Denny Hamlin was determined to win the ‘Tums Fast Relief 500’ Sunday afternoon at Martinsville and did, but that’s not the most important news about the race…
Some were disappointed to see Jimmie Johnson finish second and still increase his points lead by another 28 points over second place Mark Martin, making it even harder to believe he isn’t headed for his historic fourth Cup Championship in a row. There are still four races to go in the Chase and it still remains a fact that none of the top six are mathematically eliminated from being able win the Cup Championship; at least, not yet.
Realistically speaking, I do agree with some of the “expert” reporters and commentators that anyone that is behind more than one race’s worth of possible points is very likely not going to have much of a chance at the top spot. To clarify, that fairly eliminates everyone presently outside the top three. Now, please remember that statement is based on the fact that nothing completely unexpected happens over the next few races. (Hmmm… and Nascar is headed to Talladega this coming weekend???)
I have to admit, I knew Denny Hamlin could be a factor in last Sunday’s race, but with the way he’d performed over the last two weeks, I didn’t really expect he would be. Yeah, I know he has been in contention just about every week but I didn’t expect him to turn around they way things had been going for him and his team over those last two weeks so quickly.
As a fan, I thought the Martinsville race was full of great racing all around the track. Near the end it did look like it was going to be a repeat of the race earlier this year between Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson. It became a non-issue but many were wondering if it was going to be pay-back time between the #11 and the #48 cars considering what happened with fifteen laps to go last time. Instead, Denny Hamlin pulled away at every restart near the end of the race.
For those out there that may say the Chase isn’t really a valid statement of who would be finishing up front if Nascar went back to the old way of deciding the Championship, (which we all know isn’t going to happen), I would point you to the finishing order in Martinsville this week. Seven out of the top twelve chasers finished in the top twelve and it could very well have been eight of them if Carl Edwards hadn’t had a problem at the very end of the race.
Adding to that statement, from this fan’s view, I haven’t seen where anyone has been laying back just trying to gather points and hang in there hoping the others will have problems. The racing has been good and the competition has been extreme. In fact, I’ll go one further; the drivers have been as aggressive as I’ve seen since they started the Chase to decide the Cup. To me, that says a lot about the Chase format and how the drivers and teams feel about it.
As for being aggressive last weekend, some of those that are worth mentioning would be Carl Edwards, Kyle Bush, Juan Montoya and Jeff Gordon. All of these had their aggressive and heated moments on Sunday and their actions and words caught the attention of many, including those in the broadcast booth and media. Without making a bigger deal of it than it deserves, I would just chalk it up to what usually happens at the short tracks. The intensity is high and certain actions are reacted to and frowned upon when the adrenaline is flowing so readily. Funny thing about that adrenaline, it causes some to react rather than respond while it seems to bring out the “whiner” in just about everybody. (Oh well, I guess that’s just another thing we can apply the, “that’s just racing”, statement to.)
Jimmie Johnson managed to get through the Martinsville race without any major damage to his car or his points lead. Will the same be true after this coming weekend in Talladega? I guess the only way we’ll know for sure is after the race on Sunday…
See ya next time…
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
© October 28, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman