How one gets to victory is by their own design, their own choices. How they race their competition often depends on how they are raced by them. Some may feel a line gets blurred, while others may sense they had no other option.
On Sunday, that line may have been blurred by one driver, while another felt that was what they needed to do.
It’s Martinsville, and it’s expected. But, what isn’t expected is how one driver proved his intent over the course of laps, while another showed his colors in just one corner. Martin Truex Jr. worked over Joey Logano for lap, after lap, after lap. Not one time did he bump him out of the groove. He may have gotten close to rubbing a door panel, but he never made the move to boot him out of the way. Three-quarters of a lap to go, he finally made the move and looked ahead to a checkered flag.
Then came a bumper, and a move. It came down to beating, slamming, spinning tires and tearing sheet metal. But, Logano got him at the line.
Although he got the “W”, it was clear the fans were not happy. One driver kept it clean for the entire battle, while one made a bold move. Each wanted that security of being locked into the championship, but both had their own ways of getting to it. However, one made it clear he wasn’t going to forget it, with two simple sentences.
“He won the battle, but he ain’t winning the damn war,” followed later with, “He ain’t gonna win it…because I’m gonna win it. That’s it.”
The war is on.
If there is a silver lining, that bump and beating to victory gave one participant a free ticket to the battle for a championship. It also meant a tighter battle for that fight for the final spot. Two races remain, three spots left, and someone is bound to be upset when this round is over. Here’s the standings following a controversial, and very chaotic, First Data 500:
Penny Whitecotton – 4100 – Kurt Busch finished 6th (7) 57
Trisha Rodisch* – 4094 – Joey Logano WON (7) 41
Misan Akuya – 4073 – Kyle Busch finished 4th (4) 24
Sal Sigala Jr. – 4073 – Kyle Busch finished 4th (4) 24
Billy Fellin – 4071 – Chase Elliott finished 7th (5) 37
Ashley Hobbs – 4052 – Clint Bowyer finished 21st (5) 26
Rob Blount – 2209 – NO PICK SENT (2)
Dustin Parks – 2206 – Jimmie Johnson finished 12th (2)
Rob Tiongson – 2166 – Kyle Larson finished 37th (4)
*Locked into Championship 4 at Homestead
Next Race: The intensity of how the final short track event of the season ended indicated exactly how the NASCAR Playoffs will be through this round. The Round of 16 saw Truex lose the battle on the final lap, and he expressed his displeasure. Now, in the Round of 8, he did just the same. Now, the intensity is about to boil over, because now one team has nothing to lose, and one made a promise that everyone knows will be kept.
It’s a double-barrel shot in the Playoffs, and coming up next is a place that can absolutely prove to be a place to have a shootout that will have guns blazing, and tires spinning.
Saddle up, get out the spurs and the lasso, because now it’s time to wrangle up a playoff run at the Texas Motor Speedway.
You participants better be ready. Those picks better be locked in by Thursday, November 1, at 10 p.m. ET for the AAA Texas 500.