The round of twelve begins at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. After last week’s race four were eliminated from competing for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Championship and that leaves twelve competing for a spot to move on to the round of eight after the next three races. So far the most interesting race of the three for the first round of sixteen was last weekend and, in this fan’s opinion, that was only because four of the sixteen were being eliminated from moving on to this next round.
Say what you will but from this fan’s view, the racing has been mostly lack luster this season and during this “playoff” part of it. There has just been something missing and I’m just not exactly sure what it is. Maybe as the races begin winding down to the finale at Homestead things will pick up but so far it has only been marginally interesting.
Now admittedly, I do have favorites even though I try to be neutral and fair when it comes to all of the teams competing. I do realize my bias does raise its head at times and there are absolutely those that I would rather not see win or even finish near the front. Although I have those opinions, I do try to keep them in check the best I can. This year in particular I think it has been harder to do than in past years. Maybe it’s because I’m older and the drivers I used to follow, observe or even obviously or secretly root for have either retired, are retiring or have left the scene all together. I keep watching but it’s just not the same… well at least not yet.
As I have mentioned in recent weeks, I do like the addition of the stage racing and what it has done to make the drivers press the envelope more to gain those precious available points. I also like the lower down force changes which have made the cars a little bit more unruly and appear to make the drivers and crews work a bit harder to get as much out of their cars as possible.
Anything NASCAR does to improve the competition or make for closer racing usually has a downside too. Like any other year, it does seem like one or more of the teams find an advantage over the rest and the Toyotas, especially the Joe Gibbs and JGR associated teams, have that advantage over the others for the present. Not that I don’t appreciate how Martin Truex Jr. has performed this year but he just isn’t one of my favorites. However, I cannot and will not try to argue against what he has accomplished this season. He and his team have done a great job this season and I congratulate them on their accomplishments. He very well could be the next Monster energy NASCAR Cup Champion.
Kyle Bush is another of the JGR camp that has been impressive. He has almost been the only competition Truex Jr. has had recently and he is one I expect will be in the final four and it could be between him and Truex Jr. for the championship in that final race for 2017. I am by no means saying it is a lock for either of them but for the present they do look strong. One has to wonder what it could be like if the final four turn out to be from the JGR camp. That’s definitely not what I would like to see but it is a definite possibility at this point. I guess we’ll see about that.
This year has probably been more of a disappointment to Dale Jr. than we as fans of NASCAR and Dale Jr. will ever know. It is my opinion that he would have liked to perform much better than he has in this his final year in NASCAR competitively. If there is a dark horse for this race at Charlotte, I would have to pick Dale Jr. It won’t get him into the final but it would definitely make a very large number of people very happy if he does win.
With two of the other JGR teams sitting on the front row for the start of this one, I would have to say there is the possibility either Denny Hamlin or Matt Kenseth could walk away with the trophy when this one is done. I’m not saying that will happen but it could and that would make the rest of this round of three races all the more interesting.
Just can’t walk away from this without mentioning Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott. All three of them are ones to watch for winning this one and I expect they will be in the conversation when it comes down to crunch time.
Wow, now that I think about it, the possible top ten for this one is really beginning to fill up with the choices I’ve made so far and any one of them, or a couple of others, could pull off the victory when they finally get to run this one (whether the rains come early or late.) I guess picking one of the ones I’ve mentioned to win is what I should do but the problem is, I just don’t which one of those mentioned or unmentioned will actually do it…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 7, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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