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Well, the final four are set for Homestead and many came away from the Phoenix race with mixed emotions. It was an unusual day at the track in the desert and the race scheduled for daytime turned into a night time race. Rather than it coming down to a white knuckle, edge-of-your-seat finish at the end of the race, it was the relentlessness of the on and off rain that proved to be the undoing of four of the ones hoping to move on to the Championship race. I’m not going to say it was a great race but it did turn out to be an interesting one. Even after the multi hour rain delay…
From this fan’s view, I think the one damaged the most by the race being called because of rain was Carl Edwards. Of the four that were trying to race their way into the final four, he was the only one that really had a chance to point his way in and he was running ahead of Martin Truex Jr. when it was called – just not far enough ahead. He was only able to gain two of the seven points he needed and, because of the race being called, he finished five points behind Truex and was eliminated. That was unfortunate but he’s not the only one that the calling of a race because of rain has ever happened to except that this one happened in the final elimination race in the Chase. It may have been a unique circumstance but it was still a consistent call by NASCAR according to the rules.
As for Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano not making it into the finale, well… the way the eight in the Elimination round were running, they really only had once chance and that was to win. Either way it went between them, the other one of the two Penske teams was going to be eliminated. There has since been a lot of speculation about the “what if” factor and how it might have changed things had there been a re-start after another extended track drying delay, (which, by the way, could have been another couple of hours.) A lot of the speculation appeared to be based on the fact that Joey Logano was in third place and could have possibly passed the two in front of him and won the race, putting him in the finale.
Okay, let’s just say they did have another re-start and Logano had another chance at taking the lead. How would’ve Logano handled that re-start? Would he have “done whatever it took to win” which he previously proved it could mean taking those ahead of him out rather than, “racing them for the win?” I find it interesting that Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski put on quite a performance last weekend at Texas showing how drivers could race each other using the same tactics of blocking and intimidating but never touching. Listening to Logano after the race at Phoenix when he was asked what he would have done if there had been another re-start he answered quite directly that he would have done whatever it took to win. I don’t know what that meant to him but to this NASCAR fan that meant he just might drive through them to win. It makes me wonder if he is still as arrogant as he sounded after the incident with Kenseth and learned nothing from it or whether he would do it differently. I guess we’ll never know for sure, the rain ended that. Personally, I don’t think he was going to win anyway but we’ll never know for sure about that either. Oh well…
Kurt Bush put himself in a hole right from the drop of the green flag when NASCAR called him on a little remembered rule about the start of a race and how the pole sitter cannot be passed until after he – (or she for that matter) – crosses the start/finish line. That rule only applies to the start of a race and not the re-starts. Somehow, this fan thinks that rule might be revisited during the off-season. It may or may not be changed but I personally think it will come up in discussion at some point before things pick backup at Daytona in February. Personally it doesn’t matter much to this fan which way they decide that one.
To his credit Kurt did do everything he could to catch back up but when the rain returned, it all came to nothing and he wasn’t going to be moving on to the Championship round. He just couldn’t overcome the deficit caused by being in the wrong place at the right time at Martinsville. Even though he was in seventh position when the Phoenix race was called, it wasn’t enough to move him up in points and besides, he needed to win or everyone else needed to end up in the garage to make a place for him in the final four without the win.
I hate to keep bringing this up but, Kurt Bush not making the final four is just another example of what this fan considers started the much talked about actions at Martinsville between Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. Matt was in second place when Brad Keselowski ran into him and took him out for whatever reason on that day. Kenseth had most of the blame placed on his shoulders for what followed but this is what I considered to be the final straw that caused him to decide it was time for a little payback, not only to Logano but the whole Penske organization in particular; (and just as a side note, I don’t think he made the decision totally on his own, although I could be wrong.)
Of course, now all of the talking heads use as one of their main talking points how Matt Kenseth changed the whole outcome of the Championship by his actions in taking out Logano. If that were the case and NASCAR thought it was, it is my opinion they would have re-instated Logano like they did Jeff Gordon a couple of years ago after the actions of Michael Waltrip Racing. I really do think they saw more of the total picture and the way things added up over time and that Martinsville was everything coming to a head at once. They determined they had to take action and do something and they did, but they also left the door open, at least for now.
I don’t know; I may be giving them too much credit but I do think they understand things better than we as fans think they do at times. The decisions they make are hard and at times, it does appear they are inconsistent in those decisions and some of their calls but if they didn’t make those calls when they do, would we really have much else to talk or complain about? Hmmm, I wonder…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 18, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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