Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Why Isn’t the Truck Series Racing at Martinsville This Weekend?

This weekend the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity series head to Martinsville Speedway for a short track showdown while the Camping World Truck Series sits dormant. But that wasn’t always the case. From 2003 through 2019, the Truck Series visited the 0.526-mile paperclip twice per season. We’ll let 2020 slide since NASCAR needed to just get the entire season in after a lengthy shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That doesn’t excuse the 2021 schedule, though. I’m sure part of the planning still considered that a pandemic doesn’t just end abruptly, but there’s no logical reason why Martinsville shouldn’t have two dates. It’s barely a two hour drive, give or take for traffic, from the greater Charlotte area where most of the teams are headquartered at.

The addition of a second trip to Martinsville would also bring the sparse 22-race schedule back up to 23 events. But if the schedule length is an issue when it comes to trying to save teams money, I’m sure you could easily convince them to take away the first trip out west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in favor of a second date closer to home.

But if all of those reasons aren’t enough, here are a few more.

First Time Winners

Nothing… and I mean nothing in NASCAR beats the pure, raw emotion that follows a driver’s first win. Sure, a close finish, some beating and banging, maybe some controversial contact will all leave people talking long after the checkered flag flies.

But there’s something so incredibly special about watching a driver score their first career win and seeing the impact in that moment. It’s that visibly obviously sigh of relief along with the joy of making that – sometimes long awaited – trip to victory lane. The videos pretty much speak for themselves.


Running Out of Room to Race:

It’s no secret that the racing surface at Martinsville is narrow, leading to contact, and we can take a look at multiple incidents and debate about whether or not that contact was intentional. But that’s also part of the appeal of the track. It always amazes me that anyone will even try to go into a corner three wide and expect it to work out. And while it does work sometimes, more often than not, there’s just not enough room for two… much less three.

In this case, it’s easy to blame Matt Crafton for sending John Wes Townley into the wall, but it’s also hard to deny the head of steam he had going into the corner and the help he got from behind in the form of a push from Chase Elliott.

Sometimes blocking to defend a position isn’t the wisest of choices. John Wes Townley moved to throw a block on Ryan Blaney but instead took out Brandon Jones in the process. The wreck resulted in a nearly 11-minute red flag to clean up the carnage.

Tempers Flaring:

Of course, running out of room to race means someone’s going home angry. Whether angry that their race is over or angry because they feel wronged by another competitor, Martsinville has no shortage of tempers flaring.

And just in case you find yourself wanting to watch a full Truck Series race from Martinsville, here’s last year’s lone visit to the iconic paperclip.

Truckin’ Tidbits:

  • When the Truck Series gets back on track next weekend at Richmond Raceway, sophomore driver Derek Kraus, who has just one top 10 in five races this season, will have a new crew chief. Mark Hillman, who has experience in all three series, including most recently with MBM Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, replaces Matt Noyce atop the pit box. The New York native served as truck chief for Germain Racing during its 2006 and 2010 championship campaigns.
  • Timmy Hill Racing’s No. 56 Chevrolet will have a new look next weekend at Richmond. I do feel like there’s a missed opportunity here to have the hair look like it’s flowing in the wind while they drive.

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