NASCAR took a reprieve from the cookie cutter tracks and gave us the paperclip at Martinsville. And well, when it comes to racing, I’ll go for paperclips over cookie cutters anytime. And after this weekend, I’m sure Kyle Busch will too.
Kyle Busch had as good of a weekend as a race car driver can have. First, he won the truck race (since there was no XFINITY race to dominate this past weekend). It was the first win of any kind for Busch at Martinsville, so you know, he was finally happy to get that clock. Sunday he dominated, leading 352 of 500 laps and of course got his second clock in two days. But Busch didn’t stop being a winner well after the race was done. He posted a Facebook video of him driving in his street car and pulling up to a fan with one of his hats on. So, Busch puts his window down and gets the attention of the fan. He eventually signed her hat and they each went on their merry way. It’s true he won’t win the most popular driver award anytime soon, but that was nice gesture by the defending champion.
One of the favorites at Martinsville, and partly because he won the spring race their last year, was Denny Hamlin. But the driver of the No. 11 found himself in the wall and out of the race after wheel-hopping. That left Hamlin with a 39th-place finish and admitting that he felt a little embarrassed about the accident, calling it a rookie move. Hamlin will recover from this for sure but it just goes to show you that anyone can make a mistake.
There are some iconic trophies for the winners of NASCAR races throughout the circuit. Sure, everyone wants to have their name on the Harley J. Earl trophy, which means they have won the Daytona 500. I also get a kick of out the Dover trophy, Miles the Monster. But it will always be hard to beat winning the clock trophy at Martinsville. It’s not something you put in a trophy case to admire. It is its own trophy case and that’s what makes it so special.
If you listen to drivers on their in-car radios during the race, you can and probably will hear just about anything, some of it inappropriate for young ears. This isn’t to chastise the drivers, crew chiefs or spotters about what they say. They are in the heat of the battle and there’s really no opportunity to filter emotions in that situation. This “Not” is about those who complain about what they hear on the radios. Austin Dillon is the latest to show his emotion during a race. It can happen to anyone. Just don’t be surprised with what you hear if you’re monitoring your favorite driver.
Admit it: when AJ Allmendinger made it up to second place during Sunday’s race, you couldn’t help but pull for the underdog there. Allmendinger is known for his skill on the road courses, where he did win in 2014. But maybe he and the No. 47 team showed it could compete on a different kind of track Sunday. It’s always good to see another team improve because it makes the competition better.
The one place you don’t want to be on restarts at Martinsville, especially late in the race, is on the outside. If a driver ends up restarting on the outside, which means they were running in an even place position, it can be bad news because the bottom and faster line is not going to let them in (and they shouldn’t by the way). Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick and Kevin Harvick were among the victims Sunday. It’s just how things roll at Martinsville.
Texas Prediction: A driver who has been close to winning, but has not so far this season is Matt Kenseth. So, I’ll say this is the week where he gets to visit the winner’s circle. The deep sleeper underdog pick for this week is Brian Vickers, who has an average finish of 10th in his last two races there. And, it also might be his final NASCAR race for a while as he has an unsure future, so yes, call this a bit of a sentimental pick as well.
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