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A quick look at the round of eight shows there are four above the cut line and four below. One is already in the Championship race at Homestead and seven are trying to make it in. Unfortunately, only three of those seven will be in Homestead with a chance to go for the 2019 MENCS Championship and that means the pressure is on at Texas this weekend.
For Martin Truex Jr. there is absolutely no pressure for him or his crew chief, Cole Pearn. They are already locked into the Championship race since winning Martinsville last weekend. It doesn’t matter whether they perform well or not at Texas (or Phoenix for that matter) because it won’t make a lick of difference. Of course we know they won’t just idle around the next two races, waiting to compete at Homestead. It just doesn’t matter how they perform until they get there.
When it comes to Denny Hamlin, well, it depends on how his races go the next two weeks. At the moment he looks to be fairly safe and likely to move on to the final four. IF however, the troubles come as they have for many in the playoffs, his fortunes could change by the time it comes to being in the final four. Now I’m not saying he won’t make it in and I’m not saying he will have a lot of trouble but, he could and with the way points go, he could have a couple of bad races over the next two weekends and not make it. It would be shocking if he didn’t but it could happen.
Kyle Bush on the other hand hasn’t looked like the Kyle Bush we’ve all come to expect. He has struggled even though his struggles haven’t caused him to fall below the cut line yet. If they continue or get worse, he could miss it and, even though that would be unexpected, it could very well happen.
Joey Logano is struggling even as his teammate Brad Keselowski did in the earlier round. Well, at least he is from this fan’s view. He hasn’t had all that good of races over the last several and has only managed to squeak by and stay in the hunt for the Championship. There are some that may say he is doing what it takes to make it through but I just don’t see it that way. He is one of two in the top four at the moment that I’m just not sure will move on. He could but his place is conditional at the present. If things don’t go better for him, well, that could mean looking to next year for another try at a championship.
Of the four below the cut line, there three that could make it in on points but that would mean three of the four already above the cut would have to have bad weeks while the three below have really good weeks.
From this fan’s view, Kevin Harvick is the most obvious to make a move into the top four simply because he has performed well at both Texas and Phoenix in the past. He could move by scoring stage points and finishing near the front in this one at Texas or even next weekend at Phoenix. He could also stay mired right where he is below the cut line and have to wait until next season to go for another championship. Looking at his performance lately, I’m not sure which way it will go.
When it comes to Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson, well, it’s tough to say. Both of them could win or both of them could score a lot of stage points along with a top five finish at Texas. Neither one is stuck where they are and neither one is a definite to move on without a win. The rub is that either of them could win and that would put them right in the mix at Homestead. I don’t know how you feel about it but from my view, it could go either way.
No matter how you look at it, Chase Elliott is under the most pressure to perform at the top of his game this weekend and if he doesn’t win, next weekend becomes the same again. Of all the playoff drivers and teams, his “luck” has been the worst over the last couple of weeks and he can’t afford another engine failure, broken rear end or broken axle or what ever took him out of contention last weekend. He has to win stage points and lots of them or he has to win, there are no two ways about it. If he doesn’t win, whether or not he advances depends on the performance of the other seven not yet in. Either way, his work is cut out for him and his team. Honestly, I think they’re up to the task but they can’t afford more unexpected equipment failures.
The next two weekends are going to be pressure packed and to this fan there is no doubt about that. there are a number of drivers capable of winning at Texas and some aren’t even in the playoffs. If that happens, well, let’s just say it could get VERY interesting…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 2, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated