Chasers Take On Texas from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Rusty Norman

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If you’ve been listening to the talking heads this week, you’ve probably noticed they’ve been mentioning a few happenings from previous times in the Chase over the last couple of years. Even so, they had a lot to say about the incident between Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano at Martinsville and how they felt it might be damaging to the sport. Then they talk about Texas and how intense it was last year and of course bringing up the heated “discussion” between Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski and other things. To me, that sounds a little hypocritical. First they say how things getting rough are bad for the sport and then they use some of the more intense items that happened to keep or gain the interest of the fans for the coming race this weekend. In fact, from this fan’s view it seems they look for something along those lines almost every weekend.

I’m sure they don’t mean it to be hypocritical and it does grab the attention of NASCAR fans on all sides of the issues but, they can’t really have it both ways. There is nothing about racing, especially NASCAR stock car racing, that is humdrum or without emotion. Add to the mix the adrenaline that flows from driving a race car, the competitiveness of the drivers and the present intense competitiveness of the latest Chase format and you come up with a formula that heightens emotions to their peak. Let’s be honest – the intensity and emotion on the part of the drivers is often what makes fans act like fans. The drama caused by rivalries and good guy, bad guy thinking drives fans’ interest or, at least, it has and does mine; and I really think does for fans too and always has.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. Nobody wants to see someone get hurt but most every fan likes to see their favorite driver take up for himself when he (and they for that matter) think or know he has been wronged. Sometimes payback doesn’t always come from the clearest thought processes. It often has more to do with the emotions and the adrenaline flowing in their system. Whether it be on the short tracks around the United States or the big ones NASCAR races on, it has always been like this. I personally don’t think it is a bad thing and it does add to the drama and thrill of racing or watching it week in and week out. (Well, at least from this fan’s view it does.)

There has already been a big build up for the race at Texas this weekend and how intense it will be for at least the seven remaining in the Chase that haven’t punched their ticket into the finale at Homestead just three short weekends away (counting this one of course.) There’s been a lot of emphasis on the ones that are in fifth through eighth and how they might be a little desperate going in to this one. Two of them would be Brad K and Joey Logano. After last week’s mishap, Logano is in the worst shape and has the most to gain by winning.

Both of the Penske cars looked very strong in the practice session and qualifying. That could mean trouble for five of the other cars still in the hunt for a spot in the Homestead Championship race. At the time of this writing, it was raining at Texas Motor Speedway and it was still questionable whether or not the teams would get more track time before hitting the track on Sunday afternoon. All of them were hoping to get on the track two times on Saturday and they may get to whether or not I get a chance to say anything about it here or not.

It doesn’t really matter either way. Just because the Penske team cars looked strong in the practice session on Friday and qualified well for the race doesn’t mean they will have an easy go of it in the race. Joey just about needs to win although he doesn’t really have to at this point to move on to the Championship race. For him, he definitely needs to finish at or near the front. His teammate, Brad K, won the pole and will start up front (barring the unforeseen between now and Sunday afternoon) and isn’t in quite the same spot but he needs to have a good finish to stay in the hunt.

Unfortunately Kurt Bush didn’t have a very good race last weekend either and he joins the two Penske cars at thirty plus points behind the leader going into this weekend. If it was the last race in this elimination round instead of what it is, they would definitely be in desperate situations. As it is, all three of them need really good finishes or a win this weekend and maybe a little help from those ahead of them in points.

From this fan’s view, there are three things that are definite for Sunday afternoon’s race:

First of all, for once this season and in this Chase it doesn’t matter where Jeff Gordon finishes or how he runs all day. As a matter of pride, this fan knows it matters to him and his team how he finishes and he wants to run a strong race and be in contention to win when it comes down to the checkers. Even if he doesn’t win or finish well, he is already qualified for the Championship four at Homestead.

Second, the ones already in the top four in points want to stay there and it will be a very tense and intense dramatic afternoon for Kyle Bush, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. Any of the three could win but none of them want to have a bad day and have to win at Phoenix next weekend to move on.

Third, if Joey Logano doesn’t have a good finish or win he definitely won’t be able to blame Matt Kenseth for it…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 7, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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