Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What's The Problem? - Rain Outs and Chase Races

Fans, Media, drivers and many others hate when the word rain is brought up especially this past weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. In a place it normally does not rain, it rained and it rained a lot. Once NASCAR Finally got the track back to racing shape we got to racing. Only problem is that Mother Nature decided to intervene after halfway which ended up ending the race and sending drivers Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch's chase hopes. All four drivers were in the Top 15 and were on their way to the front or on their way to the lead like Joey Logano to make their way into the final four this weekend in Homestead. Mother Nature came and washed away any hope these drivers had of making the next round. With this race meaning so much to drivers and with so much on the line, This led to many people asking for different ways to change how races in the chase would be handled if fallen victim to rain.
When a race is ended due to rain it is very unlikely that race was ended under checkered flag conditions therefore I would vote that if the race is an elimination race that race must be completed. Dale Earnhardt Jr looked as if he wasn't very happy Sunday after the call to end the race. As was many fans.Fans stay up or stay at the track to watch a race be completed not ended short of the distance and I feel that many wanted to see Jr win the race while racing rather than just being at the right place at the right time.
In cases like this with the Elimination aspect take the 8 as it was the Eliminator 8 to Homestead and have them compete for the championship instead of having the drivers who had a lucky Phoenix. Joey Logano who would be in 2nd under the old system, with 6 wins will not be competing for a championship. Dale Earnhardt Jr would be in 3rd going into Homestead deal but instead can finish at best 5th, I feel we need to bring bonus points for wins from the regular season into the equation That would have helped drivers like Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards who both had numerous wins in 2015. Now they will be sitting at home watching a driver who missed races, two drivers who has been consecutive all season, and a driver who just finally became good in the off season and I feel like we will be crowning a chase champion instead of a season champion and I really think something needs to be changed with this new chase format and rain outs. (Koelle, 2015)

The Contenders - Homestead Edition

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Four

Kevin Harvick

In his first year at Stewart Haas Racing Kevin Harvick was in contention for the championship with it ultimately culminating with a championhsip last season after winning the Ford 400 and claiming his first career championship.
The only difference from 2014 to 15 is the fact of how many wins Harvick has. Last season Harvick entered Homestead with 4 wins. This season Harvick is entering Homestead with only 3 but about the same amount of consistent finishes. DNF's are also an empty collum in his stats as he has only had one in 2015 and that was at Pocono in August after an engine expiration. With these numbers look for Harvick to back up his championship last season with another one.

Jeff Gordon

In his final season how fitting would it be for Jeff Gordon to win his 5th Championship. The last time Jeff Gordon won the championship was in 2001. The chase was not even thought about and well other than Harvick, who made his full time debut in 2001, none of the other Final Four were even in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. If Jeff could win he would certainly be more emotional than he was at Martinsville. His numbers though in 2015 have not been as great as the other 3. In the regular season he wrecked more than usual and then the chase came where like a fire was lit and this team noticed they needed to go or go home. Gordon could be champion in his final season but there are also 3 other drivers who want to spoil his final driver for 5.

Martin Truex Jr. 

The last time Truex won a championship was in 2005, 10 years ago. Truex is the underdog in this final four and would certainly have a storyline to back it up and make it even more special. Truex has always been a great driver. Last season his Furniture Row Racing team only led one lap but in 2015 they have led 563 more laps than they did in 2014. A win at Pocono in June got them into the chase and consistent finishes have helped get Truex Jr. get into the Final Four. When it comes to eliminated drivers many are wanting Martin to win the Championship. Among those are Dale Earnhardt Jr who is also cheering for Jeff Gordon. Many fans are cheering for Truex so you could say he's the fan favorite.

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch, The Comeback Kid last won a championship in 2009 for Joe Gibbs Racing's Xfinity Series Team but since that championship Kyle has not won a Drivers Championship. If he could have pulled off a Camping World Truck Series Championship he could pull the First Triple Crown. but he has not won a Trucks Driver's Championship. After an Injury inflicting wreck at Daytona he missed races up until the All Star Race in May. NASCAR Granted him a waiver but he would have to win a race and get into the Top 30 in points. He would go on to win 4 races and get himself into the Top 30. Consistent Finishes also got Kyle here and he will look to end a haunting past of not winning a chase race as a chase contender. Look for Kyle to be one of the favorites going into this Sunday's race.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Fighting Four

Chris Buescher

At 19 years old Chris won the ARCA Racing Series Championship in which led Chris to drive the #60 car for Jack Roush. Chris has been in the Xfinity Series now for 2 years. Last year at Daytona due to weather Chris missed the season opening race. Since that race Chris has proved he deserves to be in this series and deserves to be the champion. Jack Roush has had fast cars to field for Chris and Chris looks to return the favor for Jack by delivering him his first drivers championship since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did it in 2011 and 2012. Chris is certainly one of the favorites going into this race on Saturday.

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott, The son of NASCAR Hall Of Famer Bill Elliott  
and 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion will look to head to the #24 with another Championship under his belt. In the begining of 2015 Chase did not do well. He wrecked at Daytona and turned mediocre finishes up until Daytona in July. Chase and his team must have been given a pep talk because they began racing like defending Champions. Chase racked up his first win at Richmond and continued to turn consecutive finishes but that run may have came a little to late as Chris Buescher need to make a mistake for Chase to win. 

Regan Smith

Regan Smith is the only driver competing for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship who has not won a major NASCAR Championship. We will see if that is a disadvantage but I don't see it being one. Regan has rolled over from his crash at Daytona in February literally. Regan has been in contention for the championship every season since his first Xfinity Series Win in 2012 at Homestead. He finished 3rd in 2013 and 2nd in 2014 so if he goes numerical he should win the Championship this season. Regan also needs a championship to maybe help him out in finding a ride in 2016!

Ty Dillon

Ty Dillon won the ARCA Racing Series championship in 2011 after winning 7 races that season. Ty Dillon is in a similar scenario with the exception of the 7 wins Ty is in contention to win the Xfinity Series Championship. Ty has impressed me over the 2015 season and I look at him as a driver who needs one more season in the Xfinity Series before he heads to the Cup Series. Now if he wins the Championship my opinion will change but Ty is certainly in a hole when it comes to points. Look for Dillon to capitalize on the mistakes the others make and it could land him in Championship Victory Lane!

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series -  2 Tough Truckers

Tyler Reddick

 Tyler Reddick won the season opening Next Era Energy 250 along with a few other races in the 2015 and is looking to give team owner Brad Keselowski his first Camping World Truck Series. In a series that means so much to the Keselowski family it would be an ultimate emotional victory for them. Tyler Reddick has given the Veterans in this series a run for their money. Tyler has beat drivers like Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton among others. Reddick is returning in 2016 so look for if Reddick could win the title look for him to certainly defend it!

Erik Jones

The Kid who beat Kyle Busch, The Next Big Thing, whatever you call him he could be the next Camping World Truck Series champion and with it being announced that he would be running full time for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2016 so look for Erik to attempt to become another contender who could become the Triple Crown. Among those drivers include Greg Biffle, Austin Dillon. Erik could join that group and I feel that he could be the one to do it first.