What’s in a Name?
Kevin Harvick didn’t get his moniker by accident. “The Closer” donned his cape in the late stages of the race to get the job done. After a start less-than-stellar start to the Chase in Chicagoland, the “Happy” one shed misery to majesty and locked himself into Round Two. Is this the start of a Championship run? Too early to tell. It was the little things like bad pit stops and penalties that bit the No. 4 team during the season. But you can never count out a champion when it’s time to crown one.
The Best Offense is a Good Defense
Ask anyone in the garage and they’ll tell you that Ryan Newman is the toughest guy to pass. He’ll race you hard and make you work for the track position, even if he’s down a lap. Today, Kenseth was the tough one to pass — but for a different reason.
Today’s runner-up is arguably the best defensive in the series. When he wants to keep a spot, he’ll likely keep it. It’s called “stealing the line.” Kenseth can gauge his follower’s weak points on the track and make him drive there. Such was the case with Martin Truex, Jr. The ability to coax another driver into a space he can’t go is an art form. While Truex ultimately got the spot, he used up a lot of rubber doing it.
Fear of Commitment
With the caliber of drivers in the Chase, it’s going to come down to who makes the least amount of mistakes. You have to be nearly mistake-free if you want to wear that crown in Homestead.
Carl Edwards’ commitment line penalty sent him to the rear of the field and caused him to restart his day. While ultimately finishing 6th, who knows what might have been if Cousin Carl didn’t get nabbed.
Thanks for Showing Up Again
Not really Chase-related, but what’s up with Kasey Kahne? Four consecutive top-ten finishes for the No. 5 team. They’re probably the hottest team in the series that nobody talks about. But, as the cliche goes, better late than never — especially when young William Byron is going to need someplace to eventually sit.
Bowman the Showman
Alex Bowman is regularly part of the conversation. Filling in for Dale Jr and sharing the duties with Jeff Gordon raised the bar nearly beyond reach. But Bowman can touch it standing on his tippy-toes.