It’s On At Chicagoland from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

And so the Chase begins… Well… that doesn’t sound like a very exciting beginning to what many have been waiting for for up to twenty six weeks of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, does it? That may be true for some but for others, well, it is their first time and they can’t wait to prove themselves. Fortunately, it’s not all going to be over after one or two races and it remains to be seen just how this one is going to pan out. I do think we will know more after this weekend but honestly, we won’t know much more than we do right now.

The first race of the Chase is a race that can make or break the next few races for the 16 Chase qualifiers. It will tell whether they are going to have time to relax a little or whether they will have to work their tails off to make it to round two. All of them hope to finish at or near the front and hope they stay in the top 12 for the next three weeks (if they don’t win, that is.) Winning just takes the pressure off for a week or so until the next round starts.

From this fan’s view, there has already been a lot of talk about which ones of the 16 won’t make it to round two and, though all are entitled to their opinion, it seems a bit pointless to me. I mean, come on, let’s at least see how the first race goes and then take a look at the results and start making a few predictions. I guess some just have to have something to say and they probably hope their predictions pan out and they get their moment of, “see, I told you so…” It is kind of funny to this fan that they don’t have much at all to say when their predictions don’t come to pass. I guess they either hope some of their friends and NASCAR fans have short memories.

I really have no idea which of the 16 Chase contenders are going to advance and which ones won’t but I do have something to say about a few of them. In fact, this seems to be a year where this fan would really like to see the underdogs come out on top. Don’t ask me why because I really don’t know but I do think it would be good for the sport. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a few favorite veterans for being in the final four at Homestead but there are some of the lesser talked about drivers I would like to see take it all the way.

First of all, I just don’t know how Chris Buescher is going to do during this first round of the 2016 Chase but some are already counting him out. All this fan knows is he has been in the right place at the right time more than once lately and it will be interesting to see how his “racing luck” holds out in these first three races. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he won’t make it through to at least the second round but I do think he has his work cut out for himself. I will admit, he isn’t one at the top of my list for moving on but he could.

There are those that say Chase Elliot will be one of the first to be eliminated but this fan really doesn’t feel that way. I mean, he is only twenty years old and he made the Chase in his first full year of Cup racing. That may not mean a thing when it comes to advancing into the next rounds of the Chase but I am looking at what he has accomplished this year. Admittedly he has made a few mistakes, is young and he is very hard on himself whan he messes up but, it does seem he learns from everything, whether good or bad, and uses it to improve his craft. He may not even advance into the second round but he has shown he is a very talented driver and looks to have a bright future whether or not he takes it all the way this year or not.

Kyle Larson is another of the bright spots in the younger drivers and it is my opinion he could be a big surprise during this 2016 Chase. He has been noticeably running near the top of the order a lot lately and could be one of the ones to make it at least all the way to round three and possibly be one of the final four at Homestead. I don’t really want to jump that far ahead yet but I did want to mention it simply because he has been performing well recently and could surprise a lot of people.

Speaking of ones I would like to see advance all the way to the final four, I just have bring up Jamie McMurray even though he isn’t one of the young guns. He is a seasoned driver and has been around a while. I would be really happy to see him going for his first Cup Championship in November but it is true he has to make it through the first three rounds first and there aren’t a lot of those talking heads out there giving him much of a chance of making it, let alone getting in to round two.

Now that I’ve brought up a driver that’s been around the Cup series for a while, I guess I should mention a few of the others I wouldn’t have a problem with their winning the Championship. Just for grins, I think it would be a good thing for Jimmie Johnson to win his seventh Championship. I know there are some that just don’t want him to join that club but he does have six and a seventh isn’t that much of a stretch of the imagination. Of course, the Hendrick teams have been struggling a bit this season but this fan thinks they are turning the corner and that could make the difference.

Just to mention a few others, it would be fine with this fan if Kyle Bush, Kevin Harvick Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth or Kurt Bush take it all the way down to the final one at Homestead in November. Carl Edwards is another of those and any of them could win it all and any of them would deserve it if they did.

Now, I just don’t think it will happen but it would be interesting to see Tony Stewart retire with one more Championship under his belt.

By the way, did you notice I haven’t mentioned the Penske teams or a few other prominent names? Believe me, that’s not an oversight… It’s just I don’t really care whether they make it all the way to Homestead or not. I guess they could and it would be fine but, I still wouldn’t be all that excited if they did…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 17, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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