There’s a reason why they call it the Monster Mile and there are good reasons for some to fear the monster this weekend at Dover – when it’s over – four will be eliminated from the competition for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Now I’m not sure what will happen and it is a bit difficult to say which ones won’t make the cut but I do know this race is important to more than one or two.
Even when you think about those that just don’t have a chance, there is always the chance they could surprise us all and win the Citizens Soldier 400. When this fan really takes the time to think about it, there are a couple of drivers whose only chance to move on is to win. So just for grins, let me tell you which ones I think they are.
First on my list is Chris Buescher. It is firmly my opinion that he only has one chance to move on and that is to win. I really never thought he had much of a chance even though he won a race during the regular season and he was at the top of my list to not move on even as the Chase began. I think it is great that he made the Chase but I never really thought he had a chance and he almost didn’t even make it into the top thirty in points to qualify even though he had that one win. If he doesn’t win and move on it is not the end of the world for him. He is young and still has a lot of opportunity ahead of him.
Next up from this NASCAR fan’s view is Tony Stewart. As much as I don’t want to see him be eliminated in this his final season in Sprint Cup competition, it is this fan’s opinion his only hope is to win. Barring a miracle (other than a win) he just can’t afford to finish anywhere but up front. It probably bothers his fans more than it does him but I do think he would rather be one of the ones moving on to the second round of the Chase and I won’t put words in his mouth but I do think he would rather not be eliminated. If he doesn’t make the cut, it kind of makes the rest of his season, and well… how do I put this tactfully… it would be quite uneventful. One thing is certain, at least from this fan’s view… It definitely wouldn’t have the drama of Jeff Gordon’s last races competitively in the NASCAR Cup Series last season.
Austin Dillon does have a chance at making the cut but I just don’t think he will. Of course that is just this fan’s opinion and he could completely surprise me and win on Sunday afternoon at the Monster. Even though he has shown consistency throughout the year, he and Richard Childress Racing just haven’t shown the strength this fan thinks is needed to take the checkered flag this weekend. Unfortunately for him and RCR, he is one of my choices to not make the cut when this one is over.
This next one is a little hard for me because I really would like to see Jamie McMurray not only make the cut but also take it all the way to the final in Homestead. I’m not so sure he won’t at least perform well enough to move on to round two, but I do have my doubts he will be in the final. That being said, I still would like to see it but I think he is going to have to have some help getting there and he needs to finish somewhere in the top five at the Monster Mile. If he doesn’t, well, I guess there is always next year for him but I don’t think that is completely acceptable to Jamie or Chip Ganassi and I think he will be pressing to either win or finish near the front.
There are others that can’t afford to have a bad day at Dover or they face elimination from the Chase and could make it possible for someone else to make it. Racing luck could have a lot to do with where they finish and whether or not they make it to round two of the Chase.
Kyle Larson definitely cannot afford to have a bad race or he will be gone. If both he and Jamie McMurray are eliminated after this one is over, it would not be a happy day at all at Chip Ganassi Racing. Personally, I kinda hope they both move on to at least round two.
Kurt Bush isn’t even in a comfortable position points-wise to continue on if he has a bad race. A major failure of any kind or an accident of his own or someone else’s making resulting in a bad finish could eliminate him. I’m sure they are doing everything they can to try and not have a bad day but one never knows when bad luck can ruin anyone’s day and season.
I won’t go into a long dissertation on the rest of those that could have disaster strike if they have something go wrong that causes them to finish poorly at, or near, the end of the order but I will say this. Any of them finishing in the last few spots could open the door for someone else to make it in and that person may be someone unexpected.
From this fan’s view, this is one of those races that anything can happen and anyone that still has a chance at moving on into round two could still do it. Two that don’t have to worry at all are Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. but there are a lot of things that can affect the way the next round of drivers shapes up but, this one thing is certain. If they win or end up in the top twelve in points when this one is over, they will move on… (Wow, didn’t that almost sound profound…?)
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 01, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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