There’s just no two ways about it. Four drivers won’t make it to Homestead in the final four competing for the MENCS Championship for 2019. Two are already qualified for the finale and we already know what their names are. It is the other two names that remain in limbo until this one race at Phoenix is finished and in the books. When that happens, we will either have recognized our expected choices as winners or also rans or be completely amazed at how wrong we could be.
I don’t know about you, but it is another time in this year’s playoffs where anything could happen this weekend. I mean, if you just look at what has happened to several of the drivers over last few races, you’ll see overwhelming evidence that no one except Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick are guaranteed a spot at Homestead. No matter what some say about Kyle Bush or Joey Logano and them moving on to the Championship race, there is still no guarantee.
Speaking of Kyle Bush, does anyone think he hasn’t been struggling at least slightly for a while now. Oh sure, he’s still “sort of” maintained his points position except for being passed by the two winners over the last two weeks. If you listen to him, the race Sunday is between him and Logano when it comes to moving on to the final four. He makes no mention of the other drivers below the cut line and it appears he expects to win at Phoenix. That could very well be the way it turns out.
Joey Logano, on the other hand, doesn’t sound all that confident even though he had a very good week last weekend. Listening to him in interviews over this last week he has had a guarded optimism about them. He doesn’t seem to be overly confident of how he will finish but does have at least a little “hope” in his voice. From this fan’s view, I think he is concerned about another disaster striking and taking him out of contention all together.
Personally, I don’t know what to think of these two. I know they don’t really care what I think and you probably don’t either but I have to say this. I’m am not totally convinced that either one, or both, of them will move on to the final four.
Why would I say such a thing? Well… just look at what has happened to Chase Elliott over the last few weeks. He has gone from a favored one to move on to one that has to win to make it to Homestead as a one of the four competing for the Championship. There was the equipment failures of two blown engines and a broken axle, (quite unusual for a Hendrick racing team.) Last week he just made a driver error that put him way out of touch with the cut line and made this weekend a must win to get in.
Denny Hamlin looked to be a lock for the final four and he has managed to drop below the cutline. That was completely unexpected by most and now he probably needs to win if he expects to make it to the final four. We all know he is quite capable but there is still the question of, will he? Could something happen to put him completely out of the running? Could he score a lot of points in the stages and still be outpointed by Bush and Logano? These are all questions that won’t be answered until the race is run and done.
And then there’s Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney. Both not totally out but by no means in. Both still have a chance to make it to Homestead and in the hunt but a lot of positive things have to happen for them. They both have to run up front and score lot of points while the ones above them have to have really bad races and lose a lot of points. In reality, they both need to win but you and I both know only one of them can so guess what that means? Yeah, that’s right; both of them can’t win so there just about has to be a complete and total failure (in other words, finishing last) for Kyle Bush and Joey Logano. Oh, and by the way, Denny Hamlin would have to be right there with them in those last places.
Does it sound like this weekend is going to be full of excitement, drama and emotion? Does it also sound like the pressure is on all six of those not qualified for the final four? I would say a very resounding, YES! to all of those questions, how about you?
I expect this to be one of the most aggressive and action-packed races of the year and especially in these 2019 playoffs. As I said at the opening of this, four drivers and teams won’t make it to the final four. Two are in and six want to make it in. Of the six wanting to make it in, only two will and which two remains to be seen. A winner from below the cut line changes everything and, since troubles have been abundant for many of the contenders, a bad day by any one or more of the six can do the same.
I don’t know what you think, but this fan thinks this is going to be a race to remember for a long time…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 9, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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