Short Tracking Chase Reset for Eight at Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

Okay… from this fan’s view last weekend was one of the least eventful races at Talladega in quite a while. Oh, I know what you’re thinking about that statement… “What do you mean uneventful; there was a lot going on?” Yes there was a lot going on if you were a Chaser but as a fan, well, that was a little bit of a different story. It wasn’t really a ho-hum race because it was interesting but it wasn’t really an “on the edge of your seat” race either. It was just a typical restrictor plate race without the “big one” and a few surprises that shook up the standings a bit for those in the Chase.

So that brings us to the reset at Martinsville with the Chase field reduced to eight competitors vying for the four spots available when the Cup Teams reach Homestead for the finale in four weeks. I have to admit, the field of eight does look a lot different than many projected but it should make the next three weeks of competition very interesting. There was only one position that was really close and that was the eighth position which was decided by the slimmest of margins between Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon.

Of all the possible ways the eight qualifying for the next round of the Chase could have gone, that one probably surprised me the most other than I had high hopes but not expectations of Chase Elliott winning the race and him moving on. It just wasn’t in the cards for him this year but if his performance for this year carries over to future years – look out – we just might have another multiple Championship winner in the Cup Series in the years ahead.

Joey Logano has shown up at Martinsville this weekend with lots of speed and momentum coming from his victory last weekend at Talladega. I can’t say this fan is all that happy with that result but I have to concede that he is a formidable competitor for the rest of the teams in the Chase. I’m really not much of a Joey Logano fan but I can’t argue with his performance and results. He has been successful and is often one of the ones to beat at when the checkered flag drops just about any weekend. Whether I like him or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is he continues to out-perform his competition regularly and that makes him one to watch for this one at Martinsville and in the weeks to come. I still haven’t decided if he will be one of the final four, but, I do have to admit he very well could be.

The last two weekends were very rough for Logano’s teammate, “bad Brad” Keselowski and he didn’t qualify to move on to this round as a competitor for the Championship but he could end up a winner of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 and I am sure that wouldn’t bother him one bit. In fact, Martin Truex Jr. is in the same boat and he would not surprise this fan one bit if he walked away the winner. I’m not saying either one of them will win but I am saying they could win and that would make the two weeks ahead after Martinsville much more stressful for the eight Chase contenders.

I do suppose you’ve noticed that much of the conversation about the race this weekend at Martinsville has centered around the thought that a “spoiler” could win and do just what I mentioned above; make it all the more stressful for those still competing for the final four at Homestead. I agree with many that have brought up the subject and there is probably more of a possibility it happening this weekend than any other in the weeks ahead.

A short track can be the great equalizer, especially when it comes to which of the teams can win. Sometimes a smaller team has a better chance at a short track race than at any other and there are several that could win and play that “spoiler” part this weekend. There is no guarantee a smaller team with less resources will win against larger teams with a bigger budget but there is that possibility and that possibility could play a part in the way the final four pans out for Homestead.

I do think the eight still in the hunt for the Championship have just as good a chance at winning on this Sunday afternoon but it did appear to this fan, many of them were struggling a bit on this legendary short track during qualifying and the practices. I really believe this could be another one of those strange weekends where anything can, and probably will happen. In fact, I am expecting the unexpected to happen more than I am expecting something normal to happen. In my book, this one is wide open and it could be that a non-Chaser wins the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 and really makes the next two races interesting.

Of course there is always the consideration of at least one more player in the field that could make life more difficult for the eight if he wins and there is a very real possibility that he could. I’m sure you have already guessed I am talking about none other than Jeff Gordon. He has nine wins at Martinsville in his career and he could make it ten this weekend.

I know there may not be many that agree with me but that really doesn’t matter all that much to this fan. I confess, I was and still am a Jeff Gordon fan and there is really nothing I would like better than to see him win this one, add a win to his stats and make it more difficult for those that want to make the final four. If anyone can do it this Sunday afternoon, he can (at least in this fan’s opinion) and I wouldn’t be the least bit disappointed if he did.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 29, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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