May 19, 2022


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NASCAR Crash Course: Martinsville Speedway shows its age with its latest afternoon nap

NASCAR Crash Course: Martinsville Speedway shows its age with its latest afternoon nap

Martinsville Speedway is the oldest track on the NASCAR schedule, the only track left from the first year of the Cup Series competition in 1949. It has produced some of the sport’s greatest finishes, including one last Halloween when Alex Bowman threw Denny Hamlin out of the way before winning in overtime. The short distance to 400 laps in 2022 was only supposed to add to the passion.

did not happen.

The Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 performer Saturday night acted every little part his 73-year-old nodded to sleep with a nap after 11 p.m. William Byron won a race with no green passes for the lead and a minimum. Drama, even as the extra time is up. Only four alerts – two to break the stage – stopped the action on a track where last fall there were four hits and he ran solo for the last 44 laps of the race.

Will Smith’s slap at the Oscars has led to more connection than the track he’s pinning his reputation on.

“The passing was definitely more difficult,” said race runner-up Joey Logano. “I don’t think anyone can really get through without hitting one of them. It was much more difficult and it became difficult to get there…I just got stuck.”

These are two races, grown on contact for the NASCAR Series that boasts a short track action. There were two mitigating factors for Martinsville on Saturday night, including the weather. The race was postponed due to frost while temperatures of 40 degrees prevented the rubber from splashing onto the track and adding grip. Byron also installed the setup, letting everyone catch up as he led 212 of the last 218 laps of the race.

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But there was no denying that there was a problem with the chassis of the next generation on the most important types of sports tracks. Domestic short tracks are the backbone of NASCAR’s future, stars born from rooting and rigging on their way to victory in the late model circuit. It’s the equivalent of a minor league baseball system where Saturday night’s wins under the spotlight make you noticeable on Sunday.

“I’d probably get more fans from going to a race in Hickory, Pensacola or New Smyrna,” Byron said of the extra work on the short tracks.

That should mean that the NASCAR Short Track Cup races in Richmond, Bristol and Martinsville should be the culmination of the half-mile experience: a combination of driver skill, tense fenders, and continuous side-to-side action. You’d think adding shifting back into the equation this year with the new car would help drivers differentiate themselves and lead to more passing, turning and shorter turbulence.

Instead, drivers find themselves running around, stuck in dirty air unless multiple grooves allow them, like Richmond, stay away from each other and run like a 1.5 mile oval. Single-groove tracks can’t work with the tough exterior of the next generation making it nearly impossible to push someone out of the way and disrupt their rhythm.

The answer comes in the form of package tweaks, one team may not get short tracks until 2023. It would be wise for NASCAR to consider these tracks sooner, especially if the Bristol Dirt Race follows the same Easter monotonous formula.

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Traffic report

Green: William Byron – Last month, I wrote about how Byron did He was falling behind his teammates at Hendrick Motorsports After the year started smashing it twice. Well, this year’s first multi-time sports winner has made his stride with former Camping World Truck Series boss Rudy Fugle and could be Kyle Larson’s best indoor competitor in this year’s championship.

Yellow: Chase Elliott – Yes, 185 laps of the pole was a step in the right direction on one of Elliott’s best tracks. Still the point leader, up 3 over Blaney after Martinsville. But as for initial speed, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver still appears to be the fourth best driver in the four-man Hendrick totem right now.

Red: Martin Truex Jr. – Would you finish 22nd with no laps on a track where Truex has won three of the last five races? This is a bad look because team 19’s missed chances keep increasing.

Speeding ticket: Kyle Larson – This time around, an actual speed ticket kept Larson on a better finish for Martinsville, and he was evaluated under the green with a penalty that put him back in 19th place. The defending NASCAR Champion now has more finishes outside the top 15 (five) than inside the top 10 (three) as his title defense is feeling some wiggle.


Not a good look for Ty Gibbs to get a semi-permanent closure in this category. The runaway NASCAR Xfinity Series race ended with Gibbs losing the lead, then was sent off by Sam Mayer as Brandon Jones made his way to the victory lane.

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In a flash, the $100,000, NASCAR Xfinity reward was changed for the selected drivers who went to AJ Allemendinger, not Gibbs because of the contact. Gibbs’ frustration led to the words, Then punches with Meyer on the pit road.

“I had $100,000 in my eye, and I was going to do what I had to do to try to get that,” Meyer said. “Yeah, I put the shocker to him… In my opinion, it was just a hit and a clean run. I decided to just throw a few punches, but that’s fine by me… He just snapped.”

Gibbs saw it differently.

“I tried to talk to him,” Gibbs replied, “and he found it all right in my face.” “At this point, you should start fighting… I just pushed the fence at the end.”

My opinion? While neither has left Martinsville’s look well, Gibbs creates a style for Immature behavior similar to Noah Gregson last year. If there is a silver lining, Gragson learned from it and grew up, still aggressive but with a win, five places in the top five and a better reputation on the track in the first eight races of the season.

Can Tay follow suit? What will grandpa and car owner Joe Gibbs do?