From a NASCAR Fan’s View
The thing on everyone’s mind is wondering whether or not Denny Hamlin will win the first race of the Round of Eight as he has in the last two rounds. I’m thinking that may be a possibility but, I’m not willing to jump on that wagon at the moment. Both Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson start on the front row and part of the Round of Eight right behind them. All of the remaining playoff drivers are starting in the top eight. Texas stats say a lot about some of the drivers and their ability to get around the mile and half oval at Texas. Without going into great detail right up front, there are a few other things to talk about first.
The feud between Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott seemed to continue last week at the Roval. When I say “seemed” I really mean “did” continue. There was no doubt Harvick meant to put Elliott out and possibly rob him of a chance to win another race at the Roval but I’m not so sure he meant it to be as severe as it was.
I find it interesting that both Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott had problems that could have prevented their continuing in the playoffs and both of their teams stepped up to keep them in the hunt. Of course, we already know Larson ended up winning the Roval and Elliott managed a twelfth-place finish with a highly damaged racecar. Harvick, however, ended up over-driving himself into the wall, ending his race for the day and his chance to move on in the playoffs.
I thought it was hilarious that Chase was catching up to him and we don’t really know what he might have done if he had but, Harvick put himself out of contention with no help from Chase. I suppose it is possible he thought something might happen when he did catch up but, I guess we’ll never know if Chase would have made good on his threat made in the heat of the moment.
Getting back to the race this weekend in Texas, there are several drivers besides Hamlin and Larson that could pull off the victory on Sunday afternoon. In particular, any of the Penske drivers could win this one. Whether you talk about Keselowski, Logano or Blaney, the Penske Fords have shown improvement over the last several weeks but they haven’t sealed the deal at the end of a race lately. Well, all three of them have won at least one race this season but, they have struggled. If I was going to pick any one of the three to win, I think it would probably have to be Ryan Blaney. Of the three, he has been the most consistent lately. I won’t completely rule out Keselowski or Logano from winning but there is a lot on the line and, if one of them does win any of the three races coming up, they will be in the final four. That is the motivation for the Penske drivers. If they win, they’re in the final four. If they don’t, well, they just may not make the cut, unless, they can point their way in.
Now, I guess you’re asking if I think one of the Penske drivers will be in the final four. Honestly, I do not. Well, except for the possibility of Ryan Blaney doing so. Of the three he is the one I think could make a showing for the Fords.
Next is the Joe Gibbs teams of Truex Jr. and Kyle Bush. Either one or both of these guys could make the final four. I’m not saying they will and I’m not saying they won’t. I’m just saying their chances are very good but, it is going to depend on how they do on their stronger tracks of which Texas is one. Another thing to consider is the 550 package NASCAR is having them run. It is one of the stronger packages for the Toyotas and that could shift the advantage to the Gibbs teams.
From this fan’s view, Chase Elliott is the unknown factor in the final results at Texas. His performance has been strong but it seems something always comes up to keep him from finishing up front. His run ins with Harvick have definitely hurt his situation and it remains to be seen if NASCAR’s talk with the two will make any difference in their feud, rivalry or what ever you want to call it. It has made for some added intensity in the races and, of course, the talking heads in usual fashion can’t leave it alone. Personally, I hope they have decided to leave it in the rear view and both can get back to racing for the win rather than revenge.
Still, I think Chase is a dark horse as the possible winner of this one. He, along with the other seven in the Round of Eight, is motivated by needing to perform and do everything possible to make the final four. These next three races are going to be filled with pressure and intensity, especially for those still in the playoffs and I don’t think any of them want to just run near the front. This is a 500 mile race and more than anything, I believe it’s all about winning. At the very worst, they all want to run at or near the front and win any and every stage point they can. The problem is, there are a bunch of drivers that want to walk away with a win and one of them is Kevin Harvick. I believe he is motivated to get his first win of the 2021 Season and make up for his costly mistake at the Roval…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 17, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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