The Playoffs Begin At Darlington from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Remember… this is the year 2020. What begins this weekend at Darlington many thought would never happen this year. After all, everyone had to take a break for the shut down and NASCAR was not exempt from that either. Some will point to the fact that NASCAR was the first to resume their racing schedule (even though it was altered from the norm) and managed to bring their racing schedule up to date as of this weekend. Of course I, and many others, have our own opinion of some of the decisions made by NASCAR during the process, they still managed to get all twenty six races in before this weekend. So… no matter what your opinion, the playoffs start this weekend, right on schedule.

There have been many setbacks in this season and I’m sure we all realize some have departed the NASCAR scene for good. If you’re reading this, it is likely you’re not one of them as well as I. I admit I am taking this opportunity to get some things off my chest and make my view clear. I didn’t agree with several things NASCAR did over the last several months but I made the decision to continue with my articles and blogcast even though I had very strong thoughts and concerns about several things. I don’t blame people for the decisions they’ve made or expressing themselves in the ways they have but, I made my decision and that’s why I’m still here. (Support me if you will, hate me if you must. I definitely won’t hold it against you. I appreciate you being here whatever the case.) I offer my view as what it is, my opinion, and I will not be intimidated in either direction for expressing it.

Now, if you’ve been listening to those talking about the playoffs over the last week, you’ve probably noticed they’ve already decided the outcome and which ones will be in the final four at Phoenix. From this fan’s view, according to them, the whole playoff picture revolves around only two competitors and those would be, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. Well… at least to many of those “analysts” I mentioned in bulk earlier. Actually, I prefer to call them “the talkers” rather than “analysts” simply because they do a lot of talking (just like politicians) and we’re supposed to take their opinions as gospel whether they’re right or wrong. Much like the afore mentioned politicians, they hope we’ll forget what they said if they are wrong or if someone other than the ones they’ve already crowned don’t win. (Oh well, I guess my opinion doesn’t really matter that much either, but I’ve given it anyway.)

Okay, I think I’m ready to get off that tangent and get back on the track…

Probably one of the biggest reasons I’ve chosen to talk about the things I have today is because, there really isn’t that much to talk about for the race this weekend. Other than this being the first race of three and the third being an elimination race for which drivers and teams will make it to the round of twelve, there’s not much difference in this race than any other race on a typical weekend in NASCAR. Yeah, I know if you listen to “the talkers,” there’s a lot riding on this first race of the playoffs; BUT from this fan’s view, it’s just another race until the results are in. The winner, if in the top sixteen, automatically moves on to the next round whether they are listed as number one or number sixteen when the race starts. If someone outside the top sixteen wins, well, that just means the drama becomes a little more intense and makes the next two races more important for those wanting to move on to the round of twelve.

One thing “the talkers” have brought out and seem to agree on is the fact that Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have won half the races of the twenty-six in the regular season. For some reason it seems that means their performance will continue all the way to the end at the Championship race at Phoenix and that is where I might disagree. One thing I’ve learned about racing, whether in observing or participating is, there are times racing luck turns against someone and it can last for more than one race. Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen. I’m just saying it has happened and could happen again to those that are the favorites. Look, parts break, engines blow and accidents happen. It can happen to anyone, no matter whether they are the favorites to win it all or the ones expected to lose. It can also happen multiple times in a row. Once again, I am not saying it will… I’m just saying it could.

I guess one thing should be included before I sign off for this week. One of the most prevalent discussions “the talkers” have brought into the conversation but it wasn’t unexpected by this fan. They’ve been asking all week which of the sixteen might have the advantage in the playoffs. Of course, their discussions usually ask whether it will be the older more experienced drivers or the newer, young guns. Yes, they do have a point in saying Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick have the advantage, if for no other reason than they have the most wins this season and have shown up ready to perform well almost right off the truck and able to adjust to the track conditions relatively quickly. They also mention Martin Truex Jr. as the likely third strong contender along with Kyle Bush finally winning a race this season and moving into the final four.

Well… I honestly have no idea if it will be the old, experienced drivers and teams or the young ones looking to make their mark in the future of NASCAR. What I do know is the younger drivers may not have the experience but they do have the desire. That alone could be the deciding factor when all is said and done; or… maybe not…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 5, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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