Looking for Magic at the Magic Mile from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman
Say what you will about this weekend’s race at Loudon, but… More than one or two are looking for Magic to happen at the Magic mile. For some, it is to make their spot for the Chase more secure than it is at the moment. For others… well… it is the closest thing to “desperation time” than they are willing to admit and they just need some magic to happen.

Yes, it is true. The time has come for some to begin finishing up front or forget about their chances of making the Chase for 2012. No longer can some of the teams afford to show up on a weekly basis with fast cars and high hopes. In fact, some will have to win more than one race if they hope to make the Chase and even that would only give them a shot at being in the hunt for one of the two Wild Card spots.

So… just who am I talking about in particular? Well, hang on just minute and I’ll get to that, but first, let’s talk about those that are relatively safe at the moment.

It doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to figure a few things out about those already in the top ten. There are eight races left to make the Chase and, from this fan’s view, those already in the top five are pretty much a lock to be there. (That is unless total disaster strikes one or two of them.)

Tony Stewart, for example, is only 14 points ahead of Clint Bowyer who sits in tenth spot. Even if he has some really bad weeks and falls out of the top ten, he still has 3 wins which already qualifies him for one of the Wild Card slots at this point in time. That makes him a pretty safe bet for being in the Chase no matter what happens.

Kevin Harvick is tied with Stewart in points but his situation is different. He doesn’t have any wins. That means he can’t afford to be anything but what he has been this year – consistent. A few bad races in the next eight coupled with no wins could mean missing the Chase. From my view, he is definitely a question mark at this time even though he is currently listed in sixth place.

From this fan’s view, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski shouldn’t worry too much even if they fall out of the top ten simply because they have two wins and three wins respectively. Clint Bowyer sits in tenth, but also has one win.

So of those presently sitting in the top ten, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr are in the most precarious positions if they have some bad races.

Those presently sitting eleventh to twentieth in points are the ones that need the “Magic” to happen for them this Sunday afternoon and several more times in the following seven races. Of them, I still can’t ignore two drivers that have simply had bad luck most of the year. It hasn’t been because their cars weren’t fast and it hasn’t been because they haven’t been running at, or near, the front just about every week before some calamity changed their finishing positions for some reason or other. (Yeah, I know you know I’m talking about Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon.)

Sure, I know Carl Edwards managed a sixth place finish last weekend at Daytona and that had to be encouraging for him and his team. Don’t forget the week before he was running near the front and had to stop for fuel costing him many spots.

Now Jeff Gordon’s situation has been a bit different (comparatively speaking, of course.) As I said about both of them last week, if it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. At Daytona last weekend, he was running in third, minding his own business and stopping for fuel with others when he got tagged by Bill Elliott as a result of one of the big ones that affected many. He could have finished in the top five. As it turned out, he finished twelfth. If anyone needs the “Magic” to begin happening for them Sunday afternoon, it is Jeff Gordon and he needs to have it continue on through the next seven races. If not, it is this fan’s opinion, he will be one of the ones running for thirteenth spot when the Chase starts.

Kyle Bush, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne all have one win which complicates the issue for Edwards and Gordon unless they begin to win (and it’s going to take more than one win for each of them if they want to make the Chase.)

As for the race this Sunday afternoon, it will likely be a fuel mileage race and track position will be as important as anything that happens. Since it is also a short race and a fast track, it will likely have only a minimum of pit stops (that is if the race goes as it usually does.)

By the way, did anyone besides me notice how many Hendrick or Hendrick associated teams are starting in the top ten? Hm-m-m… I wonder what that will mean at the end of the day??

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 14, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions