On many a weekend at 1.5-mile tracks a winner emerges in victory lane – usually a Sprint Cup Series driver in the case of Nationwide or Truck races – smiles, and thanks their sponsors. Race winners like Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson have it down to a science.
The drivers in post-race are often cordial and any disagreements are talked out rather calmly on pit road in most cases. Enter Martinsville Speedway on a chilly Saturday afternoon. Enter NASCAR’s most chaotic series, which also happens to have the best racing, the Camping World Truck Series. Now, put some different characters in the mix and you produce the gold shining light that got most people hooked on NASCAR in the first place.
Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race was 200 laps of drama, history, controversy and all things that make NASCAR racing wonderful. Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. won the event for his first career win, historic for the fact he became the first African American to win a race in one of NASCAR’s top three divisions since Wendell Scott in 1963.
A teary-eyed and exuberant Wallace jumped out of the truck in victory lane overwhelmed with emotion and joy. It truly meant something and everyone who was watching knew it. This is the emotion winners should have. We lose a lot of that with our common winners in today’s times. Wallace’s win was popular and would have been the story coming out of the event if not for the controversy that occurred behind him with less than 20 laps to go.
Kevin Harvick was making a one-off start for the NTS Motorsports team driving the No. 14 truck. His RCR teammate Ty Dillon was in the No. 3 right behind him late in the race. After a slight disagreement over space Dillon tried to move Harvick and spun them both out as a result.
Both were highly irritated with the other. Revenge was taken under yellow. Pit Crews were mad. Words were exchanged.-harsh words. Harvick thrashed his car owner Richard Childress for spoon feeding the Dillon boys and stated that they have no respect on the track because they haven’t had to earn anything. The angry driver also indicated this was why he was leaving RCR for Stewart Haas Racing next year.
Harvick left after his comments, but after the race the young Dillon returned the volley, calling Harvick a punk and stating that he used to respect the guy but not any longer. Harvick later apologized for his comments, but a very interesting Monday meeting at RCR will no doubt commence.
Beautiful controversy; it is a glorious thing. A chippy Saturday race in Martinsville with some history, a first time winner, and a ton of drama. This is what NASCAR should be. The sponsors do not like it, the PC and more buttoned up NASCAR officials do not like it (although secretly they probably do), but the fans love it.
Controversy and the unexpected sells tickets and Martinsville produced both on this Saturday -enough for a few weeks in fact. Whoever’s side the fan’s opinions are on does not matter. Its water cooler talk, it is engaging and it is ultimately what’s best for business, at least in the opinion of someone who is sitting in the grandstands or watching on television.
So congrats Darrell Wallace Jr., thank you Kevin Harvick and Ty Dillon, thank you Martinsville for bringing the heat on this cool Saturday. History and drama baby – that’s NASCAR.