All the NASCAR talk this week has centered around the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, at least when it comes to the Sprint Cup Series, and rightfully so, since the 10-race Chase kicks off this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Wednesday night, Dale Earnhardt Jr. visited Jimmy Kimmel, while Jimmie Johnson paid a visit to Jimmy Fallon’s show. Meanwhile, fans are filling out their Chase grids, Chaser Kevin Harvick is swapping pit crews with non-Chase teammate and boss Tony Stewart, Richard Petty Motorsports is making what it hopes to be beneficial changes to Aric Almirola’s pit crew, and so on and so forth. ESPN’s Dick Vitale has even been a part of the action, judging by Miss Sprint Cup’s Facebook page, and that, by the way, makes my comparison of the Chase grid to an NCAA bracket more plausible. Okay, sometimes I need that kind of confirmation. Then, there’s also that whole #MyChaseNation Twitter hastag thing.
Anyway, at the risk of wearing out the Chase topic too soon (remember, we have 10 more weeks of this), I’ve decided to point out a few oddities surrounding this year’s Chase. Okay, so maybe I should say a couple, as I only have two at the moment. Anyway, call it karma, bad omen (if you believe in such things), whatever, here are a few coincidences that kind of struck me as a little odd.
1.) Jimmie Johnson’s not in the official Chase group photo taken last weekend after the final “regular season” race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The group photo was taken while Johnson was receiving treatment for dehydration in the infield care center, and I guess that group photo just couldn’t wait. By the way, Hendrick Motorsports drivers took a group photo, as did Chevrolet drivers who made the Chase. And for the same reason, Johnson wasn’t in those photos, either. I’m assuming this will be remedied when the NASCAR fraternity assembles at Chicagoland this weekend. We learned from last year’s debacle, that NASCAR has no problem having multiple Chase group photos with varying casts of chasers. Is Johnson’s absence from the photo some kind of bad omen? I doubt it, as I don’t believe in that sort of thing. But, you know, Johnson’s performance of late hasn’t been up to that normal Johnson standard. Just saying. When it comes to photo-taking, maybe that golden horseshoe Kevin Harvick used to talk about being stuck up Johnson’s you-know-where doesn’t apply. But I’m guessing Harvick and the others are hoping that the Johnsonless photo is some kind of sign.
2.) Back to that old Richmond debacle of a year ago. You know — “Spin Gate,” “Project: Itchy Arm,” or whatever clever nickname you prefer to call it. Long story short, Michael Waltrip Racing stunk up the whole Chase qualifying process last year, so to speak. Call it karma, if you want, but MWR doesn’t have a Chase entry this year. And none of MWR’s drivers of a year ago are in the Chase, including Martin Truex Jr., who wound up out of the program and at Furniture Row Racing for 2014. I’m not sure I believe in karma any more than bad omens, but then again, as the old saying goes, “What goes around, comes around.”
I’m pretty certain the aforementioned are just strange coincidences, but they’re still odd and interesting occurrences.
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