Richmond Looms Large For The Playoff Picture

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

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With three races left in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season, the race this week looms large in the whole playoff picture. It depends on whether or not there will be three different first-time winners for 2022 and shake up the whole thing, or, whether there will be at least one or two to really make things interesting. Naturally, depending on what happens this weekend, the next two weekends become even more important for those drivers not yet qualified for the playoffs.

Right at the outset, I can think of two drivers that are very interested in which of the other drivers win this week at Richmond, next week at Watkins Glen and at Daytona to end the regular season. The interesting thing about their situations is that they both could qualify for the playoffs by points IF there hadn’t been so many winners this season.

Just in case you don’t know which of the two drivers I’m talking about, I would think it would be very obvious. Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking about Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. Both of them were in by points last weekend until Kevin Harvick won last weeks race at Michigan. All of the sudden, one of them was in and the other one was on the outside looking in. That’s just how fast it can happen again this weekend. It all depends on who wins the race and whether or not it is either Ryan Blaney or Martin Truex Jr. After all, It could be either one of them since they both run good at this track.

I guess the problem is that there are a number of other drivers that would like to win this weekend and it could be anyone, or at least just about anyone. I say that because we’re talking about NASCAR Cup racing with the Next Gen car. Although it hasn’t shown itself to live up to all the hype as the great equalizer in Cup racing, it has just about done so in recent weeks. With the unknowns about tire wear, flat tires, loss of control for several on a regular basis and just about any other known equalizers you can name, just about anyone can win.

I have to agree with some of the talk going around this week that the Toyotas have finally found a speed advantage they didn’t have earlier in the season. Well, at least it looks that way so far over the last couple of weeks in particular. Shucks, even the Fords have actually sprung to life in recent weeks as shown by Kevin Harvick’s win last weekend.

I have to admit, I was at least a little surprised by his victory last weekend, if for no other reason than he just hasn’t been there at the end of a race. Oh sure, he may have been in position to win but he wasn’t actually pressing for the win at the end of a race. I’m sure there will be those that disagree with me on that but, that is the way I’ve seen it from my view.

Getting back to the Toyotas for a moment, one of the JGR drivers that has been struggling would be Denny Hamlin. Oh I know he finished in third at Michigan but, he has struggled on pit road quite often this year. Another would be Kyle Bush. He just seems to be in the wrong place at the right time to get into either his or someone’s mix up which either puts him behind or completely out for the day because of damage. It is so unlike both of them to “appear to be” struggling so often like they have been recently.

Just one more quick look back to Michigan from last week shows there were three Fords and four Toyotas in the top ten but only three Chevys. I don’t know what is going on with the Chevys but they had better pick up their game a bit or they just might not make past the first round of the playoffs.

Take Kyle Larson and William Byron for example. Both of them have had their problems over the last several weeks and, considering how they were running earlier in the season, they just haven’t been showing up with the usual Hendrick strength. Oh, they’ve had their moments but, they just haven’t been able to maintain consistency through to the end of a race lately.

The only one that has shown any real consistency from the Hendrick camp would be Chase Elliott but he hasn’t always been a contender week in and week out even though he has had several races finishing second or first. I understand he is the points leader but, from my view, he is either running close to the front or he just doesn’t have the finish at the end that he needs.

So, the race this weekend at Richmond is very important for some and, for others, well… let’s just say they want the regular season to be over so they can get after racing to make it through the playoffs to the final four for the Championship…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 13, 2022 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.