(WOMR file photo)
The season that I am referring to is “The Chase” season. Two races have already been run and are in the record book. Tony Stewart has come to life from a 26 race “hibernation period”. In just two weeks the Stewart-Haas Racing #14 Office Depot/ Mobil 1/Burger #14 Chevy has risen from the ashes like the phoenix!
For those of you who are not up all your mythology, I will give a brief background on the phoenix bird.
A phoenix is a mythical bird with a colorful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet (or purple, blue, and green according to some legends). It has a 500 to 1000 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of twigs that then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again. The new phoenix is destined to live as long as its old self. In some stories, the new phoenix embalms the ashes of its old self in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis (literally “sun-city” in Greek). It is said that the bird’s cry is that of a beautiful song. The Phoenix’s ability to be reborn from its own ashes implies that it is immortal, though in some stories the new Phoenix is merely the offspring of the older one. In very few stories they are able to change into people.
So now that we are all current on our mythology, the story will continue!
Tony Stewart’s 2011 season has resembled the phoenix, in that, his results were steadily declining and taking the team straight to ashes. It looked as though his season was destined for disappointment and mediocrity. Then like the resurrection of the phoenix from flames and ashes, he dominates the first two races of The Chase! With those two performances, Stewart now is emerging as a very strong favorite to win this year’s Chase.
However, on opposite end of the spectrum there are a three race teams that are faltering. The most glaring disappointment of the 2011 Chase is the Joe Gibbs Racing #11 FedEx Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin. Last season Hamlin narrowly missed snaring the 2010 Sprint Cup championship from the grasp of “ol Five-Time”, Jimmie Johnson. Fast forward one year, after two races of “the post-season”, Hamlin is, for all intense and purposes, already eliminated from any possibility of winning the 2011 Chase for The Cup. Hamlin currently is in 12th place, 66 points out of first place. The max points that a driver can score in a race is 48 points. Therefore, one can see that he is a full 1 1/2 race worth of points down from the leader, a very daunting and steep uphill battle to overcome!
The two remaining drivers that WOMR have questions about are the Busch brothers. I believe that both brothers are feeling the pressure of the Chase. Kurt started off the Chase by scoring a 6th place finish in the first race at Chicagoland. However, following that race he was involved in a couple of skirmishes with the media that was well documented involving the Kurt Busch-Jimmie Johnson “love-affair” in the preceding weeks.
Following “the flare-up” with the media, the Penske Racing #22 Pennzoil Dodge had some problems in pre-race tech inspection last Sunday at Louden. The prevailing feeling in the garage area has it that, because the race team has had some tech issues in the preceding weeks, and because of the apparent infraction that occurred in pre-race inspection at Louden, NASCAR made the decision to hold the #22 Pennzoil Dodge in the inspection area until 10 minutes prior to the start of the race as NASCAR’s message to the race team! The end results was that the race team could only rally to finish 22nd last Sunday. Therefore, for the first two races of the Chase Kurt Busch has only averaged a 14th place finish, that will not cut it in the Chase with the extremely fierce level of competition!
The other Busch brother, ol Kylie, seems to be very inconsistent as well. In the first Chase race, Chicagoland, the Joe Gibbs #18 M&M’s Toyota was wheeled by Kyle Busch to a very disappointing 22nd place finish. That plummeted him down to 9th in the standings after the first race. Last Sunday at Louden, Kyle only improved his finishing position slightly better at the end of the second race. The JGR #18 Toyota escaped, very luckily, with an 11th place finish, moving the team up three positions to 6th in the standings. Nevertheless, ol Kylie has only averaged a 15.5 place finish for the first two races in the 2011 Chase. Once again, read the last half of the sentence in the previous paragraph, it is appropriate to describe the #18 race team’s predicament!
Tis the season, fall, and we know this because the leaves are starting to fall off the two Busch’s!
Check out the Chase standings at the culmination the first two races.
What are your views of the remaining eight, the race teams chances, and your views on who will likely be the 2011 Sprint Cup champion?
Twelve drivers, now eight races, one champion, who will be the last man standing?
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!