Written by Cliff Tanner
Host of Radio Speedtalk and Balance Contributor
Two weeks of promises. Tow very long weeks of anticipation. All it did was remind me of Heinz Catsup. Really?
Don’t get me wrong it was a great race Sunday at Martinsville. The race wasn’t a total disappointment. It was typical Martinsville short track racing. There was a great amount of beating and banking for sure. New rivalries started I believe. But not like Fontana.
Tony Stewart promised to get Joey Logano back for his blocking of Stewart at Fontana. Now granted I know that it doesn’t necessarily mean it would be the nest race but you can’t tell me you weren’t looking for it too. Hell the whole NASCAR Nation was looking for it. Tell me I’m wrong.
There were a couple of opportunities for it to happen. Logano was very strong early on in the race. He came around Stewart with no issues at all. Now you tell me that you were not thinking alright here we go.
Now I have to believe that there are several reasons for that. One is that being early in the season no one wanted to take the chance and get fined or lose points. Secondly Stewart admitted that it was so last race. Yes there can be some tempers that flare up and they can say they forget.
Yeah right I believe that last one. You see in all the years I have been around racing a driver never forgets. The memory of an elephant they say. There will be repercussions I can promise you that. However it could be weeks, months or even years.
Now that I have said that we find Joey Logano with some more enemies. Yes I know Denny Hamlin said that he is upset and he won’t forget. Believe it or not I am not talking about that. I am not sure how many of you caught the comment made by Kurt Busch earlier in the race. Busch had cut down a tire and had to head to pit road. They played audio later and he said, “You know that was the 22 that caused that.” Poor Joey.
I will tell you this I am so glad to see Logano start to be the driver I felt he was capable of being. He is out there starting to not take anything from anybody. He is just starting to finally earn the respect of the other drivers. Remember it wasn’t all that long ago that his teammate Brad Keselowski went through the same thing.
Enough about that. Yes there was still a race that went one. What a race it turned out to be. Jimmie Johnson took the pole and dominated the race. He led a total of 376 of 500 laps. It wasn’t without drama though I guarantee you that.
After having a car that just didn’t work right Jeff Gordon and his crew got that 24 car fixed right and he was charging hard. He was picking off drivers like they put a jet engine in his car. He definitely had the car to beat on the long run. However a late caution flag meant he had to finish the race on a less than 20 lap race.
Gordon had driven through the field to second place when Kurt Busch caught tire and crashed into the wall. It was a sight to see. We witnessed what the under the hood fire extinguisher can do. It put out the engine fire out fast.
So with Johnson and first and Gordon in second we were sure to see a great finish. However with Gordon not doing well and Johnson starting on the inside made it a tough task. Johnson immediately ran to the bottom and put some distance on the rest of the field. Jimmie cruised to victory the rest of the way. The win broke a tie for third place on the all time wins list at Martinsville. Johnson took home his eighth grandfather clock.
Clint Bowyer came in second followed by Jeff Gordon. Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. Mark Martin who substituted for Denny Hamlin in the 11 car overcame a horrible day to finish 10th. Marcos Ambrose started second but had some bad racing luck as well but recovered to finish eighth.
However the most impressive drive of the day came from a rookie. Danica Patrick spun out early in the race. Twice she came back from two laps down. She drove a nice clean race and until the final lap she had the best looking car out there. I don’t mean mechanical wise but clean. Hardly a dent or scratch on it. Which as you know is pretty damn good for Martinsville.
Whether you love her or hate Danica she gained a lot of respect from me. She got out there on the track with the feeling of just wanting to get some time and experience on the track. She got it alright. She finished 12th overall. She was also the top finishing rookie in the race.
Now earlier I said two things. One is that a new rivalry started and that Danica had a clean car until the last lap. Now on the last lap Brian Vickers who I would say had the worst looking car out there cosmetically decided to have a drag race with Danica, Kevin Harvick and himself. He banged off of Danica several times which in turn she banged into Harvick. Danica held her own and won the drag race. Harvick finished 14 and Vickers 13.
Well apparently Harvick didn’t like the move and turned Vickers as they crossed the finish line. As we all know Harvick doesn’t like to take stuff off others more than most. It didn’t stop there. As they approached the pits Harvick turned into Vickers a couple of more times to let him know his displeasure. So there you go a new rivalry. Funny thing was it wasn’t covered very heavily by FOX.
Well the bottom line here folks is simply this. If you saw the race you will see why I say we need more short tracks. NASCAR was built on the short tracks and they should remain that way. Kenny Wallace has agreed with me on Speed Talk. He mentioned that we should put some short tracks inside the bigger ones. This was we have one race that is the big race and the second be the short track. I agree Kenny Wallace.
I’m outta here,