The Pressure Ramps Up At Talladega

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Well… it’s that time again. You do know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You know that thing they used to call restrictor plate racing. Yeah, that’s right; at one of the two remaining Super Speedways on the NASCAR circuit. This weekend is another one of those races at Talladega.

Personally, I’ve always liked the races at the Super Speedways. Well… except for the times when they did that tandem thing. You know, that time when they would go two by two, hooking up front and rear bumpers because it was a faster way to get around the track. That was when I thought NASCAR racing became completely boring. Actually, I was happy when they made it where they couldn’t do that anymore. That’s not to say they don’t hook up together in a similar way; It’s just that they don’t do it lap after lap until their radiators need to breathe a little.

As we already know, the race this weekend is the second in the round of twelve and it is important for those wanting to move on to the round of eight to have good finishes. Well, that is all but Kurt Bush. He’s already guaranteed a spot in the next round because of his win last weekend. In all actuality, this is the first of two tough races in a row in the round of twelve. Not necessarily because the tracks are so difficult, although they are a challenge, but because they are hard places to advance in the standings if things don’t go right.

I’m still not convinced that Kyle Bush will actually win a race this season. Maybe I should say, when it actually counts this season, especially for the playoffs. As the points stand right now, he is just outside the cutoff line for the round of eight. It is possible he could fulfill his own prophecy of being eliminated in this round. Sure, I know it was only in a post-race interview and he was relatively frustrated at the time but, from my view, it is possible he might not move on to the next round. He hasn’t had the best luck this season and it is possible he could be eliminated from the playoffs before it turns around. This is another one of those times when it looks like we’ll just have to wait and see.

Actually, a close look at the standings and the two races coming up, shows those in third to twelfth aren’t all that set coming into Talladega and then the Roval. It is hard to predict what the standings could look like after Talladega let alone the Roval. There are only so many points separating third from twelfth and a win by one of those in ninth to twelfth would completely negate the small advantage. Of course, some are more safe than others in that group but having problems over the next two weekends could spell trouble for someone that looks to be quite safe, points-wise, at the present time.

The two remaining Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the playoffs, Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott just don’t look all that safe going into Talladega. All it will take is someone below them winning this weekend or them having a bad finish and losing spots, and then moving them below the cutoff and making next week at the Roval all the more pressure packed. That’s one of the big unknowns about running at Talladega. There is always the chance of getting caught up in someone else’s problem or one of the possible multiple “Big Ones.”

Kevin Harvick is still the one most likely to move on to the final four unless his season turns completely around and everything goes down the tubes over the next several weeks. The chances of that happening isn’t very likely so I’ll just leave it at, he is one of my picks to advance all the way to the Final Four for the Championship for now.

When it comes to Denny Hamlin, well, I’m still not convinced his luck has turned around. Yes, I know he finished third last weekend and is starting on the pole this weekend (barring failure at inspection time.) It is a good spot for him to start at Talladega but it also doesn’t mean he will finish well and, judging from previous races this season and previous years in the run for the Championship, it could be that he doesn’t even make it to the Final Four when all is said and done. His advantage right now is the points he has and that is his only saving grace for now. Otherwise, he would likely be fighting it out with the rest for just moving on to the round of eight.

Something about racing at Talladega, especially in the playoffs. The pressure really ramps up, depending on where a driver is in the standings and you really won’t know who the winner is until one of them actually crosses the finish line ahead of all the rest…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 3, 2020 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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