Daytona Will Decide The Playoff 16

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

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All eyes are on the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona and it is expected to be a real barn burner. With the announcement of Kurt Bush withdrawing from the playoff picture opening up another available spot in the final sixteen, the intensity has quadrupled. Fourteen of the spots are already set for the playoffs but now there are two spots available to fill out the final two places for the top sixteen. Kurt’s decision has made an already intense situation even more dramatic for this, the regular season finale leading into the playoffs.

Even though there are fourteen drivers and teams that don’t need to worry about winning this one or even really finishing, it is awfully hard for someone to just sandbag and move on to the playoffs. I just don’t recognize any of the top fourteen that aren’t competitive enough to not go for the win at Daytona. I just don’t think it’s in their blood to be content to just go out and run around. In fact, I’ll just say, if anything, this could make them even more willing to take chances and press the envelope since they’re already in. At Daytona, one of the most prestigious tracks to win at in NASCAR, a win there is something that everyone of them wants to have.

I have the utmost respect for the decision Kurt Bush made about his recovery and unknown time of being able to return to driving his racecar. Actually, it was something I didn’t quite expect to happen. Kurt has been in NASCAR for a long time and, it goes without saying, to do what he has done week in and week out for the number of years he has been doing it had to have been a very hard decision to make. I think he made the right decision and I’m sure it was his own decision and not some pressure from NASCAR. I may not have agreed with everything he has ever said or done in the series but, I do have the highest regard and respect for him and his abilities and also this decision to not continue with his health waiver.

The real race is between Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. At the time if this writing, Blaney has a twenty-five-point lead over Truex Jr. That means, unless Blaney has big time problems, he just needs to stay ahead of Truex Jr. and he will be in the playoffs. If Truex wins or outpoints Blaney by more than twenty-five he could be in. The real problem is that there are a bunch of drivers that could knock one of the two drivers out of the playoffs just by winning the Coke Zero Sugar 400. That can’t do anything but add pressure to Blaney and Truex Jr. and add to all they have to think about during tis one.

It is unfortunate that qualifying was rained out and there was absolutely no time on the track for any of the drivers and teams. That could either make for a very interesting start or a big swap of positions after the first few laps. This is another one of those races that this fan doesn’t put a whole lot of stock in where everyone starts. That’s mostly because this is the type of race that just about everyone has a chance of winning. In other words, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish and this one usually isn’t over until the final checkered flag waives.
I’m not sure whether or not starting up front on the front row like Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will be an advantage or not. I’ll be interested to see which of the drivers intentionally drop back in the field just to hopefully stay the slightest bit safer from possible carnage. It remains to be seen if dropping back turns out to be plus or a minus, if for not other reason, out front is usually a bit of a safer place of staying out of other peoples’ problems. That is unless something happens like a flat tire or a spin because of the unruly characteristics of the Next Gen car.

You see, I think there is going to be added intensity for the whole race simply because everyone wants to acquire as many points as possible and then there is that unquenchable desire to win at Daytona. Whether it will be a Ford, a Chevy or a Toyota that ends up in Victory Lane won’t make a whole lot of difference other than the obvious possibilities of “winning and you’re in” scenario of making the top sixteen if you’re not already qualified. This one thing I know for sure. At the end of this race, it won’t matter where Chase Elliott finishes because he has already locked himself in as the Regular Cup Season Champ. As for the rest, well, we’ll pick that up again when the playoffs start and the eliminations begin…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 27, 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.