Nine months after Daytona we crown a Champion
In every single series this year, we will have a battle to the end. We may even have three championships decided on the last lap of the last race. Others may be determined part way through the race. One thing is certain - It ain't over until it's over.
The Camping World Truck Series will be the first to be decided. That race runs tonight and I have to wonder how many of the drivers in that series slept a good night's sleep last night. Essentially we have three drivers vying for the Cup, James Buescher, Timothy Peters and Ty Dillon. Right now James Buescher has the points lead, but Timothy Peters is only 11 points back and Ty is one behind Timothy. James has 4 wins this season, and seems to be the favorite for the trophy, but we must not count out the other two. Will they go for broke? Or will they play it safe and hope the "other guy" wrecks?
In the Nationwide Series, Elliott Sadler was in a great position last weekend to remain in the hunt for the championship, the last chance he will have for one while driving for Richard Childress Racing in the N'wide series. A poor decision on the track and a hunt for the same real estate changed that picture. Although Elliott took complete responsibility for his wreck with Cole Whitt, it honestly looked to me like the 88 moved down as Elliott moved up. Unfortunately, it is the same driver at the same track in the same race as last year, and history looks to repeat itself, meaning Elliott is unlikely to get that championship. Ricky Stenhouse Jr seems to have it locked up, as Elliott is 20 points back, with Austin Dillon in 3rd 25 points out of first.
Again, the deficits are not insurmountable, but Ricky will undoubtedly be driving a little more carefully than he might if the championship was already his. Elliott and Austin will pull out all the stops.
We saw Jimmie Johnson have tire problems last weekend in the Cup race, knocking him back into second, with that same 20 point deficit that plagues Elliott Sadler. Again, it isn't insurmountable, and Brad Keselowski could certainly have a similar problem this weekend. In fact, if you read any of the boards, it appears that most of the "Experts" are saying Brad is too cocky, too confident, too arrogant. The focus is all on him and everyone wants a piece of him.
Will that faze Brad? Will it make him make a critical error? This is only Brad's third full season in Cup racing - Jimmie Johnson has more championships than Brad has years - but he has made good use of his time in racing the big boys. He has learned. He has said repeatedly when asked about his stats at any given track that he doesn't race the statistics, he races the track. That is the perfect way to look at it. He and his crew have learned from racing at the different tracks. He may not know every bump and crack here, but if his record this year - consistently bettering himself - is any clue, Bad Brad could very well win Roger Penske his first Sprint Cup Championship.
And I'll be one proud fan, cheering him on all the way. After all, I was one of his earlier followers on twitter. That's why my name was on his truck lid.
I have no idea how the race will play out, but it has been a good season. It hasn't been a great one, but I think NASCAR has done some good things. I only hope they will continue to do good things, and not go backwards.
So, as we gear up for the final races of the 2012 season, I'll say it one last time, "Drivers! Let's go racing!"