Race Weekend Central

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2011 Kroger 250 at Martinsville

Who… gets my shoutout of the race?

From the Where Did He Come From Department, Brendan Gaughan climbed into the top 10 after a totally inauspicious start to the day. Gaughan qualified 31st out of 35 trucks and was in danger of losing a lap very early on, but the cautions fell serendipitously and Gaughan finished ninth in his stealth truck. You know, the one we never saw coming.

What… was THAT?

It was a bad hit that ended better. When Jeffrey Earnhardt got caught in a multi-truck melee and turned into the turn 3 wall, it was at full throttle – his rear wheels were still spinning when he hit. Earnhardt and James Buescher both took the brunt of the wreck and both walked away. But I wonder how many fans were thinking – as I was – about another hard hit and another Earnhardt who didn’t walk away, and thinking of the legacy he left – a NASCAR with head restraints on every driver and SAFER barriers where concrete walls once sufficed.

See also
Tearing Apart the Trucks: Rick Ware Racing & Earnhardt Part Ways? Not Quite

And it’s a shame what the cost of getting those things mandated was to the sport.

Where… did the polesitter wind up?

Thanks to a textbook bump-and-run on lap 249, Johnny Sauter wound up in the same place he started: P1. Sauter had the best truck early but didn’t look to have much for Kyle Busch later on, until the slightest slip by Busch in turn 1 allowed Sauter to get to him and use his bumper just enough to move Busch out of the preferred groove. From there it was smooth sailing for Sauter as Busch was left to contend with Kevin Harvick for second.

When… will I be loved?

How soon drivers forget. In the closing laps of last week’s Sprint Cup race at Fontana, Harvick laid a bumper to Jimmie Johnson, loosening Johnson just enough to give Harvick the win. But at Martinsville, Harvick apparently forgot that on Saturday (April 2) when Todd Bodine used his bumper to slide by Harvick. Harvick retaliated by spinning Bodine, but the damage to his own truck cost him two laps in the pits. Funny how that works.

Why… doesn’t the Nationwide Series race at Martinsville?

There’s no excuse not to race the Nationwide Series at Martinsville – the track races great and would serve as a valuable learning tool for the up-and-coming drivers, and it would make for a great race for fans as well. Why not have a Cup impound race with qualifying on Friday and then run a doubleheader on Saturday? Or at the very least, race each series at the track once in support of the Cup Series. It makes sense for the sport. Which is probably why NASCAR hasn’t done it.

How… come Norm Benning had a beef with Justin Lofton?

I don’t think you saw it on TV, but Norm Benning confronted Justin Lofton on pit road after the race, getting in Lofton’s face, obviously irate with Lofton, most likely for a lap 44 tangle after which Benning’s day went from bad to worse. But hold on a second: it sure looked to me like it was Benning ruining Lofton’s day with that wreck and not the other way around.

So, what gives? Benning also made snide remarks on the radio in reference to Lofton’s sponsorship by his father’s company being the only reason the rookie is racing at that level. But Benning was a moving roadblock for most of the day and certainly wasn’t a factor in the race-nor would he have been before tangling with Lofton. Benning is racing a one-truck team, an admirable effort, but his actions on Saturday smacked of sour grapes for what Lofton has and he doesn’t.

About the author

Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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