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Martinsville… a track fondly called “the paperclip” because of its shape with long straights and tight turns at both ends. It’s a track that is hard to pass on and demands consistency every lap. The pits are as challenging as the track and there is hardly much room to even get the cars into the stalls for service let alone try and avoid the others pitted close. It requires concentration and hitting the marks and, most of all, drivers have to control their emotions and tempers. But then… that’s what short track racing is made up of and that is one of the biggest reasons Martinsville is probably the most popular short track on the NASCAR circuit. It is also the oldest.
Martinsville is a track that is hard to pass on and it requires patience to make it to the end of the race. You can bet that there will be lots of use of blocking and bumpers to move someone out of the way of a faster car that just can’t wait any longer. The more that happens, the more heated drivers become and eventually their emotions generally get the best of them and someone ends up in the wall. Sometimes there is payback for past run-ins even in previous races and sometimes it is handled heatedly either on the track or after the race and sometimes even with fisticuffs and scuffles. Eventually things cool down and everyone moves on the next race.
So… what will happen today on the Martinsville “paperclip” and just how intense will the competition be? In fact, who will win this one at Martinsville? Will it be a new first-time winner or will it be a crafty old veteran that takes it to Victory Lane and take home the grandfather clock?
From the way the qualifying went, it could go several different ways. Well, at least from this fan’s view. This is the first race back for Chase Elliott after missing six races and a lot of people think he might be the one. I guess that is a possibility but it also comes with questions of reality. Being out of the car for six weeks and still healing up from a broken leg makes it a bit of a stretch to think he will be able to pull it off, especially starting as far back as he is in the lineup. Still, all things considered, it is a possibility and stranger things have happened in NASCAR. In reality, for him to win he would have to beat a lot of cars that qualified much better than him and a lot of things would have to fall his way for that to happen. (Well, that is also from this fan’s view.)
Just a quick look at the lineup for today’s race shows just how big of a challenge it will be for Chase to move from starting twenty-fourth to taking the final checkered flag. Ryan Preece could be the most formidable challenge to all the field. He showed himself to have a very fast racecar in practice and qualifying and, as we all saw last week, he isn’t going to shy away from anyone that might press him for the win. From my view, his chances of dominating this one seems to be pretty high but, there are a bunch of others that might have a lot to say about that, too.
To mention a few of the drivers hungry for a win this weekend I would start with Daniel Suarez starting next to Preece on the front row. He hasn’t had the best of luck recently but this could be the race he turns it around and takes home his first grandfather clock.
Along with him are a bunch of other hungry drivers starting in the top twelve. All of the Stewart Haas teams are starting in the top ten. Drivers like Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe and, of course, Kevin Harvick can’t be overlooked for possibly winning. In fact, the Fords and the Toyotas both looked to have a lot of speed and drivers from both camps all look to this race to start a turn around on their 2023 season and anyone of them could pull off the win.
When it comes to the Toyotas, the names of Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. quickly come to mind and Denny has already made it known he expects Martinsville to be a turnaround on his lack-luster season so far. It isn’t really a stretch for him to make it happen since he generally runs well at this track. The same goes for Truex Jr. he has already been showing signs of getting back to running in the front and this could be the race that he starts on a tear. Christopher Bell has already shown himself to be consistent most of the season and, after his win last weekend on the dirt at Bristol, it is hard to rule him out of contention when it comes down to the final laps. Of course, I can’t leave out Tyler Reddick or Bubba Wallace. Both are hungry and both are showing speed.
Probably the biggest surprise to me this weekend is the lack of Chevys showing up in the top fifteen in qualifying. There were only three and also surprising was that the Hendrick Chevys were mostly absent from the top fifteen except for William Byron. Usually, the Hendrick teams show up strong at Martinsville and it is special to them for a lot of reasons. They do have their work cut out for them this weekend if we only look at qualifying (and you know how I feel about qualifying results and race results.)
It could happen that the Chevys end up challenging for the win and the others fall by the wayside. That would be a total surprise to me since the Fords and Toyotas are looking so strong but, then again, this is NASCAR and this is Martinsville…
Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 16, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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