Observations: Cook Out 250 at Martinsville Speedway

By: Mitchell Breuer

The NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Martinsville Speedway that was delayed from Friday to Sunday proved to be worth the wait for Josh Berry, who captured his first win in the series.  

Differing pit strategies at the end of Stage 2, allowed the driver of the No. 8 to move up to the front of the field, while guys like Noah Gragson and Daniel Hemric, loss track position after gaining stage points. From there, Berry took advantage of what was in front of him, preforming an impressive job holding on to the lead despite being the first laps he led in the series.

That is not to say he did not have his challengers though, as Ty Gibbs, making his third career start, made his way to the front yet again with 57 to go, and seemed to be on pace to check out. However, Berry did not let the 18-year-old get away retaking the lead with 29 to go.  After that moment it seemed like Gibbs had used up everything he had, as he fell from first to fourth in final laps.  

Berry was not in the clear yet though, as Gragson and Hemric reemerged at the front of the field and seem to have the speed to catch the No. 8.  However, just as he done all day Berry fought off the pressure and drove to victory lane.  

His JR Motorsports teammate, Gragson, held on to finish second, and walked away with an extra $100 thousand dollars, as a result of being the highest finishing Dash4Cash eligible driver.  

Outside the battle at the front of the field, the main theme of the race seemed to be aggressiveness, with several drivers being dumped and spun around causing numerous cautions. One driver that did not appreciate the contact was Joe Graf Jr, who spun after contact with Gray Gaulding. Following the race, the two were seen brawling in the garage area, a true showcase of the “short-track tempers” attitude that has been established at these types of tracks over the years.

Another interesting moment that may have slipped under the radar during the excitement of the race, was NASCAR’s interaction with Josh Williams. Williams was held one lap after NASCAR deemed he spun out on purpose to cause a caution after he had a flat tire. After criticism a few weeks ago during a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where some suggested Kyle Busch did the same thing, it seems like NASCAR may be making adjustments to take a firmer stance on these types of incidents.

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