Chase Race Eight at Texas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty NormanWell, the fireworks have already started for the Texas Motor Speedway but who would have thought something in the Truck series would have an effect on the Cup Series Chase for the championship. It is old news now and I know you’ve all heard about the incident between Kyle Bush and Ron Hornaday – (uh, how could you not have heard?) – but Kyle Bush will not be racing in any of the three NASCAR series for this weekend. That will kill his chances for making any impact in the Chase for the Cup this year and it is unknown by me at this point if further actions will be taken.

It is interesting to note that an action like this isn’t often taken by NASCAR, but it is also something that has happened before, just not on the same scale. This is the first time it has affected a competitor across all three of the series in a weekend. Although it will obviously leave a bad taste in the mouths of many, it was probably a necessary action for the sanctioning body to take to be able to maintain control and govern the three series. Without some sort of drastic action like this, there would be little control they would be able exert.

Since the advent of “Boys, have at it…” there has always been the question raised when the line would be crossed and, obviously, that question has now been answered. Kyle Bush obviously crossed the line (although I know many may disagree) and now those actions will not only affect one in the truck series but it will affect teams in the Nationwide and Cup series as well. By the way, let’s not forget there was more to that statement than just, “Boys have at it…” they also included the words “and have fun…” I don’t recall them saying, “anything goes” although some may have interpreted it that way.

I understand Kyle has a very competitive nature, is a great driver but can have a volatile temper at times. I also understand almost all racers at one time or another, do things they regret when their system is filled with all that adrenaline generated by the sport they love. Racers also know, (or hopefully quickly learn), there may be consequences for those actions that may seem unfair at the time, but are meant more to protect them and keep them safer in an already dangerous sport. (By the way, from this fan’s view, I think NASCAR made the right decision in this instance and I know it got a lot of people’s attention, especially in the Cup Series.)

Well, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I guess we should spend at least a little time talking about the Cup series race coming up Sunday afternoon. The actions taken by NASCAR won’t change the intensity already evident in the Cup Series but it may cause some (especially in the Cup Series) to consider their actions may have greater consequences than they thought. Considering the tightness of the competition in the top six of the Chase, it may not only affect how they race on Sunday, but also how others outside the top twelve race, too. In past weeks there have been those that have said they have nothing to lose, but now it appears they may have a lot to lose, if their actions step over the line as Kyle Bush’s did in NASCAR’s opinion.

Everyone knows Texas is a fast track. Things can happen fast at a place like this and there is no way of knowing who or how someone in contention for winning the Chase may be affected. Probably the greatest fear of those at the top of the Chase is something happening, either of their own making or someone else’s, that takes them out of the top spots. Of course, the opposite holds true for those trying to make up spots in the Chase. They hope something does happen to those front runners that gives them a chance to get back in the hunt and that they don’t get caught up in any of it.

Somehow, Carl Edwards has managed to hold onto the points lead, even though he hasn’t been the dominate player week in and week out. Tony Stewart has made a charge since the Chase began, but has also struggled at times. Between these top two, there is now a little bit of “mind-gaming” going on and it looks to make this weekend’s race, not only exciting but also more intense. I don’t see Carl Edwards just running around for 500 miles hoping the rest of the players in the Chase don’t make gains on him, but I do expect him to be competitive and yet cautious.

When it comes to Tony Stewart, well, he has already said he intends to press the envelope and he hopes to best Carl by better than eight points and take home the trophy, too. His level of confidence and intensity are very obvious, even to the casual observer, and I expect him to be pressing toward the front even while being protectively cautious of the position he is now in.

There is no way I can count out anyone in the top six at the moment. Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are still in it as far as this fan is concerned. Now, I may feel a bit different when this weekend is over, but any one of the four can break right back into contention if they run up front and something happens to the front runners. I know that little word “if” can loom very large, but all things considered and something does happen to Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart and they both finish far back in the field, suddenly the points battle shapes up completely differently.

To put it bluntly, there are a number of drivers that can win this weekend and only twelve (well, really eleven) are in the Chase. One of them sits on the pole (namely Greg Biffle) and the rest lineup somewhere behind him. This could very well be another one of those races a non-Chaser takes the trip to Victory Lane. It could also be a race there is a collective groan from many as Jimmie Johnson gets back to within striking distance of his sixth consecutive Cup Championship…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 5, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and
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