Are you kidding me Joey Logano? Really? Three straight wins? How the heck did this happen?
Well, at least we know NASCAR had a part in it as they made a rule earlier last week for only one overtime green-white-checker finish. Yeah, sure. Only one is going to occur at that stage.
The problem with the impromptu change is it completely took away the beauty of Talladega’s volatile nature at this stage of the Chase, where four drivers would be eliminated in the final race of the Contender Round. The idea of the race being at Talladega is that we get to see some last lap shuffling for positioning. But all we saw was two laps of a caution flag with a white flag and then a final lap with a checkered flag at 55 mph.
It certainly wasn’t the type of finish we had hoped for and when Logano slowly took the checkers, just about every bottle in the stands was thrown out at the No. 22 Ford. Fans weren’t happy. Reporters weren’t happy. Bettors weren’t happy. Way to go NASCAR.
The sportsbooks cleaned up on Logano at 12-to-1 odds because no one was betting him. Why would you? Sure, he won the previous two races, and he won the Daytona 500 – a restrictor-plate race like Talladega, but Logano had a big X on his back for this one after taking Matt Kenseth’s season away two weeks ago at Kansas. Logano was thought to be a driver who would be punted with some veteran justice, but he couldn’t be passed in the final stages.
Logano had already advanced by virtue of two wins in the round, so maybe serving justice to him by someone at Talladega wasn’t the proper move because it wouldn’t have mattered. But I like the thoughts of Station Casinos’ supervisor Basil Hofer who suggested in a tweet that his day of justice might come in the next round at Texas.
Logano won’t win this week and Kevin Harvick has Phoenix wrapped up like he’s done the past four races there, so that leaves Texas as the big day of justice to teach “sliced bread” a lesson. If you really want to make Logano feel the wrath like Kenseth plus several other veterans like Denny Hamlin or Harvick, then Texas is the place.
As it sits now, Logano advances with seven other drivers as possible candidates to win the 2015 Sprint Cup. Hamlin, Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman are out.
While we can likely cross out Logano as a candidate to win this week at Martinsville, we have to look at three drivers on the flat half-mile Virginia layout for the past decade in every race.
Jeff Gordon will be making his 46th and final Martinsville start on Sunday. He has compiled eight wins with a track best 6.8 average finish. No one is better than Gordon there, but Jimmie Johnson may disagree. Johnson has eight wins in 27 starts with a 7.3 average. The two Hendrick Motorsports teammates are tied as the active leaders in wins.
Hamlin, a native Virginian, only has five wins on the track, including the race there earlier this season. Short flat tracks is what Hamlin is all about and he’s probably kind of upset about getting involved in the last wreck at Talladega (thanks Harvick) and being eliminated from the Chase.
Let’s roll with Hamlin this week to sweep the season. No title, but he can keep his Martinsville crown and that’s very important to him. Martinsville is about as consistent as it gets in NASCAR.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Twitter: @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected].