Can we talk racing now?
But what about the racing?
C'mon folks, we are at Martinsville! This is the epitome of short tracks, and no doubt there will be more rivalries, more feuds and more beating and banging that will have the media giggling.
Martinsville is an emotional track for all of the Hendrick Motorsports teams to visit. In 2004 during the fall race, a HMS plane crashed, killing members of the Hendrick family, most notably, perhaps, Ricky Hendrick. There after, a win here by any HMS teammate has resulted in backwards hats, and special celebrations. Of course, Jimmie Johnson leads the way with 6 wins for HMS, but Jeff Gordon also has a couple of wins at the track. Coincidentally, after the practice this morning, Jimmie Johnson led, with Jeff having the fourth fastest time, Kasey Kahne in 7th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. running ninth. HMS is once again showing the teeth at the track.
With Denny Hamlin out with a compression fracture in his spine, one of the biggest threats is removed from the lineup. Mark Martin will drive the 11 this weekend, before relinquishing the ride to Brian Vickers for the duration of Denny's rehabilitation. Denny hopes that won't be the six to twelve weeks the doctors say are possible, but he is also mindful of the risk of more damage should he return too early.
Martinsville is a narrow track, just over a half mile around. It has two 800 foot long straightaways, with these little 12 degree banked corners. Fifty-five thousand people can cram into the stands here, and the stands are often filled to capacity. Beat up fenders, chrome horns and hurt feelings abound. Tempers flare. Teammates sometimes even go after teammates. And the racing is almost always intense and entertaining. What could be better?
Both the trucks and the Sprint Cup cars will race at Martinsville. Again some of the Cup regulars will do double duty, driving in the Truck race, including Kevin Harvick. Whether he will grab a win, here in the trucks remains to be seen, but Happy will most definitely be a factor. His old employee, Ron Hornaday Jr. is also in the field. Will they work together?
My question to you all today is what do you expect from Martinsville? Do we get more more drama? Or more great racing? Who is your favorite to win? Will Joey Logano get paid back? What new will we see out of the Gen6 car, if anything? And finally, will HMS dominate?