It’s the Peak of Desperation for the Eliminator 8 at Phoenix


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Rusty Norman

The race this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway will be one no NASCAR fan will want to miss. Since all we’ve heard all week since Texas has been mostly about the disagreement between the 24, 5 and 2 teams, I’ll try not to say too much about it but I really do have to express this fan’s view of the Texas race and those involved.

I’ve heard all of the comments about how Jeff Gordon opened up the hole and Brad tried to drive into it and I realize not everyone sees it the same way. In fact, there are many opinions of the incident and there are several sides to the whole issue. You have your opinion and this fan definitely has his own. Trust me, it isn’t because I am a Jeff Gordon fan instead of a Brad Keselowski fan – I just see it differently than some.

I’ve heard many say that Brad was just being aggressive. I can’t say I disagree with that and he was – very aggressive. Aggressive driving is nothing new for Brad Keselowski. It is what he has always been since he broke into NASCAR. Quite often, when anything is brought up about Brad, it appears that many forget the aggressive driving that almost put Carl Edwards into the stands one day and that incident injured several fans.

I realize that all of what happened that afternoon wasn’t Brad’s fault or intention but still it happened and Carl is the one that took it upon himself to check on the injured. Afterward, Carl decided it was time for a little payback here and there and eventually put Brad out of a race by giving him a push that sent him airborne hitting upside down drivers side against the wall. For the moment that was it for that.

Carl Edwards wasn’t the only one to have run-ins with Brads aggressive driving. Denny Hamlin had several with him and told all of us what he was going to do during a race in the following week. Making good on his promise, he pushed Brad down the straight-away spinning him.

Just a few weeks ago, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart all felt what was passed off as Brad’s aggressive style of driving at Charlotte and all of them handled those situations in their own ways that night. After his actions in Charlotte is it any wonder people are so unwilling to put up with his aggressive style as it comes down to the wire of making it into the Championship race at Homestead next week.

Without going into a longer dissertation about all of this, here is my point…

It doesn’t surprise me that anyone reacts to Brads “aggressive driving” the way they do and in particular the way Jeff Gordon did at Texas. Kevin Harvick stated it best when he said everything was fine until Brad decided to go into “bulldozer mode.” That kind of covers it all in one simple statement. Pretty much anyone can go out and force their way through people on the track in a race but, consistently, Brad seems to think it is okay to drive through people and they just need to understand it is “just racing…” In this fan’s opinion, the other side of that argument will someday come full circle and he will be the one wondering why he is being moved out of the way at every turn.

Oh well, enough of that for now and on to the Phoenix race.

It goes without saying that this one is for all the marbles for the four that will advance to Homestead with a chance to win the 2014 Cup Championship. To this fan that means all 8 of the teams with a chance to make it into the Championship round are desperate for a win or, at the very least finishing as close to the front as possible. Of course all the while they are hoping all of the others have problems that help their chances of making it to the final four.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the top two already know they only have to finish eleventh or better to lock themselves into the Championship round and that would be Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. Ryan Newman has to finish ninth or better to lock himself in and the other five, well they will be fighting for as many positions as they can get all the way to the end of the 312 laps and all of them will be looking to win.

Of all the races so far in the 2014 Chase, this one is the most important and will likely end up with at least as much intensity and emotion being displayed as any of the races that are, or were, the last chance for advancing into the next round. For four of them, it is now or never, at least for the 2014 season and for the other four… well… let’s just say next week could prove to be one of the most exciting Championship races ever…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 8, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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