There are a lot of reasons why many NASCAR fans love short track racing and Martinsville once again proved to us all why short track racing is so popular. Everything at short tracks seems to be a little more on the edge throughout the whole race. Whether we look at emotions, intensity or just downright hard, door handle to door handle, wheel to wheel pushing and shoving, there’s hardly a moment in short track racing that something isn’t going on somewhere in the field.
The race this last weekend in Martinsville, was full of excitement, emotion and intensity which qualifies it in my book for one of the best races of the year so far. There were some hurt feelings, some strained tempers and lots of emotion at the end of the race and hardly anyone, especially those at the front of the field, was exempt from any of it. I know this is not news to anyone who watched the race but the drama went right down to the very last lap in the green white checkered finish. In fact, according to those I talked to and listened to in various interviews around the spectrum of racing coverage, it appears, even the fans came away with high emotions and good feelings about the race they saw.
Many fans seemed to be very happy about the fact that there was no # 48 team in Victory Lane, but were somewhat disappointed by the fact that Jimmie Johnson took over the points lead in the race to the Chase. I realize where they’re coming from but also recognize they can’t argue with success and Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the whole No. 48 team are very successful which they’ve proven over the last 4 years, (and are continuing to prove once again this year.)
Denny Hamlin won the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville even though it looked as though they had thrown the race away that the final caution. (One has to wonder if Kevin Harvick’s golden horseshoe comment about the No. 48 team would hold true this week if applied to the No. 11 team of Denny Hamlin.) Even though I know Denny raced his heart out to win the race the final result was not necessarily the result of all his efforts. I say this not meaning to take anything away from the No. 11 team but sometimes, as we used to say in the local short track days, “you just get lucky.” It is true that Denny drove his way to the checkered flag, but it is also true, that a lot things had to go his way for him to come away with the victory, (just as in past weeks, things had to go right for the #48 Team.)
No one can say that Jeff Gordon and crew chief Steve Letarte didn’t give it their all to try and win and no matter how high the emotions were at the end, no one can say that Matt Kenseth didn’t either. (For some reason, Gordon and Kenseth seem to rub each other the wrong way.) Even though those involved in the incidents of the final laps at track level didn’t necessarily see it the same way, I did see Matt Kenseth get into the bumper of the No. 24, pushing him up the track and into the door of the No. 39 of Ryan Newman which allowed the No. 17 Roush car an opportunity to pull alongside of Jeff Gordon. After that, it was pretty evident that, neither Matt or Jeff, was going to win or give each other a break while they leaned on each other down the straight and for a few moments, it was questionable whether either one of them would finish. That opened the door for Denny Hamlin to make his move to the front and Joey Logano followed him taking second and the rest is “history” as the old saying goes.
It is true Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 team had a strong car all day. It is also true that the decision they made at the last caution could have cost them the victory or at least could have caused them to finish much further back in the field. The way things turned out, they had a great day and I know they won’t disagree with that statement (and they won’t have to answer any questions as to why they threw the race away with their decision to pit on that last caution… )
See ya next time… Rusty
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 31, 2010 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and NascarFansView.com