One of the things NASCAR has gone all in on is the excitement that normally comes with short track and road course racing. Fans have been screaming for more short track racing. They cry that mile and a half cookie cutter tracks are “boring”.
What NASCAR wasn’t expecting were long green flag racing at two short tracks that usually produce some quality side by side, fender rubbing, wrecking kind of racing.
Last week Richmond produced a bit of a snoozer but then all eyes turned on Martinsville, a track that has produced some great fan friendly racing. But no one thought that kind of racing would be seen only in the Xfinity race, not the Cup race.
Saturday under the lights with cool temps saw long green flag racing, limited passing and very little fender rubbing. It also saw William Byron continue his strong season becoming the first multiple race winner of 2022.
Chase Elliott paced the field in the first two Stages with Byron in second both times. Clean air was the name of the game if you wanted to lead the race. Once Chase Elliott lost the lead (on pit road) he was never a threat again. We saw that same scenario occur with other drivers who, for one reason or another, had pit issues and got mired in traffic never to be heard from again.
This is not an indictment of Byron and his win at all. He is not a hack nor is he backing into his wins – as some drivers have accused others. Byron has had speed all season so far and the new car set up seems to be working in his favor, much like how the old car and mile and a half tracks suited Jimmie Johnson’s driving style.
I am not comparing the two drivers mind you. Just saying that if you look at which drivers are running well right now, you’ll notice a definite trend. And there are young drivers in the Top 20 that could easily be Top 15 or even Top 10 if they had a little more racing luck. We’ll have to watch and see if this is a trend or a mirage.
Good on ya mate!
- William Byron (P1) led 212 laps and jumped to third in points. You would think that 2 wins would have him first, but nooooo.
- Joey Logano (P2) has had hit or miss speed and this week he had it.
- Austin Dillon (P3) got his second Top 5 of the year. Had he not spun his tires on the final restart….
- Ryan Blaney (P4) once again was close but no cigar.
- Ross Chastain (P5) didn’t have the best race but was in place when they paid.
- Kurt Busch (P6) also got his second Top 10.
- Kyle Busch (P7) was the highest finishing Gibbs driver.
- Aric Almirola (P8) had arguable his best race of the year.
- Chase Briscoe (P9) put a Top 15 car into the Top 10.
- Chase Elliott (P10) led 185 laps then had one bad pit stop that ruined his day.
So you had a bad day
- Denny Hamlin (P28) unloaded bad, qualified bad, raced bad.
- Daniel Suarez (P29) just failed to compete this week.
- AJ Allmendinger (P24) had higher aspirations – as did many.
- Martin Truex, Jr. (22) won three previous here and was nowhere close this week.
- Christopher Bell (20) ran better early but a pit road penalty put him in the back.
- Kyle Larson (P19) had a speeding penalty that put him in the rear.
Next up: Bristol dirt race
Easter Sunday night you get to revisit this unmitigated 2021 disaster of a race. Joey Logano was the unexpected winner and has to be considered a favorite going in. This race was run in the daylight last year and now will be under the lights – which should do nothing for visibility. The new car will be tested under conditions like it has never seen before so that will add to the uncertainty.
I was not a fan of the 2021 race and am not overly optimistic about this evolution of the event. Let’s hope I am proved wrong.
What’s your thoughts on the Bristol night-time dirt race?? Leave ’em below.
(Featured Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)