Some things matter. Some do not. Every weekend, no more than 30 entries matter to some degree. The rest do not.
Most weekends NASCAR features a race and while some matter to race fans, most do not. Bristol, Charlotte, Darlington, Daytona, Sonoma, and Talladega races matter due to what they deliver and a long history of tradition.
Some are loyal to the short tracks at Martinsville and Richmond. Indianapolis is an over-hyped crown jewel, great history but not much gripping action delivered. Homestead gets the nod as long as it hosts the final race of the season. Those tracks present 16 of the 36 points events each season.
Pocono gives us two. It is a track ranked by some down amongst such venues as Chicago, Fontana, Kansas, and Kentucky. Cool name. Interesting layout. Lovely trees in the background. Like Indianapolis, it might be more entertaining for open-wheel racing than for the fender folk. Still, twice a year they return there, and twice a year I forget about the last one and actually look forward to the tri-oval. Each year I hope that it will all come together for a terrific contest.
Maybe this year. Maybe this will be the one. It is a track that boasts of the performances put in by the likes of Jeff Gordon, Emerson Fittipaldi, Danny Sullivan, Juan Pablo Montoya, and A. J. Foyt. Kyle Busch won there last July. Ryan Blaney is the defending June race champion. Chris Buescher won there for Bob Jenkins in 2016. Denny Hamlin has four Pocono wins. Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch each have claimed three.
Yes, the highlight packages of the past from Pocono look truly awesome. The highlights. The actual action come race day….well, maybe this will be the year. I sure hope so. Such things matter.
1. KYLE BUSCH – 4 WINS – 573 Pts
If he runs at Pocono like he did at Charlotte, he might be the only one who matters.
2. KEVIN HARVICK – 4 WINS – 1 E.W. – 485 Pts
Today, that encumbered win comes in to play.
3. JOEY LOGANO – 1 WIN – 506 Pts
Picks up an average of 39 points per race. You do not have to be loved to be awesome.
4. MARTIN TRUEX, JR. – 1 WIN – 430 Pts
If he only had some Kryptonite to toss as Superman on Sunday, he could have won it.
5. CLINT BOWYER – 1 WIN – 421 Pts
Crew chief Mike (Buga) Bugarewicz would love a happy homecoming.
6. AUSTIN DILLON – 1 WIN – 244 Pts
If he had finished second at Daytona, he would be less successful than Suarez.
7. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 437 POINTS
Won Saturday’s Xfinity race. Please raise your hand if you give a damn.
8. KURT BUSCH – 429 POINTS
The only driver in NASCAR to have seen Kyle Busch wearing a diaper. I hope that is true.
9. DENNY HAMLIN – 429 POINTS
“We’re either really good or we’re average at best.” Finishing third is average?
10. KYLE LARSON – 382 POINTS
Raced Sunday in Charlotte, North Carolina. Raced Wednesday as an outlaw in Fairbury, Illinois.
11. ARIC ALMIROLA – 376 POINTS
The decision to move over from the King to join Smoke has proven to be a good one.
12. RYAN BLANEY – 375 POINTS
A cylinder let go around lap 150 and they tried to limp it home. Instead, they started a barbecue.
13. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 327 POINTS
Imagine. Almost an entire year with a single win. I bet Michael McDowell can.
14. ERIK JONES – 314 POINTS
Three bad luck pit road moments buried any hope of shining last Sunday.
15. ALEX BOWMAN – 299 POINTS
One of the greatest coaches in NHL history. What? Sorry, wrong Bowman.
16. CHASE ELLIOTT – 296 POINTS
According to TMZ, he believes “Judging Hooters Competition Harder Than Racing Cars”
17. RICKY STENHOUSE, JR. – 296 POINTS
His Charlotte experience was better than someone else’s Indianapolis adventure.
18. PAUL MENARD – 263 POINTS
Another Cup guy racing Xfinity on Saturday. One more young driver fails to get a ride.
19. DANIEL SUAREZ – 245 POINTS
More than 50 points out of the Chase…unless he wins. Winning is always good.
20. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 231 POINTS
One ahead of Newman and Byron, two up on Wallace.