Short track racing is what the heart and soul of any racing circuit is built on. Whether it’s pavement or dirt, across the U.S. these type of tracks are how many drivers get their careers started.
When the top-tier series in NASCAR decides to go short track racing, those same emotions found on the local speedways come out. The difference is, they play out in front of thousands of fans, and an entire viewing audience on television. Add in the emotions of stage racing, which could be summed up as a pair of heats and a feature, and the audience expects something to occur.
The first short track venue this season, the Martinsville Speedway. A speedway famous for it’s trophy and it’s hot dogs, the focus this time was getting some breaks, while maintaining the brakes.
There were cut tires, crushed body panels, open wheels, and missing pieces through the entire field. But, that is typical of this speedway. One of these cars can start the race looking pristine and immaculate, and chances are that is the only time they will look that perfect. When the checkered flag waves, more often than not, at least one body panel is damaged, or in some cases panels are torn off. However, aerodynamics mean nothing at a track such as this, because at Martinsville there is so much driver input that looks mean nothing.
In the end, the driver that looked to the finish to take victory was in a car very accustomed to winning at this track. It was back in 2004 when the No. 2 last saw victory lane at the “Paper Clip” thanks to Hall of Fame driver, Rusty Wallace.
In that instance, Wallace was in a Dodge. It has been since 2002 when a Ford saw victory at Martinsville, that coming thanks to Kurt Busch.
Now, two streaks are at a close thanks to the Miller Lite Ford, and Brad Keselowski. It’s the second win of the season for “Bad Brad” and his first at Martinsville. It also culminates a wild week where he didn’t have crew chief, Paul Wolfe, but then got him back when the team appealed the penalties from two weeks ago at Phoenix. Quite a way to finish out a crazy, and intense, week.
That craziness paid dividends for just one participant this week, earning his first win of the 2017 season. Couple that in with only two others earning top-10 finishes, it was a sub-par week overall for everyone. Here’s the new, updated, standings after the STP 500:
Rob Tiongson (249) Jimmie Johnson finished 15th –  0
Dalton Hastings (218) Ryan Newman finished 8th –  2
Ashley Hull (212) Martin Truex Jr. finished 16th –  7
Billy Fellin (197) Denny Hamlin finished 30th –  2
Ashley Hobbs (193) Clint Bowyer finished 7th –  6
Misan Akuya (173) Jamie McMurray finished 38th –  9
Patti Rodisch (164) Jimmie Johnson finished 15th –  8
Ashley McCubbin (163) Denny Hamlin finished 30th –  2
Rob Blount (153) Jimmie Johnson finished 15th –  0
Sal Sigala Jr. (144) Brad Keselowski WON –  5
Dustin Parks (142) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 34th –  1
Penny Whitecotton (125) Kevin Harvick finished 20th –  1
Klarissa Mitchell (125) Jamie McMurray finished 38th –  0
Next Race: NASCAR is going from it’s shortest track to a place that has been running races since 1997. However, for the first time in years, the sport comes here with many unknowns. A new racing surface, plus a reconfiguration in the banking on half the corners, means it’s an entirely new race.
Drivers literally will have to “saddle up” to wrangle this trophy into the collection.
It’s a trip south to just outside of Dallas, taking hold of the Texas Motor Speedway, and the quest to fire off a pair of six-shooters and put on the cowboy hat.
Writers, let’s get out the spurs and the chaps, or at least get out your picks and have them ready by April 6, at 10 p.m. ET, for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.