Tuesday, March 11, 2014
When Is Losing Winning?
On the one hand, what a heartbreaker for Junior....another cup of fuel and he wins. On the other hand, it was also a triumph...another cup of fuel and he wins. You can't complain about an average 1.67 finish in the first three races. If he could pull off one more second place finish at Bristol, he'd accomplish something only The King has done in the past.
Heartbreaker for Kevin Harvick too. He might have won had it not been for a brake problem.
And, of course, Brad Keselowski did win...getting the weekend sweep at Las Vegas. Those Penske Fords are really looking strong so far this year. They took the front row in qualifying two weeks in a row. There must be techniques to knock-out qualifying because the two teams - Penske and Ganassi - whose owners also own IndyCar teams, have both done exceptionally well. Expect others to catch up though. Nothing stays a secret for long in the NASCAR garage.
The current situation is exactly what some people worried about out of SHR. I discount Tony because I think his problems are still related to his injury. He says he is only 65 percent. You don't get 100 percent results at 65 percent physical condition. Danica was about what I expected. I see better performance from her this year. But Kevin and Tony - that could be a worry. Kevin is excelling. He's won a race and was running extremely well last week until a parts failure. Meanwhile, Kurt's season so far has been a bust. With Kurt' s personality, I think resentment stemming from that will grate on him. Will he be able to keep his cool for the time it takes to get to get his team more or less even with the 4?
In the Nationwide race, I just tried to ignore Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski to concentrate on the kids. What an outstanding performance by Chase Eliott. And my boy, Kyle Larson, was right up there in the mix with K. B and Brad. Of course, technically, he's a Sprint Cup driver this year too but his experience level is certainly not on par with the other two. There seems to be something of a media blackout regarding Larson. The coverage of Busch, Keselowski and Elliott was extensive but Kyle Larson's name was barely mentioned. Has the media decided the horse they're going to ride this year is Austen Dillon, do you suppose? (Okay, I'll take off my tinfoil hat now.)
We are certainly talking differently about results since the new points ranking changes. Normally, we would be discussing how drivers are sitting in the points but now, because we've essentially gone to a win and you're in system, we are focusing on those wins. Still, there isn't much chance that any of the top drivers will be left out of the Chase. Jimmie, for instance, let's assume he goes through the regular season without a win (hard as that is to imagine) - if he's consistent enough to stay somewhere near the top of the points, he'll still be in the Chase unless there are 16 different winners....which has never happened. It's during the Chase itself with the new elimination system when wins will be absolutely crucial.
I think we've had a tremendous start to the season so far and the best is yet to come - yeah, Bristol, Baby!