It’s Down To Two For The Chase at Phoenix


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Well, it’s down to two to go starting at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend and everything will end next week at Homestead. It still remains to be seen exactly how many will still be in the hunt when it comes to Homestead but, unless things change drastically, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship is down to two.


Even though this is NASCAR and anything can happen, it is highly unlikely that any of the other competitors will catch and pass Jimmie Johnson or Matt Kenseth in the coming two weeks. Even though I’ve been trying to avoid saying that for the last several weeks, it has been pretty obvious that the two leading the Chase for the Championship right now are the two that should be leading the Chase. It is an undeniable fact that Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth have both flexed their muscles throughout the year and in the Chase.


From this fan’s view, it looks like the real race is going to be for third fourth and fifth. I suppose we could throw in sixth and seventh but that might be a stretch. However, if Dale Junior continues on the same path he’s been on lately, he may be in front of everyone except the two leaders. Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer are both 69 points behind leaders and then there’s Greg Biffle.


Personally, it is possible that this could be a third competition for the finale at Homestead. The first and most obvious is between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. The second is between Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Dale Junior. The third one is the hardest to call and this fan thinks it is between Jeff Gordon, Clint Boyer and possibly Greg Biffle.


Of course we all know that anything can happen but I think that Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer will flex a little muscle this afternoon and possibly move up in the standings. For that to happen in one race would mean that the other three ahead of them would have to have really bad days here at PIR. I’ll let you make the decision as to how possible that is.


There are at least a couple of others that have to be considered for the win this afternoon at Phoenix. Just in case you missed it, Kurt Busch looked very good in practice and it seems that no conversation comes up lately that doesn’t mention a possible win by Denny Hamlin or Brad Keselowski. Of the three, this fan thinks is more likely that Kurt Busch could surprise everyone and walk away with the win this afternoon as opposed to the other two. I have to admit, if one of the other two wins (or anyone else) it wouldn’t be the first time that I was surprised, especially this year.


When it comes down to these final races in the Chase, that’s when it gets hard to pick a winner. We all know there are 43 cars in the field and there are possibly at least 20 of those they could win this afternoon at Phoenix. Once again, it is my personal opinion, that it will be one of the two leaders that wins unless something happens or they play it too safe. Either way, the race at PIR should be an interesting one all afternoon.


From this fan’s view, there is no doubt that both the Johnson and Kenseth teams are very serious and continue to show up well prepared to win. What I wonder about for this race is whether or not they will choose the play it safe between them just in case, or if they’ll go all out to win. As I say that, I don’t expect either one of them to take any unnecessary risks or chances but I do wonder whether or not winning is a necessity to either one of them should some problems show up during this one.


I have heard it said this week that this race could be a throwaway race for the two front runners. I also heard how the statistics don’t line up for either Matt Kenseth or Jimmie Johnson coming into this weekend. I’m not so sure that I agree with all that because Matt Kenseth has shown, statistically speaking, he is writing a new book on himself. When it comes to Jimmie Johnson, he has shown that he can be a dominate force in the Chase whether or not he’s in first place.


So, after this weekend is over, we will know several things. Barring the absolute unforeseen the Chase for the Sprint cup championship will be between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. What happens amongst the other five drivers in the top spots remains to be seen and could be greatly affected by what happens to them in the race today at PIR. If the same thing happens to some of them that happened to Jeff Gordon last weekend, well, next weekend at Homestead could prove to be very interesting…!!


See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© November 10, 2013 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, and

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