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Down the stretch! That’s where the NASCAR horse race is. Four races remain in the playoffs. The next three will establish the four drivers who will remain in contention for that one, winner-take-all race within the race scheduled for Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19.

Although there is a God in heaven, it doesn’t mean that Martin Truex Jr. will win. He has won seven of the 32 races to date and could easily have won five more. Four former champions – Jimmie Johnson (7), Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick – are in the final eight. Truex, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney have never won a championship, and Chase Elliott has never won a race.

As a practical matter, Truex, by virtue of all his bonus and stage points, has a pass to the finals. He deserves it. He will be under the considerable pressure of being the odds-on favorite at Homestead, and, as we learn every week, even at tracks that aren’t named Talladega, anything can happen.

It all seems so confusing, though, doesn’t it?

In the living room, a box on the screen lists the “cut line” on the seventh lap of the race that is two races in front of the actual “cut line.”

Stage points. Bonus points. Deducted points. Encumbered points. All-important points. Here, points, there, points, everywhere a points, points, Old McDonald had a race, e-i-e-i-oh.

This guy’s out of the race because seven crewmen, not six, worked on the car during the five-minute clock. That guy’s fine because seven crewmen, not six, worked on the car during the five-minute clock, but one was changing the tear-off so he was “servicing the driver,” and that’s OK. One would think “servicing the driver” might be something like, “Hey! Want a Gatorade?” One would be wrong.

I’ve read the rules, of course. And forgotten them by the next race. I should have posted them on the bulletin board. And moved the bulletin board next to the TV. I know. I know. They’re online.

Martinsville is surely my favorite of the remaining races. Imagine bumper cars with a field of drivers trying to win instead of trying to wreck. It should be called the Rubbin’ Is Racin’ Track.

I wish I could just block out all the addition and subtraction and merely watch the race.