Friday, November 17, 2006

The Big Finale

Well, here we are, at the final race. There is always something melancholy about the end of the season, but the good news is that NASCAR has the shortest off season of all professional sports--twelve weeks from Sunday's race at Homestead until the Daytona 500 in February. And there is more good news--if only in that the season has been probably the best and most exciting since 1998. It has been very satisfying for those of us who can't seem to get enough excitement. And there is the fact that, going into the last race, the Championship has not been decided yet.

Of course, Jimmie Johnson has the best chance to take the Cup, being sixty-three points ahead of second place. This means, he clinches the championship if he finishes seventeenth or better. If he leads a lap during the race, getting bonus points, he only has to finish twelfth or better, regardless of where Matt Kenseth and the other three contenders finish.
Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin are tied for third place, ninety points out of the lead. There will likely be times during the race that one or both of them will move up closer to the points lead. Say, for instance, that on lap 112, Kenseth is leading the race, Havick and Hamlin are running in the top ten, and Johnson is way back in twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth place. This situation would put these two guys within thirty points in the lead. This theoretical example is to illustrate exactly how close the championship race is between the top four drivers. As it happens, there are many different sets of circumstances which could put Hamlin or Harvick in the points lead by the end of the race.

Momentum is on Johnson's side, however. The #48 team has been performing exceptionally well since the last race at Talledega, and no amount of bad luck during the race seems to be a handicap for the team by the end. Still, with the competition being what it is, the driver among the top five who has the least bad luck will be the 2006 champion.

None of the contenders can afford to have something like this happen.

1 comment:

StewartFan said...

I was 200 feet from Matt when he ran up that water barricade! Dover is a harder pit road to get on to, but whooaaaa?