450 Words: TorontoTuesday, March 31, 2009 | 11:13 AM
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Reed already holds a 3-0 advantage. Four races remain. If Reed wins one race, he can finish second at the rest and still take the title. Stewart basically has to win them all to claim the crown.
So who is the pressure on? Right now it’s on Stewart, who has to be perfect through four more races to become champion. There’s a chance, of course, that Reed will crash or suffer from a mechanical failure and hand the points lead over (there’s always a chance of that in racing), but looking at the way this series has gone so far, and, looking at Reed’s unbelievable career record of consistency, chances are that Stewart will have to win the races.
It’s a daunting task, for sure, and that’s why in most sports, the team that is down 3-0 pretty much always loses the series. But things are a little different here. In sports, if you’re good enough to beat a team three times, you should be able to beat them four times
But Reed’s advantage comes from Stewart’s mistakes. There is no proof that Reed will beat Stewart if Stewart doesn’t crash. From that standpoint, Stewart basically controls his own destiny. And remember, he won seven-straight earlier in the year.
When teams are down in a series, they always approach the games “one game at a time.” They don’t look at the four-straight mountain they have to climb, but just the individual sections. Stewart is going to do that, look at each win individually. And if you’re Stewart, winner of nine races this year, is there any reason to think you can’t win four in a row?
And if Stewart does string a few together, does the pressure shift to Reed? He has to win one more, and if Stewart doesn’t make a mistake, can Reed find the speed and savvy to take a win from Stewart and hold onto the points lead? If Stewart wins in Jacksonville, Seattle and Salt Lake, you have to wonder who will be the most worried heading into a winner take all game seven in Las Vegas.