MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 27, 2010) – Payback. As sure as Christmas, it’s going to come before the end of the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup.
After last weekend’s dustup between Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin, it’s not so much when payback is coming, but where. And with just eight races remaining in this year’s Chase, there is only one logical choice: Martinsville Speedway and the TUMS Fast Relief 500 on October 24.
With its long straight-aways and tight turns, it’s the perfect place to get away with a little extracurricular activity.
Take last spring’s Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville. Hamlin freight-trained his way through traffic to snare the win after giving up the lead to pit for tires with eight laps to go. Along the way, his No. 11 FedEx Toyota turned into a pinball, careening into the lead after restarting fourth with just four laps to go.
But Hamlin probably would not have won without a little retaliatory warfare between Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth.
Kenseth rammed into the back of Gordon on the final restart, sending Gordon up the track. The two battled for the lead for a half of a lap before Gordon bumped Kenseth hard, making way for Hamlin to take the lead.
“If a guy gives you a cheap shot like that, he doesn’t deserve to win the race,” said Gordon said of Kenseth’s shove.
“I did go in there and I did get into Jeff a little bit, really not that hard, and I got under him and everything was fine,” Kenseth said of the initial contact. “[Then] he just took a left as hard as he could take one and ran me down all the way into the marbles.”
A couple of years ago Gordon said this about racing at Martinsville: “Martinsville is rough because it’s a tough place to pass on and it’s a short track. Put those two things together and you have a lot of bumping and banging. Some of it could be paybacks and some of it could just be hard short-track racing. You never really know.”
And then there’s the chance of a turf war between Hamlin and Harvick.
Hamlin is a native Virginian, who first raced in Late Models at Martinsville and has since racked up three wins on the track he calls his home-away-from-home Martinsville Speedway is Harvick’s adopted home track. He lives about 30 minutes from the track and tells anyone who wants to listen it is his home track.
Payback, hard racing and turf wars all combined with NASCAR’S “boys have at it policy” and double-file restarts should create an interesting afternoon of old-school racing for the TUMS Fast Relief 500. It should be typical Martinsville.
Tickets for the entire TUMS Fast Relief 500 weekend are available. Tickets for the TUMS Fast Relief 500 begin at $25 and range to $77.
Tickets to the Kroger 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on October 23 are $30 in advance, with children 12 and under admitted free.
Tickets for Farm Bureau Pole Day, which features practice and qualifying for both the Kroger 200 and the TUMS Fast Relief 500, are $15, children 18 and under admitted free.
Tickets for all events may be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX or by visiting www.martinsvillespeedway.com online.