Cookie cutter tracks, cookie cutter cars and cookie cutter personalities. NASCAR’s stop in Martinsville this Sunday could change all that. This little video by NBC’s Parker Kligerman of a simulated trip around the track, shows just how challenging it could be.
The paperclip-shaped short track that dates back to the earliest days of stock car racing is anything but generic. Martinsville has a way of bringing out the best, and the worst of NASCAR racing. It may be early in the season, but there are a plethora of story lines ready to play out.
SUPER TEAM STRUGGLES- Which teams have discovered success so far in the young season? Well, let’s see. You have Roger Penske, Furniture Row, Chip Ganassi, Stewart-Haas, and even Richard Freakin’ Childress. What? No Hendrick Motorsports? Nope. No Joe Gibbs? Not so far.
Martinsville Speedway offers a great opportunity for the two super teams to get off the 2017 shnide. Who is “Mr. Martinsville?” That would HMS legend Jimmie Johnson, with eight career Cup wins there. With five wins at Martinsville, JGR’s Denny Hamlin isn’t a slouch either. Don’t forget that Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch have visited victory lane here as well.
YOUTH MOVEMENT- Last Sunday’s win by Kyle Larson was further evidence that there seems to be a changing of the NASCAR guard at the top. Consider this: the drivers who could deliver Hendrick and Gibbs their first wins of the young season, may not be Hamlin or Johnson; they could come courtesy of a Chase Elliott or a Daniel Suarez.
Bill’s boy William Clyde Jr. is running second behind Larson on the season’s leaderboard. Since his arrival on the NASCAR scene, Elliott has been consistently knocking on the door. Now while the rookie Suarez is going through some of the typical growing pains of a young driver, he’s coming off a nice confidence building run at Auto Club.
This is to say nothing of the Wood Bros. Ryan Blaney. Don’t count out Austin Dillon or Erik Jones either. All the crashing and banging has a way of taking some of the usual suspects out of contention, giving rise to a possible dark horse.
BOILING OVER EMOTION- Short track racing has a way of producing contact, and producing crashes. Martinsville Speedway has seen its fair share of fisticuffs over the years. Will this Sunday’s racing produce a Busch vs. Logano redux? While Kyle says “everything is great,” there’s nothing like a fender bender on lap 500 to change all that.
Busch isn’t on that island alone. Regardless of what some fans may opine, if the need arises, the likes of Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and others are more than willing to oblige with a little post-race pugilism.
For those fans holding out for a real, old-fashioned NASCAR donnybrook- hear you go. It’s not a question of whether or not something will happen, it’swhat will happen at Martinsville.