Sunday, October 19, 2014

Talladeg Baby!

Say what you will about the new Chase format. Love it. Hate it. Either way it doesn't matter. Regardless of your opinion of it, it has brought us to this race. Talladega. The Geico 500. Another elimination race and this time there are 4 big name drivers fighting to make it through to the next round. Kenseth, Keselowski, Johnson, and Earnhardt Jr. all basically need to win to make it through. Well OK, Kenseth has a bit easier job of it as he's only one point out of being in the next round, but the other 3 are going to need a win or miracle. But hey, it's Talladega and anything can happen.

I'm sure NASCAR knew what they were doing when they made Talladega an elimination race. I'm not sure they expected this much drama going into it. Between last weeks fights and tempers to 3 of the sports best drivers all needing to race like their live's depend on it to make it through, this race is going to have it all. Did NASCAR get the format right? Is this really the best for the sport? Well, here's what we can count on going into the race today:

  • Great racing. 
    • Yeah, these guys are going to be packed up almost all day. Sure a few are going to drop back but they won't be so far back that they'll be out of touch. There are 43 drivers in this race with a chance to win it. There are 10 drivers in that 43 fighting for the 6 remaining positions in the next Chase Round. Sometime during this race there will be no more "friends" and it's going to be a free for all.
  • Tons of different strategies.
    • As I've said before there will be some drivers that go to the rear and try to avoid being caught up in a big wreck. In contrast there will also be drivers who want to get to the front and stay there all day long. Whatever their strategy is, no one wants to be in the middle of the pack where all the mayhem will be. Watch for people constantly trying to make moves in either direction.
  • The Big One.
    • It's Talladega. This is going to happen. Whether it's 7 cars or 27, there is going to be a big wreck. At least one big name driver will be involved. And if history is any indication, it'll be somewhere in the last half of the race and it will completely change everyone's strategy for the end.
  • The last lap.
    • How many times have we gone to Talladega and Daytona and seen the winner not be the guy leading at the white flag? The last lap is the reason we will still be watching after over 3 hours of racing. Just to see the remaining cars in the race fighting like crazy to get that #1 spot coming off of turn 4. I'm betting on a wild finish and it's going to be fun to watch.
So there you go. No matter where you stand on the new Chase format, it has given us what is sure to be one of the most exciting races of the season. NASCAR placed this race in a perfect position and it has become a wild card race for so many teams. Will Jr, Johnson, or Keselowski secure their spot today with a win? Or will someone else's mistake take out one or all of them in an instant. Only one way to find out. 

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