Consider our Takeaways feature to be the home of our random and sometimes intelligent musings. Sometimes the post may have a theme. Sometimes it may just be a mess of unrelated thoughts. Make sure you tweet us your thoughts after the race or email your post-race rants via the link in the signature line below.
• Hopefully Martinsville Speedway is re-evaluating its post-race pit road procedures after a fan got on pit road and got close to Denny Hamlin following the race.
As you can see, the fan was quite unhappy with Hamlin’s actions at the end of the race. Chase Elliott crashed off Hamlin’s bumper.
A Chase Elliott fan wants to fight Denny Hamlin. pic.twitter.com/kcGgfL6NNd
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverAW) October 29, 2017
Fan accessibility should always be important in NASCAR. But this is too accessible. Imagine an NFL or MLB fan getting on the field after a game to scream at his favorite team’s opponent?
• Elliott’s crash off Hamlin’s bumper with six laps to go is unfortunate for his playoff chances. But given the way Elliott raced Brad Keselowski for the lead just before he got wrecked by Hamlin, it’s hard to argue that Elliott didn’t have something similar coming to him.
Elliott drove Keselowski up the track for the lead seconds before he was crashed by Hamlin. It’s easy to separate what Elliott and Hamlin did because Keselowski didn’t crash. But Keselowski could have easily spun into the wall given the way Elliott raced him for the lead.
You have to look at the process and not the outcome. And the process of Elliott running Keselowski up the track isn’t much different than the process of Hamlin driving into turn 3 locked onto the back of Elliott’s car. If Elliott doesn’t go spinning and simply moves up the track, Hamlin’s move isn’t viewed with nearly as much disdain.
“We had a great car today and we had an opportunity,” Elliott said. We had a good restart there at the end and felt like I was doing what I needed to do. And I can’t control [Hamlin’s] decisions and whatever the hell that was. We’re on to Texas.”
Hamlin issued an apology for his actions after the race.
• It will be fun to juxtapose whatever NASCAR does with Hamlin’s comment that the end of Sunday’s race was “complete bulls**t chaos” and what it did to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2004.
Remember, Earnhardt Jr. was penalized 25 points for saying “sh–” in a post-race interview after winning at Talladega in 2004. Hamlin shouldn’t be penalized for what he said Sunday night, but NASCAR’s precedent from 13 years ago looms. This is a case where inconsistency is the best option.
• The sounds from the crowd following the race as Hamlin and Elliott gave their post-race interviews added incredible color to the moment. The events of the final laps at Martinsville were perhaps the most authentic moments possible within NASCAR’s small sample size and manufactured format.
• Major props to both Elliott and Hamlin for not exchanging blows as they discussed the events on the track as soon as the race was over. Nothing is gained from a fight between two drivers. Highlights of two drivers trading blows on the Today Show or Good Morning America only serves to reinforce a stereotype. While one could argue that it’d be more “dramatic” if the drivers had gotten physical, both should be commended they didn’t.
• It’s important to remember that NASCAR’s five-year sanctioning agreement with tracks means the Cup Series schedule won’t change significantly until 2020. While it’s unlikely there will be large-scale renovations to the schedule in 2021, there’s at least a chance that another short track or two will be added.
But not before then. And that’s a shame. Martinsville is a gem. It’s foolish to think all of NASCAR’s problems with declining audiences would disappear if more short tracks were on the 2017 schedule. But it’s easy to wonder if they would be less severe.
• The next race on the Cup Series schedule is at Texas. The Martinsville race weekend was a two-day affair with practice and qualifying taking place on Saturday and Sunday. That prompted Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage to opine that less was not more for NASCAR and its fans.
NASCAR president Brent Dewar responded quite curiously.
The president of NASCAR publicly telling a track president he “might want to focus on your event next weekend” is… something. pic.twitter.com/N8YLd3qqbM
— Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) October 28, 2017
That’s a tweet beneath a high-ranking executive like Dewar. It’s understandable why NASCAR would take issue with a track president speaking out against another track’s weekend schedule but those rebuttals should be done in private. Especially if it’s regarding a topic that NASCAR wished didn’t exist in the first place.
Transparency is good. Sniping at other executives publicly isn’t. Especially when you’re in the wrong. The 2017 Martinsville race featured 85 minutes less practice for the Cup Series than the 2016 race did.
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