Martinsville Short Track Long On Playoff Implications

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 28 2019
Kyle Busch at Martinsville Speedway. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Talladega and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s The ROVAL are often touted as the NASCAR Cup playoffs’ wildcard races, but there are those who believe Martinsville Speedway is lurking in the shadows as one, too. 

Kyle Busch, this year’s regular season champion, is among those who believe the historic short track possesses a wildcard element in regards to what is in the driver’s control, especially late in the 500-lap race. 

“Coming down to late restarts whether it’s inside 20 to go sometimes, maybe, definitely inside 10 to go and no question inside five to go restarts,” Busch said Saturday during preparations for this weekend’s First Data 500. “Nobody has any care for anybody else at that time and you just run over anybody you can run over.”

It’s the restarts, however, that Chase Elliott believes gives every race a “little bit of a wildcard aspect.”

“Who know how restarts are going to go or if you’re going to get some damage or crash or whatever, so I think there’s always a wildcard factor everywhere,” Elliott said. 

Denny Hamlin, who has won five Martinsville races, believes about 30 percent of the race at the NASCAR Cup Series shortest track is out of the driver’s control. 

“I think if you have the fastest car and the best driver and all that, there’s still – and you’re leading – there’s a 30 percent chance of losing because of unknowns,” said Hamlin, who won the pole for Sunday’s race. “There are definitely no guarantees. There are definitely cautions that could really bite you.  It could mix up the field, take away your track position, bad pit stops, there’s just a lot of different things that can keep you from winning. 

“It’s not just about other sports where it’s one team against the other, one-on- one, it’s one versus many. Everyone’s got an agenda.”

On the other hand, Joey Logano doesn’t believe any race in the series possesses a wildcard aspect. 

“There might be some races that there might be more risk or something could happen, but I don’t think it’s a wildcard race,” said Logano, who won last year’s fall Martinsville race en route to his championship. “I don’t think anything happens by accident in this world a lot of times.” 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 28 2019
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