Championship, but from this fan’s view I think it is way too early to make that call. In fact, if last weeks race in Richmond is any shadow of what the Chase will be like over the next ten weeks, the only thing I know for sure is that no one in 13th to 43rd has a chance at winning the Championship…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 15, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions