Short Tracking At Martinsville from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

One thing is certain from this fan’s view for this weekend’s race; it will be a challenge for every driver. Of course some will adapt and do better than others but, for most of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Drivers and teams, there will be a price paid in wear and tear on the cars, drivers and crews along with the usual heightened emotions of short track racing. Now I ask you… who could ask for more when it comes to racing on a Sunday afternoon?

Martinsville is (and has been) a fan favorite for many years. There’s just something about short track racing the appeals to almost everyone. The drivers like it (at least to a point) because they believe they can have an effect on the outcome by using their talent and abilities. The crews like it (also to a point) because they know they make a difference every time their driver pulls in to the pits. When it comes to the crew chiefs and the car owners, well, they like it BUT…

I have to admit, as a fan, I like it because of all of the things this short track generates as the day progresses. It’s not just one thing; it is many things. It is the action prevalent throughout the race along with the door banging, bumper bumping and the pushing and shoving that keeps the emotions high, especially when it comes down to the final laps of the race. As most any NASCAR fan will attest, that’s when those emotions really surface and can affect the outcome of the race either positively or negatively for the possible winner and, of course, the possible non-winners. (Hey look, I was just trying to avoid calling them losers… ) At any rate, with the addition of the stages and the renewed importance of additional points, this has the potential of being one of the most dramatic races at Martinsville in recent times.

No matter how you look at it, this is not a “usual” year in NASCAR Cup. It has been a year the younger drivers have successfully shown their driving talents in a big way. Kyle Larson is definitely on a roll with his win last week and his top two finishes over the several weeks before. He looks poised to have a very good year and could have a real shot at winning the championship. Now, don’t read anything into what I just said. It is way too early to start picking winners when it comes to the season’s end. I’m just saying he is looking very strong and I personally don’t think He is done winning races yet this season.

I do realize it is still early in the season but the Ganassi teams are definitely making a statement so far this season. Both Larson and McMurray are showing continued strength so far this season and it has carried over from the latter part of last season. From this fan’s view, it is good to see it happening for them but I also know that other teams have a tendency to “catch up” as the season moves along and honestly, summer is coming really fast and it could get very interesting as the weeks click away to mid season. There is still a “whole lotta racing to do” before we wind it all down.

One big surprise to me so far this season is the lack luster performance of the Chevys especially by those from the Hendrick camp. Now I realize that Chase Elliot is one of the Hendrick drivers but he is definitely on a different trajectory than the rest (at least so far.) He is one of the young guns I mentioned earlier that is hitting on all cylinders in this early part of the season. If it weren’t for the performance of Kyle Larson so far this season, I do think we would be hearing a lot more about Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney. For the moment though, Kyle Larson is kind of overshadowing everyone but I do expect we will be hearing a lot more from Chase and probably Ryan as we progress through this early part into the middle of the season.

Another surprise so far is the lack of noise coming from the JGR camp. Oh sure, there was that dust up between Kyle Bush and Joey Logano a short while back but other than that, there hasn’t been that much to talk about from the Joe Gibbs’ teams. That could change this weekend and Kyle Bush may be the one to be making the noise. He did look pretty strong in the final practice. There are others that just might surprise us all and make that run to the finish and they’ll be taking home that Grandfather clock for winning the STP 500 at Martinsville. Some of them are previous winners and some of them haven’t won yet, at least no t at Martinsville. From this fan’s view, I do kind of expect Kyle Larson and Kyle Bush to be going for the win but since this is Martinsville, I’m just not sure either one of them is going to be celebrating in Victory Lane when this one is done…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 1, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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