Commentary

OBSERVATIONS: NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 at Martinsville Speedway

By: Ashley McCubbin

The racing in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series has been aggressive, with drivers not shy to use their bumpers – as we even saw on the 1.5-mile oval of Texas Motor Speedway. So of course when you send them to close quarters, you can expect that to multiply.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 was filled with bumping and banging from the first lap of the event, to the checkered flag, as drivers looked to make their way forward in the running order and secure either a win or even more so, a chance at a championship.

Grant Enfinger said it correctly after winning – a chance to be part of the Championship 4 equation at Phoenix Raceway next weekend will make a driver push their limits beyond their normal bounds. That is what we played to witness to in watching the action as it seemed whomever was at the front was willing to do whatever it took with their front bumper to remain there.

Enfinger followed that rule of thumb, ultimately playing the role in a couple different instances that saw other drivers chances at winning fooled. Sheldon Creed went around courtesy of contact from Enfinger as Brett Moffitt took them three-wide, Johnny Sauter had a flat tire courtesy of contact from Enfinger to Carson Hocevar, and a front bumper to the back of Raphael Lessard to send him around.

If Enfinger can sleep at night in knowing what it took to get there, then more power to him as that is something that would not sit on the conscious of everybody out there. Though secondly, and possibly more importantly, he may want to think about what he has done as an incident here could come back to bite him at Phoenix. What if Lessard dishes his own dish in response, or what if Creed determines that is how the battle lines are drawn for the championship and wants to race him the same way?

Alas, the discussions to be had and the type of excitement that was experienced with everyone on the edge of the seat wondering what would happen is why Martinsville Speedway marks the perfect spot for a cut-off race, and why this weekend as a whole should be full of great, close contact with tempers flown each way.

Now each driver involved at different times can be questioned whether their move was fair or not, but all in all, the aggressive nature in the series seems to be kicked up a notch. Is it attributed to simply the pressure to perform to get a ride for next year, and the fact it’s close quarters? Or is this the product of the racing culture that we’ve created?

As Kyle Busch mentioned after Texas, many kids are coming up through the ranks wrecking cars. There are plenty of late model races across the country each week who end in the same type of controversy. Is the respect known before fading away in lure of excitement and take all attitude?

Either way, while it creates excitement, it may not be the best way to see the culture of racing head. This is where a lot of torn up equipment seems to happen, and at times, that’s not best for a team’s bank account as you can’t always fix that. Besides, do you want to have guys fixing broken trucks every single week?

These are the types of questions that certainly team owners and drivers should be asking themselves and discussing before things get way too sided the wrong way in case this is not the direction to be going. It’s the same thing fans should be asking themselves, while considering how they’d feel for their driver on both sides of the coin.

Though for now, the fans should be ready to eat up the action and enjoy the show….

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