The Pressure Is On At Daytona

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

The race tonight at Daytona is the final race of the regular season and there are two very important things going on… (Well, that is if it doesn’t rain and then all bets are off. Then it probably moves to Sunday afternoon and all the conditions could be different.)

The first thing of importance is which of the remining drivers that aren’t already qualified for the first round of the playoffs will fill that sixteenth spot. Since this is Daytona, we all know anything can happen and just about anyone that starts the race has a chance of winning it. That means there might be a completely unexpected driver making the playoffs and a couple of someones trying to point their way in – Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick – just might miss because there is an unexpected winner. Yeah, I know the chances of that happening are slim but, that possibility is there and it can’t be ignored.

So, there are actually a couple of battles going on in that first important thing. That would be the battle between Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick and they just happen to be teammates. It has been a tight battle between them for several weeks now and it remains to be seen which of them will out-point the other or which of them might come out the winner of this 400-mile race. Now, I’m not picking one of them over the other, especially considering how things have gone for them over the last couple of weeks in particular but, it could go either way.

The second important thing about this race is the battle between Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin for the Regular Season Championship. At one time not so long ago in this season, many had already given it to Denny. Admittedly, he did start off the season with very consistent finishes but no wins. It did appear he was going to be the Regular Season Champ without much doubt. But then, as usually happens in the NASCAR Cup series, someone named Kyle Larson began a string of top one and two place finishes, and soon, he had caught up to Denny, passed him and now he sits at the top of the chart for the season championship by 28 points over Denny Hamlin.

That, in itself, makes this race very important for these two and for tonight (or tomorrow if need be) adds an extra bit of drama to the whole thing. Unless something drastic happens to one or both of them, we likely won’t know the name of the Regular Season Champ until the checkered flag falls. Taking into the account how these two run at Daytona, it is anyone’s guess how this might turn out. Admittedly, since I am both a Chevy fan and a Hendrick fan, you know which one I am pulling for more than the other but, I’m at a loss as to how it will turn out. If Denny wins, he would gain playoff points and likely take the take the Regular Season Championship, too. If Kyle wins… well you already know what that means. Yep, he goes into the playoffs as Season Champ and with a lot of momentum.

So, if you think those are the only two storylines that will be going on, I beg to differ with you. Although locked into the playoffs, Kevin Harvick joins Denny Hamlin as in by points but no win so far this season. There probably wasn’t anyone that expected that to be a result in this season after the way they both performed last season. It is a relative shock that both of these guys have had what could be called a lack-luster season. I don’t think anyone expected either of them to not have even one win at this point in the season but, the facts are before us. Neither of them have a win and, if there had been a couple of more winners this season, neither of them would likely be in the playoffs.

From this fan’s view, there are a lot of things that will be going on when they take to the track for this one and a lot of possibilities of how this one race could change things all around. There are those in the playoffs that want another win or, at least, a really good finish. First, the winner will have to make it to the final checkered flag ahead of all the rest and will have to have survived any of the usual “big ones” this race usually generates. I am sure there will be at least one “big one” and possibly more. Or, it could be we actually have one of these races at a super speedway like Daytona with no “big one” and only minor problems for most, if not all of the contenders.

I don’t know about you but, I’m anxious to get this race going and then into the books. I don’t want to wait any longer to know how the Top Sixteen rounds out and whether or not Denny Hamlin or Kyle Larson is crowned the Regular Season Champ. No matter which of the drivers wins, one of these two will be the Regular Season Champ and then we get to move on to the playoffs. Wow! Just think about that… only ten weeks to go…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 28, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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