Okay… this is the way it is. Jimmie Johnson is in the final four at Homestead and the rest of the Chasers are trying to get there. Unfortunately for four of the remaining eight only four will advance and four of them won’t and they only have two more races to make it into the final four. The easiest way for them to make it in is to win. Although there are a couple that could make it in by points, winning removes all doubts and that is what it is all about at Texas this Sunday afternoon. One other unfortunate thing about this weekend – or any race weekend in NASCAR – there are forty drivers that want to win and only one can. That means there are thirty nine drivers wanting or needing a win this weekend and only seven of them are still in the Chase for the Championship.
The point that really brings this home is that Austin Dillon took the pole for Sunday afternoon’s race and he is no longer in the Chase. Of all of the ones running in the AAA Texas 500, there are more than a few that could win it and only eight of them are still qualified to move on.
So, which of the present eight need to win this one the most? My choice would be Carl Edwards. He is lowest in the standings for the Chasers and needs a win more than he needs points. Well, that is unless the other six that haven’t locked in a position for Homestead have really bad days on Sunday afternoon.
Next in line for really needing a win is Kurt Bush. He has been running consistently but not consistently in the top four or five and he presently sits seventh in the Chase grid. If he just continues as he has been, it just won’t be enough to make the final four. A win, however, could make a drastic difference in his future but also in the future of a few others as far as the Chase is concerned.
Probably the biggest surprise to this fan is where Kevin Harvick is in his quest for his second Championship. Some would call it just bad racing luck, others would say he just hasn’t gotten the breaks he needed to be higher in the standings and still others say his performance just hasn’t been there. Any one or all of those may be true in one way or another but one thing is certain from this fan’s view; he can’t continue on like he has in his quest for his second this year. Well, that is unless he wins or finishes in the top three over the next two races and hopes his competitors have finishes near the back of the field. Otherwise, well, this fan just thinks he might have to continue his quest for his second next year.
Joey Logano sits in an interesting and precarious position if for no other reason than he is eleven points out of fourth and looks pretty strong for this weekend. Of course this wouldn’t be the first time he has looked strong and finished a race relatively poorly. All it would take for him to not move on is to have two relatively mediocre races over the next two weeks and watch another opportunity pass him by. It isn’t outside the realm of possibilities for him to not move on but having really good finishes over the next two races could really make a big difference. Of course, he could win at least one of the next two and cinch a spot in the finale at Homestead.
Defending Champion, Kyle Bush, hasn’t had a great time so far this weekend. Before he even completed the first lap in the first practice, he bounced hard off the wall and had to move into a backup car. In qualifying he had a loose water hose and didn’t qualify well. Now both you and I know that doesn’t always mean trouble on race day but it could mean this race could be struggle for him and his #18 M&M JGR team. I never rule out Kyle Bush but he has had his struggles in the Chase in the past.
Let’s see… Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin are basically tied for second in the grid and either one of the two could make the trip to Victory Lane on Sunday afternoon. I’m not picking either one as a definite winner but have to consider the possibility of them winning. If one of them does win, there is definitely one I would rather see win than the other but I won’t even go there because I think you know which one I’m talking about. With the way the Chase has been going so far, anything can happen and they could both be put in a must win situation for next week.
Texas is a fast, slick track and it can be a tricky track to figure out as the race progresses. Not only is it fast but there are spots and times during a race that brushes with the wall can make a difference in whether or not one might finish. There are some bumps that have upset some and they could make a dramatic impact on any one or several of the Chasers on Sunday afternoon. Of course that doesn’t mean it will happen but only that it could and then there is the possibility that the end result could play a large part in which of the remaining seven have a chance to move on to the final four.
So it does come down to the fact that it is all about winning at Texas this weekend and if someone other than a Chaser wins, well, that really means next weekend at Phoenix could be one of the most dramatic races in Chase history. Should things pan out that way, there will still be seven drivers and teams contending for the remaining three places in the final four and that will definitely make it one to watch and it will be filled with drama and emotion not often matched on a NASCAR race weekend. But then again, well… you know…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 5, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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