Nascar Racing

It’s Atlanta And Two To Go To Make the Chase


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Rusty Norman

Anyone that doesn’t have enough points but wants to make it into the Chase only has two chances left. Atlanta and Richmond are the only two places left for non winners to take a win and make it into the Chase. Of course, there are still four spots left but two of them will make it in with points. That means Atlanta will definitely be a place where some will take more risks to try and steal a spot in the Chase and that has the potential to make this weekend even more dramatic and competitive that it would be normally.

Another thing that makes this weekend noticeably more dramatic is that Tony Stewart is returning to the #14 Stewart/Haas Chevy this weekend. For some, that is something they did not want to see (for whatever their reasons were) but for the rest of us, it is a good thing. He needs to be back in his car and competing in the NASCAR Cup Series. After the terrible accident several weeks ago that took the life of a fellow competitor, this fan thinks this is the best thing for him to help him heal both mentally and spiritually. As he said in his public appearance and statement Friday, it was something that has changed his life forever and will always be with him.

This weekend in Atlanta is one of only two more chances he has to make it into the 2014 Chase. Without a win he will not make it in because he does not have enough points otherwise. That makes the next two races even more important for him and his #14 team and he will be looking to win one or both of them (which he is more than capable of doing.) Whatever happens in the next two weeks, this fan wants nothing but the best for all concerned.

Atlanta is an old track even though it was reconfigured years ago and it remains as one of the most challenging tracks on the Cup circuit. It is fast and is tough on equipment and tires and two things stand out to this fan as possible “challenges” for the competitors this weekend. The first is just how fast the speeds fall off with the tires and the other is the possibility of engine failure.

Along with the speeds falling off because of tire wear, this fan is at least a little concerned about possible tire failures. With the speeds they are running and the down force being generated by the cars this year, it is possible the ugly beast of tire failures could rear its ugly head again this weekend. Even though it hasn’t happened yet this weekend, it is probably still in the back of the drivers and crew chiefs minds. Fortunately, at least from this fan’s view, they are running at night and that could make all the difference.

This won’t be new news to anyone but this weekend marks another milestone in the career of Jeff Gordon. Atlanta will be his 750th start in a row and is where he started his first Cup race 20 years ago. Considering he is a four time Cup Champion and having a great run at his fifth, there is no doubt he is having, and has had, a great career and many expect it to continue for a while yet. This fan is one of those.

Is it possible Jeff Gordon can get win #92 this weekend and carry even more momentum into the Chase? Without a doubt he is one among several that can win not only Atlanta but Richmond and beyond. Barring the unforeseen (like last weekend at Bristol) and things happening to him that are out of his control, I like his chances for finishing in the top five at Atlanta and possibly taking the win and solidifying his #1 spot in the Chase. Judging from the way he has been running this year, it may a bit of a stretch but not unimaginable he could finish the season this year with his fifth Cup Championship and 95 wins, maybe more.

When it comes to Labor Day weekend and the Sprint Cup race at Atlanta, there are many things to consider. Take for example, Matt Kenseth and his #20 Toyota. It does appear the Toyotas have shown up with some speed this weekend and Matt Kenseth did have one of the fastest trips around the little over 1.5 mile oval. It could mean he might get his first win for the 2014 season and lock himself into the Chase with the win. Unless complete disaster strikes over the next two weeks, he is locked in by points. I suppose total disaster could strike just looking at how things have gone for his teammate Kyle Bush but it’s not likely. What is more likely is him taking a trip to Victory Lane at least once over the next two weeks.

The Fords have once again shown up with speed and one of them could end up in Victory Lane when the checkered flag drops at the end of the 500 miles tonight. Both Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have shown their Fords can get around the track with enough speed to get there and so did Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. From this fan’s view, it will take more than a fast lap or two to make that trip to Victory Lane a reality tonight. It will take consistently traversing the 1.5 mile oval at Atlanta with the best lap times. Unfortunately for the Fords and Toyotas, (at least in this fan’s opinion), the ones that displayed that were the Hendrick powered machines of Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon and this fan thinks one of them will end up taking home the trophy tonight… The question is, which one…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 30, 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.