A Voice for the Fans ~ Who Is Not Speaking to Whom?
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and a cordial “Hey y’all” to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR. I hope this lovely day finds everyone well and happy. Now, let’s get right to the meat of the story. Did everyone enjoy the race at Martinsville? That’s one I can’t answer with a simple yes or no. I love that little track, and surely I’ve seen my fair share of wrecking on her tight curves and high curbing.
Short tracks tend to bring out the worst in even the nicest guys. That’s just the way it is… two cars both want the same spot; one gets it and the other gets to kiss the SAFER… or, when things don’t go as planned, sometimes they both kiss the SAFER… or, sometimes other cars.
One thing I learned many years ago is that it’s not always the fault of the guy behind. We can’t honestly assess from our living rooms much of the bumping and banging that goes on in any typical short track race. Sometimes, what we think we see is not what actually happened. The mess at the end of this one wasn’t one of those times… but we’ll get to that one in due time. As with most short track dust-ups, there are folks not speaking to other folks. Some Christmas card lists have been shortened and there are hot tempers and cold shoulders being served up at several tables, so let’s take a look at some of that.
The earliest problem, circa lap 37 involved Ty Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael McDowell. I’m not even sure that NBC gave a good rerun of that one. None of them are in the Chase/Playoff thing, so they don’t count. It “appeared” from my seat that McDowell spun Dillon and Stenhouse happened to be in the area, but I’d assess no blame there. Martinsville isn’t Talladega and sometimes 2-wide proves to be one too many. In any case, Ty, who was on my Yahoo Fantasy team this week, probably won’t be talking to Michael right away.
Farther on down the line, at lap 88, there was a meeting of fenders between Danica Patrick and A.J. Allmendinger. No harm to Danica, but A.J. was out of the race and received the Brock Beard award given to the “Last car.” (Oh yes, he was also on my Fantasy team) Again, no real blame that I could see. From my chair, it appeared that A.J. went up the track a bit and Danica decided that she’d fit through. He came down; she was there. BOOM! Regardless, he’s not speaking to her for now.
After that, things settled down for the most part until circa lap 300, Kyle Larson flat lost his Chevy while driving under the Rick Ware entry driven by young Kyle Weatherman, running his first Cup race. (Seems to be a whole lot of Kyles all of a sudden, doesn’t it?) Larson did his best to keep his about-to-spin mount off the youngster, but in doing so, took ‘er straight into the inside SAFER barrier… hard! I don’t suppose either one of those Kyles is mad at the other one, though Larson was probably talking to himself about how if he’d hit the kid, he could have leaned on 4 more wheels and probably straightened his own car out. That’s how the young ones learn lessons.
The race carried on and we saw a couple of harmless spins, one by Erik Jones and another by Landon Cassill. Each caused a caution flag, but I don’t believe either one had assistance. It’s kind of hard to tell, as noted earlier, because NBC pays little or no attention to anyone not in the running for the Fantasy Championship. The next spinner on the schedule was Carl Long and he managed a solid meeting with the SAFER that sent him to the garage and onto the trailer bound for home.
At this point, the race was nearing its end. Joey Logano had a tire rubbing, courtesy of Kyle Busch, but decided to ride it out and hope for the best. Meanwhile, teammate Brad Keselowski was out in front with clear sailing and a convincing lead. BOOM! Joey is around and the caution waves, killing Brad’s lead. They restart with but a couple laps remaining, and inexplicably Brad chose to start on the outside. I’m sure he’s rethought that move over and over and probably isn’t speaking to himself… and possibly Joey, whose crew chief now says he made a bad call. He should have called Joey in and protected his teammate’s lead. “Too soon oldt und too late schmart!”
The restart produced about what one would expect with the race win on the line. Side by side… Elliott and Keslowski… some bumping, some banging and up the track they go. We couldn’t see any significant contact; the young one just drove Brad up into the marbles and he fell back rapidly. No harm; no foul; Chase takes the lead and looks home free, but no! Now it’s Denny time! Hamlin bumped the youngster probably 3 times, but Chase held on. Then, just entering turn 3, Denny drove directly into the #24, lifting it off the ground. Chase was toast after that.
This was a tweet from PRN Live at 6:57 on race day:
Hamlin: "He missed the corner because I had his backend jacked up, for sure. I got in too hot and he went around."
And… the answer from Jeff Gordon:
Jeff Gordon Retweeted PRN
Translation “I wrecked him”
That lit up Twitter for several hours Sunday night. But back to the action on the track. Chase Elliott’s ills caused yet another caution, which always means another restart. This time it was Hamlin on the inside and Kyle Busch on the outside. Hamlin took the lead, but Kyle soon took it back. Truex is right behind and so is Clint Bowyer. The #14 gave his own version of how to move someone out of the way and bumped Denny up the track. Denny out of control resulted in a massive traffic jam that quickly turned into a parking lot, with cars scattered everywhere.
Kyle Busch went on to take the Checkers, with Martin Truex close behind; Bowyer was third, Keselowski fourth and Harvick fifth. From Keslowski back, I guess they finished in the order that they managed to peel themselves apart and circle around to the Start/Finish line. And… we have video!
That tells it much better than I can. For sure and certain, Chase is not speaking to Denny and no phony apology is going to right that ship anytime soon. Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney had some words for each other after the race. In the final melee, I guess Ryan did get into him, but he was being catapulted off someone else’s bumper. Pretty much everybody hit everybody there at the end. That’s short trackin’ the way it can be. The garage area at Texas will undoubtedly be kind of a quiet place, but they can and will get over most of it. What isn’t gotten over… well, that’s called “Payback.” That’s something else that does happen, though NASCAR will tell you differently. After the race, I put up one tweet, and it’s still being retweeted today, Tuesday.
Most of the race was clean, until Denny got involved. Then it all went to Hell in a hand basket!
And that’s just the way it was at Martinsville last Sunday.
Time now for our Classic Country Closeout and this week we’ll all enjoy another of the wonderful series I’ve been playing, featuring the wonderful and oh so memorable Stars of the 1950s. Please enjoy!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you! Don't forget to turn your clocks BACK Saturday night!