The NASCAR Sprint Cup CHASE is well under way. Team Penske was quick out of Richmond to pick off wins in the first two of the ten “playoff” races. Brad Keselowski tagged his Richmond win with a top run at Chicagoland. Joe Logano took the next at New Hampshire.
Hendrick’s teams have hung on with Jeff Gordon taking the win at Dover. Johnson, Earnhardt, Jr. and Kahne have run well enough to stay on it.
Gibbs has their teams chasing forward with Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Kenseth. Rousch has Carl Edwards and Stewart-Haas has Harvick. Childress has Newman.
Biffle, Allmendinger, Almirola and Kurt Busch have faded from The CHASE following the the first cut out of Dover.
The Contender Round is next up with the races at Kansas, Charlotte and Talledega. This next set will set the stage for the Eliminator Round which brings The Chase to Martinsville Speedway.
But first….
While The Chase is gearing up for Kansas the regional late model drivers are looking closer at Martinsville and the MDCU 300 which warms the racing in advance of The CHASE.
In many ways, this race is as big as The CHASE and is often referred to as the Daytona 500 of late model stock car racing. These drivers have been running fender to fender all season and practically every weekend at tracks such as South Boston Speedway, Motor Mile Speedway, Caraway, Hickory, Langley…  and many more in the region. The purse is large and the draw is as well. If you are a “race” fan that only goes to races when the Big Top is in town you are missing out if you skip the MDCU 300. While the Sprint Cup NASCAR races are always a big deal these drivers are your neighbors, your business owners and dedicated racers scraping to make the next race with the same car they drove last weekend…. and the weekend before…
And it is always a show! They scrap and scrape and race every lap. These weekend short tracks run shorter races so every lap and every pass counts. Transfer that to the Martinsville Speedway and the MDCU 300 and you have a lot of drivers racing to get in and a lot of drivers racing to make their efforts pay off. One big weekend to tie an entire season into a win and a grandfather clock. It’s the weekend these drivers bring their best to.
Peyton Sellers has driven a lot of fast things and has won with them. Late models, Whelen, NASCAR K&N, Camping World and Nationwide Series… Series champion at South Boston Speedway and this season just a tick off the mark for picking it up at the Motor Mile also. With all of this he has yet to get the grandfather clock from Martinsville. From him, he says he could be on one of his best seasons ever and is heading to Martinsville Speedway with a mission to win. From his NASCAR experience he brings possibly a better head for patience in longer races such as the MDCU. He knows most of the contendors and who to run with and who to give a bit more space. Peyon is a driver who has the foundation to make him, perhaps, just a step above the “racers”.
Matt Bowling is young yet driven. He has put together wins and this year he is pulling a train of success into the gates at Martinsville. A strong season includes finishing in front of NASCAR veterans like Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin at South Boston and the Hamlin Short Track Showdown. He won there and has several more since. His eyes are set on the MDCU 300 and his determination is worn like a comfortable shirt. For those NASCAR fans who only make the trip when Sprint is in town he says they are missing some of the best on track action by skipping on the local weekend tracks and even more at the MDCU 300. The stars filling the seats of Sprint Cup cars in a few years may be racing right here. For Matt, tomorrow is this weekend and the next race. It’s a big one.
Michael McGuire could be a young gun at the MDCU 300 and he admits his seat time doesn’t compare this season to many others coming to Martinsville. However, he has made moves from local runs to the more advanced K&N Series. McGuire continues to chase his dream of driving and his eye is focused on Martinsville. He is young but has gained a lot of experience from his first win at the age of 14 and seems comfortable with the idea of bringing it on at the MDCU 300.
Peyton, Bowling and McGuire, along with Dennis Holdren, Scott Lancaster and Brian Reedy, were all together for a friendly gathering in Roanoke at Center in the Square in advance of the MDCU 300. The event was set in motion by the folks at Martinsville Speedway to give some attention to these drivers in attendance and to all the drivers, teams and families that put it all together to haul a race car to their local track. Martinsville will be full of them this weekend as the Saturday round of practice and qualifying gets under way. Sunday, the heat racing for remaining spots gets the green flag. Before is a driver autograph session at 10AM and after is the feature race for those that make it in. For race fans it is a weekend of local stars on the big field.
It will be interesting to see the difference from casual dinner conversation about racing to track day and real racing.
The Sprint Cup will be hear soon enough with The CHASE and the championship in motion. For the teams in the region this weekend is their show and they are ready to race at Martinsville.

MDCU 300 – 10/4-5/2014 | Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500/Kroger 200/VA Lottery Pole Day – 10/24-25-26/2014

Martinsville DuPont Credit Union (MDCU) online

Martinsville Speedway online.

Drivers Michael McGuire, Scott Lancaster, Dennis Holdren, Peyton Sellers, Matt Bowling, Brian Reedy ready to see the fans and race for the win at the MDCU 300. Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell (center)

Bristol. Matt Kenseth took the win. Keselowski had an incident. Kahne couldn’t quite make the move. Jimmie Johnson just had a flat out bad day. Fortunately for him he could afford it.

Two races remain, Atlanta and Richmond, before “The Chase” is set. Minor miracles need to happen for some while Johnson, Bowyer and Kenseth can relax even though Bowyer has yet to log a win for the season. Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch are practically in and would need major setbacks over the next two to jinx it. Dale, Jr., Kahne and Biffle just have to finish well to hold their spots, for the most part.

Bubbles and longshots include Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. along with the likes of Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Jamie McMurray…

We’re not going for selective alliteration… We promise.

Actually, none of the above is really the point at all. It just so happens it is top tier NASCAR racing the same day (night, as it were) as the entry level series we actually attended. While the Sprint Cup drivers ran for the shrinking availability of Chase points at Bristol, the K&N Pro Series East was packing it in at Virginia International Raceway. It was this race, the first road course for the “East” series, that had us out in the countryside of southside Virginia rather than fighting the traffic around the Tennessee – Virginia border. (more…)

There is a place in Virginia that was built in the 1950’s for sports car and racing enthusiasts to gather and challenge each other and the terrain. Rises and turns made famous by names such as Carroll Shelby, Carl Haas, Bob Holbert and Paul Newman. The track was there in the early days along with Watkins Glen and Elkhart Lake.

The place fell off in the 1970’s but was given a second chance rolling into this century. In 2000, Virginia International Raceway was brought back to life with an upgraded facility and an open invitation for club and enthusiast racing. It wasn’t long before VIR was hosting Grand-Am, American Le Mans, SCCA, AMA and other varieties of sports car and motorcycle racing.

NASCAR has been testing road course racing here for several years but the haven’t raced. Until now… (more…)