In my post on Sunday, I suggested office/friendly Chase grid pools, inspired by NCAA bracket pool competitions. This isn’t a pool, per se, but NASCAR is holding a contest for which it may award $100,000. Here’s the catch — to claim the prize, a grid must be filled in absolutely perfect, as in all picks must be correct for all rounds. You know that old saying, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?” Well, with this contest, close doesn’t count. To win, you must be perfect. If you so choose, you may enter at NASCAR.com/Grid. For those who enter, good luck.
This morning, I filled out my own grid, for kicks and giggles, I guess. I think I used sound reasoning — or at least as soundly as I can reason — for a lot of my picks. For others, I just went with some kind of “gut” feeling, for whatever that’s worth. Anyway, you can check out my completed grid, above.
I’m all for an underdog story, a feel-good story, if you will. But I just had to go with my gut and eliminate those (Aric Almirola and A.J. Allmendinger) early on. I don’t really know why; It just felt like the thing to do.
I also eliminated the likes of Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson before the round of four, earlier than many may expect. Maybe it’s just me, but Busch tends to tank around Chase time, and Johnson just doesn’t seem to be up to Johnson snuff these days. Yes, I realize that Johnson’s slumped near the end of the regular season before, only to turn up the wick and spank the field come Chase time. For some reason, I just don’t see it happening this time around.
Maybe Johnson not being in the “official” 2014 Chase group photo is some kind of omen. Seriously, though, in case you’re wondering, Johnson’s not in the group photo, or the Hendrick Motorsports Chase photo, or even the Chevrolet group photo, for that matter, because he was in the infield care center receiving treatment for dehydration during the Chase photo session. After seeing last year’s multiple versions of the Chase group photo because of the Michael Waltrip Racing Richmond debacle, I suspect a new photo will be taken at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend.
In the end, I have Jeff Gordon claiming a fifth Cup. Hey, the guy’s having his best season in years. Besides, he’s one of the winningest drivers, so far, this season. Brad Keselowski’s the only driver with more trips to victory lane, at this point. On top of that, Gordon turned in those wins while also running consistently enough to sit atop the points standings for much of the regular season.
Gordon was given the moniker of “Wonder Boy” by Dale Earnhardt back when he started winning championships. But now, Gordon’s approaching his mid 40s and carries sponsorship from AARP, so “Wonder Boy” just doesn’t seem to fit. He’s by no means old enough to be the “Geriatric Wonder,” so what, extactly should we be calling him? He’d probably like “Five-time Champion.”
Here’s a photo gallery of 2014 Chase drivers, courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR: