The first night race of the 2014 Sprint Cup season is over, and the streak is over.
This has nothing to do with The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, rather a two-time winner on the NASCAR season. Kevin Harvick’s win didn’t stun the world; it did shape how NASCAR fans will think heading into the off week. Here’s a Bert Convy inspired breakdown.
Win: Kevin Harvick
Harvick won the race, but that’s almost a secondary victory. Teams and drivers in transition often struggle. For every Matt Kenseth that has a career year with a new team, there’s a Brad Keselowski who switched from Dodge to Ford and missed the Chase. Harvick’s win eliminates any sense or where he sits on this coin. Harvick can run for wins the rest of the season to boost his Chase standings and runs well at Chase tracks. He’s an instant title contender.
Lose: Hendrick Motorsports
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another near loss. Jeff Gordon leads the points but doesn’t have a win. Jimmie Johnson seems a bit off kilter. Kasey Kahne is 24th in points. Is this reason for concern eight wins into the season? Maybe not. Is this unlike anything we’ve seen from Hendrick Motorsports in the last five years? That won’t make Rick Hendrick sweat. It might make him think.
Draw: Chase Standings
I get Chase standings aren’t supposed to matter as much now as they did under the old points system. But the points system tells quite the story. If the season ended today, two rookies, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon, both make the Chase. Brian Vickers would come back from his medical issues and make the Chase. Fresh blood is great for the sport.
Recognized names are also great for the sport. Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne would be on the outside looking in. Those are three of the sport’s ten most popular drivers.
Eight races into every season NASCAR fans find crazy scenarios like this. Do they pan out all the time? Rarely. Will it make every race matter more after the off week? I think so. Enjoy the downtime, and insert random catchphrase here.