Nascar Racing

Chasers Take On the Flat-Track at Martinsville


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Well… after this weekend at Martinsville, it may be possible to actually tell if it is going to be a two man Chase for the rest of this season’s races or whether there is going to be three to five contenders for the Championship. For this fan it is still too early to tell what it will be but, depending on what happens, I do think we’ll all have a better idea of how many are in and how many are out.

Once again, the existing track record was broken by the Gen 6 car and it was broken by more the one in qualifying. In fact, just about everyone was running faster than they did their last trip to Martinsville. There is a lot of speed to go around and this fan thinks there will be more than a couple of short tempers to go with it. One thing I have learned about short track racing in NASCAR Cup… short tempers usually rear their heads when the racing is tight, the passing is hard and someone (or several someones) get fed up with the ones in front of them and decide to move them out of the way. Of course there is always that thing called payback and it seems to happen at places like this a lot.

If nothing else, the qualifying times show just how close the racing might be this afternoon. There is less than a half second separating Denny Hamlin on the pole from Joe Nemecheck in 40th position. It is generally accepted around the sport, when lap times are that close together, it means it will be hard to pass and there won’t be any room for mistakes on pit road.

From this fan’s view, it is quite possible there will be more passing for position in the pits than on the track. Now, I know things can (and probably will) be different during the race but, things might get testy on pit road and the pressure will be on the crews, and of course the driver, to get it right.

Even though Denny Hamlin qualified on the pole, I am not so sure he is the one that end up taking the win. It just been that kind of year for him and I am not so sure his luck is about to change. Besides, even though I know the Martinsville track is one of his very best, there are others that perform quite well here. Among them are Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson and Dale Jr. Any of them can end up in front at the right time and let’s not forget Dale Jr. showed some good speed in the last practice session. Looking back to Chicago, had it not been for his finish there, he could be in the thick of the competition for the Championship even more so than he is now.

Both Kyle Bush and Clint Bowyer were impressive in the final practice, too and either one of them have a very good chance at taking the checkers ahead of the rest of the field. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying either one of them will win but I do expect them to be in there fighting for the number one position as the laps wind down to the end.

I can’t rule out the possibility of Kasey Kahne being in there either. He finished up the final practice as third fastest and that means he could be in position to finish ahead of the rest when the checkered flag falls. Of all of the Chasers, he is probably the one I least expect to win a race in the Chase. He just hasn’t looked all that confident to me. Of course that means I could be totally surprised at the end of the race but I just don’t think it’s going to happen for him.

There are at least two others I consider to be “dark horses” in today’s race. They would be Juan Pablo Montoya and Brad Keselowski. I could be wrong and know they are both fast and very hungry for the win but, I’m just not sure they will be able to pull it off .

Simply because I mention all of those above doesn’t mean very much when it comes down to it. With the lap times the way they are, I don’t think anyone can be ruled out of taking the win but I don’t have a lot of confidence in any of those I haven’t mentioned to actually do it. I am kind of “old school” when it comes down to that.

The Toyotas take up four of the first five starting positions and Hendrick horsepower is in six of the top thirteen qualifiers. That could mean there is a good chance either a Toyota or Chevy could be in Victory Lane when the day is over. If it’s a Toyota with the number 20 on the side or a Chevy with the number 48 it may just mean it really will be down to a two man race for the Championship. If it is a Toyota with an 18 or a Chevy with a 24 or an 88 on the side, hold on, it could get very interesting by the time we get to Homestead.

See you next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 27, 2013 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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By Rusty Norman

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