Darlington Kicks Off The Playoffs

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Okay… we finally made it to the 2021 playoffs and the top sixteen were set last weekend. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin are still without wins as they move into the playoffs along with Tyler Reddick in the same boat. All of the others qualified in the top sixteen have at least one win. Of course, that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans as they start the playoffs at one of the most challenging tracks on the NASCAR circuit, Darlington Raceway. Other than playoff points, everyone of them have the same chance at making it to the next round. Well, that is until the end of these first three races.

I suppose there is the possibility that both Harvick and Hamlin could each win in these first three races and the same goes for Tyler Reddick. If that does happen, they would be qualified for the round of twelve and it’s anybody’s guess which of the sixteen wouldn’t move on. That’s what makes these first three races so interesting to this fan. Of course, I could say the same about the six after that. There is just no way of predicting which of the drivers will make it to the final four.

Yeah, I know no one really wants to hear any predictions at this early stage of the playoffs but, I also know many have already decided which of the sixteen will be in the final four. Personally, I have no idea which ones will actually make it to the final four. I know which ones I would like to see make it but, there are too many variables to even offer a guess at this point. I get a kick out of the ones that do make predictions at the outset of this first race. I don’t hold any of them to their predictions but I do still get a kick out of it.

Taking a look at the sixteen qualifiers shows that all four of the Hendrick teams are in along with all four of the Gibbs teams, all three Penske teams and two Stewart-Haas teams. The other three are individual team reps from CGR, RCR and Front Row Motorsports. Any way you look at it, that sets up some interesting possibilities moving forward through the three rounds to the final four.

Some have already floated the idea that there could be a final four made up of just the Gibbs Toyotas. Although I don’t think that will be the case, it is an interesting situation. The Gibbs teams have shown themselves to be much improved over the last number of races and it is quite possible some or all of them end up in the final four. Of course, that is at least nine races away at this present time but, nothing is out of the realm of possibilities when it comes to the way this 2021 NASCAR season has gone.

One thing that sticks in my mind along with many others is the question of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson both taking it all the way to the final four and battling it out for the 2021 Season Championship. It wouldn’t surprise me if that would be one of the possibilities but, I’m not so sure it will be that simple for either one of them. If it goes the way some hope, someone at JGR will have to miss the final four for Larson to be there.

The same goes for the Hendrick Chevys. Some have offered the possibility of all four of the Hendrick teams making it to the final four. No matter how appealing that may sound, I’m not one that thinks that really is in the realm of likelihood. Even though I am, admittedly, a Hendrick fan, I just don’t know that they have that much of an advantage over the rest of the competitors. I do admit it could happen but I just don’t think it will. Besides, if Denny and Kyle are to battle it out, a Hendrick team will miss the final four.

Look… There are way to many possible situations to consider without even the first race being run and there are a lot of reasons they call Darlington Raceway, “The Track Too Tough To Tame.” I think a lot of questions will be silenced after we all see how these first couple of races go. I will even go so far as to say, it may take more than a couple of races or so to even begin thinking of how it will end up. One thing is certain, however. These next ten weeks could prove to be some of the most dramatic and stressful races we’ve seen all season. I don’t expect any of the top sixteen drivers to hold anything back and you know what that means. Yep, that means the racing is going to be aggressive and anything can, and probably will happen…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 5, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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