NASCAR Recap: Final Bye Week

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The next time Sprint Cup fans have a weekend without a race, the 2015 Sprint Cup season will be over, and we will have a new champion.

While it sinks in just how close fans are to the Sprint Cup, here’s a look at winners and losers from a weekend of no racing.

Win: Old School

Darlington on Labor Day was a genius idea. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and others have retro paint schemes in place for the Lady In Black, and the racing experience will be something fans haven’t seen in years.

For current fans, it’s just cool. For casual fans, it’s a chance for NASCAR to connect with its rich history; this is is the kind of opportunity that can create relationships, turning observers into fans and fans into advocates. Holiday racing can be tough to watch. Darlington is must watch live/DVR television this upcoming weekend.

Lose: Joe Gibbs Racing

Gibbs didn’t technically lose anything over the bye week. But consider the last 14 Sprint Cup races for Team Gibbs. They had eight wins. That’s a crazy run. When team run that hot for that long, does anyone want to stop? I’ll be curious to see if anyone comes in and seizes momentum from JGR over the next two weeks.

Draw: The Chase 

On one hand, there is a fair argument that anyone in the field would make a great story should they win the Chase. With JGR, Hendrick, Stewart Haas and Team Penske all with championship drivers and championship runs this season, the Chase itself feels as wide open as it’s ever been.

On the other hand, the next two weeks may not have the sizzle of past years. Clint Bowyer has 35 points in hand for the final spot. Could Kasey Kahne surprise people? Sure. But the next two Sprint Cup races aren’t known for crazy fuel or strategy runs. So I’m not holding my breath for any real excitement in the Chase standings these next two weeks.

I hope fans caught their breath during the bye week. NASCAR runs from now until a champion in crowned. Enjoy Darlington prep, and insert a random catchphrase here.