Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: 2011 Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

Best Quote

“Carl Edwards had better be real worried. That’s all I’ve got to say. He’s not going to sleep for the next three weeks.” – Tony Stewart, race winner

Let the mind games begin, NASCAR fans! It certainly seems as if Stewart has decided to take the Denny Hamlin approach of getting inside the competition’s head. Last year, the No. 11 FedEx team tried similar tactics, only to have them implode in their faces in the last two races of the season.

See also
Tony Stewart Wins Wild 2011 TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

But this year is different, as the guy playing these games has not one, but two championships to his credit. Edwards has not been in a position to lead the Chase with three races to go. Plus, with the deficit being so tight, Edwards is going to need to start running better than ninth place to win this championship … because “Smoke” is definitely more than capable of rising to the occasion.

Most Controversial Quote

“Yeah, I just could not get away from him (Brian Vickers) on the restart. He hung on strong on the outside, and I was more worried about clipping a curb when he was running me tight and not take him out of a championship situation, minding my Ps and Qs. I just wanted to do the right thing and unfortunately got beat in the process.

Thought about going in there and leaning on him, move him up but that is just not the right thing to do. I just wished that prior to that the No. 83 was a part of every caution. I wish he could have just driven around the racetrack and we could have won this thing, but whatever, we will move on.” – Jimmie Johnson, runner-up, on the last restart

Clearly, Vickers’s role at Martinsville was to be the American missile defense program, as he was hitting nearly everything in sight Sunday. It almost seemed like the Allstate “Mayhem” character had been behind the wheel of the No. 83 car.

But back to the topic at hand. Johnson had stayed out when the other drivers had pitted and appeared to be a sitting duck. Still, he had a one second lead, which is practically an eternity at a track like Martinsville. That is, until Vickers again caused another accident.

This would bunch up the field for one last restart, where Johnson would lose the lead to Stewart and now, the No. 48 team has seen their hopes of a “six-pack” all but vanish. It’s safe to say that after this race, not many drivers aren’t exactly going to be sky-diving with the Thomasville, N.C. native anytime soon.

Crew Chief Quote of the Week

“It is. You don’t know when the caution is going to fall. When it’s not. If you are going to get spun out, or you’re not. It’s just crazy. It is just frustrating. I am proud we came back and finished 10th but it isn’t what we wanted. We’ll just take it and go on.” – Tony Gibson, crew chief, No. 39 team

Craziness was the best word to describe racing at the Sprint Cup Series’ smallest track on Sunday. Ryan Newman’s day was thwarted with a mid-race spin following contact with Kurt Busch. It certainly seemed like patience and common sense behind the wheel did not apply at Martinsville. For Gibson, a day that held so much promise would ultimately wind up with a disappointing 10th-place finish.

Granted, it was a top-10 finish, but for Newman and Gibson, who have no shortage of short-track credentials between them, a 10th-place finish is not what they had in mind.

Best of the Rest

“For Martinsville for sure. People just have no regard. I would get into guys and then I know it’s coming — I’m going to get slammed in the next corner. It’s just one of those things where it’s frustrating to watch because you see some of these cars getting torn up on accidents. Accidents happen and some these drivers need to realize that.” – Denny Hamlin, finished fifth

“I mean, come on man. I mean everybody that I think I ran over even got me back accidentally in one shape or form today. I don’t know if they think we are all even but I ain’t really worried about it. If they want to come at me, come at me.

“But I had fun today and this is short-track racing and we don’t do as much short-track racing anymore so when you see this kind of thing, you are like ‘whoa, what’s going on’, because we run on these mile-and-a-halfs and you don’t see that kind of crap. And if we ran on these things more often this would kind of be more acceptable I guess in the minds.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished seventh

“It’s unreal. We were so bad. With about 200 laps to go I was thinking, ‘OK. The Cardinals didn’t give up the other night.’ That was a little motivation. ‘The Missouri Tigers didn’t give up the other night.’ That was more motivation. I had become okay with the fact that we were probably gonna finish 20th or 25th.

“I was thinking already about Texas and how we were gonna have to go there and everything we were gonna do, but my guys stuck with it and we got very, very fortunate. I’m just glad we can move on.” – Carl Edwards, finished ninth

“It was unbelievable. It was insane. That’s the way NASCAR is now. Everybody is desperate. We’ve got to fight for everything we can get out there. Sponsors, points, money, etc., so everybody is trying to get everything. It’s the end of the year. It just seems like if it’s just me, but it just seems like this year is tiring. Everybody is tired and you put that combination together at a place like Martinsville and things are gonna happen.” – AJ Allmendinger, finished 11th

“I’m so proud of all the guys on this GEICO racing team. We’ve known all year that we could run this well and it’s a nice feeling to have two weeks in a row where we have run up front. I want to thank Bob Germain (team owner) for giving us the chance this afternoon and we are making great strides as a team. Bootie (Barker, crew chief) and all the guys on this team deserve a lot of credit.” – Casey Mears, finished 12th

“With Brian [Vickers] he just kept hitting me in the door. I mean, we’re at Martinsville and I gave him the bottom. Obviously, I’m not gonna roll over and let him go with 40 to go or whatever it was and he just kept driving in harder and harder and he slammed me in the door at least five times and just ran me up in the marbles and I was just tired of it, so I spun him out.

“I don’t know how you can’t pass somebody here without running into him every single time when he gives you the bottom and the fastest lane, but obviously he couldn’t and I was trying to get every position I could at the end of the race.” – Matt Kenseth, finished 31st

“When you don’t feel like you have the corner good, you block. I pulled down and blocked and I saw he (Brian Vickers) was going to get in there, so I moved back up the track and I just feel like he let off the brake and went ahead and sent me for a ride. I don’t know, it is frustrating, because we had a really good car yesterday, and it did not start off very good today and I thought we got our car quite a bit better there and I am just really upset.

“I felt like I blocked him, then I let him in, it was all going to be good and I just felt like he kind of took a cheap shot on me. I just didn’t appreciate it.” – Jamie McMurray, 35th, on his incident with Vickers

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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