It is hard to believe that the season has gotten to the point that we are ready to officially set the final four heading into the championship. In April, it seemed like this would never happen since the racing had halted. But, instead, we are actually at the point where we can set our final title contenders.
With no shortage of things that could, and likely will, happen, the only way to settle this is at a short track.
Could it be an even more appropriate place to set the title contenders, a track that bumping, banging, and aggression come with the territory. We’ve certainly seen that in the playoffs over the years when it came to Martinsville, ironically with one driver involved in a lot of the incidents.
Let’s face it, we can’t talk Martinsville and not discuss the incidents that we’ve seen in the last five years. Joey Logano vs. Matt Kenseth back in 2015, a moment everyone can recall including many drivers who were sitting in their cars during the red flag discussing it. A few years later, it was Logano against Martin Truex Jr, with the infamous, “He ain’t gonna win it, I am” line.
Unfortunately for Truex, he didn’t fulfil that statement, since the “Big Three” that season got snookered at Homestead, and Logano left with the championship.
And of course, who can forget the battle Logano had with Hamlin a year ago that led to a scuffle on pit road, and Hamlin suddenly pulling out an impression to explain how some may feel the incident went.
This is what short track racing is about, and often leads to.
Now, rather than being the first race in this playoff round, this is the one to settle it all. To compare, this is the final inning of the World Series and one team needs a run to take the lead or win it all. It’s the last two minutes of the Super Bowl, with a touchdown needed to take the lead. It’s the final round of a title fight, worn out but not wanting to go down without going all-out.
This is exactly what we can expect from Martinsville. Earlier this year, NASCAR had it’s first night race at the famed speedway, not for the first time the track will decide the Championship 4.
Bumpers may get bent, side panels dented, sheet metal scuffed and tire marks should be seen on most of these vehicles. If a car leaves this place with no battle scars, something is wrong. But, it also means a driver being patient, smart, and aggressive only when needed.
Strap in, because it’s 500 laps to a race win, and a potential championship.