Chances Winding Down For Making The Playoffs  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

After last weekend at Pocono, there’s no telling what this race at Richmond Raceway will be like. I mean, the tension and pressure to perform is higher this weekend than it was last weekend and, like the title says, the chances for those not already qualified for making the playoffs are winding down and it is getting tougher and tougher with every race. There are a few that can still point their way in but, even those are becoming less and less. Winning is a definite way to guarantee making it in and desperation is becoming evident with every lap, especially with those on both sides of the cut-off line.

Now, why would I bring it up the way I just did? Well, in my opinion, it’s because the pressure is beginning to show by the flaring tempers and displays of emotion almost every week.

There’s a reason I bring this up in this way and I use as an example what happened at Pocono last weekend with Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson. Denny said it himself but I won’t directly quote him. He said about the situation, something along the lines of when it came to his fiftieth win and Toyota’s win six hundred, he was going to do what needed to be done to win.

Honestly, and in my opinion, that was an admission of guilt on his part for what transpired between him and Larson even though he denied any wrongdoing at all up to that admission. I know this has been talked about all week long since it happened and that there are folks on both sides of the argument. It is my personal opinion that he did intentionally run Larson up the track, made slight contact and forced him into the wall. It’s not the first time he has used the move and, judging from the result more than once, it is something he has worked on perfecting. Of course, you and I both know he would never admit to it but it is effective and hard to prove intent.

I think that is what bothers me. He plays on the attitude of drivers to play fair and race like they would like to be raced and, of course, that usually doesn’t include someone forcing someone else into the wall. It’s just not what someone expects until they’ve been burned by someone taking advantage of them being nice.

Personally, I think NASCAR needs to tread carefully in how far they let this go. They’ve had to intervene in the past because they said, “boys, have at it.” Contrary to what some may think, I didn’t and don’t go to the races to see a fight or be involved in one.

Look, I understand the emotions and the flow of adrenaline that comes from competitively racing to win because I’ve been there. Not in NASCAR but in hometown short track racing and, believe me, there are a lot of emotions that surface even in those locations. If someone thinks they’ve been wronged, they generally let it be known. The reason I think NASCAR needs to tread carefully is just because of elevated tensions since the Hamlin/Larson situation and the way some have suggested they will race certain people in the future. I just think things could get out of control just because of what has been discussed by the drivers in talking about the Hamlin/Larson incident.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I think I’ll talk a little bit of this race coming up at Richmond. I do not say the Toyotas look like they could have a dominating day simply because they have a lot of speed again this weekend. What I do say is the Toyotas could have a good day but this track is a challenge and it will test all of them during the race. If they can maintain their seeming advantage all the way to the end, then it will be likely a Toyota ends up in Victory Lane.

Personally, I think there are both Chevys and Fords that have something to say about that. There were some fast times shown by both of them and I am sure you and I can both agree there are some strong possibilities from both makes other than just the Toyotas.

As a side note as I wrap this up, I believe there are several left over and unsettled situations that could be aggressively approached before this one is over. It is going to be a hot day, the track is going to be slick, emotions are going to run high and the intensity and aggression will be elevated. Could it be that Kyle Larson will try harder to get even with Hamlin than win the race? No, probably not but it will be interesting to watch and see. The other thing is that there are several more than just Kyle Larson with possible scores to settle. The question is, will any one of them decide it’s time to be more aggressive and less respectful? The short answer is that it’s a very great possibility. The long answer is, well, wait and see…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 29, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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