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NASCAR Cup Series

OBSERVATIONS: First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway

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Standing on the backstretch post-race after the dust settled, Joey Logano put it correctly when he said “you have to expect it at the end of the race. You’re going to have some bumping and grinding.” It’s why the fans tuned in, and they certainly got a show in the closing laps of the First Data 500.

In case you missed the battle for the win between Martin Truex Jr. and Logano, have a view – or simply review once again because of being that amazing.

Short track racing has always been about contact with quotes like “bump and run” and “rubbin’ is racing” becoming marquee notes in motorsports discussion. The way this event played out exactly filled that manta.

Plus, a championship is on the line, the ultimate goal for any driver and team at the end of the season. We always want to drivers to race as hard as possible for the title, truly earning it with competitive spirit. Logano displayed that in the fact that he’d stop at nothing to lock himself in.

It isn’t the first time we’ve seen contact at Martinsville Speedway – look at last year with Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott. Except there’s a difference in 2018. Hamlin dumped Elliott, turning him around, giving him no chance to get a good finish out of the way. Now this year, Logano allowed Truex to remain straight. It was textbook short racing; a bump and run.

Obviously, if you’re a fan of Logano, you will praise your driver for the win he scored the win and is now locked into the Championship 4. Clearly, those who follow Truex will call it a dirty move. That’s why fans go to these races – for the excitement, and arguments like this will fuel social media discussion which can only mean good things moving forward. Hence why we need more short tracks on the schedule for continued excitement.

That said, Logano has to know as soon as he laid the bump of his No. 22 to Truex, it opened the door for a returned favor. Hence the promise now made by Truex moving forward, in saying “He won the battle; he ain’t gonna win the damn war.” Truex’s frustration is warranted because a win would’ve done the same for him moving forward. Secondly, after racing “next to him for six laps” and never knocking out of the way, it’s understandable that anger is fueled by felling you roughed unfairly.

Logano knows something about payback and how that can work. Just ask him about Matt Kenseth in 2015. Whether something happens once again this year, it has given fans another reason to tune into the next three races. 

The other reason to tune in boils down to the playoff standings. With Logano locking up the win, and the points advantage held by THE BIG THREE (Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Truex) over the field, the remaining four drivers below the cut-off are essentially entering must-win territory to advance to the Championship 4 and knock someone out. Can they get it done?


  • A lot of people complained when the playoff emjois begin appearing on the sides of cars, but let’s be real – the NBC logo just looks even more ridiculous, even if for a cool cause with the signed fender for a fan. 
  • Why wasn’t the red flag used when the safety crews ran into issues getting Kyle Larson‘s car off track? Just look at the number of laps eaten up there.



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.