Hot 20 – Martinsville allows us to remember a much simpler time and place

by Ron Thornton On Wed, Mar. 21, 2018

Photo by Ted Seminara for SpeedwayMedia.com

Having a team in NASCAR is easy. Not losing your shirt and anything else that might keep your unmentionables private is a tougher task. Just ask Ron Devine of BK Racing.

According to documents made public by ESPN, Devine’s outfit lost 11 million four years ago. $10.1 million vaporized in 2016. The next season, another $8.45 million went up in smoke. That is close to $30 million in three seasons. This is what happens when you attract few sponsors, limiting your revenue to not much more than prize money, which was not enough to cover even one of those campaigns. In total, it cost just short of $50-million for them to operate over that time period, and an $18-million dollar return does not cut it.

We should discover this week what lies in the team’s future as it goes to court over its bankruptcy. If you were wondering why NASCAR Cup teams have gone from 43, to 40, to just 37 hitting the track last week, I think you just got closer to an answer.

Gray Gaulding has been at the helm of the Earthwater Toyota this season. He broke in to the Top 20 at Daytona, sits 32nd in the standings after finishing 32nd at Fontana.

If that does not attract your notice, this might. Next season, Lowe’s will no longer be sponsoring Jimmie Johnson. After seven championships over 18 seasons and 83 race wins, Lowe’s is going the way of Home Depot, Sprint, Subway, Target, and UPS. The days of a single sponsor paying the freight over an entire season are gone.

As they head to more traditional grounds this weekend, on a track built in 1947 at Martinsville, Virginia, we can hearken back to simpler times. It is a venue about to host its 139th event in the NASCAR Strictly Stock, Grand National, Winston Cup, Nextel Cup, Sprint Cup, Monster Energy Cup series.

I wonder if Merle Haggard ever got an answer to his question, “Are the good times really over for good?”

Our Hot 20 include…

1. KEVIN HARVICK – 3 WINS – 1 E.W. – 170 Pts
After California, he took the blame and does not plan a tour bashing Larson or Putin.

2. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 1 WIN – 216 Pts
Last Sunday’s movie saw the lead character nixed early, replaced with a new protagonist.

3. AUSTIN DILLON – 1 WIN – 141 Pts
After Daytona, has ranged between 10th and 17th on the track. Not stellar, but it seems to work.

4. KYLE BUSCH – 207 POINTS
Best damn driver without a win. Some still think he is the best damn driver…period.

5. JOEY LOGANO – 197 POINTS
Became the fourth straight Cup driver to win a Xfinity race. Just bloody wonderful.

6. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 183 POINTS
Whatever kind of Ford Harvick has, Brad would like one of those, too.

7. RYAN BLANEY – 181 POINTS
FBI Special Agent Wood, I presume.

8. DENNY HAMLIN – 176 POINTS
Other than being 17th at Las Vegas, he has rolled nothing but Top Tens.

9. KYLE LARSON – 174 POINTS
Funny, he does not look anything like Darth Vader.

10. CLINT BOWYER – 155 POINTS
Finished 11th at California, which is good. Was a lap down, which is not.

11. ARIC ALMIROLA – 148 POINTS
Does not look like Danica. Does not drive like Danica. Discuss.

12. KURT BUSCH – 144 POINTS
The official beer of NASCAR. Sorry…I might have got my notes confused.

13. ERIK JONES – 132 POINTS
His worst finish since Daytona? 11th at Atlanta. The lad is on the rise.

14. RYAN NEWMAN – 117 POINTS
8th…22nd…11th…11th…21st…and yet few remember he was even there. Talk about being stealth.

15. PAUL MENARD – 115 POINTS
Las Vegas was good. Ever since…not so much. His average finish at Martinsville? 20th.

16. ALEX BOWMAN – 115 POINTS
After Junior left, I guess the #88 became invisible. Maybe Newman is Bowman’s Yoda.

17. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 107 POINTS
No, he is not dating Almirola. Sorry. In the words of Merle, “Mama tried to raise me better…”

18. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 97 POINTS
A Jimmie sighting! A Jimmie sighting! Now, if you are looking to sponsor somebody…

19. DARRELL WALLACE JR. – 94 POINTS
Richard Petty has a dozen grandfather clocks. I think Bubba would like a similar timepiece.

20. WILLIAM BYRON – 91 POINTS
This Lord Byron could write a poem about Elliott and that costly Phoenix points penalty

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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