Martinsville ~ FUBAR
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and of course our assigned reader of all things NASCAR is welcome as always. Right up front, there are two things I must tell you today. The first thing some of you might already know. Martinsville is and has been since our first visit there, my favorite track on the NASCAR or any other circuit. That little track has given me more good times than any old lady deserves, but I accepted them graciously and with love. The second thing is that your scribe spent the weekend flat out in bed and definitely not well. When some bug attacks my stomach, the bug always wins because that takes any fight that was in me right out the door.
With that in mind, this week’s article will be a bit abbreviated and derived almost solely from posts made on our Fan Forum on Monday. Even though I was seeing through a fog on Sunday, I didn’t care for much of what I saw. At one other time, we attended a race that involved a huge scoring SNAFU. That would be a race held at North Wilkesboro in the spring of 1990, and NASCAR didn’t get that one right either. The records will forever read that Brett Bodine won that race. The fans that were there, as well as most of the drivers in the race, will tell you that Darrell Waltrip was the winner, with Bodine actually finishing 9th, one lap down… and even that was questionable, owing to two pit stops, the second of which NASCAR somehow failed to notice. But today is about Martinsville, so let’s continue in that vein.
Monday morning brought forth a flurry of activity on our Forum, as no one was really sure what went on and everyone wanted to contribute his or her version of what they thought might have gone on. Faced with the fact that I was indeed going to live… something I wouldn’t have bet on around noon on Sunday, I offered something like the following in answer to a post from one of our writers, Dave Fulton. His purpose seemed to be to blame it all on the wave-around, but of course, your scribe took it a bit farther.
I'm up and garbed. Haven't tried coffee yet. I was in bed all day yesterday and left the race on because mostly I didn't care. I dozed off and on and shivered a lot. 80º outside and I couldn't get enough blankets to keep warm.
As to the "wave-around", someone THERE doesn't have a clue how it's supposed to work, and from what I could see, prone and squinting sideways, if they had just opened the dang pit road there wouldn't have been so much ado about what should have been nothing.
Consider this. There were maybe 10-12 cars that had pitted when the caution flew. Over 70 years or so, it's always been written somewhere that once green-flag stops begin, the yellow will fly. It's like there's a button that controls that. In the good old days... and even more recently, when the caution flies, pit road is opened. The cars that still haven't pitted do so and the cars that had already gotten service stay out behind the pace car. Guess who's leading then!
That didn’t happen yesterday. Instead, they ran just shy of 30 laps extra while watching car after car RUN OUT OF GAS! Remember, those were GREEN FLAG pit stops to begin with. Why ever did Hoots or Helton or whoever was in that tower think that wouldn't happen? Of course the red should have been put out... immediately... until they could comb through the "crowd" at the track and find someone with a brain!
The tube boobs repeated over and over that Denny Hamlin was the luckiest man on the track that day. They were wrong! Did they sneak the FOX crew in there while I was dozing? I'm not sure if I'd call it luck, chicanery or out and out rigging... and that's a word Mama doesn't use much, if ever, but Lucy, 'splain this one to me.
Forget everything else going on and concentrate on the #48. The cars have started turning pace circles and suddenly the boys in the booth are all excited. A car is STOPPED on the track. It's the #48. We are then treated to a long conversation between Jimmie and Chad about gas, how to restart the car, the little switch that gives you extra gas and yada, yada, yada. Have I got that right so far? Cars are still circling the track... the shortest track we have... as Chad takes Jimmie to school on how to flip the dang little switch. Finally, the light came on and Jimmie refires the car… by unflipping the KILL switch! (Insert the “DUH” of your choice here) Then Chad tells him to come into the pits. Jimmie refuses... saying, "It's OK. I've got this." (Please note… no commercial ever interrupted this dialogue) They turn umpteen more laps and finally pit road opens. Half a lap before that happened, the LEADER, A.J. Allmendinger legitimately runs out of fuel and has to pull into his pit while the car is still rolling. HE gets a penalty for pitting while pit road was closed.
So far, I think I'm on it. I don't like it, but I'm on it. Now, I have two simple questions.
1. How many cars passed the #48 while he and Chad were pushing panic buttons and other buttons while sitting out there on the track? Was one of them Brett Bodine? Even he can't drive slow enough to allow all that went on with that #48 and NOT have passed the scene at least once.
2. What ever happened to the inconvenient little rule about "MAINTAINING PACE CAR SPEED? To my way of thinking, parking doesn't fulfill that obligation.
Dave, forget the wave-around. I know how it's supposed to work, but that's not the way it's being interpreted by whoever is in that tower these days. In days gone by, there would have been some cars who weren't close enough to the leader, and would be caught on what we used to call the "tail end of the LEAD LAP. They didn't lose a lap, but came close. In some instances, especially when they used to start the lapped traffic in the bottom groove, I've seen as many as 2 DOZEN cars start in FRONT of the "LEADER." That is what the wave-around was supposed to cure. The leader should always BE the leader. Let common sense in when it's knocking at the door. Why put the lead cars in jeopardy of wrecking while racing cars that should be at the tail end of the lead lap... at the back of the pack?
Whatever they were trying to get done yesterday will forever be a mystery, but I lost several years of respect for Jeff Burton hearing him go on and on about how right NASCAR was to get the order right. OPEN THE PITS, bring the lead-lap cars onto pit road and then put the STOP sign up at the other end. DUH! For the lappers, still on the track, then wave the red and take a week if need be, to figure out how to run a damn race! Until yesterday, I had never seen a race at Martinsville that I didn't enjoy. The same can't be said for hot dogs, but for me, yesterday was a first... and a heartbreaking first. I love my track and I adore Clay Campbell, that dear man that was kind enough to actually do a column with me about things like azaleas... and of course, racing.
OK, Buddy has to go out and I'm going to try some coffee. Read over that interim part and see if anyone can answer those two simple questions. I know I was fuzzy, but I was breathing and my eyes were open... and I know Martinsville and how short the laps are.
And that gentle readers, is your assignment for today. Answer those two questions. Don’t just “suppose” or “think.” Those are honest questions asked by an honest fan. The answers in my mind tell me that there is no way that Jimmie Johnson won that race on Sunday.
There was one more offering from the broadcast booth that really ruffled my molting feathers, and it was addressed on Monday by one of our female readers, asking “They act as if they have never had to deal with a caution in the middle of green flag stops before? Oy.”
Oh, they have, but the big implications this mess could have on their precious "great eight" magnifies it 10 times more. If you followed my conversation with Dave earlier today, I thought they had gotten to where they understood this, but one more time, they proved that my faith was misplaced. And while all this is going on, what are the boys behind the mics talking about?
OMG! If JJ wins this race, that will lock a Gibbs driver out of the race at Homestead! Even sick as a dog, I wanted to throw something heavy at my TV. SO WHAT if a Gibbs driver is locked out? After listening to that drivel, I developed a fond hope that all four of them are locked out. Nothing to do with the drivers or their personalities; just animosity taught and nurtured by NASCAR and their paid mouthpieces. They don't have enough money to ever have gotten those words out of Bob Jenkins, Ned Jarrett or Benny Parsons. Each was his own man, and they didn't agree even on favorite drivers. No one cared. Each was respected for his thoughts and no one really cared if they matched ours. Now, if ours don't match the opinions of those that make the rules, the fault it ours. WE don't know what we're talking about. The funny part of that is, it must be contagious, because we're all saying the same thing!
“The show stinks! Could we please go back to racing now?”
Your scribe found one more little thing to add to this sad story of a race gone so wrong. Here, from nascar.com, is a collection of the “best audio” captured by eavesdropping at Martinsville…
This week our Classic Country Closeout has something just a little different. Your scribe thought it might be fun to have something a bit more video, not just audio. Here then, for openers is a beautiful demonstration of a good old fashioned Square Dance.
*Note to my brother Mike… I tried to find you on YouTube without success. Please, let me know if you have any videos anywhere on line that are accessible to me.
Next up, we’ll take a look at what’s commonly known as a “Texas Line Dance”, though the music and singer behind this one are purely Georgia. Here is Alan Jackson, with “Way down Yonder on the Chattahoochee.”
Finally, here’s another style of strictly Southern dancing… sort of. Like much else in the hills of America’s southeast, this style was actually adapted from what everyone would know as an “Irish Jig”, but in these parts, we call it Clogging. This group, the “Stoney Mountain Cloggers” has appeared many times over on the Grand Ole Opry and other Country oriented TV shows.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!