Three observations from Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400:
- There have been several doubters of whether NASCAR’s new Chase format would live up to its promises. Three races into the 2014 season, it’s safe to say it’s already delivered. The is no way Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team elects to roll the dice on fuel three races into the season to gain a second win if he wasn’t already virtually ensured a spot in the Chase. He and his crew chief, Steve Letarte, confirmed that after the race. And the downside – which really isn’t one – is there are already three very talented drivers known who will battle for the title – Brad Keselowski, Earnhardt and Kevin Harvick.
- For much of the weekend, it appeared Danica Patrick may be primed for one of her better NASCAR performances. She was fast in practice on Friday and did well in qualifying. She was also good in Saturday’s first practice session. In Saturday’s final practice, however, she seemed to fall off and in Sunday’s race she quickly fell back in the field. But it wasn’t all bad, by the end of the race Patrick finished 21st, one lap down, but she was the highest finisher of all four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers.
- No idea if it’s a sign of things to come but fans certainly turned out in much larger numbers this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway than a year ago. The tone was set on Friday which saw one of the largest qualifying crowds in several years for any NASCAR track. It’s much too early to tell if NASCAR changes this season are the reason, but it’s safe to say they haven’t hurt.