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NASCAR Martinsville postscript

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

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Clint Bowyer went over 100 laps down after spinning into the wall in Turn 3
Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR
During the previous weekend at the Martinsville Speedway we witnessed a Chase contender back up his game plan, another Chase contender wanted to kiss one team mate and smack another team mate, we witnessed a rowdy moment between two Chase contenders and former champions and we were overjoyed to see the return of two of NASCAR's most popular drivers. By the time the Tums Fast Relief 500 was over a lot of drivers and team members needed some Tums to settle their stomachs. With those thoughts in mind let's begin with:

THUMBS-UP to Denny Hamlin for backing up an earlier announcement that claimed he "has a game plan." The Virginia native won the Tums Fast Relief 500 last Sunday and scored a series high seventh win as well as his 15th career Cup win. Hamlin led this race two times for a total of 40 laps.

More importantly, Hamlin's win was a case of mission accomplished because he picked up 35 points on Chase leader Jimmie Johnson who finished fifth in the race. Johnson's lead has now been trimmed down to six points and NASCAR now has one of the closest Sprint Cup Chase For The Championships since the playoff format was created.

Hamlin gets an additional THUMBS-UP for this week's notable quotable. During a post race press conference he made it clear that the game plan was on and he wasn't even close to be finished with his championship run. With a big smile on his face, Hamlin waved a finger at the media and said "which one of you said that it was over?"

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THUMBS-UP to Kevin Harvick for his third place finish at a race track that has been the source of disappointment for him in past races. Harvick led the race six times for a total of 97 laps. He remains third in the Chase standings but picked up 15 points on Jimmie Johnson. He's now a very doable 62 points out of first.

But WHAT'S-UP with the friction, not to mention on track contact, between Harvick and Richard Childress Racing team mate Jeff Burton? Burton came over the radio and screamed "I've done nothing wrong and I won't stand for it. I don't know what his problem is." An equally angry Harvick came over his radio claiming it was not the first time he took a cheap shot from Burton and alleged that the same thing also happened at the Indianapolis and New Hampshire races.

Harvick also gets a WHAT'S-UP for putting his race car in jeopardy. While all three teams from Childress Racing made the Chase, only Harvick has a visible chance of winning the championship. An on track collision, following a moment of anger, could have really hurt the Chase cause. You can bet that Richard Childress made quick work of resolving this issue.

THUMBS-UP to the third Childress driver Clint Bowyer for agreeing to swap pit crews with Harvick. It was generally felt the Harvick over the wall crew was not getting the job done so the switch was arranged.

THUMBS-UP to the two pit crews for having lunch with each other to insure that there were no misunderstandings or hard feelings regarding the temporary switch.

Harvick was thrilled with the pit road performance of the Bowyer team and gets a THUMBS-UP for his NASCAR notable quotable when he said "I'd like to kiss Clint Bowyer on the lips."

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WHAT'S-UP with he altercation between Chase contenders, and former champions, Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon? Okay, Gordon gave Busch the old bump and run and sent him to the high side of the track. Gordon later admitted that it wasn't intentional, he came into the turn too hot and momentarily lost control of his car.

All of a sudden Busch remembered the time Gordon gave him a dust up when he was driving a Roush Racing Ford. He also remembered that Gordon hassled Rusty Wallace the former driver of his Penske Racing Miller Lite deuce car. So he turned Gordon and sent him backwards into the wall. The crash effectively ruined any chances of Gordon remaining a Chase contender.

The punishment administered by Busch did not match the crime committed by Gordon. Do you think there were any winners in this round of Martinsville mayhem? Ask Gordon's team owner who will be paying to repair the damage. Ask the Hendrick Motorsports crew members who will have to take on the added duty of making those repairs. Thankfully there were no innocent bystanders involved in this incident.

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Speaking of wrecks at Martinsville, THUMBS-UP to Mark Martin for reaping the benefits of hitting the wall. The crash dislodged the bumper cover and raised both the trunk lid and the spoiler. Amazingly the result was a better handling race car which allowed Martin to charge through the field for a second place finish. It was really good to see Martin smiling again. His team has endured a very frustrating season.

A THUMBS-UP also goes out to Martin's team mate Dale Earnhardt Jr whose 2010 season has also been a major source of frustration. Earnhardt led the race three times for a total of 90 laps. That alone is amazing because this beleaguered team has only led a total of 71 laps all season long. The Junior Nation wept for joy. No one is saying that rumors of a crew chief departure had anything to do with the elevation of the #88 team's performance, but one just can't help but wonder.

That leads to a THUMBS-UP to Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson's crew chief, for another NASCAR notable quotable. Knaus came over his team radio and told his driver "when you hear a loud roar inside of your car that means Dale just took the lead."

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Sadly we end this with a GOD Bless by offering condolences to NASCAR's racing Bodine brothers: Geoff, Brent and Todd for the recent loss of their mother: Carol June Bodine.

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