It’s Elimination Time at Dover from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Rusty Norman

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Eliminations begin this weekend at Dover Delaware and with the rain out of a practice and qualifying, things could be very interesting, especially for the Challengers in the Chase. The only ones that don’t have to be concerned with where they finish would be Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. Because of qualifying being rained out the field was set by the standings according to the rules and that could make it even more of a challenge for the Chase drivers needing good finishes or a win and having to start further back in the field.

Chase race three is a turning point for the Chasers and this fan thinks the intensity for the race this weekend is going to be beyond belief, especially for the ones that are in a situation of possibly not qualifying to move on to the next segment. That means more of the Chase contenders than just Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer. Other than those two, Kyle Bush and Paul Menard are first on the list of having to finish at or near the front. They sit in thirteenth and fourteenth place in the standings at the moment but only one point separates them from twelfth.

Dale Jr. is in twelfth place and Junior Nation is more than a little hopeful he can at least stay there. With the way he has performed this season, for him not to advance to the next round of the Chase would be more than a disappointment to both him and his fans. With the lack of practice and qualifying, it is difficult to say how well he will perform when they actually get to race. Dover isn’t an easy track to set up for and, from this fan’s view, more drivers and teams than Dale Jr’s will be affected. Oh I know they’ve all been here earlier this year but that doesn’t change the facts that Dover is a track that changes all the time. Whether it is from all the rain and the “green” track or how it changes when it begins to rubber up, all of the teams will face challenges all through this one.

I don’t want to go through all of the individual drivers in the Chase and whether or not they will qualify to move on to the next round. Up to this time the sixteen drivers have been considered Challengers but for the next three races after Dover they become Contenders. Only twelve of them have a chance to move on after this one. Which ones those twelve will be depends on how they finish the race at Dover.

We already know Kenseth and Hamlin will move on. Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson appear to be fairly safe bets to make it to the Contender round but an unexpected bad day for any of these three, however remote it may seem, could spell disaster for them. In reality, they should make it but some very bizarre things have happened so far in the last two races. All it takes is finishing in the rear and they’re done.

It really begins to get interesting when considering the grid from Ryan Newman on back to Jamie McMurray in eleventh (since I’ve already mentioned Dale Jr’s situation.) From Newman to Harvick, anything can happen to jumble up the grid. Although it is much more likely to see something happen between those from McMurray to Menard, from this fan’s view, nothing can be ruled out until things actually get rolling.

When it comes down to it, Kevin Harvick can get in to the next round by winning or finishing near the front and others ahead of him struggling and finishing badly. Clint Bowyer has to win to make it in. That’s the only chance he has and that could prove to make it interesting if he is running with someone for the win at the end.

That’s probably what will make this race so dramatic and why there will be quite a difference in the intensity throughout. Those that need to move up into the top twelve to make it into the Contender round will have a different mentality when it comes to moving someone out of their way that might be keeping them from that spot that would put them in the top twelve. We’ve seen it happen in the past and I expect it will happen in this race and in the future.

This could also mean there might be some really intense emotions displayed during and after this one is over. When you mix the competitiveness and adrenaline along with the intensity and the need to move on to the next round, some things just can’t be predicted. If anyone thought that the “discussion” between Harvick and Johnson a couple of weeks ago was something, look out for what happens during this one that might help any of the drivers get eliminated…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 3, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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