We're now halfway through the Chase, and it's all starting to become clear: not everyone has a chance to win this thing. Matter of fact, almost nobody has a chance to win this thing outside of a handful of drivers. But here's what we learned on a chaotic Saturday night in Charlotte:
Everyone gets loose now and then. These are the best drivers on the planet, and even they can occasionally slide around the track like the rest of us do on icy roads. The question, though, is whether they take anyone with them when they spin. Ryan Newman; Kurt Busch; and most surprisingly, Jimmie Johnson all got loose at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Take a wild guess which one was able to recover.
Kasey Kahne, clockin' time. Kasey Kahne is in his final five races for Richard Petty Motorsports, and he's not exactly going out on a high note. There have been suspicions all season long that Kahne hasn't been getting the best treatment and equipment from RPM. Saturday night marked his third brake failure of the season. Kahne was too ill to continue driving, but nonetheless ran in his own 5K Sunday morning. (His shoes didn't fail him.)
Kurt Busch needs to flip his schedule. Earlier this season, it appeared Kurt Busch would be a legit competitor to Jimmie Johnson. But he's been relatively quiet since his two wins earlier this year, and he's posted a finish no higher than 8th in the first five races of the Chase. Once again, Busch's rise and slow fade show just how tough it is for even NASCAR's best to run a whole season.
Get to a scanner, pronto. If you have the opportunity, you simply have to get access to NASCAR's scanner to listen in on your favorite drivers. It's the kind of insight you'll never get from listening to their press conferences or choreographed interviews. Kyle Busch melts down with regularity, Kevin Harvick scorches his pit crew every week, Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are relentless tacticians. Surprised? Of course not. But anyone who thinks NASCAR is too vanilla needs to listen in to the radio chatter.
Jamie McMurray's curious fashion choice. Look, I'll say it: Jamie McMurray simply doesn't belong in blaze orange and camo. But then again, if the dude can wheel a race car like he did Saturday night, holding off Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson for the win, he can drive around in a clown suit if he wants.
There you have it, our picks for the most interesting storylines of the weekend. How about you? What did you learn from Charlotte?