Many drivers will be looking for magic at the Magic Mile at Loudon. Brad Keselowski is still enjoying his momentum from the last two races and walked away with a new track record and the pole for the Sylvania 300 on Sunday afternoon. Much of the talk centers around how unbeatable he appears to be. Some are even saying he is a shew in for the Cup Championship when the NASCAR Cup teams hit Homestead in November.
Well… All of that may be true but, from this fan’s view, there is a whole lot of racing left before we get there and one can only hope someone (or several someones) will step up to the plate and make a competition of it.
There is hope, however. It’s true that Brad Keselowski has won two consecutive poles and two consecutive races, at both Richmond and Chicago. It is also true that Jeff Gordon has finished second in both of those races. Could it be that the #24 Hendrick team is just running a little more conservative than the #2 Penske team is or are they both showing all they have? I don’t really have a good answer for that but it is possible that neither one is showing their full hand at this point. In fact, it is possible that there is more to the story than first meets the eye.
Of the two teams I just mentioned, both of them have been running very good at most every racetrack they’ve competed on and both have had their problems off and on as the season has progressed. If things continue as they have, there may be four teams that run head to head for the Championship at Homestead but the two to beat just might be Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon.
Now don’t get me wrong, that’s not a statement but it is a thought to ponder during the weeks leading up to Homestead. Since this is only the second race of the Chase, it may be a just a little early to be speculating in that way but it is a definite possibility.
Of course I do have to face the possibility that my speculation could be proven completely wrong over the next several weeks. That is the nice thing about a fan’s speculation, though. If I am wrong, I can always re-evaluate and it won’t affect those teams in any way. If the crew chief or engineers speculate and they are proven wrong, well… we don’t even need to go there because you know what I’m saying.
What makes the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase so interesting and so hard to speculate on is the way it works. In most (if not all) other sports, as the competition is eliminated the remaining teams only compete against themselves and there are no others on the field. In NASCAR however, there are still 43 teams on the field and any one of them can win a race or cause problems for any of the ones left in the actual competition for the Championship.
True, the actual competitors for the Championship only compete points-wise against those still able to win the Championship but, they all still have to contend with the whole field on raceday. That is at least one of the things that makes this elimination format so interesting compared to other sports. We just won’t really know who wins until the checkered flag drops at the end of the race at Homestead in November.
Since this is automobile racing, others being on the track during the competition isn’t the only potential problem any of the contending teams have to face. There are possible mechanical failures in any number of areas of the car’s parts that can potentially ruin anyone’s chances for competing all the way to the final race in Homestead. Whether it be tire failures, engine failures or anything in between, these are things usually out of the control of the drivers and the crews and can’t be foreseen.
So far this weekend there have been a few surprises but race day could hold any number of them for all of us. Brad Keselowski starts on the pole and Jamie McMurray starts out side pole. Could it be that this is a weekend where someone other than one of the 16 Chasers wins? Could it be when one of the ones struggling to get enough points to move on to the next segment wins and removes any doubt as to whether or not they make to segment 2? Will one of the major contenders have problems and put themselves in trouble for moving on to the next segment? It starts to get a little complicated and from this fan’s view it is hard to say what the standings will look like after the Magic Mile is done.
The Sylvania 300 is a short race on basically a one mile oval flat track and it’s a place that several have shined in the past. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Bush come to mind as possible winners along with Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Dale Jr. Since it is relatively a short race, it doesn’t leave much room for errors from the drivers or the crews. This fan wonders if there might be tire problems as have happened in the recent past and whether or not the crew chiefs will head the advice of Goodyear and run the suggested minimum tire pressures or press the envelope and hope for the best.
Whatever happens on this Sunday afternoon, for some it could be disaster and for others absolute magic. I reckon it just depends on which ones find the magic and which ones experience the disaster…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© September 20, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by PodCastNorm Productions