By admin | October 19, 2012
By Richard Allen
The Chase for the Championship appears to have boiled down to a three, or possibly four, man race from this point forward. Brad Keselowski holds a seven point lead over Jimmie Johnson and a fifteen point advantage over Denny Hamlin with five races remaining. Clint Bowyer lurks 28 points back in hopes of making up ground on the top-3 drivers.
One thing that is for certain among these three(or four) is that the 2012 championship will not be won unless a driver and team can succeed on the so called ‘cookie cutter’ tracks. Of those five remaining events, three will be held on tracks that measure 1.5 miles in length. The facility to be used this weekend in Kansas fits that dimension along with the tracks in Texas and Homestead-Miami. Of the other two tracks, Martinsville is a half-mile and Phoenix is a one-mile.
Granted, the three tracks labeled as ‘cookie cutters’ are not all exactly alike in their layouts. However, the racing that takes place on them does tend to be somewhat uniform with drivers complaining of handling issues that won’t allow them to pass and cars getting strung out only to ultimately coast to the checkered flag in a fuel mileage contest.
The race this weekend in Kansas will offer a unique challenge due to the fact that the racing surface has been repaved since the last visit to this particular locale. Testing of the new pavement has provided some hard crashes involving Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Denny Hamlin, possibly caused by tire or other issues related to the new asphalt. Those issues could potentially have an impact on the title fight with so few races remaining.
But the bottom line is that any driver among those in contention who emerges from this weekend and the other two 1.5 mile tracks with the best points total will stand in the best position to capture the big prize. Poor showings on ‘cookie cutters’ at this stage will prove disastrous.
So Sprint Cup teams and drivers, calculate that fuel mileage and get the aero-push taken care of because those are the two things most likely to determine this year’s champion.
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