Martinsville often equals madness, and for those who are into it, Sunday’s race did not disappoint. One contender takes another out, there was a last lap pass for the lead, and fans in their minds have more clearly defined the black hats and white hats of the day.
There’s no skin in the game in the brouhaha between Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott. One thought strikes me as I read Hamlin’s apology on Twitter: you sure didn’t seem sorry when you and Billy’s boy were “talking” at the track in Martinsville. Something tells me Coach Gibbs and/or Fed Ex had their driver do a little damage control. The whole thing looked more like a racing deal, but there’s little question who’s perceived guilty in the court of public opinion. Remember who we’ve talked about sponsors being the tail that wags the dog in NASCAR? Exhibit A may exist right here.
You ever seen a kennel of hounds when they know you’re bringing them dinner? Ever seen hyenas at the watering hole on Animal Planet? The closed quarters at Martinsville at playoff time produces that kind of effect among otherwise genteel gents. Regardless of who was the good guy or who was the bad guy Sunday, let’s not forget that none of these competitors would be anything like this on the street. It’s kind of like how Allison Arnegrim of “Nellie Oleson” fame on Little House on The Prairie would get booed publicly off the set. It’s competition people! Chasing that win brings out the best…..and the worst in people. Regardless of whether or not Hamlin was right or wrong, it added to the event.
I’ll admit this whole playoff system goes against the grain in motorsports. With that being said, pursuit of the win on a little half mile track makes for compelling racing. Admit it. Those “good points days” aren’t quite so relevant anymore. Admittedly, the flip side of Martinsville is that Elliott is in a precarious spot heading into Texas. Makes you wonder what will happen next time Hamlin and Elliott are within spitting distance of each other.