It is common for this writer to say I love Martinsville Speedway. Some say it’s because my home is only 150 (give or take) miles from the speedway. Some try to get into my mind and say it’s because it was the first speedway I ever visited, but the truth of the matter is that little paper clip-shaped track is exactly how the whole phenomenon we now call NASCAR started.
As my father used to say, "I’d have liked to have been a little birdie". We will probably never know what was discussed in that verbal intercourse between Jack Roush and his points-leading driver, Matt Kenseth. But whatever it was saw one of the best drivers in the sport head for Joe Gibbs Racing (or so they say).
Did anyone doubt that Jimmie Johnson would lead the Chase points after Martinsville? Earlier in the spring race, he and teammate Jeff Gordon were headed for a 1-2 finish before somebody got greedy and the result was Ryan Newman winning. Never mind that Hendrick Motorsports owns this place, and if for not a strange turn of events, HMS would have won both races at Martinsville Speedway. As usual.
What I saw at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday made me sick to my stomach. It ruined what otherwise was a good weekend at the track, the marvelous speedway that should be a blueprint for what racing should be. Everyone knows the story by now. Matt Kenseth decided to retaliate and knock the leader out of the race—on purpose. You may say I can’t prove that, but actions speak louder than words.
Now that the dust has cleared and a Daytona 500 Champion has been crowned, it’s time to look back at that race and see where we are with the changes made by NASCAR. First, we must understand that Daytona (and its sister track, Talladega) are different animals than the rest of the tracks that the drivers will visit the rest of the races.
Monday’s NASCAR announcement about the new format for NASCAR Camping World Truck, XFINITY and Monster Energy Cup Series season was not only unusual, but might just be the most extraordinary thing that’s happened to the sport since the announcement that the championship would be based on the last 10 races of the season—the Chase.
Joe Garone, Furniture Row Racing's general manager, said the team has also made new hires to strengthen the engineering staff. "In an effort to continue to move the team forward we feel the personnel changes and new additions will yield positive results on the race track," said Garone in a statement.