Title hopes could be dashed at Talladega
Local race action is over and all that remains is our annual awards banquet, which will be held in early December. I’ll bring you details as soon as tickets are ready for purchase. This is always a great evening of fun, food and fellowship as we recognize everyone’s •••
The playoffs for the point’s championships in the three top divisions of NASCAR are certainly heating up and several favorites find themselves in need of great finishes or wins to keep them in the hunt for the final four shots at their titles at Homestead Miami Motor Speedway in November.
This weekend’s action moves to the high banks of the two-and-a-half mile Talladega Super Speedway in Alabama. Two of the three top series will do battle at speeds of over 200 MPH. The Xfinity series has a weekend off before returning to action at the Kansas Motor speedway on Oct. 20. On Saturday afternoon the Camping World Truck series with run the “Fr8 Auctions 250” and it will be action packed for sure! Then on Sunday afternoon the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series will run the “1000Bulbs 500” and this race is certainly a wildcard event in the playoffs. Literally every car that takes the green flag has a shot at winning this event because of the draft and the chances of major destruction in the several “Big One Crashes” that usually shake up the field during the event. I’ll bring you all the exciting results right here next week.
Last weekend the Xfinity and MECS teams took to the banked one mile concrete surface of the Dover International Raceway. This track is referred to as the “Monster Mile” and its mascot “Miles the Monster” is known for destroying the hopes and dreams of those who challenge him. The Xfinity teams were up first on Saturday in the Bar Harbor 200. Christopher Bell was the class of the field in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry. He drove away to the first stage win. Daniel Hemric was able to capitalize on pit strategies and took the second stage win. At the finish it was Bell again out front, capturing his sixth win of his rookie season, bettering the record of Kyle Busch in his rookie year. Cole Custer was able to take second place. Justin Allgaier finished third. Ryan Preece and returning Spencer Gallagher rounded out the top five. Gallagher is making his comeback after completing NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program for substance abuse. This is a major victory for him in the race of life. Great job Spencer!
This race was a cut-off race for their playoff chances and set the field for the “Round of Eight” segment. Four drivers saw their playoff hopes end Saturday. Ross Chastain, who really impressed everyone in his runs in the Gannasi Racing Chevy, came up just a few points short of transferring driving his own car this week. Brandon Jones, Ryan Truex and Ryan Reed also lost their chance at a championship by missing the cut.
On Sunday the Cup series drivers challenged “Miles” and he dashed the hopes of a few. The Gander Mountain 400 was dominated in stage one and two by Kevin Harvick, who took both wins. Harvick’s teammate, Aric Almorola, appeared to be headed to victory in the closing laps. He had a nice lead and the fastest car on the track until a late race series of caution flags set up and overtime finish. Almorola suffered damage as he was trying to pass Brad Keselowski and bounced of the wall into Keselowski and caused a major crash damaging several fast cars in the process. When the checkered flag flew, the sirens went off at the Pool Hall in Dawsonville, Georgia, as Chase Elliott notched his second win of the season. He outran Denny Hamlin and drove away after the final restart to get the win. Hamlin held on to second over Joey Logano in third. Eric Jones and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. This win was especially nice for Elliott and it takes the pressure off next week at Talladega because his win locks him into the next round of the playoffs.
As the playoffs wind down, each and every point becomes vitally important. Stage wins and top 10 finishes in the stages add points. One point cost seven-time Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson his shot at number eight at the last cut-off race.
Talladega has all the team’s attention because of the unknown outcome and how quickly your day can change there.
That’s it for this week. Remember at the end of those long Talladega 200- MPH straights there’s another (high-banked) left turn.