From a NASCAR Fan’s View
There are a lot of questions being asked about the race at Martinsville this weekend. The biggest one is “Who will be in the Final Four when this one is done?” There are two spots taken, two remain and six vying for those last two spots. If that doesn’t sound like drama in the making, I don’t know what does.
Two of the possible final four have nothing to lose when it comes to the race today at Martinsville. Of course, you know which two I’m talking about. That’s right, Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson. Both of them can pull out all the stops and run to win without having to worry if their aggression causes them to not run well or even finish. Both of them have fast cars but one of them does seem to have a slight advantage. Well, that is if you think qualifying makes very little difference in how the race goes.
Presently, at least from my view, Christopher Bell may have a slight advantage over Kyle Larson simply because he is driving a Toyota and because the last several weeks he has had the car to beat at the end of the race. I say that is a slight advantage because Kyle has been in position to win several weeks also. I’m not saying either of them will have an advantage today when it comes to the final laps though. That all depends on how it goes with the six trying to win their way into the final Four.
Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. are two drivers desperate to get as many points as they can and both of them want to win their way in. Obviously, they both can’t win and they both sit seventeen points below the cut. For both of them to point their way in would mean at least two other playoff drivers would have to have bad days. Ryan Blaney sits just ten points above the cut and Willaim Byron has a little bit of a cushion sitting thirty points above the cut. Although it is possible either Blaney or Byron could have really bad days, it is hard for this fan to see them both drop to the wayside and both be below the cut.
The other two drivers presently below the cut would be Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher. Buescher is in a must win situation as far as this fan is concerned and Reddick is ten points below the cut. I guess you could say they’re at the top and bottom of those below the cut. Of the two, Reddick has the best chance of making the cut although he has his work cut out for himself. He and his team just cannot afford any mistakes. They’re going to have to be on their ‘A’ game if they want to have any chance at all and still, it may depend on Blaney or Byron having bad days.
I don’t know if it means anything to you but, to me, it looks like a lot could depend on how Byron and Blaney do during the race. Unfortunately, IF qualifying and practice means anything, it looks like Blaney might have a better chance than Byron. Judging from observing the practice and qualifying speeds, the Fords – in particular the SHR Fords – looked to have good speed.
Sure, I realize Byron may have done better qualifying had he not been on the track when Tyler Reddick spun at the end of his second qualifying lap causing Byron to have to abort his already started coming to green moment but, there is no guarantee he would have either. As it stands, he definitely has his work cut out for himself even with his thirty point cushion since he is starting sixteenth. Plus, the Hendrick Chevys all seem to be looking for just a touch more speed. That could spell trouble for Byron if they don’t rectify it as the race progresses.
The problem for the six playoff drivers still contending to move on to the Final Four is the simple fact that there are other, non-playoff drivers quite capable of winning this one. Some in the field just want to finish off the season with a win. You know, drivers like Chase Elliott, Chase Briscoe, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace and a host of others without a win this season. Can’t rule out Ty Gibbs either starting outside pole net to Truex Jr.
I really believe that this is going to be one hard-fought race with any number of challengers pulling out all the stops to win. I know it goes without saying that the eight drivers in the round of eight have the advantage but, I don’t think that will deter the others from trying their best to take the win, even at the risk of making it hard on those six playoff drivers trying to make the cut and adding to the drama.
Any way you look at it, there are going to be hard chargers like Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. doing all they can to make it to the Final Four. Martin Truex won the pole and the number one pit choice. He will have an advantage at the start of the race but, with the way things have been going for him and his team, he may or may not be first to the checkered flag at the end of the day. He doesn’t have to win but winning is his best bet if he wants to move on to the Final Four at Phoenix…
Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 29, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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