When the dust finally settled on Sunday, there didn’t appear to be a single car without some damage. Martinsville is known for beating and banging, but what we saw in the Cup race was seriously ramped up. All race long it was every driver for themselves, and it didn’t seem to matter for some who got in the way. If this intensity continues for the remaining races, we could be in for one hell of a finish to the season.
Some drivers have been complaining in recent months that there seems to be a lot less give and a lot more take on the race track. Instead of riding around for the first part of the race and settling things in the last 50 or 100 laps, some drivers are racing hard from the drop of the green flag. For race fans, it’s what we hope for. It creates drama and conflict, and we want to see hard racing from start to finish. But for drivers who are used to that give and take, it can be very frustrating.
Another phenomenon that seems to be waning is the way non-Chase drivers drive around Chase drivers. For a while, it seemed that those on the outside would handle those on the inside with kid gloves. A non-Chase driver didn’t want to be involved in an accident that ended a Chase driver’s chances. That certainly didn’t happen on Sunday (see Brian Vickers vs. Matt Kenseth). Drivers on the outside, while not racing for a championship, still have much to race for, and many are finally starting to learn this.
Over the next day or so, Brian Vickers is going to catch a lot of hell over the way he drove. He certainly did a nice job of hitting everything but the pace car. But he wasn’t the only offender on Sunday. Plenty of drivers used the chrome horn to move a competitor out of the way, and many of the moved ended up wadded up. This week, the high speeds of Texas will probably keep the contact and retaliation at bay. But don’t forget Phoenix is right around the corner…