Snow day for NASCAR
It’s not often that we can talk about a NASCAR race being postponed because of snow but that’s exactly what happened this past weekend in beautiful Martinsville.
Snow was in the forecast and the Weather Channel folks nailed it this time. Actually, the Weather Channel sent a crew to report from the track. The track opened Friday and inspections and some practice were run. Then on Saturday the Camping World Truck series was to run the Alpha Energy Solutions 250.
NASCAR adjusted its daily schedule of events and made a valiant effort to get the truck race in. Qualifying was held and the race began at the appointed time. Ben Rhodes had a strong truck and led for 26 laps before the snow showers set in. The race was red flagged and the trucks were impounded in the garage area. The snow settled in and when it was over anywhere from 6 to 10 inches of the white stuff blanketed the speedway and grounds.
NASCAR made a call and along with the usual snow removal equipment a snow vacuum-equipped truck was brought in from Kansas City. Track crews worked all throughout Saturday night removing snow but the area was so hard hit that the decision was made to postpone Sunday’s activities until Monday.
Power outages along with dangerous travel situations had the Henrico county emergency personnel stretched too thin to add the problem of race traffic.
Monday morning saw clear skies but frigid temperatures! At 11 a.m. the sound of the trucks could be heard as they began to run some warm-up laps and shortly the truck race was resumed. Ben Rhodes took over where he left off and sprinted off to the early lead. It appeared that he had the class of the field winning both stages. The pit road was extremely crowded and after a round of pit stops Rhodes found himself deep in the field. He made an effort to move back to the front but was unable to become a factor in the closing laps.
Rookie Kyle Benjamin led for a while but it was John Hunter Nemechek who grabbed the lead on a late race restart and held off Benjamin to win the race for his family owned team. Benjamin had his mirror full of Brett Moffitt and was able to keep him behind as these two Young Guns finished second and third. Grant Enfinger scored yet another top five, finishing fourth and Noah Gragson finished fifth. The trucks have a few off weeks as their next race will be May 4 at Dover, Delaware.
After the victory celebration was over and John Hunter received his Grandfather Clock trophy it was time for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series to take to the tricky half-mile paperclip shaped track for the STP 500.
Denny Hamlin is always a threat to win at Martinsville and he was able to grab the first stage win. Qualifying was snowed out so the starting lineup was set by series point standings. Ryan Blaney moved to the front and grabbed stage two after Hamlin smashed into the back of Kevin Harvick’s Freaky fast Ford. Hamlin said he felt Kevin brake checked him and was not happy post-race.
The final stage saw Clint Bowyer in another Stewart Haas Ford take the lead on a restart and never really look back. This broke a long dry spell for Bowyer and he was overjoyed in victory lane. His burn out was something to see. He took the car at speed into turns 3 and 4 and looped the car in a huge cloud of smoke!
Kyle Busch assumed the point lead, finishing second, but seemed to be whiney in his post-race interview. Ryan Blaney came home a strong third. Martin Truex Jr. finished fourth and Kevin Harvick finished fifth.
This was a very clean race for the most part. Hamlin being upset with Harvick and Busch being angry he couldn’t catch Bowyer were the two main stories besides getting a snow day.
This coming weekend the Xfinity cars will race Saturday and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup cars will race Sunday at the mile and a half Texas Motor Speedway. Speeds are usually in excess of 200 mph at this high-banked speedway. This will be quite a change from the low speed flat turns at Martinsville.
I’ll bring you all the action next week and remember, at the end of those high speed straightaways there’s Another Left Turn.