Playoff Pressure Is On At Homestead  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Let’s see… There are seven drivers that want to win or finish up front at Homestead. There are three places left in possibly making the final four and only two races left to race their way in. From my view that means this race at Homestead is full of pressure for the seven remaining in the playoff picture. Well… that is if any of those seven want to race their way into the Final Four. One will make it in by points. That also means the pressure is on those seven and their pit crews to not make mistakes ending up in having a bad day and possibly making it even more difficult to make the Final Four.

All of that makes it even more interesting for all of us as fans but, that kind of pressure on those seven teams can cause what seems to be a standard pit stop for fuel and tires into a possible disaster. It wouldn’t be the first time and, unfortunately, I have a feeling it could happen again Sunday afternoon at Homestead.

Kyle Larson is the only one that can pull out all the stops because it doesn’t really matter where he finishes or if he finishes. He is already qualified for the Final Four because of his win last weekend at Vegas. From my view, I seriously doubt he will be content to just run around, lap after lap, and not be trying to win again at Homestead. I believe he will be running to win and it is quite possible he could. After all, last year he basically dominated and won last year’s race. Of course, that doesn’t mean he will do the same this weekend but he is starting fifth in the starting lineup and there is always a possibility of a repeat performance.

His teammate, William Byron starts seventh and he is another one that could pull off the win but he has been struggling to run at the front. Of course, if you look at his average finishing spot, struggling may not be the best word to use. After all, he did win at Homestead in 2021.

What is going on with the Toyotas? Once again this weekend, one of them won the pole and it just happens to be Martin Truex Jr. Interestingly, there are three Toyotas starting in the top three. Bubba Wallace starts outside pole next to Truex and Tyler Reddick starts third. Surprisingly, Ty Gibbs starts ahead of the other two Toyotas of Denny Hamlin (starting eleventh) and Christopher Bell (starting thirteenth.)

I know I keep repeating myself but, qualifying doesn’t always paint the rosiest picture when it comes to winning the race. In fact, Christopher Bell proved that in the playoffs so far. Do you think it is possible Martin Truex Jr. could prove that to work better for him than for Christopher Bell? After all, he has been struggling most of the playoffs and only making it through to the Round of Eight by the skin of his teeth (and the points he acquired by winning the regular season Championship.) Will this be the race that it all turns around for him? Will this be the race that gets him into the Final Four and a real chance at another Championship? I assure you I don’t know the answer to those questions.

What I do know is there are several non-playoff drivers that would like nothing better than to win at Homestead and put further pressure on those wanting to make the Final Four by forcing them to go to Martinsville and either win or point their way in. If Kyle Larson or a non-playoff driver does win, that is going to make next weekend’s race all the more pressure packed and dramatic. Think about it… that would mean seven drivers still outside the Final Four desperate to make sure to be running for the Championship at Phoenix. Man, talk about pressure. If it goes as I just said, the race at Martinsville could just about be the most dramatic race of all time.

So… what will happen at Homestead? As far as this fan’s view, I have no idea. I do have some suspicions though. Any one of the things I mentioned previously could happen or someone totally unexpected in the Round of Eight could win and move right into the Final Four. It is also possible that someone totally unexpected not in the playoff picture could win and totally make a big shakeup in the points and standings for the cutoff race at Martinsville.

Will Larson have a repeat performance of last year or last week? Will Chrstopher Bell have a better week since he isn’t starting on the pole? Will Denny Hamlin win? Will William Byron? Man… This Homestead race is going to be a very interesting race…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 21, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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