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After all the bumping, banging, drama and emotion of last week’s race at Martinsville, everyone is wondering how, and if, the race at Texas Motor Speedway will top the events of the short track excitement generated in usual fashion for short tracks. From this fan’s view, I have to admit it was a race that kept my attention for most of the 500 laps and it was definitely “short track excitement” that kept my attention.
In typical fashion for short track driver mentality, there was no lack of emotion or aggressiveness. With this being the playoffs, it was even more emotional and aggressive for the eight drivers trying to cement their place in the final four at Homestead. With that in mind and as a fan, I can’t help but put in my two cents of some of the “things” that happened there.
The major topic of conversation this week has been what happened between Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliot. In case you missed it, (which I doubt is the case), Denny Hamlin put Chase Elliott into the wall trying to win the race. Well, maybe that is a little bit harsh. Perhaps I should say he, “moved him out of the way and he hit the wall.” At least that’s the way I remember it from an interview right after the race last weekend. In ususal fashion, Denny first placed blame on the fact that everyone is doing it rather than take responsibility for his actions. Later, after the emotions had passed, he did take marginal responsibility but only as far as saying he had never been one that did such a thing but now he had joined those that did and do. Now, at this point in the conversation and a weekend later, he says he didn’t mean to spin him, it wasn’t intentional.
From this fan’s view, and as a former driver, I know that many of us as drivers have done things we later regretted. Personally, I blame it on adrenaline and intense emotion that clouds the thinking and decision-making process, especially in competition. There is a lot of adrenalin flowing while driving competitively in stock cars and, in particular, at the NASCAR Cup level. The importance of making it to the final four and race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Championship at Homestead is almost beyond explanation, especially to the drivers and teams. Oh, and did I mention it is important to their sponsors as well…?
Whether you are a Denny Hamlin fan or a Chase Elliott fan may or may not shade your opinion of what happened last weekend but it definitely did cause major fan reactions immediately after it happened and all week long. The conversation is carrying over into the race this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway but a lot of the speculation about what could happen likely won’t.
In this fan’s opinion, I don’t think Chase Elliott is going to go out gunning for Denny Hamlin and only looking to spin him into the wall. Of course it is possible he could think about doing the same thing Hamlin did to him if he is behind him and they are going for the lead in the final laps. That is something Denny will have to consider if he is in the lead and sees Chase on his rear bumper in his rearview mirror with the laps dwindling down to one or two. I don’t know what might happen then but at this point, Chase pretty much needs a win to make it into the finale and, well… I guess we’ll just have to see what happens if that scenario plays out. Personally, I don’t think Chase Elliott is the type person to do that but, as history in another series has proven, he is quite capable.
Hamlin and Elliott weren’t the only drivers still in the playoffs that had on-track situations causing heightened emotions. Two that come quickly to mind are Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick. The two rubbed fenders and banged bumpers almost all race long at Martinsville and both experienced frustrations with the other. It never rose to the level of Hamlin and Elliott but it could have just as easily. They did have their post-race discussion and both shared their frustrations with the other. I don’t think last weekend’s experience will carry over to this weekend’s race but this is the playoffs and it is NASCAR – so who knows.
As it stands going into the race at Texas Motor Speedway, there are only two races left to make it into the final four and there are seven drivers determined to make it there. Only one person has no pressure on him and that is Kyle Bush. He won at Martinsville and he is guaranteed to be in the finale at Homestead because of that win. As for the others, well, the pressure is on them until they either have enough points to be locked in or win one of the next two races and lock themselves in. The intensity, emotion and pressure is on all seven of them and their teams to perform at Texas and that is going to make this weekend and next very intense and emotional for all of them. I don’t know how you feel about it but it should be a very interesting two weekends, don’t you think…?
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 4, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated