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Saturday night under the lights… There’s no better way to make the transition from sixteen to twelve and start all over again. That’s exactly what’s going to happen tonight at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Say what you will but one thing is certain, the Chase format certainly makes for a very intense and dynamically dramatic run for the coveted Sprint Cup Championship.
I don’t think it is just the Chase format that makes it the way it is but also the way the races are set up in the schedule. Because Talladega is included in this second round of three races makes everyone of those still in the Chase for the Championship all the more determined to get a win or at least rack up as many points as they can before they hit the super speedway in Alabama. We often hear the drivers mention what it’s like running the restrictor plates at Talladega. They spend a lot of time running laps and trying to avoid getting into trouble, either their own or someone else’s, until the last ten to twenty five laps.
If you think about it, these next two races just may be the most intense of the three races in this second round of the Chase. You may be asking why I would say that. My answer would quite simply be, because of Talladega. That’s why I mentioned earlier about the teams in this Challengers round wanting to get as many points as they can or possibly a win either at Charlotte or Kansas. With the restrictor plate race adding so much insecurity to the mix, this basically becomes a two race round with a great big Wild Card race the drivers and teams have to face to possibly move on to the next round.
Add to all of this intensity what it might be like should non-Chasers win either one or both of the next two races. That would mean there would be twelve teams going to Talladega either having to win or finish very near the front to have any hope at all of being one of the eight to move on to round three of the Chase. If you’ve been listening to any of the Chasers this week, that is not a scenario any of them want to face. That’s just another reason this fan thinks the next two races will be two of the most intense; no one wants to go to Talladega having to do anything other than finish as best they can without having to worry if they will perform well enough to make it to round three.
Speaking of being worried, some of the drivers are beginning to show signs of the stress getting to them and they are concerned about their performance and whether or not they have enough speed to be competing for the win either at Charlotte or Kansas.
One of those might be Jeff Gordon and, from this fan’s view, he must be disappointed with his qualifying performance yesterday. It just doesn’t appear he is one of the real challengers yet. It would be nice if his #24 Chevy was showing something even close to what Kevin Harvick’s is. One would think that since they are both driving Hendrick equipment (even though under different owners and terms) they might be close in performance. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t appear to be the case. Both of the Stewart/Haas teams, Kurt Bush and Kevin Harvick, seem to be running better than the Hendrick teams overall and Kevin Harvick appears to have them all covered at the moment.
I’m at a loss to even offer a guess as to who might win this one. Both the Joe Gibbs and Stewart/Haas teams figure in pretty heavily for being at or near the front at the drop of the checkered flag but Charlotte has often been a place for surprise winners. I can’t really discount the Penske or Hendrick teams either since all of them looked good in the final practice.
Could this be one of the Chase races that will be won by a non-Chaser or one of the teams eliminated from the Chase after last weekend’s race? Well, I’m just not sure but I am sure that what I stated earlier. This race at Charlotte will be filled with intensity and drama from the beginning to the end and I look forward to it. I think we will see intensity and drama on every pit stop and I do expect individual strategies to play a major part in who finishes at or near the front and those that don’t…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 10, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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