Sunday, March 30, 2008

Martinsville: Blogging "live on type delay"

By the time the Goody's 500 has reached the one-quarter point, I have already rediscovered how much fun watching a short track race can be, even on television. The position changes happen just as often and drastically as they do in restricter-plate races, but even better, since a mishap doesn't necessarily knock a car out of the race.
For example, early in the race the Busch brothers already had a run-in (love it!) involving direct contact and spinouts, but many of the cars caught up in that altercation--including Jeff Gordon--are making their way up to the front.
We also have already been able to see an excellent display of car control, on the part of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., as he passed Jimmie Johnson in traffic. This brings three things to mind; anti-Jr fans will always fail to realize what a great car control driver he is; lapped traffic is part of the excitement of Martinsville; and, I have somehow become an anti-Johnson fan, even though the driver never fails to impress me. I cheer for anybody who passes the reigning champ, even Jeff Gordon when he passed Johnson later in the race.
And by lap 294, I am cheering wildly as Jeff Gordon and Earnhardt are racing wheel to wheel for the lead, but an incident involving Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle brings out the fourteenth caution, not before Earnhardt takes the lead.
Now, I am not normally a fan of caution-filled wreckfests, but this is Martinsville, and old school as in Saturday night circle burners, and this is to be expected. Besides, the wrecks seem to have little effect on the driving ability and winning potential of many of the drivers who have been involved in wrecks. The wrecks and cautions, therefore, are part of the Martinsville experience.
While on the asides, a note to my favorite Kenseth fan, Babs, I didn't mention the driver of the #17 car by name in my preview, for fear of jinxing him again, but when your driver is having such back luck anyway, perhaps a jinx would have had positive effect. I really like Matt, and I am determined to see him do well, but this is just not his day. When Matt loses his temper, you know something is seriously wrong.
By lap 320 I have stopped writing, because that is difficult to do while I am on my feet and nervously pacing in front of the television, with a mixture of nervousness and elation, as my favorite driver moves into fourth position. The nervousness shows its reason for being there as, on the caution that shortly follows, Stewart gives up that position to pit. We are now at that point of the race where all we can do is hope that nothing bad happens, and maintain confidence that Stewart can work his way back to the top section of the scoring pylon. Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon is learning that, with the Sprint Cup car, the aero-loose tactic he learned so well and with such finesse from his mentor, Dale Earnhardt, does not work all that well.
Later on, with less than ninety laps to go, we are watching a great race for the lead between two great Virginian short track drivers, which is only fitting as the race is on a short track in Virginia. After taking the lead, Hurricane Hamlin is showing the stuff that earned him that nickname from the locals as he successfully negotiates lapped traffic. He makes it look easy, but this is his specialty. Backtracking a bit to the news that Robby Gordon is back on the track, after a visit to the garage to repair a rear end gear, I have to agree with DW's "Yikes!" in response to that news. I usually tolerate Robby's antics on the track--that is who he is and how he rides--but he has found misery at Martinsville and has been determined the entire race to spread that misery around. Now he is part of that lapped traffic Denny has to deal with, and we hold our breaths waiting to see if he causes more trouble. Denny, however gets by safely. He holds the lead, holds off a late charge by the great Jeff Gordon, and wins the race, which turned out to be very exciting, indeed. To quote race runner up Jeff Gordon, "it was an awesome race!"
Just because the race is over doesn't mean I am ready to wrap this up. I have a few final observations to make.
For instance, Elliott Sadler has to have a big pair of brass ones for racing with a bad back. We know from experience that this is a very painful condition--the pain is, in fact, nearly paralyzing. Sadler had to put up with a lot of pain to be able to finish the race.
Jamie McMurray did what he needed to do this race, to get his car back into the top thiry five in owners' points, and he did it quite admirably, staying on the lead lap, and staying out of trouble.
Tony Stewart may have shown Kyle Busch how a real racecar driver accepts a fifth place finish even if he has a car that is capable of winning. Hopefully the Schrub was watching. I'm not saying that Kyle isn't a real racecar driver, he is, but he still has a lot to learn. More on this in my next post.
I am probably forgetting a few things here, and hopefully my next post will catch these. The main point is, after a week off for Easter, the Martinsville race was well worth the wait.


Cheyenne said...

Now THIS was a race I thoroughly enjoyed. It beats the last Bristol race by a mile! There was so much more action on the track and it was all over the place. Yep, this is what a short track race should be. Beatin' and bangin' I'll take any day.

Amy said...

I agree with what you said about Sadler. I was very impressed with his performance considering what kind of pain he must have been enduring.