Taking On The Paperclip At Martinsville 

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

There are a lot of things that can and have been said about the short track at Martinsville. For a long time, it was called the paperclip and many still call it that. Others have said it is like two dragstrips and two left turns. It used to be dirt, now it’s concrete and asphalt. Over the years it has gone through changes and still it is one of the most popular tracks on the NASCAR circuit.

One thing hasn’t changed all that much in the last forty years. Forty years ago, in what could have been Rick Hendrick’s last race, his team won and that began the turn around they needed to be what they are today; one of NASCAR Cup’s winningest teams. At Martinsville, they have become the dominant team with laps lead and wins over the forty years. No, they don’t win every time they show up and there has been some heartbreak along the way but Martinsville is a place that Hendrick Motorsports shines. They are now celebrating forty years in the sport and are presently the best team in NASCAR.

Can’t say how the rest of the weekend may go but, three of the four Hendrick teams qualified in the top ten and Kyle Larson won the pole. It was his second consecutive pole and he beat Bubba Wallace’s qualifying time by a whopping one thousandth of a second. I guess you did detect that little bit of sarcasm there. I mention that because, not only is the track tight when it comes to racing but the qualifying times are very tight also. That’s just one of the things that makes Martinsville what it has become – a place for great short track racing with lots of action.

Now that I’ve said all that, I can’t ignore the fact there are some obvious things that could stand in the way of a dominating performance by the Hendrick Teams as they celebrate forty years in NASCAR. It’s pretty obvious the JGR Toyotas have shown up again with speed and there are several Fords also starting in the top ten. Actually, there are a bunch of possible winners in the field and you can bet they aren’t going to make it easy for the fastest qualifiers to just walk away with the coveted Clock trophy.

Although it’s true the Hendrick Chevys are fast and especially motivated for this race, there is no denying the JGR Toyota teams are just as motivated to put a damper on the forty-year Hendrick celebration. It’s not about just spoiling the Hendrick team’s celebration. It’s more about how close Martin Truex Jr. came to winning last weekend and how much speed and consistency they have shown over the last several weeks. I expect Truex would like nothing better than to get the win he felt he was denied last weekend. Admittedly, he was probably denied the win when NASCAR made a judgement call on the final restart when his teammate Denny Hamlin jumped the start. It’s true that he probably could have won but the call – or lack thereof – went against him.

Speaking of JGR teams, Bubba Wallace didn’t miss taking the pole by much and I expect him to be running up front and press for the win when it comes down to the final laps. Can’t ignore Christopher Bell either. He seems to always have something to show when it comes down to the final laps and we all know how the Toyotas have shown they can manage their tires though long green flag runs. When it comes down to it, I believe tire strategy is going to play an important part in the final laps of this one along with the overall strategy for the race in general.

From this fan’s view, it’s hard for me to pick which of the teams might have a possible advantage. Martinsville is one tough race and four hundred laps around the little over half mile paperclip can take its toll physically and emotionally. I expect, in usual fashion for Martinsville, there will be some “disagreements” that could lead to some pretty strong emotions by the time this one is over.

There’s no denying there are a lot of possible winners in the field today. There’s Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney, Chase Brisco, Josh Berry and a whole host of others looking to take home a Grandfather Clock. No one can deny that Kyle Bush knows how to win at this place. Although he hasn’t had the best start to the year so far, I expect him and his team to get it turned around and start performing more like we all expect, soon. I kinda hope he waits until next weekend to make that turn around because, even though I am a little biased, I’m hoping a certain other team wins.

Look, I told you I was a bit biased…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 7, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated