NASCAR at Homestead: No Matter What Happens, One Will Leave The Champion

Rusty NormanOne thing is certain for the last Chase race for 2010, no matter what happens in the race this weekend, one of the top three will walk away as the Sprint Cup Champion for the  2010 NASCAR season. It doesn’t really matter if any of the three wins the race, because they’re racing each other and not the rest of the field. All any of the three have to do is finish better than two of the others by a certain amount and the one that does, wins the championship. It is a fitting end to a racing season that many consider to be the best ever in NASCAR history and I can’t say I disagree.

From this fan’s view, I really do think the 2010 season has been one of the best I can remember and I’ve been a NASCAR fan since the 60’s. Sure, there were moments during the year the racing seemed a bit humdrum and boring, but overall, every race had some kind of excitement and drama that capped off every week with a desire to see what would happen the next week. Whether it was the result of previous rule changes like the double file restart, up to three green-white-checker finishes or the statement from NASCAR at the beginning of the year that said, “Boys, have at it…” I’m not sure. All I know is this has been a different year for NASCAR and its fans than many previous ones.

We have all been inundated over the last week with the closeness of the points between the top three, but contrary to popular opinion there is a pretty darn close race going on in the rest of the pack of twelve, too.

A quick look at the 9th to 12th positions shows a couple of things. Probably one of the most surprising things I notice is Clint Bowyer isn’t in 12th; Jeff Burton is and that is despite the penalties Bowyer was assessed after the first race in the Chase along with a poor performance in the second race. I have to say that is one thing I didn’t expect to see.

Next is the points spread between Kurt Bush and Clint Bowyer. Kurt is only 5 points ahead of Clint and depending on what happens Sunday, one of the two could move up or down a spot. I really don’t think Tony Stewart will move backwards from 9th with the separation of 41 and 46 points between him and the other two, (although, stranger things have happened), but he is only 39 points behind Greg Biffle.

Now that is where is does start to get interesting, (if we ignore the top three for just a few more moments.) There is only 2 points separating Greg Biffle and Kyle Bush for the 7th spot, just 11 separating him and Jeff Gordon (in 6th) and a mere 38 separating him and his teammate, Matt Kenseth who is in 5th. (Aw heck, let’s go ahead and include Carl Edwards in the conversation for a moment, too.) Although he leads Biffle by only 85 points, I think he is most likely going to finish just where he is in 4th spot.

Aside from the major story of the top three competing for the Championship, from this fan’s view, the order of the top twelve (including those top three) could be shaken up in a major way Sunday afternoon in the Ford 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Still avoiding the major story of the top three for at least one more minute, (which is all we’ve heard all week long from every possible angle and source), one of the things I find most interesting for this weekend is what will happen IF, (and that’s a mighty big if), AJ Allmendinger wins the race. AJ has been qualifying fairly well over the last several weeks, but has been unable to back it up with performance in the race. If he does actually pull off the win, 43 fans will win a new Ford. (Now I know there will be quite a few fans that will be watching where he is running a lot more than those other guys running for the Championship.)

Well, as I said to start this off with, it doesn’t really matter who wins the race this weekend. This Sunday’s race could be won by someone in the top twelve or it could be won by one of the other thirty-one drivers. It could even be pole-sitter, Kasey Kahne, pulling into Victory Lane to claim the trophy for the Ford 400, (who has had his share of adversity in the last month), and it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise to me.

There are those that threaten to stop following NASCAR if Jimmie Johnson wins his fifth straight Cup Championship. To them I say a very quiet and hardly noticeable, “goodbye.” No matter how much you think you will be missed, believe me, you won’t be missed near as much as you think you will. As fans, we all hope you reconsider, but you have to do what you have to do. I will say this… if Jimmie Johnson and the #48 Hendrick team do win the championship on Sunday, they deserve it and no one, absolutely no one, can deny they worked for it. It wasn’t handed to them on a silver platter and no one moved out of the way so they could make history again.

When all is said and done at the end of the race on Sunday afternoon, either Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson or Kevin Harvick will leave the track as the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. To those ends I say, “Have at it boys!”

See ya next time… Rusty

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© November 20, 2010 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman and

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