Nascar Racing

The Heat Is On At Phoenix from a NASCAR Fan’s View


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Look at it anyway you want but the truth is there are six drivers going for the two remaining spots for the final round of the 2016 NASCAR Cup Championship and, (if you’ll excuse my language), “ain’t but two of ‘em gonna make it!”

Hardly anyone is thinking about pointing their way in – they want to win!! Another hard truth is that one of them just about has to win to make it in. That driver is Kevin Harvick and, from this fan’s view, he either has to win or the other six have to have really bad days while he has a very good one. The reality is, at least in this fan’s opinion, he isn’t looking at this race as just another race at Phoenix, he is looking at it as one he not only can win but one he must win.

There are five others looking to win the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix and one of them is Kurt Bush. His only real chance to make it in is to win (barring some kind of miracle) and he is a long shot from this fan’s view. Even though he is capable of winning this one and this has been one of the most interesting and unpredictable Chases yet, I just don’t see it happening for him. I won’t completely rule him out but it is my opinion he won’t be one of the ones to move on to the Championship round at Homestead next weekend. Of course if he does win his way in, well, that would just be another time in this 2016 Chase that I, along with many others, was surprised and quite frankly, shocked. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he is capable of winning or advancing, I just don’t see it in the way they’ve been performing lately.

Okay, that takes care of two of the six competing for those last two spots and both of them likely need a win to make it in to the final four. Joey Logano on the other hand could make it on points or he could win. He is approaching this one as if he has to win to get in and he has looked fairly strong again this weekend in the practices and qualifying. However, he cannot afford to have a bad day compared to those he is competing against and he absolutely has to outrun three JGR Toyotas with his Penske Ford. Depending on how things pan out, he could be in the final four or outside the final four and this fan isn’t sure which of those two places he will be. We do know he will be giving it his best shot and letting the cards fall where they may.

This is where it gets really interesting to this fan… the three remaining drivers competing for those two remaining spots in the finale at Homestead are all JGR teams and at most, only two of them can actually make it in. Those three are Kyle Bush, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. With what has gone on in the last few weeks, one has to wonder just how nice they will “play” together. Kyle Bush said they were so nice to each other two weeks ago that they “let Jimmie Johnson win.” I didn’t really see it that way but he might have been right, except for the fact that, from this fan’s view, J J had the field covered that day. In any case, that week is gone and only two of these three can or will advance and that will only happen if either Kurt Bush or Kevin Harvick doesn’t come through with a win.

With the way this year’s Chase has gone, this fan hesitates to make any predictions because (as I stated earlier) this Chase has been one of the most unpredictable ones I ever remember. Those that looked as though they would easily advance to the final four earlier in the year and Chase are no longer competing for the Championship. Sure, they are competing for wins and even higher finishes in the points standings for the year but they aren’t eligible to win the Championship.

There is a very good possibility that one of this year’s rookies could win this one and nothing would make Ryan Blaney or Chase Elliot happier than that. In fact, Alex Bowman won his first career pole in Sprint Cup competition this weekend and this fan wonders if his performance will present him with a win or at least an opportunity for winning this one. If any of these three does take the win, that likely means one more of the six still eligible definitely won’t be moving on to the final four at Homestead. It is precisely at times like these that that two letter word, “IF”, looms awfully large.

That is one of the harsh realities facing all six of these drivers this weekend – the heat is on all six of them to win and guarantee themselves a spot in the final four. “IF” they don’t win this fan wonders “IF” they will be in and which ones it will be…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 12, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.