Trackside Duo: October 6, 2013

Photo- Getty Images
Photo- Getty Images

Kansas Speedway awaits the Sprint Cup Series this weekend for round four of the Chase. Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch have pulled away from the rest of the pack and now they wait to see who will make a mistake first to take their name out of the running. Kansas could ruin some championship dreams on Sunday and all 13 Chasers hope they are able to survive to compete another week.

This week, the Trackside Duo takes on questions regarding Chase drivers performances as well as predicting who may take the championship in the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series.

1) When Jimmie Johnson gets hot, he dominates. A commanding Dover win could be a sign of what to expect out of the No. 48 team moving forward. Did Johnson’s Dover victory begin a reign which could ultimately lead to a sixth championship?

Alanis: Johnson’s run at Dover is certainly something to make the competition nervous, especially with points leader Matt Kenseth struggling in the Goodyear tire test on Thursday and Kyle Busch wrecking in practice, forcing the team to go to a backup car at one of Busch’s least favorite tracks. Busch will have to improve on his average finish at the track and Kenseth will have to get the hang of the tire, or else Johnson’s momentum could carry him through the weekend and possibly to a sixth championship.

Jason: If Johnson goes on to take the championship, Dover will be remembered as the race which got everything rolling for him. Momentum from a win is hard to break when a driver gets hot. Johnson is very determined this season and he proved to himself at Dover that his dream of a sixth championship could very well come true in 2013.

2) Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been showing up at front on a more consistent basis lately. A near win at Dover has his fans hopeful that a breakthrough victory is on its way. Being winless since the Michigan race in June 2012, does Earnhardt Jr. have what it takes to get back to victory lane in the remaining seven races?

Alanis: Earnhardt Jr. certainly has a chance to win in the final races. With first place having more than a full-race lead over the No. 88 team, they’re virtually eliminated from contention for the championship. That being said, Earnhardt Jr.’s team has the ability to take risks rather than put a heavy focus on points in the remaining races, which could open the door for a very popular celebration in victory lane.

Jason: Two promising runs at New Hampshire and Dover have shown that this team can win. However, little mistakes like Earnhardt Jr. missing pit road last Sunday at Dover could take a potential winning day away from this team. They need to put a perfect race together in order to get back to victory lane. The No. 88 team can do it, but it will be a matter of not taking themselves out of contention before the finish. Look for Earnhardt Jr. to be in contention at Talladega and Martinsville in the upcoming weeks.

3) Ever since the reconfiguring of Kansas Speedway, cautions are appearing more abundantly, and all 13 Chase drivers are hoping not to be the cause of one on Sunday. Do you see the new monster Kansas has become taking out a championship contender this weekend?

Alanis: The focus of the Chase contenders may not be on their own fates at Kansas, but that of Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch. If one of the top three in points falls to an ill fate at Kansas, it’s early enough in Chase competition for a potential comeback from one of the other ten drivers, if the points gap is closed enough.

Jason: Already this weekend, the Kansas Speedway has claimed three Chase drivers. Kyle and Kurt Busch both wrecked in practice and Matt Kenseth went for a spin. Out of all the Chase races so far, Kansas may prove to be the most challenging for the Chasers. Kyle Busch’s history at Kansas shows that he may be most vulnerable to a bad run on Sunday. Out of the top three in points right now, he is the one who could most likely dig himself a hole in the championship picture on Sunday.

4) The Sprint Cup Series isn’t the only series with a close championship battle going on. Both the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series also have battles for the crown that could come down to Homestead. In the Nationwide Series, do you see Sam Hornish Jr., Austin Dillon, or someone else prevailing? In the Trucks, do you see Matt Crafton, James Buescher, or someone else being crowned champion?

Alanis: In my opinion, Austin Dillon, having won the Truck Series title before, has the best chance to take home the Nationwide championship this year. In the Trucks, it’s certainly hard to bet against Matt Crafton with the season he’s had – a streak of top-ten finishes in all of the first 16 races, broken last weekend at Vegas with a finish of 11th.

Jason: In the past, catching fire towards the end of the season tends to lead to a championship. Austin Dillon has been on his game over the last month or so and despite a primarily consistent season for Sam Hornish Jr., he. may come up short. Matt Crafton stormed out of the gates, but he has fallen off his horse as of late. He started the season by going all out and that gave him a large points lead then, but it has only been dwindling as of late. James Buescher is coming and I believe he will catch Crafton before Homestead arrives.

5) How do your final standings predictions look after Dover?

Alanis:

Original predictions:

1.) Matt Kenseth

2.) Jimmie Johnson

3.) Carl Edwards

4.) Kevin Harvick

5.) Kyle Busch

6.) Kasey Kahne

7.) Clint Bowyer

8.) Joey Logano

9.) Jeff Gordon

10.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.

11.) Kurt Busch

12.) Greg Biffle

13.) Ryan Newman

Predictions following Dover:

1.) Matt Kenseth

2.) Jimmie Johnson

3.) Kyle Busch

4.) Kevin Harvick

5.) Greg Biffle

6.) Clint Bowyer

7.) Jeff Gordon

8.) Carl Edwards

9.) Ryan Newman

10.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.

11.)  Kurt Busch

12.) Kasey Kahne

13.) Joey Logano

Jason:

Original Predictions:

1.) Jimmie Johnson

2.) Kyle Busch

3.) Kasey Kahne

4.) Matt Kenseth

5.) Carl Edwards

6.) Joey Logano

7.) Clint Bowyer

8.) Kevin Harvick

9.) Ryan Newman

10.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.

11.) Kurt Busch

12.) Jeff Gordon

13.) Greg Biffle

Predictions following Dover:

1.) Jimmie Johnson

2.) Matt Kenseth

3.) Kevin Harvick

4.) Kyle Busch

5.) Greg Biffle

6.) Jeff Gordon

7.) Ryan Newman

8.) Joey Logano

9.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.

10.) Carl Edwards

11.) Clint Bowyer

12.) Kurt Busch

13.) Kasey Kahne

Follow Alanis on twitter @alanisnking and follow Jason @NascarJason

trackside duo

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