There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the race Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway will be intense. In fact, I would go so far as to say there just might be a sense of desperation in the intensity level especially for those that didn’t run and finish all that well last weekend.
If you’ve been listening to the Chase drivers this week, you’ve heard most, if not all, of them talking about this second round of three races in the Chase. It is their opinion this is the most intense round and all twelve of them want to make it to round three. We all know that’s not going to happen since only eight of the twelve still in the Chase will move on.
For some, that’s more than stressful and for others, it’s downright frustrating and they know they have to perform well in this weekend’s race at Kansas and hope for the best at Talladega next weekend. Well, that is unless one of last week’s poor performers wins. Then they will be able to slip into Talladega with only having to worry about what happens to them after Kansas all the way into round three. I think to simplify what I am saying is that they want to be one of the eight trying for the final four.
As I stated in the mid-week article/podcast, the only one that doesn’t have to worry or stress out over this race in the Chase is Joey Logano. Since he is already qualified for round three, he could run one lap, blow his engine, hit the wall hard and still move on. I don’t think he would want to do all of that but he could and it wouldn’t make any difference to his situation. For the rest of the twelve still in the Chase, it’s still about winning or finishing as close to the front as they can.
As an observer, it is this fan’s view that the Hendrick teams have to be at least somewhat disappointed with their performance so far. The way their year started and the way it is finishing are worlds apart. I know it is usual for there to be an ebb and flow amongst the teams but peaking at the beginning of the year and struggling at the end is not something that sits well for any teams or organization.
Take for example Kasey Kahne. He didn’t make the Chase and his year has been dismal to say the least. Even when he shows up and qualifies well, he has generally had mediocre to poor finishes. This week at Kansas hasn’t started any better but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a chance to win. What it means is this fan doesn’t expect him to.
I can’t say the same for Jimmy Johnson even though he is no longer in the Chase either. He is always a possible winner but hasn’t had very good racing luck recently. From this fan’s view, it is hoped that he doesn’t win and take away a chance for one of the Chasers to get back into the hunt or seal their deal for making round three, in particular one of his own teammates.
Dale Jr. is sort of on the bubble and needs to win or have a really good run in the Hollywood Casino 400 tomorrow. Since he didn’t show much in the first practice and qualifying on Friday, one can only think they are a little stressed and their intensity level will be quite elevated considering Talladega looming next week with no guarantees of finishing well or at all.
The only one showing real promise from the Hendrick camp at the moment is Jeff Gordon. Don’t get me wrong, his performances haven’t been earthshaking but he has been consistently finishing in the top fifteen and higher when he needed to. I suppose we could put all of that responsibility at the driver’s feet but my opinion is that it is just because the whole organization is a little behind the curve at the moment. I’m sure all of them at Hendrick are hoping they are on the road to recovery so they might once again be considered the ones to beat week in and week out.
Brad Keselowski showed a lot of strength in the practice and qualifying sessions and, had it not been for the written warnings they received keeping them from being able to choose their pit stalls, I think he might have just walked away with the win this weekend. As it stands, there is a bit of uncertainty about that. Even though he starts on the pole, his pit stall is going to cost him every time they have to stop simply because they won’t have the number one pit stall. That just might not be a good thing when it comes down to the end of the race.
As I said at the beginning of this one, expect the intensity to be extreme if for no other reason that so much is riding on this race for so many. The elimination round isn’t set yet and, with the uncertainties that surround running at Talladega, only one driver is guaranteed to be in it so far and that makes the other eleven want to win this one at Kansas…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 17, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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