As I said it was going to turn out in last week’s article, Kevin Harvick IS the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champ for 2014. It isn’t like I didn’t expect it and I did say so two weeks ago after the race at Phoenix on my twitter account ( @podcastnorm ) and I also said the same in last week’s article. Admittedly, I also picked Jeff Gordon to win at Homestead but that didn’t quite happen even though he did lead the most laps and could have possibly won if it weren’t for all of those caution flags at the end of the race. Of course I also have to admit, if it weren’t for at least one of those several cautions near the end, Kevin Harvick may not have had the opportunity to pass Denny Hamlin and take the win and the Championship.
First off, let me just say as a NASCAR fan and an avid follower of the sport and those involved in it, I do think the Chase format for this season was one of the greatest things NASCAR has ever come up with to add drama, intensity and interest to the run for the Cup Championship. In the past, we all kind of knew it was going to be down to basically one or two competitors by the middle to the last third of the actual Chase. With the new format, it is now hard to tell who the final four will be until the ninth race in the Chase and even harder to decide which one of the final four will end up as Champ. From this fan’s view, I think NASCAR knocked it out of the park with this format and I have never seen so much interest in the finale as I did this season. Shucks, I don’t even know how they could tweak it to make it better at this point. It was a great way to end the season.
I do have to say that I wasn’t sure how the new Chase format was going to work out but I was more than a little pleasantly surprised with the end results and the constantly increasing intensity we as fans witnessed from the first to the last race in the Chase. We saw a level of emotion almost every week of the last ten races that we haven’t seen in a while, and especially in the Chase itself. Hey, I even found myself getting bent out of shape at times with some of the goings on just as if I was being directly affected by one or more of the driver’s and teams actions. Honestly, that hasn’t really happened since I stopped racing at my local tracks.
Looking ahead to next season, I haven’t really figured out what effect the new rule changes are going have but I am sure it will be an interesting learning curve for all of us. This year saw many new track records and, it this fan’s opinion many of those won’t be broken for a while. I could be wrong about that but, from what we’ve heard and been told, most of the changes will slow the cars down, at least slightly, and hopefully make it a little easier on Goodyear for making tires that keep it interesting without some of the obvious failures we saw this year. Tires often played a big part in the stories just about every week this season but they might not be so noticed next season. I’m sure something else will show up to take the place of the tire problems although I’m not sure what that might be. So far, a least in this fan’s opinion, NASCAR has done a great job in keeping the racing very competitive while trying to reduce the costs for the owners and keep all concerned parties happy.
I look forward to next season but really look forward to a little break. This Chase took a toll on everyone whether directly or indirectly involved and even the fans felt the pressure week in and week out during this Chase, especially if their driver was on the verge of advancing or not advancing to the next round.
This season was one of the most interesting and exciting in recent memory as far as this fan is concerned and I expect next year will be similar especially since there are going to be some major rule changes and that means new information will have to be gathered and drivers may have to change (or adapt) their driving styles once again to the new setups and changes. These are the best drivers in the world and they will manage to make the necessary changes to perform at the top of their game. This fan still can’t wait to see which ones the new rules package may favor more than the others. This year showed that some liked the way these cars handled better than others and it took most of the season for some of them to adapt but, adapt they did.
As we leave this season behind, the Hendrick and Hendrick associated teams seemed to be performing a little better than the rest overall but next season could be another Toyota or Ford year when it comes down to performance.
Kevin Harvick is and will be a great Champion and will represent the sport well in the coming year. Is it possible he could repeat his performance in the year ahead and win another Championship or will it be someone else? Well, for now it’s not all that important and time will tell us all we need to know about that for sure.
Until next year, it is my hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and the Merriest Christmas and that the New Year is the happiest you’ve ever known… May God richly bless you all!
See ya next year…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© November 20, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions