Woody: The Great Chase Seems To Be Fading Fast
Going into this 6th edition of NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship, I thought the 12-pack of drivers represented the strongest field ever.
I thought the stage was set for the most wham-bam title fight in NASCAR history.
I thought we’d see goose-bump battles and constant shuffling of the standings.
Looks like I thought wrong.
We’re five races into the Chase – halfway – and I’m still waiting for the fireworks.
If some of the lethargic laggers don’t make a major move soon, like say, Sunday at Martinsville, the Chase’s stretch run will become an intramural contest between three Hendrick Motorsports teammates.
Jimmie Johnson has won two in a row and is pulling away as he purses a record fourth consecutive championship. Title-starved Mark Martin clings to second and Jeff Gordon rides in third.
With the possible exception of fourth-place Tony Stewart I don’t see much of a challenge coming from the rest of the pack.
So much for the Amazing Chase. The only thing amazing so far is how non-competitive it has been. It’s almost as though the majority of the drivers were content just to have made it, and once in they lifted.
When the playoffs start it’s a whole new season and time to step it up. So far most of the Chasers haven’t been able to do it. That’s why they’re on the brink of elimination at the halfway point.
At the start of the Chase a TV pundit predicted that “seven, eight, maybe more” of the 12 Chase racers would go into the season finale at Homestead with a shot at the championship. I agreed. But now NASCAR will be lucky if there are three serious contenders heading into Homestead.
Likewise I thought that the drivers who failed to make the Chase would turn up the wick. I figured missing the playoffs would light a fire under them. But again we haven’t seen it. The non-Chasers seem to be just showing up and punching a time clock, anxious – as Dale Earnhardt Jr. confessed last week — to get the season over with.
Their passiveness is puzzling. You’d think they would be oozing motivation and quivering with incentive, eager to salvage something from a dismal season.
It’s not over yet; there’s still time for the stragglers to get it in gear and show some grit and gittyup.
But the clock is ticking, and a lot of teams seem to have forgotten to set the alarm.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments