After a race weekend that was delayed and then delayed again, NASCAR’s top-2 series finally raced on a beautiful Sunday afternoon – here are my takeaways.
1. Martins-ville couldn’t be a more appropriate name
Coming into this race, all you heard about is how Martin Truex jr. won 2 of the last 3 races there and how he is a favorite for the race. Well, be prepared to hear how he won 3 of the last 4 races when the Cup Series returns there in late October for the Playoffs; where Truex almost definitely punched his ticket to, being the first repeat winner.
Truex hasn’t always been dominant at Martinsville, or short tracks for that matter. He started 0-80 at short tracks, but after his first short track win (at Martinsville nonetheless), he has won 5 of his last 11 races at short tracks.
2. NASCAR has to do better with when they decide to race with potential rain
Rain was obviously a huge factor this weekend, delaying and postponing both the Xfinity race on Friday and the Cup race on Saturday. While the Xfinity race got in about 70 laps before the rain came back, the Cup series only got in about 40. I don’t think there was one person (that doesn’t work for NASCAR) who thought that either of those races would have been able to be completed, yet NASCAR tried.
They claim that they don’t put cars back on the track unless they believe that they can complete the race, but every indication from meteorologists and radars showed that that was not going to be possible. The other argument that fans came to the track to see racing, and they want to give the fans what they want is not a very good one either. I’ve been to races like this, and waiting out the rain to see a handful of laps is not at all worth the effort it takes as a fan to be patient and stay dry, nor the money it must cost to be constantly refueling the jet dryers.
3. JGR, Hendricks, & Penske still at the top while SHR continues to struggle
Not only does another win for Martin Truex jr. solidify Joe Gibbs Racing as a top race team for another year, but Denny Hamlin also led 276 laps and was only 15 laps away from a victory there himself. Chase Elliott’s second-place finish, coupled with William Byron’s fourth-place finish and Kyle Larson’s fifth-place finish; prove that Hendricks Motorsports is still a serious force on the track.
Ryan Blaney led for the second-highest 157 laps, while his teammate Joey Logano finished 6th for Team Penske. The struggles continued for Stewart-Haas Racing, as Kevin Harvick finished in 9th place, and his other teammates Cole Custer, Aric Almirola, and Chase Briscoe finished 18th, 20th, and 27th respectively. SHR has been struggling all year so far, with their best finish being at the Daytona 500 where Kevin Harvick finished 4th. His three other teammates have yet to finish inside the top ten this season.
4. Josh Berry should be in the Xfinity playoffs
I know that according to the rules, he is not a full-time driver and is therefore not eligible, but that seems ridiculous. In my opinion, the reason this rule was created was so that ringers from a higher series don’t take a spot from a regular driver in that series. They also probably didn’t anticipate a ringer from a lower series racing in a hot seat to actually get a win too often.
Winning in motorsports is not an easy thing to do, especially when you’re technically punching up a weight class. That is all the more reason why Josh Berry deserves to be in the playoffs if he otherwise would have been eligible if he was a full-time driver.
5. Martinsville always lives up to the hype
There were long runs, tons of bumping, “The Big One”, a late-race pass for the win, and plenty of built-up anticipation in Sunday’s doubleheader. Each of the aforementioned qualities covers the gambit in terms of the type of racing you typically would see at short tracks, intermediate, superspeedways, and road courses, giving the feeling that the racing on Sunday was a 4-for-1 special.