It is short track season in NASCAR, and they didn’t even leave the state this time! So close to home base for a lot of teams — North Carolina — but they’re like “yeah, sure, let’s do back to back Virginia races!” So here we are: The Paperclip. Martinsville, VA, one week removed from Richmond.
Here’s what to look for:
–Chase Elliott snagged the Pole and was a full tenth faster than anyone else in the field. It was pretty tight after him, but a solid lead for the #9 this week. We’re still waiting for Chase to do Chase things this season, and this could be his coming out party. He finished 2nd in this race last year, and took the checkers in the 2020 Fall race to punch his ticket to the Season Finale in Phoenix where he won his first Championship.
–Martin Truex Jr. won this race last year, and three of the last five at The ‘Clip! That is a pretty solid record and you should feel good about hanging your hat on this one…unless you watched Qualifying. Truex is slotted to roll off 20th, and he isn’t the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver to struggle.
-His teammate, Denny Hamlin, has the best record of active drivers here: average finish of 10.2, five Wins, and an amazing 16 Top 5s in 32 attempts! 50% of his races have resulted in a podium or podium-adjacent placement. But as alluded to above, he, too, had issues in Qualifying! Hamlin, last week’s winner (pictured above), will start 25th today and is seeking more smiles.
–Ryan Blaney has the 2nd best average finish here of active drivers (10.8), but is still seeking his first Win. He finished 11th in each Martinsville race last year, and has finished 6th and 7th in the last two races this year. He’s definitely been up there, especially when it comes to time trials. He’s started on the front row of each of the last four races (three Poles), but today he’ll roll off 12th.
-Could Chris Buescher surprise today? There is definitely something in the stats that suggest he could. His teammate, Brad Keselowski, is one the best at Martinsville, and Buescher finished 13th and 9th here last year. Today he’ll start 4th, way better than a lot of the favorites in the field.
We’ve returned from down south, but we’re still eating food that other people have prepared for us.
We went to nearby Palmer’s and got some delicious seafood. I’m rocking my awesome Crab Delights shirt today, but we’re going to hold off on an awesome[ly expensive] Blue Crab meal until the Fall. Still, we ate well. Scallops and Old Bay shrimp for me, and a boatload of can’t-eat-all-of-this-in-one-sitting fried shrimp and fries for my gal. Mine was more expensive somehow; dumb scallops! I’ll be eating something else in about four minutes, haha, and I should’ve got what she ordered. Looking back at last year, we ate at Lure’s midday and had different seafood then, too! One of these days, we’ll have some Martinsville Spring race seafood at home.
Coverage of the race starts on FS1 at 7:30pm, green flag scheduled for 7:58pm. We’ve got some rain and snow in the area though so we’ll see what shakes out.