Plow Up Martinsville Too While You’re At It

Charlotte, NC (April 2, 2012) – Plow up Martinsville. Go ahead, grind it to bits.

Why not? After all, if we’re changing tracks around based on fan reaction these days, Martinsville is a prime candidate for renovation after Sunday’s headache inducing Goody’s Fast Relief 500, right?

Okay, we’re kind of joking here, but in an effort to take one last shot at the silliness that is being shoveled by O. Bruton Smith and Bristol Motor Speedway, consider the following –

The final stats will show there were 19 lead changes in Sunday’s race at Martinsville. Nine of those changes totaled less than three circuits as the race cycled through pit stops and drivers took advantage of leading a lap to gain valuable bonus points.

In reality, most of Sunday’s race was a parade at Martinsville. The only real passing for the lead came in the final laps. Until then, Jeff Gordon stunk up the show leading 328 of the first 497 laps. In the meantime, Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson paced another segment of 104 laps giving them the point in 432 of the event’s 515 circuits.

Break out the Goody’s.

The domination by the Hendrick twins not only resulted in a mind meld, but it also led to less than a third of the field being on the lead lap at the halfway point of the race. At the finish, only a dozen cars and drivers were on the same lap as the leader and eventual winner Ryan Newman.

Only two unlikely players at the finish – David Reutimann and Clint Bowyer – saved Sunday’s race from being completely forgettable.

Reutimann – more than 70 laps down at the time – mysteriously stopped on the track just laps from the finish to bring out the caution and bunch the field for a final restart.

Meanwhile, Bowyer – third on the restart and with nowhere to race on the narrow, one-groove Martinsville track – body slammed Gordon and Johnson in Turn 1 after the drop of the green giving Newman the win and sending everyone home with at least one memorable moment from this race.

Three hours, 44 minutes, 44 seconds total time – 44 seconds of action.

Woo Hoo! What a spellbinder!

Forgive my snide remarks, but given the lack of passing and the long stretches of non-competitive racing action Sunday, shouldn’t we be plowing up Martinsville too?

And while we’re at it, how about adding 20,000-40,000 seats so the attendance can rise above the paltry 63,000 (near capacity) who showed up at Martinsville Sunday?

Of course, the answer is no to all. It’s silly and none of it is going to happen.That’s because NASCAR’s parent company – International Speedway Corporation – owns Martinsville. You’re not going to see them grandstanding for the fans like Smith did after Bristol. Sure, Sunday’s Cup event at Martinsville was pretty droll, but it’s Martinsville. We accept the fact that NASCAR Cup cars have outgrown the small .526-mile oval and that they rarely produce anything resembling compelling racing until the final 20 laps or so.

Even then, it’s the kind of racing that requires – demands – that someone run over another competitor to win.

Yeah buddy, wrecking is racin!’

It’s no secret that we frown on that kind of action. We like it when cars can actually race on tracks where there are multiple grooves. We’ll take the current layout of Bristol over Martinsville any day – where Bowyer has racing options other than to crash Gordon and Johnson if he wanted to win as happened Sunday.

Still, we’re plowing up Bristol instead of Martinsville, right?

According to Smith, fans want to see more ‘action’ at Bristol and while there is no plan in place, the Big ‘O’ has assured everyone that there will be changes to the track layout at Bristol by the time NASCAR rolls back into the Mountain Empire in August.

If that configuration is similar to pre-2007 track specs, you can expect more races like we had at Martinsville Sunday – the follow the leader, no passing, crash someone to win at the finish fest.

That also means you can pretty much set your DVR and head to the beach, cut the grass, or do something else for that race because the only ‘racing’ that will happen at Bristol will be the start – and the finish.

Just like at Martinsville Sunday.

Pitting For Repairs –

This will be the last Close Calls submission for a couple of weeks.

The folks at OrthoCarolina are pulling me behind the wall for repairs this Wednesday. I’ll be able to resume working after few days in Mercy Hospital in Charlotte and a week or so at home.

Appreciate you all keeping the world safe for auto racing while I’m out.

Many thanks in advance for all the kind thoughts, prayers and well wishes.

Best to all JC

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