Martinsville… Challenging is probably an understatement, especially since it is only a half mile track, narrow and basically flat. Sure… the speeds won’t be over 200 miles per hour but the emotions will run about that high, in particular if the top eight still in the Chase need to move forward or get moved out of the way. For two thirds of the field it is all about winning and for most of the rest well, let’s just say it’s more about staying out of the way while still getting what you can and move on to next week.
Martinsville has always been a track that runs high with emotion. In fact this fan knows the emotions will be much higher than the speeds (as I mentioned above) but because there are three races for the eight remaining Chasers looking to qualify for the final four at Homestead, this Martinsville race means more than any in the past. So far in this year’s Chase it’s been shown that we as fans need to expect the unexpected. The intensity in every race has been at an extreme high and even at places where we didn’t expect to see really high emotions we have seen them.
I have to admit, I have been surprised at how much more interesting the end to this season has been compared to past years with this new Chase format. It has completely changed how the Chase is approached by the teams and how it is viewed and considered by the fans. By now in previous years, we pretty much knew which of the drivers would be the real contenders when it came down to the final race in Homestead. This being Chase race #7 (once again in past years) would mean the matchup for the finale would already have a few drivers that had accumulated more points than the others and the Championship would be out of reach for others.
This year it is different. This year momentum has shifted from those that had it for most of the season to the teams that possibly weren’t even expected to make as far as they have. Take for example the Joe Gibbs teams compared to the Hendrick teams. While we’re at it, we might as well include Joey Logano compared to Jimmie Johnson. To this fan, those are probably the two biggest surprises and, at this point, I have already had to adjust my personal predictions of the drivers I thought would be in the finale at Homestead.
Before it all began, I had picked Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson to be shooting it out the Championship round in Homestead. Joey Logano wasn’t even on my radar and I really did expect Jimmie Johnson to grow stronger as the Chase progressed. Instead, Joey Logano has performed the best so far and Jimmie Johnson has had a relatively lack luster Chase and has been eliminated from contending for the Championship. Brad Keselowski has had and up and down time throughout the two previous segments and pulled a win out of the hat last weekend to make it into this elimination round of the Chase. I’m not even sure Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon will end up in the top four when it comes down to the Championship round and they were two of my strongest choices early on in the Chase.
The dark horses, at least from my view, are Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth. Something has happened at the Joe Gibbs camp and their Toyotas are faster than they have been all year. That’s a fact that I am sure has the others at least concerned. Of course you and I both know that Carl Edwards drives a Roush Ford and hasn’t had what could be called stellar performances this year but he did win two races. I guess I should mention here that he will be driving for Joe Gibbs Racing next season.
This fan thinks this race at Martinsville will be a typical Martinsville race. As I mentioned earlier, emotions will likely run high, especially if some of the eight remaining Chasers run into situations with their fellow competitors that costs them points or a win. The problem with this round of three races is that four of the eight will be eliminated and the best way to guarantee a spot in the Homestead four is to win. That puts extra pressure on the eight in this round to win and that could mean quite a bit more drama and, of course, the big “I” for intensity. It does seem, at least to this fan, that this could actually be one of the most interesting Martinsville races ever. Everyone already knows there is a lot riding on this one and, if someone other than a Chaser wins it, look out for next week. It could be even more interesting than this one…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© October25, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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