NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Kickin’ the Tires: With Martin Truex Jr. a Winner, Who Else is Worthy of a Chase Berth?

The takeaway from last week’s column was: It really didn’t matter if Martin Truex Jr. made it to the winner’s circle because his performance should ensure him a spot in the Chase for the Championship.

Well, that is a moot point now.

While not quite the same feeling as watching American Pharoah cross the stripe, it was pretty cool to see Truex get his first win of the season and qualify for the Chase. Though I am not generally one to pick favorites, it was impossible not to pull (if even just a little bit) for a driver who has been so close to victory and watched it slip away so many times. But will the win silence the naysayers and haters?

The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team didn’t really need the win to prove the entire organization has turned a major corner in the sport. Some of the credit should be given to Kurt Busch, who helped push speed forward from a champion’s perspective, but Truex and his crew chief, Cole Pearn, took it to the next level and will now compete for the Sprint Cup Series championship.

Looking back over the day, let’s forget about the No. 78 struggles and shortcomings for a second. One of the best sights at Pocono Raceway was seeing cancer survivor and Truex’s girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, celebrating in Victory Lane.

With Truex now qualified for the Chase, who is the next driver on the block to get a win or to have a legitimate shot at qualifying based on performance? That question was asked of me last week during my appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint” and I’ve given it a little more thought.

As it stands, the drivers in the top 16 without a win are Jamie McMurray (seventh), Kasey Kahne (eighth), Jeff Gordon (10th), Paul Menard (11th), Aric Almirola (14th) and Ryan Newman (15th). Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle are 17th and 18th, respectively, and either of them could get on a roll and move up in the points.

One of these guys will probably get a win over the next 12 races so, again, it is difficult to look at the overall list and not take that into consideration. Will Almirola pull off another surprise victory at Daytona International Speedway? Probably not. Newman has proven, much to the dismay of the NASCAR purists, he can make it to the final round of the Chase with consistency although there is a different vibe within the No. 31 team this year.

That leaves Kahne and Gordon as the two favorites to get in the Chase on wins – one based on experience and one based on the fact that he has consistently pulled off clutch victories.

You also can’t leave out the possibility of Kyle Busch finding his way into Victory Lane and moving into the top 30 in points. It’s a no-brainer that, without a broken right ankle and crushed fractured left foot, he’d be higher in the points and possibly even have a win.

If someone were looking for a dark horse, Kyle Larson and Danica Patrick would be interesting longshots. Patrick is 46 points behind Newman, the last driver in the postseason on points and Larson is 41 out. Making the Chase for Patrick would be a big boost because she is in the final year of her contract at Stewart-Haas Racing, but that would also bring out all of the black helicopter people claiming NASCAR is rigged. Most likely, Larson would already be inside the top 16 had he not had to sit out a race due to illness.

Being as I am always one to take a chance on the long-shot, if I were in Las Vegas, I would put $10 on Patrick making the first round of the Chase for the Championship. Remember, anything is possible but it would take the stars being in perfect alignment for it to work out. Surely, stranger things have happened – like a horse winning the Triple Crown for the first time in 37 years.

Another non-winner to make the Chase is probably Bowyer or Almirola, which means Gordon and Kahne will likely find themselves in Victory Lane over the next few weeks. Perhaps, there is a different view out there and, if so, feel free to share it.

P.S. – The offer still stands for anyone wanting to provide realistic ideas about what would make racing better in your opinion. You post the comments and I will explore why those ideas will or won’t work in today’s NASCAR.

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kb

“And the offer still stands for anyone want to provide realistic ideas about what would make racing better in your opinion. You post the comments and I will explore why those ideas will or won’t work in today’s NASCAR.”

This offends me, as it tells me you still don’t get it. WOW OH WOW…you are a legend in your own mind.

Yikes!!!!!!!!!!!!! You don’t seem to understand how to “reach” your readers do you????? Just a observation from the other side looking in, and again you are NOT blazing any new trails here, look up what other people who participate in these columns have said over the years about racing improvement, it is not rocket science, and it is nothing new…again stop trying to reinvent the wheel, so you can just insult some more..maybe some new ideas YOU can come up with for your column. Just saying…

Carl D.

Yep…. this writer has an ego the size of a hot air balloon and full of exactly the same thing. All we have to do is post our comments and he’ll tell us if we’re an imbecile or not. What a guy! If I ever have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Bowles, I’m going to “thank” him for hiring such an insightful, delightful columnist.

kb

I know!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Flucking amazing isn’t it???????????????? I mean the nerve.

JohnQ

To put it impolitely Jerry, aside from your mommy I doubt anyone really gives a sh-t what you think would make the racing better.

Chris

Jerry, three of us (Bill B, RH and myself) took you up on your offer in your last column. Here is a copy of what I posted:

“Jerry, there are a lot of things that need to be addressed to fix what was once known as a sport but is now referred to as a “product” by NASCAR but I will focus on the one that I think needs immediate attention which is the race car. If NASCAR wants to increase its fan base then the cars really need to be loosened up. Currently the splitter on the front of the car and the high spoiler in the rear are creating such tremendous down force, (like a F1 or Indy car) that the cars are basically behaving like slot cars but unlike an F1 or Indy car the boxy shape and weight don’t allow for passing which is why we are seeing a lot of follow the leader action. Furthermore Goodyear/NASCAR needs to start bring tires that aren’t rock hard so that the phrase “tire management” becomes part of the equation again. One has to admit to the absurdity of having to pit for fuel before needing tires but this is what we are seeing. This last race at Dover pretty much shows the issues that plagues the current race car package. Finally give the teams more leeway as to what they can do with their cars as far as gear ratios, shocks and suspension go. Right now with the current package its almost like watching the old IROC series with identical car running identical engines with identical suspension…and so on. Let’s start with that Jerry and then will move on to other areas that could use a little help.”

With that being said I’m a little concerned when you state “I will explore why those ideas will or won’t work in today’s NASCAR.” as some of us that comment on the site have been in and around race cars, either racing them or building them. I’m not sure what your background is with race cars but in order to fully explore the issue that I brought forth you had better have a good background in building racecars or an engineering background. Without it I’m not confident that you, (or anyone else) can determine what will or will not work.

Tom Bowles

Hey,

Just a thought to some of the longtime commenters… everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The goal of Frontstretch is to provide a diverse group of journalism, all with various writing styles, commentaries and thoughts surrounding the sport. If the staff were 27 people just like Tom Bowles, the world would be a boring place, right? (Just one Tom Bowles is more than enough — just ask the staff. :) )

If you’d like to share your thoughts on Jerry or any of our writers, the simple way to reach us is frontstretcheditors@googlegroups.com. But I don’t expect you to like all 27 writers on here; no one has a 100% approval rating, not even Mother Teresa. Jerry’s columns, like many on this site are well-read, liked by others and have a place here just like Matt McLaughlin, Mike Neff, myself and everyone else.

-Tom B.

spot1

You are right, Tom, variety is good. However, I don’t think you or any other member of the staff specifically goes out of their way to annoy, rile, vex or put down the readers on this website like this clown, Jordan, does. He tries to come off as knowing everything about everything (knasa??) but, in reality, I have a feeling he doesn’t know half as much as he thinks he does.

Carl D.

Tom…

Regardless of his qualifications or his opinions, Jordan undoubtedly has never learned that in order to gain respect, he has to show respect. It’s not about his opinions, it’s about his attitude towards his readers. Because of my respect for Frontstretch and the other writers on this website, I won’t say another word about him. I won’t read any more his columns, and I certainly won’t miss them.

kb

Tom, everybody has a quirky spin to their columns, that’s what makes them..well them. Hopefully, you have looked at what Jerry purports to be a column, it goes much farther than opinion. His style is NOT an opinion. I don’t know where he learned to write the way he does, what ever you want to call it, it is not endearing but smug and condescending. A big difference from “opinion”. He clearly also does not listen to his readers. I never had such a “issue” with any other writer. I will not look at his column anymore, obviously the point is not being made to you or him.

Thanks for your time…KB.

Ivan Balakhonov

Tom, in all honesty I assume you’re trying to sugarcoat things here. Jerry’s attitude and agenda are way out of sync with other articles and columns here. This website is the place where intelligent columnist write for intelligent fans who know and cherish NASCAR history, who watched and attended races in 80s, 90s and 00s, who have well-established system of racing values based on their fan experience. It’s a very difficult task to cater to such audience, but people like you, Amy, Matt manage to accomplish it perfectly day after day. One of the reasons why is that you respect your readers. I am very sorry to write this, but it doesn’t seem to me that Jerry treat his readers with the same respect. He positions himself as a know-everything expert who is condescending to us, people who (as he thinks) don’t have any clue what NASCAR is about. Don’t know where this attitude came from, but in a span of few weeks Jerry with his ignorance managed to alienate almost everybody who comment articles here. And I can easily understand why did it happen.

I still don’t understand if Jerry is indeed serious or he’s just trolling us. Yes, he’s allowed to have an opposite opinion, and he is most welcome to share it here if he is argumentative, informative and insightful. So far, reading his columns, I didn’t find neither arguments nor insight. But what I usually find is ignorance in abundance.

Sorry, if my opinion is harsh.

Steve

Well given what was written in his column this week, I have now figured out why Jerry is so pro Nascar with his columns and everyone else who disagrees is stupid. This is the same philosophy that Nascar Radio on Sirius has and apparently he gets on their shows. You can’t keep that gig by questioning anything Nascar, so its no wonder he supports Nascar no matter the topic. Too bad the fans that can actually think for themselves aren’t buying it.

Apparently he hasn’t been paying attention either. Plenty of people who comment on here have good ideas on how to make the racing better, but he would rather spend most of his time verbally attacking people than actually comprehend what they have to say.

Sorry Tom, but when your writer verbally attacks and insults his readers, your attempt at deflating the situation escalated by your writer is moot, although, I would love to hear Matt’s opinion of this guy and would actually pay to see them debate all things Nascar. That would be must see.

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