While Martinsville Speedway might not be considered a playoff Wild Card to the extent that Talladega Superspeedway and the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway might be, it’s nevertheless a place where things can turn upside down in a hurry. As the shortest track on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule at .526 miles, Martinsville is a place where bumping and banging and paint swapping are just part of the equation. The paperclip-shaped oval is also a place where drivers have been known to settle scores with each other. Remember several years ago when Matt Kenseth, despite being multiple laps down, deliberately wrecked race leader and championship contender Joey Logano as retribution for contact the two drivers made two weeks prior at Kansas Speedway?
If you don’t think a similar scenario could play out this weekend with Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick — whose recent feud has been well-documented — you are completely kidding yourself. It absolutely could, even in spite of NASCAR’s recent warning to the two drivers to knock it off and bury the hatchet or else risk punishment from the sanctioning body. Because fender banging is so widely accepted at Martinsville, there’s not a better track on the circuit to get even with someone you’re mad at.
Will Sunday’s 500-lap race be overlayed with controversy? Will there be a last-lap wreck or bump-and-run involving drivers trying to advance to the Championship 4? Will a non-playoff driver (like Harvick) put a playoff driver (like Elliott) in jeopardy? The stakes have never been higher. So buckle up and stay tuned.