Good Finishes Are A Must At Michigan


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Time is running out for those that still have a chance to make the Chase for 2013 and this afternoon in Michigan could make or break the next few weeks for several of the Cup teams hoping to make it in. It’s definitely not rocket science but the 8th to the 16th spots in the points standings is hotly contested and it may not be known which of those eight or nine drivers makes it into the Chase until the last checkered flag of the last race before the Chase begins.


It is a fact that this is the most tightly contested race to the Chase since NASCAR changed to the Chase format and the new points system. Well… that is if you don’t count those in the first six or seven positions already. Although things can change a bit in those spots, the top seven are pretty well set.


Some of the drivers further back in the standings cannot afford to have even one more bad finish and that means they just about have to finish in the top ten. Naturally, finishing in the top five would be even better for any or all of them. From this fan’s view, it wouldn’t hurt at all if those already in the top ten have really bad days also. Of course, that is not something I really expect to happen but I am sure there are those besides me that would like to see it.


There is nothing like a tight point’s battle to draw a crowd of onlookers. NASCAR fans are no different and it is obvious to this fan there is a definite interest in what’s happening in the race to the Chase. Every week, it seems the positions swap drastically in the area of the points from 8th to 16th. It has definitely gotten this fan’s attention and it is still a tossup as to which of the favorites will be there for the Chase.


The Michigan Speedway has been interesting to say the least in this second trip for the Gen 6 cars here. Not only have the speeds gotten faster but the overall confidence level of the drivers and the crews in the cars is much improved. In the practice sessions it was interesting to watch as they entered the turns at over 200 mph. Say what you will but, that is fast and it is fortunate that the confidence level is there for all concerned.


It is still somewhat of a mystery as to why the drivers are so hesitant to practice along with others. It seems they spend a great deal of time running by themselves in practice and complaining on race day about how poorly their cars handle in traffic. I agree with many others, speed is important and you have to have it to win on race day but, it is also to be able to run in a crowd and be able to pass the competition if you expect to win.


If there is anything that concerns me about the racing we will see this afternoon at MIS it would be how the competition will actually go. One thing this fan has noticed (along with many others) about the racing with the Gen 6 car would be how much better a car is out in clean air. Quite often this season it has been very obvious that a car back in the pack has often pulled away from the field if able to get out in the clean air. I don’t know how much of a factor that will be in today’s race but I am certain it will have some impact as the race progresses. The fact that the speeds are so high and the dirty air turbulence somewhat wreaking havoc on the handling of these Gen 6 cars, I am concerned the racing may not be as exciting if there are a lot of long green flag runs.


Looking at the practice speeds, it did appear Jimmie Johnson had a very good chance at covering the field and possibly taking his fifth win. Well… that is until he put his primary car in the wall in the final practice. Now he will have to start in the back with Jamie McMurray and both of them will need all the speed they can get to get to the front. As far as Jimmie Johnson is concerned, in a very short time his crew had the backup car setup and ready to go on the track before the final practice was over. He ran several laps and, interestingly enough, his first laps were over 200 mph and that could spell trouble for the field even though he will be starting in the rear of the field.


It is pretty obvious the Fords have some speed this weekend but they still look to be struggling a bit.  It was also uncertain whether they could run fast consistently enough to take the win. Even though Joey Logano will start on the pole, Kurt Bush is starting right next to him and he could very well take his front row start to Victory Lane.


Like I said earlier, Michigan is definitely a fast track and it has a lot of room to race. With so many cars running with speeds so close, it is impossible to take a very good guess at who might win. The Chevys looked strong in practice and not too many are willing to argue that Hendrick horsepower could rule the day. This could be the day Jeff Gordon turns it all around after his bad day at the Glen and takes a win and moves one step closer to being in the Chase. Then again, there are at least twelve others that could ruin it for him…


See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© August 18, 2013 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, and

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