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)

The NASCAR season has crossed over the lip of racing in and is now racing on to the Sprint Cup. The CHASE has been set following the checkered flag at Richmond and is ready to be set loose on the first race at Chicagoland.
Between Richmond and Chicago, the drivers who made The CHASE were busy with strategy and planning and cars and teams and chasing themselves across America and the towns they will be racing in. Dale Jr. was in California, Johnson was in New York and in between were all the others including Ryan Newman who was put through some paces in Martinsville.
At Martinsville High School on Wednesday, September 10th, Newman drove the #31 Caterpillar RCR Chevy around the running track that circles the football field. He drove a wheeled robot designed and built by the students. He stepped with the cheerleaders… sort of. He threw a football. He kicked a football… sort of. He fed a bulldog (the school mascot) a microphone… sort of.
The party with the MHS Bulldogs was a showcase of the pride of the school and, like Martinsville Speedway, a history with the town. Newman also spoke to the current class from the Speedway stage brought in next to the field he had previously driven around. He has an engineering degree and not only knows how to drive the car but also knows how it works. He stressed the importance of school and finding the interests within and seeking the drive to pursue goals and dreams. He talked about racing from an early age and being lucky enough and driven enough to be able to pursue that love and turn it over to a career. Newman is not loud or particularly animated when speaking yet he held the students’ attention with knowledgeable authority. He spoke from experience and it came through.
Following the track, field and cheers at the high school the mood changed to the business of racing as the venue changed to Martinsville Speedway. Here, in more familiar surroundings, Newman elaborated on The CHASE and how Martinsville plays into the strategy. The history of racing there, the fact it is the only short track in The CHASE and the challenge of racing there all come together to make Martinsville a focal point of the post season. So much so that Hendrick’s teams have already tested there. Several more, including Newman and RCR, are planning on Martinsville tests before October race day.
Newman already has one grandfather clock (the traditional trophy of winning at Martinsville) and would like nothing better than another on the way to a possible championship. The chips, realistically, are not stacked in his favor. Although an accomplishment to make The CHASE with his first season at RCR the points, position and strength of other teams Newman will be up against is huge. The possibility is there and, listening to Newman speak, so is the determination. The reality of getting there may be the thing as there is so much that would have to fall into place with good runs of the #31 and a little bad luck falling to competitors.
As Ryan Newman said, The CHASE is a series of races and overall strategy is good but week to week focus is key. Looking ahead to Martinsville on the weekend of October 26th is several races away. To capitalize on a good run at the historic speedway some momentum needs to be brought into the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500.
As the engines set ready for the drivers’ “start” command at Chicago, time is turning like the hands on a grandfather clock towards Martinsville. In time, we’ll see how Ryan Newman and the others in The CHASE are stacked as the engines start again in Virginia.

Martinsville Speedway website

Ryan Newman website

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We’re on the weekend with wide open racing on tap setting the stage for Memorial Day weekend. For those who only tune in to racing on the occasional big event, the Indy 500 opening rounds are this weekend. Qualifying is set for both Saturday and Sunday with the green flag coming next weekend. On top of getting primed for open wheel Indianapolis, the NASCAR All Star is Saturday evening.

So far, the NASCAR season has been hot with rivalry, controversy and some raw nerves. Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch. Joe Gibbs, Matt Kenseth and NASCAR. Penske and NASCAR.

That almost begins to cover the range of friction leading up to Charlotte…

The All Star format sets out four opening heat races leading to the final showdown. There are no Cup points. This is a simple drive to win for a big payday. A really big payday. The overall winner opens the wallet to receive one million dollars. If that same driver wins all five segments there is an additional one million bucks thrown in. (more…)

Racing is NOW. The options play it on the moment. There is no “what if” and hindsight is only useful, possibly, for taking knowledge to the next track.

Richmond and the Toyota Owners 400 offered up a perfect scenario as an example. The race also, for anyone willing to listen, threw a lug nut at the “rednecks turning left” stereotype.

Second point first. Too often, people who do not follow racing actually turn an eye of disdain towards the sport in general. It’s a bunch of rednecks, crashing around, turning left after left, stupid, cheap beer and fat and loud.

Not so much. Granted, there are a few out in the stands that may loosely fit the mold. The rest of us give them a nod and wave and a “have a good time”…

On the track, the race plays out as a result of engineering, technology and planning. The people involved in building, maintaining and driving these cars are quite intelligent and often could be very successful with any venture. However, they work for a race team so that is supposed to make them, somehow, less than employees of some other technology business. No.

Beyond any of the engineering and hi-tech construction, there is a chess match being played out at speed on the track every second of every lap. The game of chess is assigned as a “smart” person’s game. How “smart” do you need to be to play chess when the pieces are moving at 100-200 miles per hour?

Pretty damn smart.

Now for the first point concerning the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond and the “now” factor… (more…)

The time is upon us. The official beginning of racing season…

OK – The ROLEX 24 was the actual beginning. However, as sexy and sleek as the Grand-Am cars are and as fun as that race is to watch there is no escaping that everyone knows what the Daytona 500 is…

The NASCAR opener is the start in the minds of most to get the engines hot and the wheels rolling. So grab your hats (if the drivers still match) and get ready for Daytona to go bright again with the sound of horsepower.

There is a lot to see for this one, too. First and foremost is the new “Gen-6” Sprint Cup car. It’s been tested on the track and the tunnel but our first chance to see it really race will be this weekend for the “Sprint Unlimited”. (formerly the Budweiser Shootout) (more…)

Brad Keselowski.

Sprint Cup Champion for 2012.

It was close. Or rather, could have been.

The #2 Miller Lite Dodge team and Penske Racing ran a season that was consistent and put them into the position to be on the final podium for the Sprint Cup.

However, there was a hitch. The Lowe’s #48 team of Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Racing. They made a push. They got on top. They had problems. They fell back.

A crash, a mechanical, another mechanical… (more…)


Yes… The schedules have been out for a while which is exactly the point.

The last NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is Sunday, Nov. 18th at 2:00pm. (Eastern)

The first Formula 1 race in America since 2007 and the first ever on a track in the United States purposefully built to host F1 is also on Sunday, Nov. 18th at 2:00pm. (Eastern)


Usually it is not a problem as Formula 1 mostly runs in Europe and other countries with unpronounceable cities. Such as it is they air around 7:00am or so with no conflict for other racing here in the U.S. However, you would think someone would have thought to stagger the schedule here just a bit… Even just a little bit…

OK… A Plan. (more…)