Monday, September 29, 2014

No Fairy Tales Here

 Chase Grid after Dover

The four drivers eliminated from the Chase after Dover are:
AJ Allmendinger
Kurt Busch
Greg Biffle
Aric Almirola

The 12 drivers advancing to the Contender Round are:
Brad Keselowski (Won at Chicagoland)
Joey Logano (Won at New Hampshire)
Kevin Harvick
Jimmie Johnson
Jeff Gordon (Won at Dover)
Kyle Busch
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Matt Kenseth
Ryan Newman
Carl Edwards
Denny Hamlin
Kasey Kahne

And then there were twelve......

Not a very exciting race. Though there was some scrapping for the last few spots during the mid-part, none of the four who dropped out was much of a surprise. Kurt Busch could have been Kasey Kahne or Ryan Newman or Carl Edwards instead  and none of those would have been a shock either. 

Kasey Kahne hasn't had much luck this year but evidently, he'd been saving it all up for just this race. There was a time, when he was almost five laps down, when no one would have believed he could come back into contention but couple his amazing good fortune with Kurt's misfortune and here he is in the Challenging Twelve. Having said that, after scraping into the Chase by the hair on his chinny-chin-chin and moving on the next round the same way, does anyone expect the 5 to suddenly catch fire? 

Meanwhile, back at the front, poor Kevin Harvick once again won the pole and was the pure class of the field and once again was struck down by the racing gods. I wonder what he ever did to gain their malicious ill will? Most ironic is that it was this same circumstance that brought him down in the last Dover race - a lugnut playing havoc inside the tire. What are the odds of that? 

After Kevin there was Brad and Jeff....and you figured that the winner was probably going to come down to whether or not there was a late caution. If the race ended in a short run, the odds were with Brad; a long run and the odds were with Jeff. Two men, driving with crossed fingers, hoping for a caution or no caution. Having disposed of Kevin, those mischievous racing gods called it for Jeff. 

Of course, proud as the winners may be of their victories during the Contender Round, those wins mean absolutely nothing now. The top twelve were all dead even again as soon as Dover was over.

The fact is that though there is an occasional Cinderella story in sports, usually the endings are more predictable. Those who've shown strength all year are most likely those who will prevail at the end of the year. In 2014, in NASCAR, those powerhouse teams have been Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon. Jimmie and Junior have had their moments when they could compete with the top four but not consistently. As a Jimmie fan, I keep hoping that Chad is playing a game of strategy that I don't understand. 

So if you had to bet your life savings on the 2014 NASCAR champion, you'd probably want to go with the 2, the 22, the 24 or the 4.  But we'll know more in three more weeks. 

The Camping World Truck Series was fun, pitting two of the young guns, Erik Jones (winner) and Darrell Wallace, Jr. (runner-up) against one another. Kyle Busch probably would have been happy either way seeing as he owns both trucks.

Ugh. I quit watching the Nationwide race partway through when it was obvious it was going to be between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, or maybe I should say, between Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske Racing. Does anyone watching really give a damn which one of these mega-teams win the owner's championship? I sure don't. I think Nationwide races would be way more exciting if Chase Elliott actually finished first, rather than coming along in third behind those two, He's the Nationwide Regular winner, which helps toward the championship, but that doesn't get the trophy or the $$$.