Saturday, October 11, 2014

Charlotte provides keen opportunity for the Faltering Four

The wind blows through the garage Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway
The Charlotte night race marks the halfway point of the Chase. However, it has a sense of urgency for four drivers who are trying to salvage their championship chances.

Multiple issues plagued Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Jimmie Johnson at Kansas Speedway. There’s one sure-fire way to repent: win at Charlotte. Easier said than done, but it isn’t a longshot for these drivers.

Earnhardt Jr. called his shot Friday at CMS
Kahne is the personification of wishy-washy; he’s a streaky guy. No. 5 fans are put through this rollercoaster every year. What they don’t have to worry about are his chances at this 1.5-miler. He thrives on this track layout, and Charlotte is the jelly to his peanut butter. If anyone has a “Hail Mary” chance at punching his ticket, it’s this Hendrick Motorsports driver.

As a former Sprint Cup champion, Keselowski knows how to handle pressure. The 2012 champion has dealt with scrutiny from NASCAR, other drivers, and hundreds of fans. Despite this, he’s always held his head high. Kansas was a huge misstep for this half of Team Penske, but that shouldn’t mask over the tango he and Joey Logano have laid down. Their 1.5-mile program has dominated the scene and shouldn't be underestimated at the North Carolina staple. He’ll give the field heck trying to make up for lost time.

In a bold move, Earnhardt called his shot Friday afternoon, claiming that he was going to win Saturday night’s brawl. “Ballsy” doesn’t even describe this move. Has the 40-year-old ever done something like this? No, he hasn’t. That gives everyone a glimpse of what’s going to happen. He’s got the confidence. Sometimes, that’s all you need to propel you to a win.

Finally, Johnson is deeper in the hole than the others. He must face the difficulty of leapfrogging the aforementioned drivers. After a somewhat-sluggish year, is it possible for the No. 48 to shoot into the Elite Eight? Oh, definitely! Can the Johnson/Knaus duo ever be truly out of it? He’s won six championships for a reason.

It ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and her warmup isn’t scheduled until before the race at Talladega Superspeedway. These four are trying to scramble in before those first few notes chime.


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