This is exactly what short-track racing is supposed to be. There’s emotion, there’s eagerness, there’s anger, and then there’s retribution.
Martinsville Speedway had it all, and when things came down to it, emotions boiled over, for both good, and bad.
It was the main talk of everyone, from in the broadcast booth, to the crews, and between every fan that stayed later than expected on this first day after setting clocks back. Joey Logano leads, after holding steady after an accident involving his teammate Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, and Matt Kenseth. Trying to get position on Logano, it sent the No. 20 spinning.
But, once repairs were made, it was clear what was going to happen. It was building up, like a teapot on the stove. Kansas set things in motion, Talladega turned up the heat. Finally, on Sunday, the pot began to whistle. Kenseth, in one moment, took Logano out, and in that same breath, had fans going insane as if Dale Earnhardt himself was channeled from above.
Call it what you want, Kenseth saw the opportunity, and he took it. In that moment, he gained a lot more fans.
But, it was the end of the race that erased that moment. It was the best opportunity for one driver to make it to the title round, it was the one track where he was favored among everyone in the Chase to be victorious. It was his final time to earn a grandfather clock.
In the end, he delivered.
Jeff Gordon, after waiting all year long to finally close the deal, did so in the biggest way possible. It is, has been, and probably always will be, his favorite track. Martinsville is Gordon’s domain, and the man known as “Big Daddy”, in his final year of competition, made sure the “Drive for Five” goes out in style. The victory on Sunday locks him into the final race of the year with a chance to walk out of the sport on top, just like John Elway did in the NFL.
That victory earned five writers a victory this week, four of them whom are in the Chase still. So how exactly will this work out, since there’s two races left in the round. That will be explained shortly, but first, take a look at the standings after the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500:
Rob Tiongson (4047) Jeff Gordon WON – 5 (1)
Dustin Parks (4047) Jeff Gordon WON – 4 (1)
Misan Akuya (4047) Jeff Gordon WON – 3 (1)
Mary Jo Buchanan (4047) Jeff Gordon WON – 2 (1)
Kara Martin (4039) Kyle Busch finished 5th – 2
Sal Sigala Jr. (4013) Brad Keselowski finished 32nd – 3
Patti Rodisch (2203) Jeff Gordon WON – 5
Klarissa Mitchell (2198) Denny Hamlin finished 3rd – 0
Ashley McCubbin (2155) Jimmie Johnson finished 12th – 1
Rob Blount (2134) NO PICK SENT – 2
So in the pool four wins came in one race, so the title picture is set, right? Well, not exactly. With two races left, the two writers that did not win on Sunday can still win a race and possibly put them in the title picture. However, tie-breakers will be used to determine the Championship 4 if needed. They are as follows:
- Amount of wins earned all season.
- Amount of wins earned in the Chase.
- Points earned in the Eliminator Round.
- IF NECESSARY, highest finishing position earned in the Eliminator Round, excluding victories.
Next Race: With everything that happened in the small oval that is Martinsville, it is going to be one incredible shootout to finish out the season. The next stop for the Eliminator Round saw a lot of drama, quite a bit of shoving, and even a little bit of blood drawn.
Appropriately, it is just outside of an area where the Cowboys are the most popular football team. But, there’s no stars on the helmets, but the stars will be shining.
Race two of three in this round is a return to the Texas Motor Speedway, a place where big moments happen, and the activities around the track for fans and teams are just as big. Everything is bigger in Texas, including possibly some payback.
Writers, this Chase is far from over, so get yourself locked in and have your picks sent in by Thursday, November 5, at 10 p.m. ET for the AAA Texas 500.