Maintaining Momentum - South Dade News Leader: Opinion

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Maintaining Momentum

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Posted: Thursday, October 5, 2017 10:14 pm

Onto the Round of 12

In sports, momentum is often referred to as having the “hot hand” or being “in the zone.” It is the feeling a pitcher has after throwing a shutout through eight innings. It is the mentality of a shooting guard who has hit five consecutive three pointers and has confidence that the next shot they put up will go in. It is the dominance an offense illustrates when they are able to drive the football down into the opposition’s red zone and score on five consecutive drives.

   Momentum is an important element in sports because it is a shift in confidence and mood that can ultimately change the outcome of a game. It can also either be positive or negative depending on what side of the ball you’re on.

When it comes to momentum, it can also extend further than just one game and carry on throughout different periods of a season. It can be said that the best time to have and build momentum is heading into the playoffs because you are carrying confidence and a positive mentality into what is the most intense portion of the year.

   Locally, South Floridians are probably familiar with the Miami Marlins’ famous run in the 2003 MLB season, where they clinched a spot in the playoffs as a wild card team. The Marlins continued their surge from the regular season, beating the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs in the first two rounds of the playoffs, before clinching their second World Series title in franchise history against the New York Yankees.

   In NASCAR, there have been several instances where drivers have displayed momentum heading into the playoffs.

Kyle Busch celebrates his win at Dover
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One of the most notable was Kyle Busch in 2015. After injuring his leg and foot in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway at the beginning of the season, Busch missed the first 11 races of the Monster Energy Series campaign. Once he returned to the track, he showed his prowess, winning four of the last 11 races in the regular season, which qualified him for the postseason. The driver of the No. 18 car utilized the momentum he had built and posted eight top-10 showings during the 10-race playoff, including a victory in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway – the first Cup title of his career.

   This year, several of NASCAR’s top drivers have exhibited momentum during the regular season, which they have converted into success during the first three races of the playoffs. Martin Truex Jr., who won four races in the regular season, kicked off the NASCAR playoffs with a win at Chicagoland Speedway. The 37-year-old complemented that with a stage victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway the following week. In addition, Kyle Larson, who collected four checkered flags during the regular season, earned a stage win at Dover International Speedway last weekend.

   NASCAR’s hottest driver over the last couple of months has been Kyle Busch, who has visited Victory Lane twice in the last six races of the regular season. The Las Vegas native has continued his push in the playoffs by claiming victory at New Hampshire and Dover, bringing his win total to four on the year. He has also added to his regular-season accomplishments by winning one stage at both Chicagoland and New Hampshire in the postseason.

    With the revamped NASCAR playoff format benefitting those who perform well during the regular season and postseason, drivers who are still in contention now have a better probability of maintaining their momentum throughout the playoffs. In previous years, drivers advancing to the Round of 12 would each have had their playoff point totals reset, with no playoff points being awarded for wins in the Round of 16 or the regular season.

   Under the new format, drivers are now able to carry the playoff points that they’ve earned through each round of the postseason until the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19. This year, the same format has also been applied to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series. The Monster Energy Series championship finale will be decided as it has for the last three years, with the title going to

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