There is a definite difference in the feel and approach to this Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway. In some ways the tension is so thick it can be cut with a knife. In other ways, it is just the look on the faces of the drivers and teams trying to make it to the next round. For some it is simply a matter of being consistent and having at least a reasonable finish. For others… well… to put it bluntly, they either win or they’re done. Well, at least until next season if they want to be a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion.
From this fan’s view, this has been one race weekend that has shown just how serious the round of twelve teams take making it to the next round. For some, their only answer has been, “we’ve got to win.” The problem at least five of them face is that only one can win the race. If one of the four in ninth to twelfth place wins that will likely move one of the top eight into that “also ran” category and they will sit out competing for the 2018 Cup Championship until next season.
There are a lot of ways to look at this race, at least from a fan’s view, and the race on Sunday afternoon should have an elevated intensity for two important reasons. First, there are four drivers that need to win and, second, there are all the others. Although there are favorites and drivers and teams relatively safe from not being able to move to the next round, anything can happen to those close on points. If nothing else has been obvious this season, and especially during the playoffs, there is no guarantee any of them won’t have a bad day. Four or five of them can handle a bad day either by points or wins but the rest, well let’s just say it could get very interesting.
Aric Almirola and Chase Elliott are already in the next round since they both have wins. Kevin Harvick is in simply because of his accumulated points along with Kyle Bush. Realistically there is no way they can’t move on to the next round simply because of their points. That makes four spots already filled in the coming round of eight. Joey Logano is pretty safe unless disaster strikes and, since he is sitting on the pole, this fan thinks he will fill that fifth spot without question.
Now, sixth place is where it begins to get a bit interesting. Kurt Bush could be safe unless something totally unexpected happens and he finishes last or very near last place. That isn’t likely but the possibility is there and if it could happen to anyone, in this fan’s opinion, it could happen to Kurt.
(Look, I didn’t say it would happen, I just said it could.)
After that, well… that leaves two available spots and the question is, depending on what happens overall, which of the remaining will qualify?
Both Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. can’t afford to have a bad race. Either one of them is capable of winning but neither of them is guaranteed to win even though Truex does appear to have a better chance because of his 1.5 mile track stats. When it comes to the Kansas Speedway and even though it is considered to be his home track, Bowyer hasn’t really performed all that well in his recent visits here.
Speculation this week has been rampant about which will advance and which will become the “also rans” but some things are just plain evident. The only way for Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman to guarantee themselves moving on to the Round of Eight is to win. Since only one of them can win, (like I stated earlier), their chances are slim and it is going to take everything going their way for that to happen. That means no mistakes, no miscues and no penalties in the pits. Strategy could play a role but it is going to have to be great strategy. Otherwise… S
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 20, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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