Doubles on doubles. William Byron came into Martinsville with some momentum of an early season win. He already notched his playoff spot with a March win at Atlanta. However, there was a lot of hunger from a lot of drivers coming into the 75th year of racing at the historic raceway.
Racing was set to start with Chase Elliott on the pole. However, the weather took center stage about the time of driver introductions with cold rain and some reports of a snow flurry blowing by. The rain held the scheduled start for a bit over an hour before the track went green.
It was Chase Elliott’s race to lose while running up front for the start through the finish of stage 2. Byron, however, was on the bumper of the #9 for both stages and managed to win the race out of the pits for the run on stage 3.
Byron held on for the remainder of the race even as green flag pit stops cycled through. A late race tap of the wall by Todd Gilliland left the door open with a green-whit restart. Joey Logano made a bump move but Byron hung on to the #24 to take the win. Logano came in second with Austin Dillon coming in the third spot.
The other double beyond the second Cup win for 2022…? William Byron had also won the Camping World Series race at Martinsville on Thursday night.
At the end of the racing for Blue Emu weekend at Martinsville, William Byron came away looking for space for two Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks. Perhaps there was some old #24 magic blowing about as Jeff Gordon was around the pit and garage area and both he and Byron noted a long-time friendship. Byron spoke how Gordon would give him pointers or things to watch well before his actual driving career hit its stride. It took time, he said, but those conversations began to fall into place the more laps he ran at the “paperclip”.
Next up is Bristol – Racing on the dirt!
The Top 5 at Martinsville – The Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400
Well… Now it’s on! NASCAR has packed the April schedule with a Virginia run on short track racing.
*OK fine… Technically, the Bristol Motor Speedway is in Tennessee. However, Bristol itself is split on the Virginia border…
Richmond is up first. Martinsville the weekend after. Bristol (yeah yeah) is on Easter Sunday. This is reversed from Spring of 2021.
So far, season points races have seen young and newer Cup stars in the victory spotlights. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have wins in non-point, pre-season events.
Austin Cindric made his NASCAR Cup points debut in the #2 Penske Ford and won the Daytona 500. Defending Cup Champion Kyle Larson grabbed a win at Auto Club Speedway in California. Alex Bowman took Vegas making 7 career Cup wins. Chase Briscoe also notched his first Cup win with a checkers at Phoenix. William Byron added to his two previous wins (2021, 2020) with a victory in Atlanta. The most recent success came at Circuit of the Americas as Ross Chastain placed his first Cup win.
Oddly enough, Chase Elliott is currently leading the points with no wins but “top finish position” math adds up. Elliott is, oddly enough, the lone Hendrick driver without a win but is certainly making the effort.
Early season racing has focused on speed, drafting and shaking down the “new generation” car in race conditions. One exhibition short track outing gave a clue but the Virginia sweep will find all the tight pack nuances of how these bigger brakes and sequential shifting play out. The tight quarter pit stops will also make the teams hit all the new marks for tires and fuel.
NASCAR Cup features runs at all three tracks. The Xfinity Series runs at Richmond and Martinsville but skips the “dirt race” of Bristol. Camping World Trucks skip Richmond but run Martinsville and Bristol. Richmond Raceway also will host the Whelen Modified Series with the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150 to fill out the Toyota Owners / Toyota Care weekend.
Xfinity will be on race number seven coming away from Circuit of The Americas. AJ Allmendinger grabbed the road course win. Ty Gibbs has two wins so far with Austin Hill and Noah Gragson holding one each. Cole Custer also has an Xfinity win but is running points in the Cup series. Gragson barely has a points lead in the series.
Camping World Trucks will be running their fifth race of the season at Martinsville. Chandler Smith and Corey Heim have one win. Zane Smith has two wins from Daytona and COTA. The math of finish positions and a win has Chandler Smith currently on top of the points going into Martinsville.
Also, Richmond and Martinsville invite fans to the tracks on race week for “Charity Laps”. For Richmond Raceway on March 30, register and drive your car on the track with funds benefiting the Henrico Firefighter Foundation. For Martinsville on April 6, your car on the track benefits Vet Tix (Organization supplying sport and entertainment for United States Veterans).
Another highlight for the season in Virginia is Martinsville Speedway celebrating 75 years of NASCAR racing history at the track. The honors are reflected with a special anniversary display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. However, Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 weekend at Martinsville is just beyond. We have Richmond Raceway first up for April short track racing. The Whelen Modified race is a welcome return at Richmond with series runs there peppered back to 1990. Modified racing made a NASCAR sanction first for Virginia and Richmond way back in 1948.
It’s time. April is NASCAR in Virginia. Also – Don’t forget to check your short tracks, too. Home tracks, dirt tracks and drag strips are all coming alive this month! Go racing!
Kyle Busch did not win. The position was there for the advantage but the late race caution shuffled the deck for an “all in” run for the finish.
It was Eric Jones in the #43 that almost had it down on the apron but the car lost traction and slid back on the track in front of Bubba Wallace who clipped it with the #23 and took a dive to the infield safety tire wall. It was Kyle Busch out front racing team mate Truex, Jr before the caution.
With the history and “home town” advantage, one would think a gamble for the win would be second nature. However, it was the Hendrick teams that gambled on two tires at the pit to roll them out in position. It paid off for Alex Bowman as the ALLY #48 took the checkers at Vegas after starting the late race run with team mate Kyle Larson on the front row.
Kyle Busch was left back in fourth place. The caution was not with Busch’s words as post race comments seemed to pull Bowman through the coals of harsh language and criticism of the win. Kyle is not known for constraint at a loss that was so close to a win and reports are that the two drivers have, indeed, spoken following the race. Cooler heads and a sense of humor prevailed as both Bowman and Busch threw down with special sales on their merch.
Animal Shelters benefited from the sale of Bowman “All Luck – No Skill” T-shirts (from Kyle’s comments) and some Kyle Busch items online were marked 48% off (Bowman’s number). Heat of the moment comments were turned to lighter responses and good cause results.
Racing this month is all about big tracks and big speeds. Next month the short tracks will put these new cars to a real test. The drivers and teams have only had a temporary stadium bit of asphalt to get a taste of short track bumping. Richmond and Martinsville are ready to heat up the mix. The Richmond “D” oval track offers some of the speed of the west and mixes it up with some tight turns. Toyota Owners weekend is a good cross over into the short tracks.
Martinsville is tight and quick. Those new bigger brakes and wider tires will get a workout and many drivers will be reaching for the Blue Emu after 500 laps. It’s a track that has been testing cars for a long time and this year with a really new package is going to be very interesting.
Bristol…? They are bringing the dirt back in. These cars are designed to be at home on asphalt. Dirt wasn’t part of the plan when the drawing boards were out on this car. Bristol and dirt came into the mix on the back end. It is going to be a Food City show!
Let’s not forget that weekender racing is also opening up fast. Every home track is looking at schedules and a supply line for tires after many last year had to limit or cancel some events. Tracks of all types are getting under way for 2022 so nobody has to wait for the NASCAR Cup show to catch exciting racing all around the country.
NASCAR is in Phoenix this weekend. Everybody can’t be there… So where are you racing? Check your home track schedule and catch some laps!
Nobody saw it coming – Not even Landon Pembelton as the crew made the early tire decision to gain position later. Pembleton, a rookie with his first laps at Martinsville Speedway, thought he may have a top 10 but came away with the win in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300.
They set the tire change earlier than most which allowed a restart up front at the lap 150 mark following a scheduled full track pit. Race veterans were already having some issues that were keeping their cars from performing at the usual pace. When Pembleton took the lead he mostly took off with it. Other late race cautions gave others a chance at it but they couldn’t pull the #0 of Pembelton off the lead for long. Mike Looney, the 2016 winner, gave it a challenge on the final restart but Pembelton pulled him back for the lead and the win. The 16 year old driver took the checkers with his first run at the historic short track.
For the most part, the race was on for the younger drivers more than seasoned veterans. Daniel Silvestri, a young driver with a CARS Tour win earned the pole from qualifying the night before. Bobby McCarty, a two time CARS Tour champion, was also on the front row. The rest of the drivers had to run the heat races for position on Saturday before the main event.
Veterans like Peyton Sellers and Mike Looney started barely within the top 10. Other long time drivers such as Timothy Peters and Stacy Puryear started mid pack. Philip Morris had terrible luck in his heat race with a tire and crash incident that put him out of the main completely.
For the most part, even with this being the late model return to Martinsville since 2019 and the Covid cancel of 2020, the race was relatively mild for cautions. There were spins and some other contact driving but it seemed to be much less than previous late model contests here.
Sellers was anxious to go for his first ValleyStar 300 win as he was just named the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series National Champion. He has won the “Triple Crown” but hasn’t notched the Martinsville Clock. For the 2021 Triple Crown (combined best finishes at South Boston, Langley and Martinsville), it was front row starter Bobby McCarty taking the honor.
The top 10 finishers for the race at Martinsville: 1-Landon Pembelton 2-Mike Looney 3-Layne Riggs 4-Sammy Smith 5-Jared Fryar 6-Bobby McCarty 7-Jacob Borst 8-Justin Johnson 9-Daniel Silvestri 10-Kaden Honeycutt
Next up for Martinsville Speedway is the NASCAR Cup weekend of October 30-31. Camping World, Xfinity and CUP will all be running before the season finale the following week in Phoenix.
Full Photo Gallery Below – 2021 ValleyStar Credit Union 300
The Late Model racing season is coming to a head this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 will draw drivers and teams from around the region to compete in what is billed as the largest late model race to run. The “Virginia Triple Crown” will take the points from the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 at South Boston and the Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway and push that into the results at Martinsville.
The race returns after the Covid hiatus of 2020 as tracks on the regular season were down across the region. Returning 2019 winner Josh Berry is expected to race carrying a bit of a streak into the weekend. He also won the NASCAR Xfinity race at Martinsville earlier this year.
Peyton Sellers, recently named National Late Model Champion in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, will also be chasing his first win in the “300”. He has run it many times and has been a repeat “Triple Crown” winner but has not been able to take the checkers on the final lap.
Timothy Peters is another name which is no stranger in winner’s circles. His connection to Martinsville and Southside Virginia racing has put him in the spotlight with NASCAR national series races and is another local favorite that could repeat a win at the VSCU 300.
Bobby McCarty and Ty Gibbs will also be drivers to watch. McCarty has the Thunder Road win and Ty Gibbs is expected to show with experience in ARCA and Xfinity.
Motor Mile Speedway just ran their Champions weekend and drivers Kres VanDyke and Ryan Wilson should be on hand to showcase their skills under the big lights. Other tracks from all around the region should also be represented by fan favorites taking their shot at Martinsille.
Previously, there have been full days of practice at Martinsville a week or so before race weekend. This year the format has been compacted into Friday and Saturday. Friday , the 24th, there will be a 4 hour open practice session before qualifying at 8:00pm Friday night. The top two qualifiers will make the 200 lap main event on Saturday night. The rest will race it out in four 25 lap heat races to make the main. The heat races begin at 3:00pm Saturday with gates open at 12:30pm and track walks / autograph session on track until 2:30pm.
The NASCAR Playoffs are set for Martinsville with Camping World, Xfinity and NASCAR Cup all racing October 30-31st. However, all eyes are on the Late Models under the lights coming up this weekend (September 24-25) for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300.
NASCAR points math ranks right up there with income tax math and black jack card counting. With that, we could dig around and find out how Kyle Larson with 4 wins is 13 season points behind Denny Hamlin with no wins. Larson and Hamlin are tied in Top 5 and Top 10 finishes and Larson actually has 7 more stage wins than Hamlin. Larson has 1 DNF, however, he is leading the “Playoff” rankings while Hamlin sits in the 4th slot.
With the Tokyo Summer Olympics taking the spotlight on NBC, NASCAR is on a break until August 8 weekend and Watkins Glen. It’s a great time to take stock and set the stage for the final 4 races of the regular season in August. The playoffs begin at Darlington in September with Richmond the weekend after.
The most recent winner was Aric Almirola at New Hampshire. Kurt Busch has a win from Atlanta the week before. Chase Elliott won at Road America and earlier at Circuit of the Americas. Kyle Busch has 2 wins from Pocono and Kansas. Alex Bowman grabbed the first of the double-header weekend at Pocono with 2 other checkers from Pocono and Richmond. Kyle Larson had a string of points win around his All Star victory. Nashville, Sonoma and Charlotte were practically back to back with a 4th win at Vegas. Martin Truex Jr was hot early in the season with wins from Darlington. Martinsville and Phoenix. Brad Keselowski came out of Talladega on top. Joey Logano won the dirty Bristol Race. Ryan Blaney snagged Atlanta. William Byron pulled his first win at Homestead. Christopher Bell also hit his first Cup win at the Daytona Road Course. Michael McDowell started the season with his first Cup win at the Daytona 500 opener. McDowell also had a fairly hot early season but seems to be hanging on with performance currently.
Denny Hamlin is hanging on near the top with now wins. Notable, also, is the struggling season of Kevin Harvick. It is an oddity to see the hard charger #4 not notching a win with the season looming late in the schedule. The past few years have seen Harvick sitting comfortable with post season assurance. This season he is just above the cut with 4 races to make it.
So… Here we are with swimming, fencing, cycling and all the other Olympic events carried over from Covid cancel in 2020 to barely Covid live crowds in 2021 in Tokyo. All the NBC channels have the variety of sport across the spectrum and the daily schedule.
Watkins Glen is set to roll out August 8. NASCAR returns to Virginia with the 2nd race of the playoffs on September 11. Virginia race fans have Richmond with Bristol (just over the border) the week after. Later, The race before the season finale at Phoenix is October 31st at Martinsville.
In the Olympic off time, find a local track with some hot laps on track and take advantage of the NASCAR off weeks and get reacquainted with some home track racing.
Cup weekend at Martinsville Speedway just has this reputation lately. It almost is a “given” that there will be some kind of weather thing that hangs over the events like Lucy promising to hold the football…
The Whelen Modifieds, Xfinity and Cup races had high fan interest as Virginia was opening up a bit more for entertainment and race venues to have more folks attend. The weather, however, went “all in” to keep things capped.
The Modifieds went by OK but the Friday Xfinity series was halted at lap 91. Saturday night’s Cup race was also attempted but rain ultimately pushed it all to Sunday.
Whelen Modified Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 200 winner: Eric Goodale
Xfinity Series Cook Out 250 winner: Josh Berry
Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 winner: Martin Truex Jr