Considering how races on the Monster Mile at Dover have gone in the past, Chase race three was relatively sane in comparison but intense just the same. Of course this fan isn’t naïve enough to think everyone will agree with that statement. I have seen races there that have had many more mishaps and crumpled up cars causing possible race winners to lose out because of being laps down or off the track because of the mishaps – but this one was different.
The race still had a lot of drama in it but it just wasn’t the same type race that I or others expected, especially with it being a race that would eliminate four drivers when it was over. I wouldn’t say it was boring but it was, at times, often uneventful. Of course that could have had a lot to do with how hard it is to pass on the Monster. More likely it had a lot to do with the completely dominating performance of Kevin Harvick and his #4 Stewart Haas team. He led over 350 laps and for most of the afternoon there was hardly any doubt he was going to win. When the chips are down, you can feel pretty secure that Kevin Harvick will step up to the plate and do whatever it takes to overcome the obvious obstacles to move ahead. It is something we have all come to expect from him so it is no surprise to this fan that he won.
When the race began, there was plenty of speculation on his situation and whether or not he would be moving on to the next round of the Chase. Before the green flag dropped he was starting in sixteenth place and didn’t necessarily need to win but did have to finish near the front to make it to the next round of the Chase. He wasted no time in moving to the front and soon moved into the lead. As the race progressed, things changed in a big way. The way the contenders were running in the field eventually showed he had no choice but to win if he was going to move on and that is probably one thing that began to hold everyone’s interest as the race progressed to its conclusion.
It really wasn’t hard to figure out Clint Bowyer’s situation – he had to win. With the way he had been running most of the year, this fan did think he would be the first to go. The penalty points didn’t help him at all and he would have had to show a lot more speed than he had in recent weeks. With the dominating performance of Kevin Harvick from the drop of the green flag, Clint never had a chance.
Jimmie Johnson was the biggest loser at Dover and even though we all knew it was a possibility for any of the contenders, I don’t think anyone expected him to not be moving on. In fact I even mentioned it in my last article/podcast. I spoke of the ones that were a fairly safe bet to move on to the next round if disaster didn’t strike. Included were the names Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson. As it turned out, Jimmie Johnson is the one that got bit. He finished thirty-six laps down.
While we’re talking about the Hendrick teams, other than Jimmie Johnson both Dale Jr, and Jeff Gordon were part of the drama at the end of the race and whether or not either of them would be moving on. Had it not been for an aggressive move to pass Jamie McMurray on the outside by Dale Jr., he would not have moved on to the next round of the Chase with a chance to contend for the Championship. Although he and McMurray ended up in a tie, the tie was broken by the fact that Dale Jr. finished ahead of him so Jamie was eliminated and Jr. moves on.
It appeared Jeff Gordon was safe going into the last restart but, as has been the case with his racing luck this season, he almost didn’t finish good enough to move on to the next round either. He finished twelfth and only made it in by two points. After it was over, this fan thought he looked stressed but relieved to be moving on to the round two reset at Charlotte next weekend.
Even though they were part of the intensity and drama of the Dover race, all four of the Joe Gibbs teams are moving on to the next round of eliminations over the next three races. It is still possible they could be the four racing to win the Championship at the finale in Homestead although I’m still not ready to make that a definite statement. I do think four others besides Kevin Harvick intend to make sure that doesn’t happen and of course those would be Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Dale Jr. and Jeff Gordon.
So… where does that leave Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Bush and Ryan Newman? Well, that’s what I’m trying to decide myself… It could be they will be the spoilers.
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 6, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions