Lugnuts: Nobody Better Than Johnson at the Paperclip
So Jimmie Johnson won at Martinsville again. Is anybody shocked? You shouldn’t be. It’s obvious now that nobody is better at Martinsville Speedway than Johnson and the 48 team. The only driver that has come close to rivaling Johnson in the past couple of years has been Denny Hamlin. But the path to victory for Johnson was a bit easier yesterday due to Hamlin being sidelined with a fracture in his back.
Johnson led 346 laps out of 500 yesterday. He started on pole. And the lowest he ran all day was fourth. That’s just total domination.
He now sits all alone in third place on the all-time wins list at Martinsville with eight wins. The only drivers who have more wins at the paperclip than Johnson are Richard Petty (15) and Darrell Waltrip (11). The drivers that Johnson just hopped over on the list are Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace. That’s pretty good company to be in.
Everybody knows that Martinsville is a really difficult track to race. It’s tight, it’s slow, there’s a curb to your left while in the corner. You need to get in a rhythm and keep your focus for 500 laps. But Johnson makes it look easy. We all know it isn’t easy, but that’s how they make it look because he and his team are just that good.
One thing is certain though. When the Sprint Cup Series returns to Martinsville Speedway in October, Johnson’s path to his ninth victory at the track will be a lot harder with a determined Denny Hamlin back on the race track.
The Truck Series
Did you know that NASCAR has a series called the Camping World Truck Series? Yes, it’s an actual series that races more than 20 times a year. It wasn’t just a one-off special event at Daytona. I can forgive you for not knowing that though. It’s been so long since the Trucks raced at Daytona that it’s easy to forget the series exists.
It’s a shame that the early part of the schedule has so many gaps for the series, because it might just be the best of the top three series.
The Trucks returned this past weekend at Martinsville Speedway, and once again they put on a fantastic show.
20-year-old Jeb Burton, son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, won the pole for Saturday’s race. He was joined on the front row by 19-year-old Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. Burton led 154 laps out of the 250 raced, but finished third.
The race had some controversy when Burton wrecked series veteran Ron Hornaday. It had strategy due to tires that wore out heavily. It had a lot of passing, a lot of bumping and banging. It was just good, short-track fun.
And that is why this series needs a better schedule. There was no reason to have a five week break in between race one and race two. The show at Daytona is always great. The show at Martinsville is always fantastic. Use that to your advantage and get the series even more exposure.
Next Sunday the Trucks will take on The Rock. Tough trucks on a classic race track. Tune in. You won’t be disappointed.
Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race featured an influx of young drivers. When I say “young” I don’t mean 25-years-old. I mean teenagers.
Chase Elliott, son of Sprint Cup Series champion, Bill, is 16-years-old. Erik Jones, winner of the 2012 Snowball Derby, is 16-years-old. Both drivers made their series debut this past weekend thanks to NASCAR lowering the age to 16 for races on short tracks and road courses in the series.
Darrell Wallace Jr. is 19-years-old, and he started on the outside of the front row. Jeb Burton is 20 (okay, not a teenager) and he won the pole.
All four drivers finished the race in the top 10. Burton finished third, Wallace fifth, Elliott sixth, and Jones finished ninth.
The only younger, hyped drivers missing from the top 10 were Ryan Blaney and Ty Dillon. But we all know what Blaney and Dillon are capable of doing. They just had a bad race on Saturday.
These are the drivers of the future. In a few years Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, etc. will be retiring. They will most likely be replaced by these drivers. And I have no problem with that.
If the future of NASCAR is in the hands of these young drivers, then NASCAR is in good hands.