Throwback Time And Two To Go At Darlington from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

This weekend’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway is a throwback to cars that look like ones from the middle and late 80’s. Not only do the cars look like (or similar to) those from that time in NASCAR history but the drivers and crews have picked upon the look as well. From the way their fire suits look to the way they wear their hair (and sometimes, facial hair) it is definitely a trip down a nostalgic memory lane. Watching the cars on the track is a little like watching some old footage of races from those days.

Along with the throwback theme of today, not all that much has changed for the Darlington Raceway. Even though it was repaved several years ago, it has returned to much of what it was known for for so long. That would be the way it eats up tires and the fact it is still one of the toughest tracks on the present-day NASCAR circuit. It is still basically a one groove race track and that groove is set up near the wall. Sure, there can and will be passing but more often than not, we will see most of the drivers getting as close to the outside wall as they can. I won’t use the word comfortably because in listening to the talk, there is no comfort for the better part of 500 miles.

Another important thing to consider for this Southern 500 is that there are only two races left before the playoffs begin and that means at least one driver is going to make it into the final 16 for the playoffs by points. That may not sound like a very big deal but it is. Before the Southern 500 even begins, there are three drivers that could get in by points but someone is going to win this race and it may be one of them or it could be someone else.

One of those would be Clint Bowyer. He could get in with a win even though he is presently 17th in points. Since he sits just outside the make or break point for the playoffs, he could possibly get in on points but only if he has extremely good finishes while one of the those in the spots just ahead of him would have to have EXTREMELY bad weekends over the next two races. Personally, it is my view he would rather have a win rather than endure the stress of the points battle over the next two races. He is 58 points behind Jamie McMurray and 61 points behind Matt Kenseth. Chase Elliot is 69 points ahead of Bowyer so he is the least likely to be taken out by points, but it I guess it could happen.

Joey Logano absolutely needs to win to get in. The way I figure it, there is no mathematical way he can get in on points. (Of course you know there is no mathematical way he can get in, along with everyone else and me but, I was trying to add a little drama to an undramatically tense situation.) Without a win there is just NO WAY he will make the playoffs.

Logano is not alone in needing a win to get in. Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Trevor Bayne and Dale Jr. simply cannot make it in without a win even if one of them finishes second in both of the last two races. To coin a popular phrase from where I used to live, “There just ain’t no way!!!” Without a win it just isn’t going to happen. No matter how much his fan’s would like to see it, Dale Jr. needs a win to make it in and there are no two ways about it.

Now that I’ve brought it up, Dale Jr. could win and that would completely change the landscape for the playoff picture whether he wins at Darlington or Richmond. It is this fan’s opinion he won’t win either of them but stranger things have happened. Judging from the way he’s been running lately, I just don’t think he will pull it off. I’m not saying he won’t, I’m just saying the chances are very low.

So with only two races left to get a win to make it into the playoffs, these next two races will have a lot of drama and emotion involved for those outside the sixteen places already, not to mention those already in but without a win to clinch their spot. I don’t know about you but these next two weeks could be VERY interesting.

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 3, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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