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Chase Race number five is more than just another Saturday night under the lights. After the “Big One” on the last lap at Talladega last weekend, many of the Chasers are racing to stay alive in the Chase for 2012 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. For some it is just about all over but the shouting while for others all they really need is for one or more of the top two or three to have an extremely bad race. If that happens, it just could tighten up the standings enough to make the last five races all the more dramatic and interesting.
Some have already given up on all but the top three even having a shot at the Sprint Cup Championship for this year and they might be right. For more of the Chasers to have a shot at the Cup, it will take Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin consistently finishing outside the top twenty for a couple of weeks. I’ll bet some of you are probably asking if that is even a remote possibility while even more of you are wondering if we are all “dreamers.”
Yeah, some of us are “dreamers” and we would like to see the points tighten up so that more have a shot when it comes down to Homestead in November. (I guess from this fan’s view, that means some of us would really like to see some equalizing “racing luck” happen to those select few I just mentioned… uh… just to make it more interesting you understand.)
Well, for right now, I can only say at the moment that it figures we might have a runaway Championship winner after last year’s down-to-the-wire competition between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. I guess it would be a bit much to ask to have it be like 2011 almost every year.
Yeah, that last lap pile-up did do a bit of equalizing but not quite in a way to tighten up the Chase at the top of the list. Brad Keselowski now leads by 14 points over Jimmie Johnson (since “Bad Brad” basically escaped the worst of the “Big One” along with a few others and Johnson did not.)
So what will it take to tighten it up and make it more interesting? Well… with the latest points system NASCAR has in place, it’s complicated. Case in point would be Jeff Gordon. Even though he has finished third, second and second in the last three races, he has only gained five overall points on points leader, Brad Keselowski. The finish in Chicago has really carried a lot of weight into this fifth race in the Chase. Sure, he’s moved up in the points from where he started the Chase, but since he started the Chase in twelfth place, he was even more disadvantaged by his Chicago finish. He was already at least 12 points behind and finishing 35th really put him in a hole very quickly.
Of course, we all know racing luck is going to fall as it may and no one really has control over it. Oh sure, I know competitors say you make your own luck and there is some truth to that also. From my view, “making your own luck” applies in large part to being in position to win in the final laps. To me, that means not making mistakes in the pits or on the track that cost you positions and crew chiefs making the right decisions for fuel and tires. You can be in the right spot at the right time and still have a part or engine failure which is reasonably out of anybody’s control and finish outside the top twenty-five. That’s what this fan calls “racing luck” and no one has convinced me otherwise up to this point.
Somehow, the Roush Fords look to be showing some muscle finally. With Matt Kenseth winning last weekend and Greg Biffle taking the pole for tonight, it could be they have made a turn-around in performance compared to the the last four weeks. Does that mean I think a Ford is going to win tonight? No… not really, but it is a strong possibility.
The MWR Toyotas also look strong for tonight and this fan can’t rule out JGR either. Kyle Bush is probably the hungriest Toyota driver and would like nothing better than to take the checkered flag over all the Chasers. (Of course, this fan hates to bring up the fact he has led a lot of laps and finished second often at CMS but the “racing luck” monster just hasn’t smiled on him lately. Maybe tonight will be his night.
In the past, Hendrick cars have pretty much ruled at Charlotte. I don’t think this fan has to even mention they also have a good chance at finishing in Victory Lane and even Regan Smith, (temporary fill in driver for Dale Jr), has a chance. (He did adapt quickly to the #88 even on such short notice. I admit he is definitely a long shot, but the possibility does exist.)
The race tonight at CMS is the next “most important” race in the Chase. Taking into account how strong the #2 Penske Dodge of Brad Keselowski has been (and the way “racing luck” monster has seemed to smile on him lately) it is hard to see him not running well tonight. It will take something out of the ordinary happening for the #2 team to drop more than a few points to any of the twelve Chasers. Will that “something” happen …? Well, nothing against Brad or the #2 team, but it would make things very interesting in the weeks ahead…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 13, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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