Last week we saw, at least what I thought anyways, was a pretty good race at Martinsville. The racing was tight for pretty much all of the race, and we had a number of cautions that kept the leaders from getting too far away from the field. Although, it is Martinsville and the leader can get a bit of a lead, but usually loses it when lapping traffic. As we leave Martinsville in the past until later this year in the Chase, we did get our first two time winner of the season. Brad Keselowski captured the grandfather clock to go along with his first place trophy earned at Atlanta.
I do want to take a moment to talk about stage racing again. There were some good finishes to the stages last week. Here is the problem though. We have to keep in mind when cautions come out in relation to the end of the stage. When only a handful of laps are left and we get a caution, teams put tires on the car and go all out to get what they can at the end of the stage. Think back to California, there was nothing contested at the end of stages, if memory serves me correctly. Do not fall for the announcers driving home the point that stage racing is the greatest thing ever invented. At the end of the season with the big tracks, I am willing to say that many stage ends will not have side by side hold your breath racing occurring. Many of stage one and two endings will be TV cutting to commercial as soon as the lead car and second place have crossed the line, which is something we have already seen happen a number of times already this season.
This week I have also given some more thought into why NASCAR has trouble getting a younger audience to watch the races. It came to me when I was looking out the front window and watching my son play wiffle ball with his fiends. Baseball, basketball, football, and even golf, kids have an opportunity to play the game. Throw hockey in the list as well, kids can even play on the driveway if they are not actually playing at the local ice rink. Racing though, the overwhelming majority of kids do not get the chance to jump into a race car and be like their hero they see on the track. Besides taking kids to a race, there is almost no way for the average family to get kids involved in racing. The only opportunity to kind of participate is going to the local go kart track and taking a spin. This is not true racing though. You get three or four laps and there is no scoring. Obviously it is very expensive to get involved in any type of racing. Just about every family is not going to shell out the money to start up a family race team. I am not sure how NASCAR overcomes getting kids to participate to fall in love with the sport, but I think it is worth some consideration.
Texas this week is going to be difficult to handicap what we are going to see in the race. I do believe that we are going to see a mainly one groove race surface since the track has been repaved. Some banking has been taken out of turns one and two, but I am not sure that is going to make too much of a difference in the on track product we see Sunday. Speeds will be up slightly, but I fear we get the one in front of the other racing with very little passing taking place. I do also think we will see a team hit on the setup and take off and dominate the show. There might be a a handful of teams that do this, but usually one car in this situation gets it perfect and they seem to only need to coast all day long.
My pick to win this week is Austin Dillon. Getting the feeling he is going to get the job done and take home the win. My like to see win this week is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. That is a kind of a random pick for this week, but it seems like he has a great race going and then it all falls apart. Would like to see Stenhouse put an entire run together. The dark horse for this week is Daniel Suarez.