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Dustin Off The Next Race: STP 500

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Finally, we get to not discuss drafting, positioning, and using the other cars to gain speed for a pass.  Short track racing has arrived for 2019, and the best way to bring it in…is with the shortest of all.

We have seen over the years, including as recent as last fall, that this place is short not just in length, but tempers.

I think we can tell that guys like Martin Truex Jr, Chase Elliott, and many more have showed that when there’s not a lot of room to race, you get angry, and ultimately there is no more give when it comes down to the final few laps.  That’s what draws in the fans to Martinsville.

And, probably the best part, is that there’s little talk about the games being played in qualifying.  That was all the talk at California a week ago, and we likely won’t hear much about that for another week.  Reason being, this place doesn’t rely on the draft.  The aerodynamic ducts are now cooling ducts for the brakes, because this place uses a lot of brakes for 500 laps.  That’s 1000 cycles of being hard on the brake pedal entering the corners.

But most of all, the driver is what matters the most at this place.

Sure, handling is key, because you don’t want to be too tight in the corners and overuse the brakes early on, meaning there’s no stopping power during the latter part of the race.  But, there’s no talk about being in the wake of another car and sucking up in order to slingshot around for position.  Trying to slingshot here means giving a bump and getting out of the way.  This is why short track racing is so much fun, not just for the fans, but the drivers.  For some reason, when the track gets to be less than a mile, they become kids again, because that’s how they were brought up…the small tracks to get their feet wet, and show they can race.

Personally, one of the short tracks in my area is reopening after several years of being dormant, and it has me excited because I suddenly go from being 33 years old, to just 10.

Every driver in some way started on a short track, whether in carts, open-wheel, or even on two wheels.

That’s why it gets to be fun…everyone remembers their experiences when younger, and it comes back out at a track like this, but with a much bigger audience, and a lot more people that could get upset if something goes wrong.

But that’s the beauty of this place, the fans enjoy seeing the aggression come out, and the beating and banging from racing here.  It’s very rare when the winner can pull in victory lane, or in this case victory lane surrounds the winner, that the car doesn’t have some kind of tire mark on the door, dent in the nose, or a rear bumper that seemed to have an incident on I-81 thanks to a distracted driver.

It doesn’t matter what the car looks like at race’s end, so long as it is the one getting the winner sticker for the week.

So, as we all enjoy the fact that spring is here, even though it is a bit chilly, we can smile knowing that it’s time to take the short way around, and see who gets upset when the checkered flag waves.  No better place for payback than at a short track.  I think Matt Kenseth can certainly agree with that statement.

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