Quick Hits on Martinsville
The first short track race of the season has come and gone with Martinsville. After a snowy weekend last year for this race, it was great to see this year's edition run under sunny skies.
After the Martin Truex, Jr/Joey Logano drama from last fall, a lot of fans were looking forward to more of the same. Perhaps they were disappointed but hopefully they went away from the race appreciating the pure butt kicking Brad Keselowski gave the rest of the field. We've seen drivers dominate races before but how often does it happen at a short track and how often does it happen to the tune of 446 laps led out of 500? To say that Keselowski's feat was impressive is an understatement. He deserved that win and I was relieved there wasn't a late race caution that could've given someone a chance to sneak in and take away what he earned.
The biggest disappointment of the day had to be Jimmie Johnson. Finally, they were racing at a track where aero didn't matter, a place where a lot of it is about manhandling a car around that tiny track. With 9 career wins there and the best average finish of all active drivers (8th) at the track, many thought Sunday would be a chance for Johnson to at least have a fighting chance. Instead, he showed nothing.
He finished 24th and was never a factor. Worse, there wasn't an issue he and the team had to overcome. There were no pit penalties or major damage to his car. He was just slow, two laps down. He was last of the four Hendrick cars. I'm not saying he'll never win another Cup race but it's looking more and more like we've seen the last of his days as a serious championship contender.
It was another great day for Stewart-Haas as all four of their cars finished in the top 10. Denny Hamlin was impressive, coming back from a pit road penalty to finish 5th. One can't help but wonder how many wins or possible wins he and that team have squandered due to pit road issues. 17th place might not look like much but a week after he finished 30th and a disappointing start to 2019 that top 20 must've felt like gold for Bubba Wallace in the famed 43.
Now it's on to Texas, like it or not. Will Kyle Busch continue his early season dominance or is Keselowski ready to earn his second mile and a half win of the season? And is it time for Kevin Harvick or Truex to finally crack the winner’s column? In case you're wondering, this race will use the same rules package as Las Vegas and Fontana had. That's all we know. Let's tune in Sunday, get past all the Texas clichés that will emanate from the booth and see what shakes out.