The News & Record
South Boston News & Record
and Mecklenburg Sun
Home   •   News   •   Sports   •   Classifieds   •   Community   •   Health   •   Entertainment   •   Obituaries   •   Opinions   •   Weather
Advertising | Contact | Register
Advanced Search
News

Parsons-Bruce Art Association begins membership drive

Halifax County kicks off community strategic planning effort

Michael delivers stiff blow to area


Sports

Michael forces delay of game penalty


Community


Opinion


A&E

Sports

Busch picks up playoff slot with Martinsville win

SoVaNow.com / November 02, 2017
The NASCAR Cup playoff picture is shaping up following Sunday overtime, demolition-derby style meltdown at Martinsville Speedway.

Kyle Busch, who remains a steely-eyed missile man behind the wheel, has punched his ticket to the season finale at Homestead, staking down a spot in the championship 4.

It’s highly likely Martin Truex Jr., as consistent a performer as NASCAR has had all season, will be among the championship 4, although one position (the no. 18 Joe Gibbs entry) is officially locked in for South Florida.

The combination of the magical, under-the-lights first ever Cup finish and the OT at Martinsville again produced a frenzied crack ‘em up finish with several angry competitors, steaming after classic short track mayhem.

Busch holds an enviable position heading to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.

Busch is gearing up to keep pressure on the other playoff contenders for the next two playoff stops (Texas, Phoenix) before Homestead.

“I think the biggest thing we can do is to allow ourselves to look at the next two weeks and try to keep on winning and allowing the anxiety level of these guys to keep amplifying each and every stage and each and every race and to keep them on their toes as to whether they are going to advance or not.

“If they all have to race for points and race for positions, that’s just going to make it harder for them. Anytime anyone automatically punches their ticket through, that gives them a breather and an opportunity to work on Homestead and what you need to focus on for that race. We’ll just keep racing hard and try and keep winning the next two weeks even though the pressure is off and see what we can do at Homestead,” he said.

At Martinsville, Busch clinched a berth into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the third year in a row. The 2015 Cup Series champion will look to bring home his second championship on Nov. 19 in the season finale.

Busch enters Texas with 183 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions - Cup (43), Xfinity (91) and Truck (49) following his Cup Series victory last weekend at Martinsville.

Busch went 505 laps in OT to secure the win on a night of thrills and spills at the paperclip. Truex finished second, followed by Clint Bowyer, who appeared to have a brief opportunity to steal a win at the end; Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Denny Hamlin finished seventh, after punting possible winner Chase Elliott. Hamlin sparked a post-race debate about what is and isn’t acceptable in the garage. Elliott finished 27th.

Stevens held court extensively following Sunday’s race and put much hell-bent racing into perspective.

Stevens commented following the late race drama, “we had a good car. I don’t feel like we had the best car. There were stretches where we were certainly capable of leading some laps and definitely top two, but we just kind of lost our track position there late with a bad pit stop after having just stellar pit stops all day long and had a slow one there at the end and got us back in traffic and really fought the balance late. Kind of fought it all weekend, really. But the last run of the race there, everybody was just set on kill and trading paint and using the bumper and short on tempers, and it got pretty exciting, like these Martinsville races usually do,” said Stevens.

Stevens believes Truex has a second playoff spot locked up, although there’s only one driver in officially at this point.

“The biggest thing is with only taking four cars there and three races in this round, you can have three Chase winners and only have one car get in on points, and with the bonus point advantage that the 78 (Truex) has, you know, if he goes and finishes top six or seven, which would be hard to imagine that he wouldn’t do that, you know, you’re going to get locked out.

You really need to focus on winning a race, and we were able to do that today,” said Stevens.

He also offered the veteran perspective on the difference between the paperclip and those mile and a half tracks, especially as the pressure builds at Texas and Phoenix, with considerable reward for a victory.

“I think you saw what you’re going to see these next coming events. The only difference would be when you’re going 180, 185 miles an hour, it’s just harder to get to somebody’s bumper, but you can certainly do it when you’re going 60 mid-corner at Martinsville and it’s not different than we’ve seen, but certainly the three-race format and the pressure to win is so high that you see guys make some pretty desperate moves, pretty high-risk moves, and you saw a lot of that today,” said Stevens.

In the end, it was pure Martinsville, still looking younger than its age at 70. Yes, a sizeable portion of a very respectable crowd (considering the threat of inclement weather) left angry, but chances are they will return in 2018.

SADLER EFFORT: Hermie Sadler, taking a break from his television career in racing, finished 34th, six positions ahead of his starting spot. Sadler was running at the end, completing 494 laps.



Sports Coverage

See complete sports coverage for Halifax and Mecklenburg counties.