The Final Word – Martinsville, A Day of Sunshine for Some, Storm Clouds for Others

As I peer out my window, I see cloudy skies and snow upon the ground. Even for us in the Great White North, this sucks. Yet, for many NASCAR fans, the skies are blue, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and even that fat little mouse is eager to help Cinderelli build her dress. Life is perfect. Well, almost perfect. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his fourth of the season at Martinsville, but just one race too late to keep his title hopes alive. Still, it took him just nine months to match what he had done over the course of the previous nine years, and that is to win four races.

Jeff Gordon had the car to beat. A speedy run through the pits put him back of the pack for some time, to allow others some face time up front. Denny Hamlin had the spotlight for awhile, as did Joey Logano. It was Gordon’s misfortune to return amongst the leaders about the time Junior’s car came alive. However, Four Time has the point as the Chasers advance to Texas. Ryan Newman, who led not a lap, was third and is within three points of Gordon.

Martinsville, in large part due to the quality of the broadcasters, was a chore to watch. At least it was until the action superseded their attempts at commentary. Gordon went from first to beyond 30th after his pit road violation and things seemed to perk up after that.

Kevin Harvick’s temper certainly spiked after fellow Chaser Matt Kenseth wheel-hopped and popped Harvick into the fence. Both had been riding around in the top 10, while in the end Kenseth finished sixth, Harvick 33rd and not very happy. In fact, he predicted Kenseth would not win the title. No need for a crystal ball when one has a fender that has the ability to alter history at Homestead.

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Then we had Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers. Kahne shoved Vickers out of the way early, Vickers spun Kahne later. When Kahne added his own version of the spin-o-rama NASCAR forced a peace and a halt to the shenanigans.

Danica Patrick and Martin Truex Jr. had their own tete-a-tete going on, but they and Kahne both got roughed up when Brad Keselowski got hit with drive line problems. Brad soon got hit by Casey Mears when he slowed to a crawl, and Patrick got a piece of Mears, while Kahne got all of Truex. Even Carl Edwards got a small piece of that and came home 20th on the day.

For a while there, I had visions of a 1-2-3 finish involving that trio of Chasers that warm the cockles of our hearts. Thankfully, reality stepped in and spared us. With apologies to that iconic trio of Chicago Cubs from a century ago…

These are the saddest of possible words:
“Joey and Denny and Brad”
Trio of racers who are fleeter than birds,
Joey and Denny and Brad.
Leaving fan favorites to sit on the bubble,
It is enough to make one order up doubles
Three bloody drivers who are nothing but trouble:
“Joey and Denny and Brad”

Joey was fifth, Hamlin eighth, Brad back in 31st.

As one can not be sure of others’ misfortune, both Keselowski and Harvick need to be hunting for wins at Texas and Phoenix in order to advance to the final round as Chasers. However, based on past history, a win for either this weekend, or even Edwards for that matter, is a bit of a long shot. The one with the best shot is Kenseth, with a pair of wins and an average finish of 8.2, though Hamlin has a couple claimed there, as well.

If there was a time for one of those on the outside looking in to order up a bit of sunshine of their own, this would be it.

1 – Jeff Gordon –  4044 POINTS –  7 to the good
2 – Ryan Newman –  4041 – 4 to the good
3 – Joey Logano –  4040 – 3 to the good
4 – Matt Kenseth –  4039 – 2 to the good
5 – Denny Hamlin –  4037 – 2 away
6 – Carl Edwards –  4024 – 15 away
7 – Brad Keselowski –  4013 – 26 away
8 – Kevin Harvick –  4011 – 28 away

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