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Most people will tell you the Chase is down to just two drivers, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski but I’m not so sure we should draw that line just yet. Yes, it is true they are only two points apart and the next closest driver is 26 points behind. Of course that would be Clint Bowyer and I don’t think he is ready to throw in the towel just yet, either.
If anyone thinks the two at the top of the standings are immune to something happening like happened to Denny Hamlin last weekend, then they just don’t understand Texas Motor Speedway. It is a fast track and can be treacherous for any and all the drivers, especially at the entry to turn 1. It only takes a second for fortunes to change and it could happen to anyone, including Johnson and Keselowski.
Okay, now that we all understand that, what will really happen when the NASCAR Cup teams take to the Texas track this afternoon?
Well, at least from this fan’s view, a lot can happen. You see, I don’t think Jimmie Johnson showed all he had in the practice sessions even though he did knock off a very fast lap and qualified on the pole for the second week in a row. I could be wrong, but he and crew chief, Chad Knaus, do know how to play the game when it comes down to mind games in the Chase. (After all, they do have five Championships so far and that kinda proves they do know what they are doing.)
Of course, Brad Keselowski is known as one of the tough guys right now and he has proven himself to be able to take adversity and turn it into an advantage over the last couple of years. He and his crew chief, Paul Wolfe, have made a lot of good decisions to get to where they are in the standings and they do appear to be weathering the pressure of the Championship Chase pretty well at the moment.
There are those that think the #2 Penske Dodge has just been lucky (and that does have to be considered simply because there is a thing called “racing luck” that rears its ugly head at times.) Most any driver will tell you they make their own luck and being in position to take advantage of situations that arise in a race is what it’s all about.
I simply don’t agree with that assesment though.
I think at least two drivers just might agree with me on this and they would be named Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin. Had it not been for a broken spring bracket and a bad master switch, both might be sitting in whole different places in the points for the 2012 Sprint Cup Chase. Had it not been for those bits of what this fan calls “racing luck”, Jeff Gordon might be contending for his fifth Championship and Denny Hamlin might be more of a contender for his first.
Of course we all know parts break, things fail and it can happen to anyone but, there are 43 cars in a race every week and for Chase contenders to have things like that happen and put them out of contention says more about bad “racing luck” than it does about making your own luck. (Well, at least to this fan it does.) Some people do prefer to consider
things that happen out of the ordinary as being out of their control and call them “challenges.” I guess I can accept that explanation in some ways but no matter how you look at it, it all comes down to “luck” in my book.
Kasey Kahne is quietly staying in contention and is only three points behind Clint Bowyer. I’m sure either one or both of them will gladly take advantage of any possible “challenges” the top two face and gladly accept any tightening of the points battle. In fact, I would even be willing to say it wouldn’t bother them which of the two terms might be picked to describe their possible good fortune should something happen to Johnson and Keselowski. They would just welcome the “opportunity” to get that much closer to possibly winning the Cup Championship.
On the other hand, there are several other cars that can win the AAA Texas 500 this afteroon and it may or may not be someone in Championship contention. It could be it comes down to a fuel mileage race and I have to admit, this fan hopes it doesn’t. I would rather see a couple of double file restarts and some really tight competition when it comes down to the end of the race than wondering which one of the teams might run out of fuel. Now, I’m not saying a fuel mileage race wouldn’t be interesting, I’m just saying what I would rather see.
Who knows… maybe I’ll get “lucky”…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 4, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions