The 2011 NASCAR Chase was interrupted on Sunday as Martinsville Speedway put on an old fashioned short track race. There was actual racing, passing, slamming, ramming, and multiple paybacks at the venerable half mile track. The gloves were dropped along with the green flag, as a total lack of respect accounted for the majority of the 18 caution flags.
Tony Stewart has won three of the seven Chase races this year, and is still 8 points behind points leader, Carl Edwards. Smoke led early then pit strategy shuffled him back, and he was almost lapped at one point. Pit work put him back up front late in the going; he then caught leader Jimmie Johnson napping and jumped by him on the outside with two laps to go.
Just finishing at Martinsville was an accomplishment as most of the cars looked like leftovers from a Mad Max movie. Jeff Burton (6th) and Dale Earnhardt Jr (7th) both came back from numerous wrecks to have good finishes. Casey Mears kept his nose clean and impressed with his 12th place run.
Brian Vickers was involved in 5 of the 18 cautions. This from a driver trying to secure a job for next year. After intentionally wrecking Jamie McMurry and Matt Kenseth (not at the same time), Bri can discount RFR and EGR from his list of potential employers. It looks like the Sheriff's Cup career has about three races left.
All the hoopla about Stewart fighting leader Denny Hamlin so hard mid-race to stay on the lead lap. Smoke stayed in front of Hamlin long enough for a caution to appear. The announcers made this out as a great feat. The real story is if Stewart had went that lap down, he would have received the free pass, pitted, and restarted in the same position (last car on the lead lap) as he did by staying on the lead lap.
The seeming lack of civility on Sunday. There was no give and take, it was all take. Kurt Busch was treated like a pinata by several drivers as they drove way over their heads. Jeff Gordon said after the race that he had never seen anything like it. Some contributing factors to the wreckfest include, many drivers looking for rides and/or sponsors, and, with this being the last short track of 2011, several guys saw it as their best chance to extract revenge on someone for any slights received earlier this year.