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Unpredictable… that’s what I would call the race that will take place on Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway. Well, maybe that is a little strong, but I do know the pressure is on all of the Chasers, (especially those that need a good finish), and Kansas is a very challenging track. It isn’t the kind of place any of the Chasers that are struggling a bit want to have problems at and even though they put on good face, you can tell all of them are feeling the pressure to perform.
And then you have all of those that aren’t in the Chase. They only feel the heat of wanting to win and that makes for very interesting circumstances for all involved in this race. For starters, the starting lineup has five Chasers and five non-Chasers. Greg Biffle isn’t in the Chase but is sitting on the pole and he is the defending winner from this time last year.
Of course, right along with Greg B iffle are a couple of his teammates from Roush Racing. Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth are just as capable of taking the win Sunday afternoon and they start second and fourth and are in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
From my view, this is definitely one of the Chase races of 2011 that I think is likely to be won by a non-Chaser. (Yeah, I know I’ve said that more than once, but I really do think there is a greater likelihood of it happening this weekend than any so far.) Let me repeat myself one more time… Kansas Speedway is unpredictable (and for more than one reason.)
So, what are some of those reasons? Well, I’m glad you asked and I am more than willing to give my opinion (as you already know.)
Kansas is a different one-and-a-half mile track than most any other the NASCAR teams face. It is basically a flat track but it is a fast track. The two ends of it are different enough that the drivers have to handle them differently. The biggest concern I hear voiced by the drivers is the exit of turn four. After that, the next biggest concern is the seams in the asphalt. Both of them together seem to make the racing grooves a challenge for the drivers, especially when they are racing two or three wide in the turns and elsewhere on the track and can’t choose their favorite line.
Now don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying the track is precarious but I am saying it is unpredictable and there is a difference. Precarious means dangerous, risky or perilous. I don’t think Kansas is that. I do think it is unpredictable and for me, that means there is no guarantee that the line a driver used the last time around that the car is going to respond the same way the next time around, depending of course on the circumstances.
I guess the next question is which make is going to end up with the win Sunday afternoon. From this fan’s view, that is the question that is going to be the hardest to answer until the race is about half way over. We all know that a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota sat on the pole last weekend and fell like a rock through the field for the whole race. Will the same thing happen to Greg Biffle and his Roush/Fenway Ford Sunday afternoon? That is a very good question and it is one of those things I was referring to earlier when I said we won’t know until the race is about half over. I don’t expect any of the Roush Fords to fall like rocks through the field, but since we are talking about NASCAR Cup and possibly basing performance on qualifying times, I guess it could happen. From this fan’s view, I just don’t think it is likely and I do expect them to be in contention at the end of the race.
Overall, the Hendrick Chevys seem to be struggling just a bit, but I expect them to be in the hunt on Sunday afternoon. Of course when we mention the Hendrick Chevys, we are talking about those guys from Stewart/Haas also. Both Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman need to have good finishes as do Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr. (Need I even mention, Jimmie Johnson?)
The Penske Dodges and the Gibbs’ Toyotas not only need good finishes but are quite capable of running up front, too. Whether or not they will just remains to be seen and don’t forget who won back in June… Yeah, that’s right, Brad Keselowski and there is always the question if his late season surge is going to continue.
This is a weekend that could be a real turning point for the twelve Chasers. If some of the front runners have bad finishes, it could totally shake up the points standings since there are only nineteen points separating the top nine spots. It is also possible some of them could dig themselves deeper holes by having bad finishes and it could be hard for them to recover from a disastrous finish. In fact, it could be that the top nine spots could be totally different after the Kansas Race is in the books than they are right now. (It’s not expected, but from this fan’s view it could happen… depending.)
Hey, I know I’m not alone in thinking this, but this fan does hope this race is not a fuel mileage race, (although it very well could be again, just as it was in June.) There is the likelihood there will be long green flag runs and that the strategies coming from the crew chiefs will play a major role on Sunday afternoon. Track position will be just as important as fuel mileage all day long and, like I said earlier, this race could very well be won by someone other than one of the Chasers. I will stick my neck way out and say this, though… if it is, they had to beat the Chasers to do it…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 8, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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