Five questions probably won’t be enough for all the questions so many have heading into the weekend (and the offseason), but I’ll give it my best shot. After all, this will be the next to last “5 Questions Before/After” column until Daytona. My goodness, where did the season go?
Here are some questions on my mind heading into the (sniff) season finale…
Who will win the championship? … This one is the biggie. When was the last time we went into a weekend and didn’t have a pretty good idea of who would win the title? Most would probably answer Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2004. It’s been a long time coming, and now we have a fight on our hands. With Denny Hamlin leading Jimmie Johnson by only 15 points and Kevin Harvick by only 46, it will be a season NASCAR fans will remember for a long time.
Will the title be decided by a fuel mileage race? … It wouldn’t be the first time fuel mileage played a role in a race at Homestead, which can be the most exciting (yet nerve-wracking) type of racing as long as it’s not your favorite driver involved. While a battle between Johnson and Hamlin for the victory on the final lap of the race would probably be a more ideal situation, involving the crew chiefs and pit crews at the very end of the championship race would be very interesting as well. Judging by last weekend’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, a fuel mileage race could very well cause a huge points shakeup that would turn the heads of race fans everywhere. Can you tell I’m excited?
Can the Fords continue their upswing? … With Carl Edwards winning his first race in two years last weekend in Phoenix, Elliott Sadler’s pole run at Texas Motor Speedway a couple of weeks ago, and Greg Biffle continuing to rack up top-10 finishes it seems the Ford Racing camp is building up some momentum for the 2011 season. History shows that this track traditionally favors the Fords, with six of the 11 races run here won by a Ford driver. Add to that the name of the race is the Ford 400 and I’m thinking we may see a Ford in Victory Lane this weekend!
How much trash-talking will we hear this weekend? … Already, press conferences involving crew chiefs, owners, and drivers have included a heavy dosage of trash talking and mind games, not to mention all the post-race ego-trips that have occurred at least once a week since the Chase for the Sprint Cup began at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. From the Friday press conferences, sponsor-related driver appearances, and countless pit road and garage interviews that will occur between now and the drop of the green flag, there will plenty of time for the championship contenders to drop a few hints to their competition.
What happens after Homestead? … Aside from Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, and a testing session at Daytona International Speedway to try out the new racing surface, there isn’t much to keep race fans entertained over the offseason. While some use other favorite sports such as hockey or football to keep them entertained, others employ the business of the holidays to pass the time until Daytona rolls around. However, if this race lives up to expectations, there will be plenty to talk about between now and then.
Bonus Questions: Where did the season go?! … How many times will ESPN show the points dropdown during the race? … Who will need to be practicing their speeches before the banquet?
Photo courtesy of NASCAR Media. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.