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The Martinsville race went just I and several others expected it would and I have to say it even surpassed the level of intensity I thought might be prevalent from at least the Chasers. Instead of just being intense, it was like many of the drivers were running for the championship and trying to win it as if they were all within a few points of the leader. Of course we all know only a handful actually were (and are) but that’s not what it looked like, from this fan’s view. What it looked like was a local Saturday night short track shootout for big bucks (and, of course, we all know that wasn’t the case either.)
Martinsville showed once again what fans like about short track racing, especially when the NASCAR teams show up. There was the complete package with fast cars, tight racing and an all-out attitude evident from almost every driver in the forty-three car field including those in the Chase and out of the Chase. There was the typical assortment of beating and banging, pushing and shoving and a lot of high emotion resulting in some not-so-nice paybacks along with some displays of frustration more visible on the short tracks than at other locations. Whatever the case, from this fan’s view, it looked like the fans’ got their money’s worth. ( I know I did.)
It appears Tony Stewart waited until the Chase to start his usual latter part of the summer higher performance level and has now won three of the Chase races. He now sits in second spot, with only three to go to in the Chase. Although he has won three of the Chase races, it remains to be seen how these next three weeks go and whether or not he will finish consistently in them or if he will have the up-and-down results the #14 team has experienced a lot this year.
If I could, I would just like to interject an observations from this fan’s view and believe me, I’m not trying to jinx the efforts of the #14 Stewart/Haas team. It is just something I have noticed over the extent of the season so far. Except for Kevin Harvick and Kyle Bush, it seems there has been a three wins and they’re done syndrome. If you look at the multiple winners for this season, you find an interesting statistic glaring at you at least a little bit.
It has to do with those that were running good and then they got those three wins over the course of the first thirty-three races this year. For most of them, their racing luck turned sour after their third victory and for those other two, Kevin Harvick has been only fairly consistent and Kyle Bush has had nothing but struggles, especially since the Chase began. Does that have an ominous sound to it as the NASCAR teams visit the Texas track or is it just a statistic that appears obvious to me but has absolutely nothing to do with anything?
I’m not sure how you feel about it, but there is something to be said for that thing called, “racing luck” and it does have to figure in somewhere along the route to the championship. If it weren’t for racing luck, Carl Edwards would not be in first place for the Chase. If you don’t believe me, ask him, (or at least, listen to his interviews) and look at how he has fared in the Chase races so far. From my view, Carl Edwards is riding a wave of consistency through the Chase, but he really hasn’t looked like the front runner that he is at the moment. Of course I do realize his plight could also be considered as something called “in the cards”, but, that also sounds like racing luck to me.
I know there are those of you that think he is just running conservatively and that is why he has not looked that good in the Chase so far and you may be right. Consider this, though. Carl Edwards knows as well as anyone, he has been lucky and that they haven’t been running as dominate as their position seems to show. He also knows (along with a whole lot of the rest of us) had it not been for “racing luck”, Matt Kenseth would probably be leading the points right now and he might have been as far back as third or further.
After the way the race went at Martinsville, this fan thinks it is still a pretty wide open race for the Chase to the Cup, but I do think it is all over but the shouting for those in the seventh to twelfth spots. Sure, they can still race to better each other for those lower spots, but I think it is obviously over for them to take the Chase. Does that mean there may not be a complete surprise? No, but it sure would take miraculous intervention for it to really happen, (at least that’s my opinion of the situation.)
After Martinsville, I agree with those that think it is still a five man Chase, possibly even a six, even though it is going to take some big reversals for it to be that way. The one that is really a big question mark is Jimmie Johnson. Yes, he is in sixth place and many have already ruled out him winning his sixth Championship, but he has been ruled out before and still managed to win five Cup Championships in a row. After the race in Texas, the picture should be a lot clearer, but if the unexpected does happen, it could be a lot foggier.
As it stands right now, and especially after the way Martinsville went, Carl Edwards is going to have to deal with Tony Stewart breathing down his neck carrying a lot of momentum into the coming race along with several others not yet willing to call it quits either. One thing this fan knows for sure; Carl Edwards and the #99 team cannot continue to count on just being lucky. They are going to have to perform better than they have and they are going to have to contend with more than just Tony Stewart. There are several more that are just waiting for Carl to have a bad race or two instead of just being lucky…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 04, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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