By the time the green flag drops on a race this weekend at NHMS, the weatherman will claim that autumn has started (officially on Sept. 23).
Yet, in New England, we've come to assume the weatherman isn't always right and we won't be listening to him this weekend. NASCAR's in town and our summer isn't over yet!
At the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, there's one more chance to fire up the grill. One more chance to camp. One more chance to catch some sun rays. And, one more chance to watch NASCAR race at NHMS!
For only the second time in it's history, the oft-referred to "fall" race at NHMS will actually run during the season. The only other time it occurred was ten years ago when the race was postponed to Nov. 23 after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 wiped out the regularly scheduled race weekend. Traditionally, the race has marked the start of NASCAR's Chase and, since the first September race on Sept. 14, 1997, it has rarely fluctuated from that week.
This year, the race is a week later on the schedule and the Chase has already gotten underway.
While some fans were disappointed to have lost the Chase opener, I see the situation in the opposite light. Sure, it was nice to go first, but we're now one race farther into the Chase. The storylines for success and failure have already been laid and this race it that much more important to a driver's hopes than it was last week.
For the top finishers in the opening race at Chicagoland, like Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick, it's a chance to build a lead on the field. For middle finishers and top pre-Chase favorites, like Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, they'll need to finish strong or risk falling off the pace. And, for drivers that limped home in the opener, like Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin, they'll need to push for top finishes to jump back into the picture.
In the past, the SYLVANIA 300 has been an appetizer for the Chase. Kurt Busch is the only eventual Chase winner to have won the Chase race at NHMS and that was in 2004. This weekend, it will be a day of reckoning. When fans leave "The Magic Mile" Sunday evening, they'll have a pretty good idea of how the Chase is starting to unfold.
It also is a benefit because it helps us extend summer for one more weekend here in New Hampshire. The evenings have been getting a little too chilly and the leaves have lost just a little too much green. But, that's ok! This coming weekend, we'll get to celebrate an Indian summer and hold the fall weather off for just one more weekend, and we'll get to do it with about 100,000 of our closest friends.
Get excited race fans! The Chase is on its way for what poses to be an exciting NASCAR weekend with huge championship implications.
*I'll also do my due diligence by reminding you that tickets are still available if you still haven't purchased any. Please call the wonderful people in Guest Services at (603) 783-4931 and they'll get you set up with the best seats we have left!*