When I heard about the new format for this year’s Chase it made a lot of sense to me. Drivers should consistently perform well in order to move on. If you don’t win enough games in the playoffs, you don’t make it to the World Series. Seems pretty simple and logical, that is until your driver gets eliminated in the second round!
I have to admit, when my buddy Jerry’s driver, Greg Biffle, got eliminated after the Challenger 16 I felt bad for him. But I wasn’t overly surprised, as The Biff hadn’t exactly performed at the peak of his ability this season.
What did throw me for a loop was the news that four drivers had to win the race at Talladega in order to advance to the Eliminator Round. How could my six-time champion, Jimmie Johnson, be on the verge of losing his chance at number seven?
Well the race was run, and although Jimmie put up a valiant effort, he didn’t accomplish the necessary win to move on. As if that wasn’t bad enough, my next favourite drivers, Dale Jr and Kasey Kahne were also among the eliminated. Now what? How can you really enjoy the rest of the season with no one to cheer for? Especially when you have a clear bias for one driver over all the others.
Here is a breakdown of the choices that are left to cheer for, based mostly on their personalities as I perceive them and not abilities:
- Joey Logano – a bit too pompous and too young for my liking.
- Kevin Harvick – definitely deserves a shot, fast car and his kid is awfully cute to boot.
- Ryan Newman - seriously who is this guy? I know I’m new to the sport but I haven’t seen much that makes me a fan.
- Denny Hamlin – something about him I don’t like, but I did feel sorry for him with his back issues last season.
- Matt Kenseth – a definite possibility, and his new 'fighting' style gets props.
- Carl Edwards – I’m always happy to see a backflip, but again, he hasn’t done a heck of a lot of them this year.
- Jeff Gordon – since he is age appropriate and the lone Hendrick team member left, he may get my vote.
- Brad Keselowski – No way! I was very unimpressed by his poor sportsmanship at Charlotte. A champion and a role model should be able to control himself better than that. I really thought there would be some points lost for that behavior. $50 000 is a drop in the bucket for these guys!
So I guess when all is said and done my top three choices are; Harvick, Kenseth and Gordon. May the best man win. Hopefully another season will see the best woman in the chase as well – don’t count Danica out yet!
Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images