The Summer Stretch: What to Expect

June 5, 2014 No Comments

Summer stretchBy: Kyle Taraska, Contributing Writer

The cross flags are waving on the halfway point of the 2014 NASCAR “Regular Season.” With only thirteen races left until the first race of the Chase to the Championship at Chicagoland Speedway, here are some of the things you can expect to see as we begin the summer tour:

Teams Catch up to Harvick:
It would be tough to argue against the statement that Kevin Harvick, Rodney Childers, and the entire four team for Stewart Hass Racing is not the best team in NASCAR. Not looking at Harvick’s finishes, although he has won two races, but the fact that the four team has literally been a contender to win at every single race so far. As dominant as they have been, all good things must come to an end. With teams networking information between each other more than ever, there are no longer many secrets in the garage. I do not expect Kevin Harvick and his team to fall off any, but I do expect many teams to finally catch on to what they have been able to do over the first thirteen weeks of the season.

JJ is Back:
To think a mere two weeks ago we were all asking, what is wrong with Jimmie? The tables have now turned as the reality begins to set in of what could possibly happen this November, a record tying seventh Cup Series Championship? November is a long ways away, but the 48/88 shop at Hendrick Motorsports  introducing new generation chassis for the summer stretch and of course the chase. With this being said, expect “Six Pack” to become a dominant force to be reckoned with.

Cousin Carl will Struggle:
Currently the worst kept secret in the garage is that Carl Edwards will be leaving Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the 2014 season. Two years ago he had an opportunity to race for Joe Gibbs Racing but opted to stay loyal to Jack Roush, Ford Racing, and an awesome paycheck. Carl will not make the same mistake this time around, and regardless of when his announcement will be made, this will truly be a “lame duck” summer for driver ninety-nine. RFR is off right now, and has been since Edward’s title run that resulted in him coming up one point short in 2011. It is really hard to digest why RFR is not performing to the standards we once knew them for, but I cannot see their performances improving at all this summer with one, and possible two key drivers leaving their stable at the end of this season.

Matt Kenseth will Win:
The driver who won the most amount of races in 2013, is still winless thirteen weeks into the 2014 season. No need to panic Kenseth fans, the 2003 Champion will find victory lane soon enough, and it could happen as early as Pocono. Sure, he has zero wins in twenty-eight starts with a fifteenth place average finish, but the twenty car has been improving over the last month, and they can break out at any moment. Kentucky is a track that Kenseth won at in 2013, and the series returns to the Blue Grass State at the end of this month.
Points Still Matter:
One should not expect for there to be sixteen different winners leading up to the chase this September. In my opinion, the teams who are capable of winning week in and week out, with the exception of Matt Kenseth, have already won a race this season. Maybe the likes of a Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, and even Kyle Larson may sneak in a surprise win before Labor Day, but chances are the final chase grid positions will be determined by points. A “good points day” may be exactly what a driver needs to make the chase, and this will have a major influence on the results of races.
As we approach the dog days of summer, what do you expect to happen? This may be one of the most entertaining summer stretches in the sports history with races to be won and championship implications on the line every single week. Should be wild so stay tuned!


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