Kahne needs to keep all four of the drivers currently below him on The Chase grid below him after next Sunday. That won’t be easy. Matt Kenseth is just one point behind Kahne and if Kenseth finishes one point ahead of Kahne and keeps Keselowski, Johnson, and Earnhardt behind as well, the 20 car will advance to round three of The Chase as Kenseth has a tie breaker.
Other than outright winning Sunday’s race, the route to round three is complicated for Keselowski, Johnson, and Earnhardt. Keselowski has to finish 20 spots ahead of Kahne and 19 ahead of Kenseth. Johnson has to finish 27 places ahead of Kahne, 26 better than Kenseth, 8 ahead of Keselowski, and 1 ahead of Earnhardt. Earnhardt is tied with Johnson so his numbers are the same, except he would have to finish 1 spot ahead of Johnson.
Obviously Kahne and Kenseth will be racing each other and Keselowski. It doesn’t matter to me if Kahne or Kenseth make round three. I have never been a Keselowski fan, and after his post-race actions at Charlotte, I really hope he is eliminated from the championship.
If NASCAR officials were braver than I think they are, they would not only fine Keselowski, they would hit him with a point penalty too. He made a weak attempt at spinning out Hamlin on the cool down lap. No penalty there-not because I don’t like Hamlin, but because he really didn’t do anything other than make him look silly. He also swiped Kenseth on the cool down lap, but no great harm there either. It was on pit row where the past champion came unglued. He hit both Kenseth and Tony Stewart in an area where drivers are unbuckling safety equipment and could get hurt. That should cause more than just a fine-for someone making several millions of dollars a year, $25,000 doesn’t seem like more than a slap on the wrist. Knock 5 or 10 points off his total and I bet he never again hits a car post-race.
Anyway, Keselowski’s actions are not what I would like to see of someone who represents the sport as the champion of the best racers in the US. Yes, he is under great pressure and his finish at Charlotte probably will keep him out of round three of The Chase. Champions respond with disappointment, not with babyish bullying.
Kansas had tire-rama with blown right front tires ruining championship dreams of Keselowski and Earnhardt, but for Earnhardt, Charlotte became shifter-gate. Earnhardt’s shifter broke, making a bad night terrible. I understand the tire problem-part Goodyear, part teams being too aggressive in how they use tires. The shifter breaking I do not understand-this has happened to Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson this season as well. The leader of Junior Nation desperately needed a top five finish but ended up 20th at the checkered flag.
It was interesting hearing some bickering between Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus. The six time champion has not had a great season-his standards are extremely high, and like Earnhardt he needed a top five finish, but 17th is what the record books will show he got. It has to be very frustrating for Johnson to see fellow Hendrick driver Jeff Gordon being a threat to win every race while the 48 struggles to even be a top five car.
I doubt that NASCAR thought it would lose a past champion-Keselowski, a six-time champion-Johnson, and the fan favorite-Earnhardt after the second round of The Chase, but barring some miracle, that is exactly would could happen. Actually past champion Matt Kenseth could join those three on the outside looking in, so perhaps round two of The Chase should be renamed the “Man, this can’t be happening round.”
Talladega is always intense, always full of “whoa” moments. Next Sunday should be off the chart with “whoa,” “wow,” and “oh my God” happenings.
Thanks for stopping by.