Woody: It’s Do It Or Lose It Time
It’s soul-search, gut-check, look-in-the-mirror time for at least eight of the 12 drivers in the Chase for the Championship Sunday at Martinsville.
If they don’t make a move – and I mean a MAJOR move – they can kick it in cruise control and just go through the motions the rest of the way. They’re out. Game over.
Any driver who’s outside the Top 4 with four races to go doesn’t have a prayer.
And, frankly, if Jimmie Johnson keeps turning it on the way has the last two races, it’s over anyway. Jimmie the Jet will be long gone. Everybody else will be racing for crumbs and leftovers.
Mark Martin stumbled last week and unless he regains his balance at Sunday his title dream may be over. Jeff Gordon has been hot, but he needs to at least maintain at Martinsville to remain in contention.
That leaves 4th-place Tony Stewart as the only challenger with a serious hope of catching Johnson unless someone 5th and on back can make a miracle charge. That’s not likely, given the sputtering, erratic performances of most of the Chasers so far.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the story of the Chase at this juncture has been how utterly non-competitive it has been. Everybody anticipated sparks and fireworks and instead we’ve got a lot of “racers” driving like Miss Daisy.
I recently wrote about how stunning has been the lack of effort – or at least lack of results – among the non-Chase drivers. Some fan immediately chimed in about well Matt Kenseth has done. He noted Matt has actually run in the top five at times. Wow. In the top five. Stop the presses.
I think that mind-set tells it all.
I remember a time when a driver would be peeved to finish fifth; now they seem proud of it.
Bobby Allison was once asked about finishing a close second in a race. Bobby growled that the second-place finisher is merely the first loser to cross the line.
Today too many drivers are racing for points and top-fives instead of racing to win. That’s what’s got NASCAR in the fix it’s in: boring races, low attendance and dipping TV ratings.
No disrespect to Matt Kenseth, whom I’ve always liked, but who cares about a top-five finish? I don’t think many fans sit around debating about who was the greatest top-five driver in history.
Likewise, who cares who finishes 5th in the final standings? Who finished 5th last year? Who knows? Who cares?
There’s too many drivers satisfied with fifth place, and that’s the problem.
Unless a lot of them undergo an attitude adjustment, and soon, that’s where they’re destined to finish. They’ll spend the final four races running out the clock while choking on Jimmie Johnson’s dust.
For everyone 5th on back, their already-faint hopes have come down to this weekend. It’s Martinsville or bust.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments