As a Tony Stewart fan, I went into the 2011 Sprint Cup chase extremely pessimistic. After all, Tony Stewart went into the chase saying he thought the team was wasting a chase berth with the way they had been performing. Of course we all know what happened; Tony Stewart went on a tear- won FIVE of the ten Chase races (something that had NEVER been done before) including the season closer at Homestead-Miami, thus winning the Chase by TIEBREAKER. It was both exhilarating and stressful to be a Tony Stewart fan towards the end of the 2011 chase. I was AT the Phoenix race and spent most of the race perched on the patio of the media center- watching the race through my fingers. I don’t even remember much about the Homestead race- except that I was so stoked that I promised my family that if Tony won the championship I would treat them to dinner at the Outback. Guess you all know what I had for dinner that night. What made the chase so great last year- especially during Homestead was that it was so CLOSE- and to win it Tony Stewart HAD TO WIN THE RACE- a second place wouldn’t cut it.
CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: (L – R) Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Martin Truex Jr, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Clint Boyer, Denny Hamlin, Kaey Kahne and Tony Stewart pose in front of “The Bean” as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. They are the twelve drivers competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)
This year however, I feel EXCITEMENT going into the chase because this year NASCAR’s Chase for the 2012 Sprint Series Cup could be brought home by ANY of the 12 drivers. I personally do not count ANYONE out. Sure Tony’s the reigning champion and I would LOVE to see him become a FOUR time champion. Denny Hamlin goes in to the Chase seeded first and his crew chief Darian Grubb no doubt feels he has a point to prove. But I can’t count out Jimmie Johnson- he’s won five and is looking hard for 6. With FOUR of the 12 cars being Hendrick Motorsports cars that means mathematically (and I am NOT good at math people) there is a 1/3 chance that winner could be a Hendrick car- and Junior has been looking strong and CONSISTENT all season. And Jeff Gordon has been driving like a maniac (in a good way) these last few races. And Kasey’s had some bad luck but pretty much had that first Wild Card spot in the bag in Richmond. Kenseth no doubt would like to leave the 17 team with a Championship before jumping over to Joe Gibbs Racing next season. Harvick is tenacious and they didn’t give him the nickname THE CLOSER for anything. Then we have dark horses like Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer who have also been RIGHT there all season long. And I would NEVER ever ever count out Brad Keselowski. In my mind- right before we go into the first race of the Chase it is ANYONE’s trophy right now.
CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Front row L-R The Next 9 drivers Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Cameron Hayley, Dylan Kwasniewski, Daniel Suarez, Sergio Pena, Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace and Corey LaJoie, back row Eleven of the NASCAR Chase drivers L-R Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)
As a NASCAR fan, the fact that it is anyone’s championship right now is EXCITING. Of course I still want Tony Stewart to win it!
CHICAGO, IL- SEPTEMBER 12: Tony Stewart (C) speaks with young drivers who are from the Next 9 at a party as part of NASCAR Chase Media Day and NASCAR Contenders Live on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images North America)
Who do YOU think will win it all?