If you ask some of the drivers about racing at Martinsville this weekend, they will probably tell you there is at least one good thing about it. Yeah, that’s right, the one good thing is they actually go according this years points instead of last years. That generally means a couple of the “go or go homers” don’t have to qualify on time but will be locked into the top thirty five. At least when more than 43 trying to qualify, they are guaranteed to start the race no matter how they qualify. Of course, whether or not it helps any of them is one question, but won’t be a factor this weekend because of the fact that by the time qualifying actually came around there were only 43 cars entered in the field because one wrecked out and the other one withdrew. That means everybody gets to race this weekend.
One of those that would have enjoyed that benefit is Kenny Schrader. Although he would rather be running fast enough to not have to worry about it at all, at least this weekend he won’t have that pressure on him and he can at least have a little more fun this weekend. Schrader is a long time competitor in NASCAR and would still like to be running up front. Who knows, he’s not in the best equipment, but he is definitely still capable of winning if circumstances fall his way.
Martinsville is a historic short track with a tendency towards short tempers, (especially during five hundred laps.) It is narrow and tight, (in more places than just on the racing surface), and is one place emotions show up as fast as you can blink three times. It is also a place where a payback can be from something that happens the same day or happened a while ago. Short tracks just seem to go that way, especially Martinsville.
I am always amazed at how much some drivers put up with from their competitors for most of a day and then it seems they turn on a dime and payback is the order of the day. We’ve all seen it happen before and I am sure this weekend will be no different. The surprising thing is the drivers usually react adversely after an incident that seems so insignificant. Most would say it was just the last straw that caused the reaction but I’m not so sure. I think they just reach a point with the intensity and the closeness of the racing where any little thing sets them off. One thing to look for on Sunday; the person that can control his emotions and his temper will probably fair much better than those that can’t.
If the Truck race gives us any insight as to how the Cup race may go, this fan looks for a race with more than one person to come away upset. More than likely we will see a lot of bent up sheet metal and more than one interview during the race with a driver that will be talking about how “what goes around, comes around.” That’s usually driver speak for payback is coming someday, (and usually sooner than later.)
From this fan’s view, I think tire strategy is going to be one of the biggest factors in the race on Sunday afternoon. The Toyotas looked strong in the practice sessions and a Chevy took the pole. Jamie McMurray will start on the pole and it may be another long day for some of the other Chevys.
It’s going to be hard to pass on the outside and lot of what happens is going to happen on the bottom. At the end of the race I expect more than one caution and, as is usually the case on a short track, cautions will breed more cautions.
Now I’m not trying to make any kind of statement, but when all is said and done, we could see the sixth different winner in this sixth race of the 2011 season. And as has been proven more than once at a race track like Martinsville, it definitely won’t be over until the checkered flag drops. (It just depends on who gets to drive under it first…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 2, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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