I love Martinsville. There is something about that little paperclip shaped track that makes the racing exciting. This track is HIGH on my list of must visit tracks. Really high. Quarters are close both on track and on pit road- which makes it easy to slip up. Restart wrong? And you might be getting lapped in a few minutes. Another car short pitting might block you into your stall and cost you to go from 3rd to 23rd while you try to jockey out of your pitstall. The cars are in constant danger of contact- and while some of the “rubbing” is unintentional- sometimes- just sometimes it is intentional and nothing will piss you off more that to have your driver intentionally wrecked. But one of the good things about Martinsville- is that you can bang your car up a bit- and still be in contention for the win as long as you don’t let your temper get too out of hand and end up collecting yourself in the drama. However, It’s not just the drivers that are in danger of constant contact- just ask race winner Jeff Gordon’s tire carrier who got clipped (by I think Denny Hamlin but I don’t remember) a car on pit road during a pit stop.
The Chase Race at Martinsville was no different. There was bumping, banging and rubbing all in an “excuse me get the hell out of my way slowpoke” sort of way. Carl Edwards seemed to be on a one man mission to give other drivers the chrome horn (just where did that term come from anyway?) and cause spin outs towards the beginning of the race. The race was full of cautions and while it wasn’t a record- there got to be a point where it was like REALLY ANOTHER YELLOW?
Jeff Gordon, race winner, wasn’t immune to damage- he sustained a bit of front end damage hitting the back end of another car (I think it might have even been Jimmie Johnson) in one of those typical Martinsville accordion effect accidents where someone slows up for whatever reason and everyone behind them gets caught up trying to slow themselves down.
While the 14 team seemed to have an okay car that seemed to be getting better- they didn’t really get the chance to make the most of it- as Mark Martin was unfortunately collected in a wreck with Kurt Busch. Mark Martin was running 14th at the time. The team initially tried to fix the car on pitroad but eventually decided that the damage was too extensive and took it quickly behind the wall. Mark Martin ended up finishing 36th and 5 laps down. Ryan Newman didn’t fair much better- he was doing extremely well and was often seen in the top 10 but ended up spinning and pancaking the rear of the car into the wall. That car was a good three to four inches shorter after hitting the wall than before. The damage suffered by the 39 was extensive and Ryan Newman ended up finishing 38th- 68 laps down. Danica, who was being coached by owner Tony Stewart, was the highest finishing Stewart-Haas driver- finishing 17th.
I have to say that I LOVED seeing Jeff Gordon win the race. Yes I always want Tony’s 14 car to do well, and the other Stewart-Haas teams as well. But I LOVE that Jeff Gordon is taking his 13th place seeding and kicking butt and taking names…He is up to 3rd in the points. Saying that he doesn’t belong in the chase this year? That is a moot point my friend and doesn’t hold water because that 24 team seems to be one of the more driven teams and everyone loves an underdog. Anyway- the win at Martinsville was Jeff Gordon’s 88th career win, his 7th at Martinsville, and just happened to secure the Manufacturer title for Chevrolet. Go Team Chevy.
Standings wise: Matt Kesneth and Jimmie Johnson are currently tied for the lead of the sprint cup standings. I believe that the tiebreaker right now would go to Kenseth. Jeff Gordon is in 3rd place 27 points behind the leaders. Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch round out the top five in the Sprint Cup Championship standings.
Notes About Martinsville:
1. Due to the Kevin Harvick/Ty Dillon dust up in the truck race (that’s a link to youtube video of the incident)- rumors were running rampant that Kevin would be removed from the 29 for the rest of the season by his car owner Richard Childress. While I am POSITIVE Richard Childress was not only not pleased but would have sided with Ty (his Grandson) I seriously doubt that they would pull Kevin Harvick out of the 29. He is in the chase. Kevin Harvick issued an apology the next day on RaceDay.
2. Perhaps in the most interesting news I saw come out of Martinsville is the possibility of a new crew chief on the 14 next season. Sure there had been rumblings about it- but Jenna Fryer of the AP tweeted that the current crew chief Steve Addington would be moving on and would take a position as the crew chief on the 51 car while Chad Johnston (currently Martin Truex Jr.’s crew chief) would be taking over the helm of the 14 car. Personally I would still treat this as rumor until I see an official team release about it- but it is out there.
3. If you missed the interesting interview on Race Day with Dale Earnhardt Jr here is a link- give it a view.
Gratuitous Tony Stewart picture:
Next weekend- we are Chase racing in Texas!
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