The Texas Motor Speedway is considered one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR Cup circuit and it was no different on Sunday afternoon. The speeds were fast and it looked as though it was going to be the usual race that fan’s and drivers alike usually experience. Well… as you already know, it wasn’t at all business as usual and the day was once again filled with intensity, emotion and unexpected drama right down to the final laps until the checkered flag fell.
Just as a slight review, before the race started things kind of shaped up like this. One person didn’t have to do much of anything except try to keep his and his team’s momentum going. In case you’re wondering or have forgotten, that was Jeff Gordon. He didn’t run badly but he was never much of a threat for the win. He did finish in the top ten though and that was a decent finish.
Those in the top four in points going in to Texas were determined to try and win or at least finish as near to the front as they could. By doing so they would either punch their ticket into the finale or, at least, make their chances better by increasing their point’s leads.
And then you had those that entered the weekend after having a disastrous weekend at Martinsville. Amongst those were Kurt Bush, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Of course we all know Joey Logano’s situation and how he arrived to the place he did. The important thing is that all three of them needed a very strong showing or possibly a win.
The worst thing that happened to all of them before the race ever started was the rain that kept them from practicing and possibly finding more speed or some problems with the tires. Even with all of those happenings, that just isn’t what made the race at Texas Motor Speedway one of the most dramatic in the Chase so far.
So… what was it that this fan thinks made this race so different? Well, I’m glad you asked (even though I was going to give you my opinion anyway.)
With all the talk that went on all week long before the race at TMS about the incident the week before between Kenseth and Logano, I don’t see how anyone could not know just how important this race was going to be. It was absolutely imperative that the Penske teams finish at or near the front. Brad Keselowski did his part on Friday and qualified on the pole for Sunday’s race. Logano didn’t qualify as well but still had a good starting position.
Matt Kenseth was sitting at home serving his first week of suspension so Brad and Joey wouldn’t have to worry about him upsetting the Penske applecart and both Logano and Keselowski appeared to be confident of having a good day on Sunday afternoon. All was good in the Penske world and it looked like it was going to go good for them. Even the Joe Gibbs team challenges to NASCAR’s rulings against Kenseth were kept in place except for the six month probation period being changed to just through December 31, 2015.
When the race started it did look as though it might be a good day for Brad as he immediately started pulling away from the rest into the lead from the pole. Even Logano looked strong and, from all appearances in the first laps, it just might be another Penske day.
Just when it appeared everything might be working out for Logano after his bad weekend at Martinsville, suddenly things changed for him. He blew a left rear tire on lap ten and it tore up the backend of his car so badly that it took over sixty laps to repair it in the garage. As some were heard to say, (at least where I was sitting), “Man, talk about it catching up to you… I guess the “racing gods” wanted to balance out the results between Joey and Matt.”
Well honestly, I don’t believe in “racing gods” any more that I do in a thing called bad Karma but it did appear something was going on since others had tire problems but not near the damage suffered by Logano. I hope you remember I talked about how a driver’s “racing luck” can change on a dime back in the article titled, “Martinsville resets the Chase to Eight.” I’ve seen it happen before and it could just be that his luck turned the weekend of Martinsville. Now he goes to Phoenix in a have to win situation. Nothing short of a win will get him into the finale at Homestead.
Just a few quick thoughts on Keselowski’s run Sunday afternoon. He led the most laps and looked almost untouchable. Well, that is until the final restart. Suddenly a race that almost nobody was going to remember as anything more that a race that Brad Keselowski dominated and punched his ticket into the finale at Homestead became memorable in two ways; First, Jimmie Johnson and Brad put on a show for several laps about how to block someone from passing you or how to pass cleanly, not spinning out your competition or running into them to win.
It was a dramatic and intense bit of racing on both Johnson’s and Keselowski’s parts and when Jimmie cleanly passed Brad it proved what many of us thought should have happened between Kenseth and Logano. Oh, and by the way, it also makes the race coming up at Phoenix all the more important, especially for three of the drivers, two of them on the same team. Definitely Logano and likely Keselowski need to win to move on to the Championship at Homestead BUT only one of them can win and definitely be in. There is one other possible scenario, but I don’t think we really want to talk about that right now. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out at Phoenix…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 10, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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