It sucks not to matter. Forty cars took to the track at Phoenix, and only six of them mattered. Not Jimmie Johnson or Carl Edwards. Both had already locked in a final four berth at Homestead, so they mattered not. Not Kyle Larson or Trevor Bayne, who spun early.
I like being nice. Sure, I can bitch with the best of them, but it is nice when one can say nice things about someone. For instance, I think NASCAR did the right thing by calling the race at Texas last week. Let me see, the race was already delayed by five hours and the skies really opened up with 40 to go. Damn right they should have wrapped things up when they did.
It was the Chase race in Texas, and the big winner...was the weather. From an afternoon event on a rubbered up track, we went to an evening contest under the lights. A rain washed surface greeted the boys and girl after a more than five-hour delay.
Best damn finishes ever. Well, for two of the four events to date, that has been the headline for NASCAR in 2016. Daytona and Phoenix were decided by gaps measurable with a ruler, and that has to be a good thing. Hell, a great thing.
A year ago, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won at Phoenix. Five of the six before that, Kevin Harvick claimed the prize. Now, if anyone could use a win this weekend, Danica Patrick, Chase Elliott, and Clint Bowyer would be among them. They sure are not among the Hot 20 going into Sunday’s action.
Once Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead at Phoenix, no one was going to catch him. Not a single driver even challenged him. Yet, there was still one vehicle that even the race winner could not pass. The pace car.
Kevin Harvick was the star of this show, with the likes of Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray in supporting roles. Two straight this season, four straight at Phoenix, a lock on a Chase spot (you would think) and 30 career victories as he defends his Cup championship. It is good being Kevin Harvick.
Over the course of the season, Jeff Gordon was the top driver of 2014. However, NASCAR has not determined its champion using the results of the entire campaign for more than a decade. They want excitement, drama, unpredictability. They want what the other big boy sports have, and when they waved the flag to start the season finale, four drivers had an even shot to claim the prize. Unfortunately, 39 we knew who would not, also were out there.