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Like it not, this race isn’t really about the winner. Well, that is unless the winner is one of the final four in this final race of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup series. An interesting fact about this one is that it is really two races in one, or, at least can be. If it turns out that the four still racing for the Championship are racing each other for first place that would be one race. If it turns out that the one winning isn’t even still racing for the Championship it then becomes two races in one. The winner is the winner of the race and the one of the four that finishes ahead of the other three still competing for the Championship wins the Sprint Cup.
Wow!! That really sounds confusing but it’s really not…
In an interesting and dramatic qualifying session, none of those still competing for the actual Championship qualified in the top five. In fact, all of them are starting the race Sunday afternoon in ninth to fourteenth. Kyle Bush is starting in ninth, Carl Edwards in Tenth, Joey Logano thirteenth and Jimmie Johnson fourteenth. Of course none of that means all that much when it comes down to the actual race but it is interesting that the top four aren’t really the top four qualifiers for the biggest race of the 2016 season.
Kevin Harvick is sitting on the pole for the Ford Ecoboost 400. Not many thought he wouldn’t be one of the final four but he is not running for the Sprint Cup Championship – he isn’t one of the final four. Things happened to upset his being one of the final four but he has accepted that and he is still showing he and his team have “the stuff” it takes to win even though they aren’t actually going for the Championship Trophy. Even though there are a few changes coming to Stewart-Haas Racing next season, this fan thinks he will probably be contending for the Championship again and could end up as Champ again.
Of the four contenders for the Championship, it wouldn’t bother this fan if any one of three of them wins but there is one that really isn’t one I hope wins. Every fan has their favorites and favorites to root against and this one is one I honestly don’t root for, not that he isn’t talented and not that he isn’t capable; it’s just that he has somehow managed to rub me the wrong way and I just haven’t been able to shake that negativity yet. Maybe someday that will happen and, who knows he might even be one that actually do root for to win one day. That hasn’t happened yet and especially not in this season ending championship race.
Carl Edwards is in search of his first Sprint Cup Championship and he actually has tied for one in the past. It’s not like he lost it because he did win it, it’s just that he tied and lost the tie breaker to Tony Stewart a few years back. It has taken him time to get back to this point but he is ready to make it another try and win his first Sprint Cup Championship. Since the Gibb’s Toyotas have looked very good on mile and a half tracks this season, there is a very good chance Carl could be the one celebrating winning the Cup Championship for 2016 when this one is over.
Carl will have to beat his teammate, Kyle Bush, to win his first and it is this fan’s opinion he won’t make it easy. Kyle is going for his second Championship in a row and since he is one of the JGR teams also, his chances are the same as Carl’s. Now, I’m not saying either one of them will win but I am saying both of them do have an equal opportunity to win and Kyle has looked very good this weekend as well as during the Chase to this point. I do look for him to be a factor at the very least whether or not he is running to win the race or just finishing ahead of the rest of the four contenders for the Championship.
Jimmie Johnson is on the verge of making NASCAR history once again. He could possibly be joining a very elite group that only two others have accomplished in NASCAR history. Those two are the King, Richard Petty, and the legendary Dale Earnhardt and what those two have accomplished is winning seven Championships. Jimmie is racing for his seventh and, he too, could have a great chance in celebrating winning the Championship when the race is done. With the competitive edge the Hendrick organization has regained, his chances are very good but 400 miles and several pit stops leave plenty of room for something to go wrong and prevent that seventh from happening for him and the #48 team. They’ll have to be on the top of their game just like the other three do if they hope to win the Championship.
As I said earlier, it is hard for this fan not to have a favorite but this is one time when it comes down to hoping one wins for one reason and any of the others for different reasons. I’m not really picking one over the rest but there has to be a point where a choice has to be made and I will do that this weekend.
If one does win over the rest of the four, I will be pulling for Jimmie Johnson to win his seventh. Admittedly, I have been a Hendrick Motorsports fan for a long time and will continue to be one for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the others, it just means I am a fan of and am impressed with the accomplishments of Hedrick Motorsports over the years. I have been a NASCAR fan for a long, long, time and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Okay, so that’s my choice for the one I would like to see win but I won’t stop watching the race if he falls back or falls out of being competitive for the Championship this Sunday. Just remember this; as the race pans out over the four hundred miles on Sunday afternoon. None of the four contenders has to win the race. They can finish in 37th to 40th as long as one of them finishes ahead of the rest. The one that does will be the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champ and the others will just have to wait until next year to try again…
Will I See ya next time… well… we’ll see…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 19, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated