Story by Patrick Reynolds. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images.
Thirty-five down and one to go.
To fans of the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, they know exactly what picture those words paint. The Phoenix weekend is complete and only Homestead-Miami remains. The pressure is on for 12 drivers as they prepare the settle three national championships.
Well, the pressure may be on for 11 of them.
Christopher Bell won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at ISM Raceway race to lock himself into that series’ Final Four in Miami. Following his Victory Lane celebration, Bell stated in the media center that the pressure of Phoenix’s race, with the Final Four lock-in at stake, didn’t come close to a Chili Bowl Saturday.
NASCAR brass bristled. Dirt track and open-wheel fans grinned.
The Chili Bowl is a week-long indoor dirt midget event that takes place at the Expo Center in Bell’s home state of Oklahoma. The 2018 race boasted over 350 entries competing for only 24 grid spots in Saturday’s A-Main finale. Simply making the feature race is an impressive accomplishment. Bell has won the Chili Bowl’s Golden Driller championship trophy the past two years.
NASCAR’s Chase and Playoff format has not appealed to many purists and driven longtime fans away from the sport as witnessed by so many empty race track grandstands as compared to seasons prior to the system. Some of those same fans have embraced grassroots events, such as the Chili Bowl, deeper and drifted away from NASCAR interest.
Other auto racing fans jumped on board the national NASCAR support bandwagon and consider that the pinnacle of all auto racing.
Bell’s comments stirred up social media debates over the preferred auto racing style. The conversation circled back to where the higher pressure was – in NASCAR’s Playoffs or on Chili Bowl’s Saturday.
While no answer can be derived, the opinions were plentiful.
Newer NASCAR fans discovering the championship playoff style since 2004, know of no other way to decide a title. Older fans argued their distaste of NASCAR’s gimmicks. Chili Bowl lovers proudly defended their revered race.
The Phoenix weekend firmed up Johnny Sauter, Brett Moffitt, Justin Haley and Noah Gragson as Miami’s Truck Series finalists. Cole Custer, Daniel Hemrick and Tyler Redick joined Bell in the Xfinity Series playoff run. The Cup Final Four will consist of Joey Logano, Phoenix winner Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Kevin Harvick.
The odds still have Harvick (+200) as the favorite, even though he was stripped of his win at Texas and finished fifth in Phoenix. According to MyTopSportsbooks, the better value is on either Busch (+250), Truex Jr (+325) or Logano (+400) to win the 2018 championship as the series heads to Miami so you feel like taking advantage on those moneylines. Here you can review this toplist of sites and choose the one that suits your demands in terms of bonuses and fastest payouts.
This race weekend in Miami brings the pressure for NASCAR’s three national series championships. The odds are extremely short that auto racing fans will defend that their favorite style is the best and most pressure-packed form.
We shall see how Bell feels after the Xfinity Series race on Saturday.
Patrick Reynolds is a former professional NASCAR mechanic who hosts Speedway Report live on Facebook Mondays 7:30 pm ET/ 4:30 pm PT and uploaded on http://speedwayreport.wpengine.com/ . Follow on Twitter @SpeedwayPat.