Friday, September 5, 2014

Great Implications: Five Questions for Richmond

Richmond International Raceway. Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

It’s time.

The Race to The Chase is coming to the end, and the real battle it about to start. However, before we think about that, let’s focus on the task at hand. There’s a beautiful short track race this weekend, and Richmond International Raceway is the place to be.

I’m discussing XFINITY, Ryan Blaney and his onesie, who makes the Chase’s final two spots, and more in this week’s Five Questions.

Does XFINITY fit the mold as a series sponsor? Well, the announcement has arrived: the NASCAR Nationwide Series is no more after 2015. The NASCAR XFINITY Series will come into play. As we all cringe at the thought of not calling it “NNS,” I’ve heard that many fans aren’t supportive of this decision. To them I say: TOUGH NIBBLETS. We all need to be thankful NASCAR can actually pull in new interest. This includes not whining about the name. ‘XFINITY’ sounds so cool, like there’s an ‘XFINITY’ amount of opportunities for the young guns in the series. Some say it doesn’t fit the mold. That is a quality that should excite us. SO GET EXCITED.

Will there even be racing this weekend? Mother Nature must’ve watched "The Notebook" and then went to Richmond, because it poured Thursday afternoon. NNS practices were cancelled, and even some drivers were floating around on tires (looking at you, Jeffery Earnhardt). Yes, the water was that high. It also sounds like Saturday night is a concern as well. I hope Mother Nature takes her tearjerkers somewhere else. I’m not having it.

Ryan Blaney’s got it going on: fact or fiction? Oh, Canada. The home for awesome racing. Blaney’s fight with German Quiroga Jr. was on point, and the youngster’s win only brings more necessary spotlighting to himself. This kid is a machine. Not only is he talented, but he is also wise beyond his years. He’ll definitely be a champion in the future, but I still can’t get over that picture of him in the dinosaur onesie. That was a bad decision, Ryan.

Who’ll make up the lucky duo of Chase goers? Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty stuff: the final two Chase spots. We ended up not having 16 different winners, but that’s OK; the excitement was still there, and it’ll linger until the checkered flag falls Saturday night. This is a risky decision … but I think Kyle Larson wins at Richmond and locks himself into the playoffs. He’s got the speed, and it would be a wonderful story. The final slot goes to Ryan Newman, who gets in on points. He’s been consistently on the outside looking in, but that’s still consistency. That counts for something, right?

As we head into the Chase, what should be expected? The short answer: expect the unexpected. The long answer? This is different from other playoff formats. It’s about fighting the same guy week after week until you have him cornered and then beating him to a pulp. It’s about rivalries, emotion, managing your machine. It’s not just a trophy; it’s a championship, a title that will stay with you, your car number, and your owner. The implications are greater than we think, and they are even more unpredictable. Some pretty big stuff is going to go down in the next 10 weeks. GET READY.

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