NASCAR At Martinsville: It’s Do or Die For at Least Six In Chase Race #6

Rusty NormanIt’s coming down to do or die for about six (almost seven) Chasers and, if something doesn’t go differently for those in the top three soon, it will really be a three car Chase. As I said earlier this week, I’m not ready to count anybody in the top eight out just yet, but even this fan has to admit, it is looking might bleak for those guys at the moment. That is unless that disaster happens to one or two of the top three (or all three for that matter) and turns the current points situation around completely.

Of course there are those that hope and pray that disaster will happen and those that say emphatically, “There ain’t no way!” As can be expected, many of the latter of those are the ones that have already given the Cup to Jimmie Johnson.

I’m not one of those however… I am one of those that would like to see the points race tighten up if for no other reason than to make the rest of the season more interesting to watch as the Chase moves on through the next five races. I don’t think anyone would deny that watching six or eight drivers contending for the championship on a weekly basis as opposed to two or three all the way to Homestead is much better.

There’s a lot of talk about these next two weeks being the deciding tracks at separating the possible winners from the hopefuls and it is possible they could be. Martinsville is a half mile short track, Talladega a 2.5 plus mile super speedway and it is true, anything can happen at either one of them, especially trouble. The worst that could happen is the top three have two bad races in a row and completely shake up the points and put almost everyone back in the Chase for the Cup Championship. (Now we all know what the possibilities of that happening are, but it is fun to think about what it would be like IF it did by the time they all reach that final race in Homestead.)

Many have already handed the trophy for this weekend to Denny Hamlin since he qualified on the pole and looked really strong in practice. I’m not going to go that far even though, statistically speaking, he and Jimmie Johnson have won most of the races there recently. I just think back to last weekend how Jeff Gordon had the wheels come off his drive for possibly winning his fifth Championship with a bad alternator and then two mistakes in the pits. (You have to admit, he’s definitely had a couple of bad weeks in row.)

You can say what you will, but the very same thing can happen to Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville and completely change the look of the Chase in short order. (The same goes for Kevin Harvick, too.)

As a fan, I like to consider the possibilities even if they do sound impossible for the moment. NASCAR Sprint Cup racing has always been pretty unpredictable and with the cars being so equal any more, I just don’t think anything is outside the realm of actually happening. The chances of both, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson having major setbacks this weekend or next weekend (possibly even both) are almost unimaginable, but the fact remains, it can happen.

The thing about racing, (and I guess other sports, too) is Jimmie’s and Denny’s fate is not totally controlled by them and their crews. There are forty-one other teams that are trying to make statements for their sponsors, fans and owners as well and all it takes is being in the wrong place at the right time and a very good day can become a very bad one in a hurry.

This could be the second week in a row that a non-Chaser wins. Once again, the EGR teams look impressive and could once again surprise all of us by either Jamie McMurray or Juan Pablo Montoya taking the trip to Victory Lane. Ryan Newman looks strong again this weekend and could take it home for Stewart/Haas Racing. Even though I don’t expect it to happen, there is the possibility of a Michael Waltrip team pulling off a dark horse victory. Both David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr are capable and like short tracks.

With all that’s going on surrounding Kasey Kahne and Richard Petty Motorsports, I find it interesting that Marcos Ambrose qualified on the front row and, in this fan’s opinion, could win this weekend. Yeah, I know he won’t be representing RPM until next season, but it would be a big boost in moral for his present team and for his future team, (that is if his future team is still operating next season.)

There are several I would like to see win this weekend, but, there are also those I hope don’t. I won’t mention any names simply because it’s not that important. I do think it would be great to see one of the RPM cars finish at, or near, the top and I think it would be great if Marcos Ambrose takes the trip to Victory Lane.

I don’t think either one of the above is going to happen and I don’t think the one I want to win will wither. I do think this is going to be an interesting race, and because it is a short track and 500 laps, I expect there will be more than a few short tempers by the time it’s over. Whether anything comes of those possible temperament issues is anybody’s guess, but as for me I’m gonna be watching… just in case.

See ya next time… Rusty

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© October 23, 2010 – all rights reserved

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