Nascar Racing

It’s Pocono and Six To Go to the Chase from a NASCAR Fan’s View


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Counting Pocono, it’s six to go to make the show. From this fan’s view, that makes Pocono a “have to win” for some and a “I want to win” for others. No matter what happens Sunday afternoon at the Pocono International Speedway, the die is set for many when it comes to the Chase and for others, there’s still some big question marks.

It has been an interesting week especially with the findings and penalties that NASCAR found and assessed to the #11 car from Joe Gibbs racing. With all of those things taken into consideration that does mean that Denny Hamlin will be without his normal crew chief, Darian Grubb, and he has been docked some points. Since he has a win already, the docked points don’t matter that much and, the way things are being handled by JGR, no matter how things turn out, Darian Grubb should be back for the first race of the Chase. In the past, Denny has run good at Pocono (although not particularly well lately) so it should prove to be interesting to see how he does in this weekend’s race.

Once again the rumblings have started in the garage area (and in the media tents) about how poorly Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are performing lately and everybody’s wondering if they’ve lost their touch. Personally, this fan finds that hard to believe and since they already have three wins, their performance at this point doesn’t really matter that much. It is more likely, at least from this fan’s view, that they’re experimenting which they have been known to do in the past. I suspect they have some things they want to know for when they start the Chase. In reality, they have nothing to lose in experimenting with several different things before the Chase and they don’t have to tie up time practicing at tracks that don’t matter.

Once again this weekend the Penske Fords of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have shown up with some horses under the hood and performance on the track. Now that doesn’t mean that Sunday’s race is a lock for them by any means but it does mean that they should be contenders for the win. Of course there are several that don’t want to see them perform well and it really doesn’t have anything to do with the Hendrick teams. (Well, let me rephrase that slightly… It may matter for the Hendrick team of Kasey Kahne.) What it really has to do with is those that need a win to better their chances of being in the Chase and the last thing they want to see is someone that’s already won this year getting another win.

There is still a lot of buzz about Jeff Gordon’s victory at the Brickyard last weekend and many are wondering if he’s going to take it all the way to the championship at Homestead. Although many of us would like to see Jeff win his fifth championship, this fan chooses not to jump that far ahead and I’m sure that Jeff Gordon will agree. It is more likely he will take one race at a time and, since he’s already in the Chase, he will likely just be going for wins over anything else. In fact, it’s rumored that he said this last week that it’s all about winning now that the pressure is off for making the Chase. I have to admit, I didn’t actually hear him say that but it does make sense.

From this fan’s view, Pocono is a race that can go both ways. What I mean by saying that is it can either be really exciting or really boring especially at the end. It does appear that everyone has a little better grip on the track than they had back in the first part of June because everyone seems to be running a little faster. It doesn’t appear that anyone has a real extreme, dominating advantage for this race but it does appear that the Penske Fords have as good a chance as anybody to dominate the race. I’m not discounting the fact that Hendrick horsepower has shown up in usual fashion but the key to winning this race is going to be consistent lap times and minimum, or no, mistakes.

Track position will be the key and there won’t be room for error at all in the pits, which is usually the case these days. Also, there is no room for the drivers to make mistakes entering or leaving the pits. It is highly likely that this could turn into a fuel mileage race (although I hope not) and that could also make the ending very exciting depending on how far everyone has gone to press the envelope for the fuel window to maintain good track position.

With six races left to go to make the Chase, there are those that seem to think there’s plenty of time left for those three or four in particular that need a win to get one and solidify their place in the Chase. There is a possibility that there could be six different and new winners between now and the start of the Chase (although that’s not too likely.) I do think there will be at least two or three drivers that haven’t won yet this year that will win in the next six races. Of course, that’s just this fan’s opinion… but it is a good one…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 2, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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By Rusty Norman

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