Cup Teams Looking For Magic at the Magic Mile


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Even though we’ve only reached the halfway point of the season, for some Cup teams there’s not much time left to make the Chase and several of them will be looking for magic at the Magic mile this Sunday afternoon. Of course there are some that really don’t have to worry too much about making it (unless they experience complete disasters in the weeks to come) but others need some magic (and consistency) if they want to be a part of the 2013 Chase.


It’s pretty obvious that consistency has paid off for those sitting in the top six or seven spots and two of them do have four wins. Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth not only have four wins each, but they have often been the dominating cars many race weekends and both could possibly have at least a couple of more wins each. This fan thinks these two are having a phenomenal year and will probably be my top two choices for winning the Championship. Now don’t jump to any conclusions, I’m not ruling anyone out yet but, these two teams have shown a lot of strength just about every weekend.


Jimmie Johnson does have his work cut out for himself on Sunday Afternoon, though. Even though he qualified on the outside of the front row, his car failed post qualifying inspection and he will start forty third. At the Magic mile that could be a real problem, but the setback will definitely affect his pit selection and that may be even more of a problem. This is a short race, only 301 laps, so he will have charge the front from the very first lap.


Brad Keselowski on the other hand will start on the pole and will also have the number one pit stall. Since he is one of the ones looking for a bit of magic and a turn around for his season so far, his record breaking, pole winning qualifying run looks to be a good start for the defending Cup champ. What remains to be seen for him is whether or not he can make it to the end of the day without problems. He has had strong cars most every weekend but hasn’t been able to be there at the finish. He has definitely fallen into the danger zone for the Chase and if his luck continues as it has, he could miss the Chase all together.


The Gen 6 car is proving itself to be very fast and another track record qualifying speed fell at Loudon. There were at least nine qualifiers that broke the old track record, but with Jimmie Johnson’s disqualified time there would have been at least ten from this fan’s view. The racing is getting better but my biggest complaint is the car out front still seems to have the advantage and others may catch up but find it extremely difficult to pass.


The biggest positive was the greatly improved racing at Daytona last weekend. It is good to have pack racing back again and it certainly makes for a much more exciting and dramatic race than the old two-car tandem.


The points battle is very volatile, especially from eighth to sixteenth and that is what is making the race to the Chase so interesting. It seems hardly anyone talks much about the first six or seven that much because it doesn’t change that much week to week. The rest of the top twenty in points is always a hot topic week in and week out. From this fan’s view, that’s because the points in that area are so tight. Because they are that way, the drivers and teams trying to get into the Chase move around a lot and those in the top sixteen seem to move around a lot more.


Take Jeff Gordon for example. He has been in and out of the Chase over the last several weeks and is still looking for at least one win to better his chances of making the Chase. Even if he has more points than others for the wildcard slots, his lack of wins could keep him on the outside looking in. There’s no doubt he is not alone in this situation but he and others definitely need some consistency over the next few weeks. Of course a little magic at the Magic Mile and a trip to Victory Lane wouldn’t hurt either.


The race on Sunday afternoon is only 301 laps and a little less than 319 miles. The track is considered to be flat track with only 2 to 7 degrees of banking and is a track the drivers can pass on. The straights are the same length and the tires they are running this weekend are the same ones they ran their last trip there. There seems to a bit of a tricky entry into the third turn and it remains to be seen how they all handle exit from turn two. From this fan’s view, I expect it to be a fuel mileage race and I just can’t make up my mind how many cautions there might be.


Considering the plight of the #48, he will be making a consistent charge from the rear toward the front, even though he did have a fast car in practice and qualifying. His biggest problem is there are nine other very fast cars ahead of him along with some very win-hungry drivers and that will make his move toward the front a bit more complicated. Not only will he have the Toyotas and Fords to catch and pass but the Hendrick Chevys of Jeff Gordon, Dale Jr and Kasey Kahne. (Of course, that’s not to mention the cars of Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman.) Come to think of it, he has to pass the whole field and he may have to pass more than a few of them more than once…


See you next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© July 13, 2013 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, and

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