Sport Martinsville's Campbell embraces key spot on playoff schedule, looks toward future
Friday 5: What is proper etiquette between NASCAR playoff, non-playoff drivers?
The debate on how non-playoff drivers should race playoff drivers grows as it gets closer to the title race. Also a look at the key to winning at Kansas.The topic then changed. Suarez was asked about his incident with playoff driver Martin Truex Jr. that sent Truex’s car into the wall.
Clay Campbell has plenty to eagerly anticipate, both in the short term and over the longer haul.
As Martinsville Speedway’s president, Campbell is busy preparing for a tripleheader weekend of events that are all crucial to the playoff picture in all three NASCAR national series. The Championship 4 field for all three tours will be determined in a span of two days.
“What I’m looking forward to the most? Obviously looking forward to three great races, which … that’s going to happen,” Campbell said matter-of-factly during a brief break earlier this week. “Being the penultimate for all three, it’s going to be a nail-biter.”
Hope remains strong for those below cutline heading to Martinsville
After numerous struggles Sunday at Kansas, those below the cutline in the Cup playoffs carry hope with them into the Oct. 31 race at Martinsville.Such was the feeling for those who left Kansas Speedway below the cutline after Sunday’s playoff race.
Saturday, the Camping World Truck Series (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) and Xfinity Series (6 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM) will host their Round of 8 finales. The weekend will be capped by Sunday’s Xfinity 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM) for the NASCAR Cup Series, and fans will be welcomed back without attendance limits for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak — another facet of the weekend Campbell is embracing, besides the hard work.
But Campbell has more to look forward to as the Virginia short track his grandfather founded approaches its 75th anniversary season in 2022. Plans to observe the milestone haven’t been formalized, but Campbell said to expect the celebration to span the entire year.
“We’ve been talking for months, planning ahead and we’re working on some pretty neat things that will really highlight the history of Martinsville Speedway,” Campbell said. “Our fans are going to like it, and we’ll be announcing them a little bit later, but for anybody to celebrate the 75th anniversary is pretty special. And for this place to be around that long, looking at it, it doesn’t look like it’s 75 years old. It’s got a lot of history, and we’re going to be rolling it out all year long.”
Early odds list Martin Truex Jr. as PointsBet favorite for Martinsville
Martin Truex Jr. won three of the last four races at Martinsville, including this spring when he was also favored.Truex was also favored at Martinsville this spring with odds of +525 and Richmond Raceway in September with a line of +440. Those are two of Truex’s four wins this season, which is part of the reason that his odds were lowered +425 for the Sunday’s Xfinity 500. Truex has three Martinsville wins in his last four starts.
It’s hard to avoid the sense of history when walking through the gates at Martinsville, which has been a fixture on the Cup Series schedule since its first season in 1949. Pioneers, Hall of Famers and golden-era legends raced here, and the track’s tight turns remain a challenge for the current crop of stars.
But Campbell knows the facility can’t be stagnant and entirely dwell in that nostalgia. There’s a delicate balance to strike — remaining mindful of the track’s legacy but also making the updates that will sustain it for the years ahead.
“That’s one thing that I think we have done pretty good over the years, is how do you maintain that history, the heritage, the tradition, all of that and still keep moving forward, keep growing, keep improving, providing amenities that our fans expect today,” Campbell said. “You can’t do things today like you did 20, 25 years ago. You’ve got to change.
Martinsville storylines: Keep it together
In his last three Martinsville races, Ryan Blaney has been hurt by pit road miscues. In Sunday's Round of 8 eliminator, he can't afford more mistakes.The Team Penske driver has been a contender to win in his last three visits to the Virginia half-mile track. But he came away empty-handed each time.
“But I think when you go through our gates here you can look back in the past, you can envision all the greats of NASCAR at some point running here. You can see what we have now, and you get a glimpse into the future. Example, we’re the oldest track on the circuit but we have the newest technology in lighting with LED lights. I think we’ve got all three — the past, the present and the future. And that’s the fine line you’ve got to walk to maintain that, but that’s what we want to do and that’s what we have to do.”
Martinsville’s place in NASCAR history has been well-established, but a newer tradition is starting to take some root with its autumn weekend playing host to the next-to-last races of the season. Martinsville first took that spot on the schedule last season, and it’ll return as the Round of 8 finale in 2022.
NASCAR’s schedule-makers rotated some of the postseason events on next year’s calendar but made a point to keep the slate of elimination races intact. Competition officials received no argument from Campbell once the ink on next year’s schedule dried.
“It’s very important. I think it’s one of the most, if not the most critical race of the season, because you come in here with eight (title-eligible drivers) and you leave with four,” Campbell said. “So we’ve been in a position in the past when we had three races to go after our fall event, and the sparks flew and emotions ran high. So to run that event here, the penultimate race, at Martinsville Speedway, I think it’s just fantastic. We love that spot. I think it’s the best place for it. Obviously, I’m selfish on that and prejudiced, but you know the style of racing you see here is just phenomenal.”]]>
Martinsville winners and losers .
The stage is set for next week's Cup title race. Check out the winners and losers from Sunday's Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville.Hendrick Motorsports – Checked all the boxes they needed to Sunday. Alex Bowman claimed his fourth win of the season, albeit with some controversy from his spin of race leader Denny Hamlin in the final laps. Reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott clinched a Championship 4 berth to join teammate Kyle Larson in next week’s season finale at Phoenix. William Byron finished fifth and has finished no worse than sixth since being eliminated from the playoffs in the Round of 12.