The Round Of Twelve Starts With The Monster from a NASCAR Fan’s View


Rusty Norman

There’s a reason why the call it the Monster. Many say it is a short track that thinks it’s a super speedway. Others say it is just a Monster to master and win on. What ever the reason, it has gained the name and reputation of the Monster Mile and not many will disagree with that. It is a one mile oval with high banking and extremely high speeds for its size. No matter how you look at it, it is as demanding as any track and possibly more demanding than some tracks that are bigger.

There is one that will be competing for the win tomorrow that has tamed the Monster eleven times. Even though he didn’t advance to this round of competition for the Cup Championship, Jimmie Johnson has even more incentive to add another win to his record at Dover. He may be out of the playoffs but he’s definitely not ready to fade into the background of NASCAR competition. After his performance last weekend at the Roval, this fan thinks he is even more driven to get the win that eluded him last weekend so close to the checkered flag.

Yeah, I know there are those that think Jimmie Johnson should have just laid back and finished in 2nd place. I also know that if he would have done that he would still be in the playoffs and have another chance this season to go for his eighth Championship BUT, I just don’t see a seven-time NASCAR Cup Champion not going for the win if he has the opportunity to do so. That’s just not the way champions and winners think. (At least that’s the way this fan sees it…)

Go ahead, think about if it was you and you were a seven-time champion that hasn’t won in the last fifty-one races you’ve been in. Would you lay back or would you go for it? I think if you’re honest with yourself (and the rest of us), you would go for it even if it cost you what it cost Jimmie Johnson. After all was said and done, there was a three way tie to move on and Jimmie Johnson came out the loser by the smallest margin imaginable. “What if” he would have passed Martin Truex Jr? “What if” he hadn’t had wheel hop? “What if” Martin Truex Jr. would have gone for the block and missed the turn all together? Wow! For only six letters those two words loom awfully large, don’t they?

Okay, I guess that’s enough of the “what ifing” for now. I don’t think anyone needs to apologize or answer for a seven time champion and I think he already answered the question as to whether or not he would do it again if he had a do over. His answer is that he would and this fan would expect nothing else.

So, what will this first race in the “round of 12” be like? Well, I suppose it could be a race much like the first race in the first round. There was a lot of aggressive driving and many of the top teams struggled that first week. It isn’t hard for this fan to think the Monster Mile won’t be quite the same as Vegas was. After all, Dover is a very fast track and, with the speeds they’ll be running, things can happen fast. It is a track that can have a big one just like at the super speedways. It is especially possible to have a big one on the restarts when everyone is all bunched up and wanting to gain as many spots as they can. That could mean the best of the remaining twelve have every possibility of being taken out by someone or something, not of their own making.

If I had to make a choice which driver I think might win that’s still in the playoffs, I would probably have to pick Kyle Larson. He generally runs good at Dover and, with the way things turned out for him last weekend after being involved in the big pileup near the end of the race, he could be one to watch for going all the way to the final four at Homestead. He has run really well all season but just not put it all together at the end of races. He’s been fast this weekend and this fan thinks he just might tame The Monster.

Of course, I can never leave it at just one choice for taking the win. There are just too many possibilities to make that kind of statement. From this fan’s view, there are several I think could win this one and some are still in the round of 12 and some are not. You see, I think Jimmie Johnson has a great chance at winning again at The Monster. Denny Hamlin is another hungry for a win, even though he isn’t in the playoffs either. Kyle Bush can never be ruled out at the Monster simply because he has won at Dover before. Kevin Harvick could show the way to the rest, even though I’m not so sure he will rise to the occasion this weekend.

I just don’t think there are any givens for this race at the Monster Mile. Any of the ones I mentioned could win or it could be one of the younger guys like Alex Bowman or Chase Elliott. One thing is pretty obvious. Talladega is next week and since anything can happen including one or more “big ones,” you can bet all of those still in the playoffs want to get a win at Dover so they won’t have to worry about a possible disaster happening there. So… you tell me how you think this one’s going to go…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October 6, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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