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The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship is unique to itself and the Championship race itself is too. One of the most interesting things about this final race for the 2015 season is that none of the four running for the Championship has to win. The only thing one of them has to do is finish in front of the other three. Of course if you ask the four competing for the Sprint Cup Championship you’ll find none of them are approaching this race any differently than they would any other elimination race in the Chase – that’s right … they want to win!
As a longtime NASCAR fan I find it very interesting that four drivers compete with each other for the Championship while competing with thirty-nine others that could possibly win but their winning doesn’t have any effect on the outcome of the Championship. The champion comes from which of the four left competing for the Sprint Cup finishes ahead of the other three. Any way you look at it that is definitely different than any other sport I know of.
The 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship has been one of the most intense, dramatic and emotional Chases this fan has ever experienced and the race this weekend at Homestead won’t be any different. The four drivers, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush, Martin Truex Jr. and Jeff Gordon all have unique stories surrounding them as they have competed and qualified for the Championship round throughout this season and any of their stories would be a crowning moment on their season and careers. None of these four were necessarily expected to be where they are this weekend considering how their seasons started and progressed throughout the year.
We all know the stories surrounding these final four and that’s pretty much all we’ve heard about all week long from every known talking head since last Sunday’s race finally ended at Phoenix. There is still a lot of talk of how these four shouldn’t even be competing for the Sprint Cup and that had NASCAR made “the right decision” there would probably be a little different look to the final four. Of course this fan suspects the main reason for those thoughts is because their driver didn’t make it in. It is true the calling of the race because of rain did affect one or two of the finalists but, from this fan’s view, the ones that should be competing for the Championship this year are the ones that are. I’m not saying that just because the ones I wanted to be there are but because they deserve to be there and everything they did throughout the year and the Chase has put them there. Circumstances aside, these four drivers and teams worked hard to be where they are.
I know you know all the stories surrounding these four drivers but a quick review is in order, well… at least from the way this fan sees them.
Kevin Harvick has overcome many adversities to be where he is this weekend and no one can say his team gave up when negative things happened to them week in and week out. The driver and his entire team seemed to thrive on adversity and their determination to put them in the final four. Even this weekend, Harvick didn’t qualify as well as he hoped he would but he isn’t moping around hoping things go better, he is looking at where they’ve been and what they’ve accomplished this season. He is contending for his second Sprint Cup Championship in a row and has a very good chance at repeating.
Martin Truex Jr. surprised many by making the Chase as a single car team and he and his team have performed well enough to make it through the three rounds leading up to this one to be strong contenders for taking the Cup Championship which would be his first. Many consider him to be the dark horse in this one and probably rightly so – he only has three victories to his credit so far in his Cup career but winning on Sunday is not out of his reach.
Kyle Bush is a different Kyle Bush than he was a few years ago. He has matured over that time and has handled the adversity of this season with determination and class. From this fan’s view, determination has never been his weakness but me using the word “class” to describe him is new. As I said, he has matured and become more likeable over the last couple of years. After his accident at Daytona at the beginning of the season, no one thought he would be in the Chase, let alone competing for the Sprint Cup in the finale. He has had his best Chase performance ever and he is going for his first Cup Championship in this one and he and his team worked hard, won races and did everything they had to do to be where they are this weekend.
That brings us to the four-time Champion, Jeff Gordon. He has had what many consider to be an up and down year. After some of the trials and tribulations he and his team faced throughout this year, not too many thought he would make it to the final four at Homestead this weekend to compete for his fifth Cup Championship. In fact, there were those that didn’t think he would even have a win in this, his last year in NASCAR let alone make it into the Chase. In typical Jeff Gordon fashion, he came through when it counted and his win at Martinsville, the teams overall consistency throughout the year and some sheer determination on all their parts put them in the finale and he has a chance to be successful in his Drive for Five.
It will definitely be “one and done” for more than one reason at Homestead this weekend. This has been the most dramatically intense and emotional Chase since they instituted this format into the mix and I expect it to be nothing less on Sunday afternoon. Forty-three cars competing for a win, four drivers of those forty-three competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship and a four time Champion trying to retire while on top – Can it get any better than this? This fan doesn’t think so…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 21, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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