It’s all about that grandfather clock. It is possibly the most coveted trophy in the sport outside of the Harley J. Earl Trophy that is given at the end of the Daytona 500. Many want to earn this trophy more than Daytona, and some got theirs after winning Daytona. Just ask Dale Earnhardt Jr. how much that clock meant to him when he finally got his in 2014.
Even those that have won many clocks simply want another to the collection. Even Jimmie Johnson, having nine clocks to his collection, wanted a tenth.
But, at the end of Sunday’s action in Martinsville, the clock was going to a guy that simply could not be denied all race long.
Brad Keselowski had nearly the perfect race for almost all 500 laps. He dominated stages one and two, and with the exception of a green-flag run by Chase Elliott that saw him out front for a period of time, Keselowski was nothing short of the best in the field. And yet, of all things, he felt the car that was the best, finished second. Elliott’s team made no changes all race long, just tires and fuel, and it worked. But, when it came down to it, Keselowski had the right positioning, and held on even for all the rush he got that saw Elliott right on the bumper of the No. 2 Mustang, and it was still not enough.
For 446 of 500 laps, the deuce was the single best car on the track. Think about that, just less than 11 percent of those laps were led by Keselowski on the day.
He didn’t just beat the field, he routed the field.
The last time we saw a car that dominant for an entire race, it was when Martin Truex Jr. put on the beating of a lifetime at Charlotte for the sport’s longest race. That event saw the perfect car and perfect finish. This one was a bit different, because the winning driver even admitted he didn’t have the best car in the field.
One thing that many can’t deny is that Keselowski knows and respects when someone is better than him when it comes to being out front. He even knew when Elliott was leading for that time, he could tell he was a better car, and decided to study how he drove the track to see where he could beat him. That’s a student studying the field and taking those lessons to mind and use them when needed.
With how this track is run, no matter the kind of race package that is utilized, it’s all about the line, the brakes, and the driver. One miscue and it means losing positions, and that leads to frustration.
But, even then, he knew what he had, and he knew he could get the job done. He did that, and put the No. 2 back in victory lane at Martinsville.
That number, that car, has a history at this speedway. It is the venue where Rusty Wallace scored the final win of his hall of fame career, a place that Wallace himself has said he loved racing at every year he was at the wheel of the car.
Keselowski has a clock this season, and is looking for a sweep come playoff time.
At least when the race ended, he enjoyed a few Miller Lites, and avoided the Martinsville hot dog. That combination probably could spell disaster in victory lane.