The Final Word – If happiness is a warm puppy, someone let the dog out at Martinsville

Not everyone is a metrosexual male. There are some rude, uncaring, disrespectful individuals in this world who hide behind the civility of society in a bid to get away with saying or doing whatever they damn well please. There are some who reserve the right to tune in such individuals with a well delivered slap to the head.

It happens in NASCAR. Slapping an ill-mannered opponent upside their helmet comes with a downside, and I am not just talking about possible sanctions from a genteel organizing body. First, though it might upset the individual, they do not receive the full impact due to them wearing a helmet. Second, helmets are hard, even harder than the toughest hands. That said, it still can be a rather satisfying action for the slapper regardless as to the consequences.

This applies to car fenders. When Jimmie Johnson wanted to get by A.J. Allmendinger at Martinsville, he bumped him with his front fender. When Denny Hamlin wanted to get by Johnson, he did the same. When Johnson wanted to show his displeasure, he slapped Hamlin with his front fender as his rival went by. No doubt, all very satisfying.

Still, it came with consequences. A tire rub forced Johnson to require some repairs in the pits, and on the next restart, he was buried in 25th. However, this is Jimmie of the Chase we are talking about. By the final lap, he was alone in front cruising to his 79th career victory and his ninth Martinsville grandfather clock. Only Jeff Gordon, who finished sixth in his most recent career swan song, has been as good over the years.

So, Hamlin was not happy with Johnson, but his teammates were a little frustrated with Denny. As the laps counted down, three Gibbs cars ran nose to tail. According to Kyle Busch, Hamlin was the slowest of the trio, keeping them back and allowing Johnson to get away. Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, and Busch finished third through fifth.

Brad Keselowski, now a non-Chaser, was second. He thought he could have been first had NASCAR not gotten confused when the caution came out with 150 laps to go. They had cars on the track, some in the pits, and then the leader ran out of gas and confused everyone. It took them 39 laps to figure it all out, with the rest of the way under green. Yes, if they had known it would take so long they would have red flagged things, but they did not.

Joey Logano was ninth, so he remains within four points of the Final Four. Battling teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch had less than stellar days. Harvick was 20th, two laps down, while a lap further back in 22nd was Busch. They have work to do in Texas. Not as much as Carl Edwards has before him. Tire does down, car slams into the wall, and 36th place was his fate. A win to be in is the only path for him to follow.

A half hour after the race, a car plowed into a crowd of fans leaving the venue.The driver has been charged with reckless driving. As of this writing, no word yet as to the cause of this. Twenty-two were injured, nine of whom were transported to local hospitals. Let us hope for good news for each of them.

Edwards has won three times at Texas during his career. He could use another on Sunday. In fact, all but one of our Chasers has recorded a victory at the venue. It might be a good time for Harvick to join them.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.

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