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There are still some NASCAR Cup teams trying to seal their deal for making the Chase and they will be looking for some magic at the Magic Mile on Sunday afternoon. As we all know, the best way for them to do that is to win a race and take the points racing pressure off. So far this year there have been eleven winners and several of them have multiple wins. That leaves five spaces open for some to make it in either on points or with wins and there are only eleven races left for them to do so. At the moment there is still time for any of about twelve of them to make it in but it becomes more difficult and stressful as the races wind down and more are added to the winners list.
Unfortunately, some of the possible winners trying to clinch a place in the Chase will have to win over teams that have shown themselves to be a bit stronger this season. There is a high possibility some of those with one or more wins so far this season will likely win again before the Chase and that will limit the chances of those non-winners to take a win. Any way you look at it from this point in the season, it could get very interesting as those not in contend for those final five spots not already taken. Of course it could really get interesting if there are more than five different winners over the next eleven races and then those already in have to start wondering if they will make it with just their one win and points.
A couple of those drivers trying to get a win and either stay in or get in the top sixteen are Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson. Both are with Chip Ganassi Racing and it would be great if they get the chance to at least represent CGR when the Chase begins in September. They aren’t thought of as one of the powerhouse teams but they are a popular one. For either one or both of them to make the top sixteen would be a major plus for them as drivers and for CGR in general.
With the announcement made by Dale Jr. and his suffering from concussion symptoms again, the rumor mill has been full of “what if’s.” Those rumors and publicly expressed thoughts have covered the full spectrum ranging from, “What if he can’t come back this season,” and “What will the Chase be without him?” to “Does this mean he is going to retire?”
Many shudder at the thought of NASCAR not having an Earnhardt in the mix anymore. After all, he is NASCAR’s most popular driver and he is definitely one of the most talented in the field today. Why, this fan even heard a comment saying that there were some people (assumed to be Dale Jr. fans) that would not be attending the races until he returned to competition in the Cup series no matter who was in the #88.
I do not know how true or untrue any of that I just mentioned may be but I do know he does have a lot of fans and many of them come just to see him try to win. They really don’t care too much about the car with the number 88 on it or who’s driving it if he’s not in it. They are quite simply Dale Jr. fans and he is the biggest reason they come to watch, whether in person or via some other form of media. They may follow NASCAR and be NASCAR fans but Dale Jr. is their biggest reason for being as involved as they are.
Now don’t misunderstand what this fan is saying. Both you and I know NASCAR is bigger than any one particular driver or personality but some do draw more attention to the sport than others do. With Jeff Gordon retiring last year and Tony Stewart at the end of this season, what kind of an impact would Dale Jr. no longer competing have? That would be a lot strong personalities and influencers going away in a very short period of time.
Personally, I think it would make a noticeable impact but I also think the impact would fade within a relatively short period of time… ((break))
At the time of this writing, Jimmie Johnson had won the pole and this fan wonders if this might be a glimmer of hope that the Hendrick teams have found something and might be able to turn around the somewhat lackluster year they’ve been experiencing this season. Yeah, I know Jimmie has won twice and is definitely going to be in the Chase (that is barring some strange turn of events) but the Hendrick teams just haven’t looked like themselves over the last year. They haven’t had the speed this season and they definitely haven’t had that ole “racing luck” on their side. I guess time will tell us if this is just a glimmer or a real spark of hope for them to start turning things around.
From this fan’s view, there is simply no denying the dominating performance of the Joe Gibbs teams this season. Between the four JGR teams themselves and the associated team of Martin Truex, Jr., they have shown up every week as the ones to watch and, more often than not, the ones to beat at the end of the race. Yes, it is true Brad Keselowski and his #2 Penske Ford have often been showing up in Victory Lane – a total of four times so far this season – but even he admits his win last weekend was a fluke. After all, he did run out of fuel just after passing the finish line at the drop of the checkered flag ahead of Carl Edwards. He stated that it isn’t always the best car that wins and his wasn’t the best car last weekend. It is more about which car and driver is out front when the checkered flag drops.
It wasn’t just dumb luck that he did stretch his fuel enough to make it to the finish line in first place, he worked at it and is good at conserving fuel. Whether or not he would have won even if it hadn’t turned out to be a fuel mileage race we will never know. What we do know is that he did win it and did so pretty much on fumes…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 16, 2016 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated