Saturday Night Short Tracking At Martinsville

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Well… It’s another Saturday night at Martinsville. Put another way, just another Saturday night under lights at the short track known as the Martinsville Speedway and Martinsville is Martinsville and will always be Martinsville. It has been around a long time (it’s the oldest on the NASCAR circuit) and it is a favorite for fans and drivers alike. No, not everyone likes but everyone tolerates it and everyone does enjoy the challenge it offers every time NASCAR visits the legendary track.

What makes Martinsville so challenging? Think about it for a moment. It is a short track – the shortest on the circuit – and the cars are 3400 pounds, the track is almost flat and the competition is always intense. Along with the intensity comes the tightness of the competition, 500 laps of “rubbing is racing,” bumpers used and, at some point, someone (or several someones) will have enough of the beating and banging and is going to lose their temper. As they often say at just about every track on a Saturday night under the lights, “That’s just short track racing!” After spending many years at our local tracks as an owner/driver, I can assure you I know what they mean. There’s just nothing like short track racing on a Saturday night.

Now before moving on to talking about how I think the racing will go at Martinsville tonight, I would like to express my opinion of the dirt race at Bristol…

After listening to so many different people talk about the latest race at Bristol, several things stood out to me. Look, I grew up around dirt tracks in Southern Illinois and loved it. When I moved to Florida with my parents in 1962, it didn’t take my dad and I long to find a racetrack that, at first, we could listen to on the radio on Saturday nights. We often tuned in but couldn’t really frequent the tracks in person and we definitely couldn’t afford to build a racecar. After several years that all changed. There were two tracks in our area in SW Florida and we eventually built a car and raced. They were both asphalt short tracks and both were a lot of fun. We raced, we won, we lost, we wrecked and we repaired or rebuilt. It was all part of the experience.

As for Bristol on the dirt, well, I don’t know if it was because I was watching it on TV or for some other reason. What stood out to me was the people that talked about it in the most positive way were drivers (new and old) watching and wishing they could have been out there. I’m sure I might get a rise out of some but, it just wasn’t that exciting for me, at least from where I was sitting. From my view, the racing was just mediocre and almost the whole time, the one out front pretty much stayed there unless something caused a caution or a restart. There just wasn’t that much going on in long green flag runs and it became a bit uneventful, bordering on boring. Now, like I said, that’s just the way I saw it. I’m glad others liked it but it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

Now when it comes to Martinsville tonight, I know it will be the usual race for this place but there will also be a lot of intensity with bumper to bumper, door to door short track racing. There will be emotions surfacing and paybacks and bumpers used, whether from old grudges or from a night of regular short track racing.

One thing that always comes up (at least this year) is will there be another new winner for this year or will it be someone that’s already won this season?

I’m of the opinion it could go either way tonight. There are several that have already won this year that could pull off another win tonight. There are also more than a couple that haven’t won this season but are very good at Martinsville. To name a few would be Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott. Any one of these could end up with their first victory of the season and make it eight for eight on the season.

Did I neglect to mention there are others that could win tonight? You know as well as I do there are several that haven’t won this season and several that have that could end up in Victory Lane. I expect Kyle and Kurt Bush would be at or near the top of this list for me. Kyle is looking for something to go right this year and Kurt would just like to finish up front instead of falling back at the wrong time.

I could go on and on naming possible winners but there is really no purpose at this point. Let’s face it… this is going to be a night of tight racing on a tight short track with a lot of very competitive drivers and several that need a win. Taking that into account, I expect there will be a lot of hard charging drivers that won’t hesitate to move someone out of the way, especially when it comes down to the final laps. There will likely be a lot of cautions and a hefty amount of emotions on display. With those emotions will come some reactionary moves that won’t make some very happy. From this fan’s view, I expect that will make this Saturday night at a short track under the lights a very interesting one indeed…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 10, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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