If you haven’t been to a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, or you haven’t been to one lately, this year’s Chase would be a good time to do it, as the revised 2014 Chase format is really living up to the hype, and this afternoon’s Martinsville race continued the streak of drama, action and overall excitement.
Cautions galore is a common theme of the lower-speed, but high temper short track of Martinsville Speedway, but the added drama of the Chase really upped the tension.
Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers went back and forth wrecking each other, to the point that NASCAR asked them if they were done. Maybe the “boys have it at” has a limit to the number of back and forth. If the No. 5 and 55 action demonstrated that, the limit is three incidents.
Like Charlotte’s Chase race, the bigger drama had to do with Matt Kenseth. Once again, Kenseth forced his car into a space there wasn’t room for, making contact with fellow Eliminator round Chase contender, Kevin Harvick. Rather than just crunching in a body panel, the incident sent Harvick’s car to the garage for an extended stay. It also led to Harvick, post race announcing that Kenseth would not win the 2014 Chase.
Oil was a common problem at Martinsville as well — Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, among several others had problems with oil lines. Contact was obviously involved in the vast majority of the problems “spurting” up, but it was still curious just how many drivers had oil issues.
Aerodynamics really don’t really matter much at Martinsville, and it was obvious by the end. By the end of the 500-lap race, half a dozen were missing minimally their hood, if not full front ends, including Vickers, Harvick and several others.
In the end, the race was won by first time Martinsville winner — NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. With Junior no longer being in the Chase, Martinsville ended coming down to points, and giving Eliminator round drivers just Texas and Phoenix to either win or be consistent (hello third place finisher, Ryan Newman).
If Martinsville is an indicator, Texas and Phoenix are going to be can’t-miss-a-second races. If you’re near either track, get your tickets. It was great enough on TV for today’s Martinsville race, but it’ll be a blast in-person.