Martinsville: Win, Lose or Draw

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Martinsville was supposed to be the race that separated the field. All it did was bunch things up in a way Sprint Cup fans haven’t seen in years. There’s no better way to look ahead than taking a look back….Bert Convy style

Win: ESPN

So ESPN has five drivers within 36 points of the lead with three races to go? Two of those drivers are tied for the lead. One of those drivers wouldn’t have made the playoffs had it not been for a recactive move from a dictatorial governing body. One is a pro wrestling bad guy. The other called out his the grandson of his boss. I suspect the identification of viable stories won’t be an issue for the next few weeks.

Lose: Kevin Harvick

Harvick is 28 points from his first Sprint Cup title. Most drivers would spend 100 percent of their time focusing on the most important element of their career. Instead, Harvick is venting about what happened at a truck race.  Oh yeah, the guy he is calling out happens to be Ty Dillon, whose grandfather happens to be Richard Childress.

This isn’t an indictment of the Truck Series. It is a critical component of the NASCAR’s development system,  (more on that in a minute.) Why is Harvick racing in the development series? Why is Harvick calling out Ty Dillon? Why is Harvick calling out the boss who made him star? Why is Harvick calling out the boss who still has the means to give him his first Sprint Cup title?

Maybe Harvick can compartmentalize all of this. But great athletes finds ways to avoid distractions, and this seems to be counterproductive.

Draw: NASCAR

So NASCAR had a great week.  Darrell Wallace Jr. made history with his win. The Chase is as competitive as it’s been in years. NASCAR received front page sports publicity.

So why a draw? The last African American to win in a NASCAR national touring series was back in 1963. As great as the Drive for Diversity is, that number looks really bad , just as diversity numbers look in golf, baseball and other sports. Again, this isn’t a NASCAR issue, but NASCAR is going to get scrutinized for its diversity efforts until someone consistently competes at the Sprint Cup level.

So does Wallace Jr. get pushed to Sprint Cup Racing before he’s ready? Who knows? Did it help open wheel racers and other drivers when they got called up because of sponsorship dollars and not competitive readiness? We do know the answer to this question.

Racing needs more Darrell Wallace Jr’s in the sport. Personally, I can’t wait to see what he does next week. Hopefully he stays away from Kevin Harvick who hopefully spends as much time trying to focus on a Sprint Cup title as the other four contenders in these final three races. So much for Martinsville making things more clear.