The first primetime edition of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway is in the books and boy was it some kind of spectacle…. mostly in a good way but there were some things that made you scratch your head wondering why it happened.
Here’s our Good, Bad & Ugly from the biggest Late Model Stock Car event of the season.
Racing in the Feature:
Finding the good in this race is extremely easy. The good was the racing in the feature event particularly the final 25 laps going caution free with five incredibly talented drivers battling for the top spots. Timothy Peters got the win but the racing between him, Lee Pulliam and Trevor Noles specifically was amazing. Really showed the level of talent between all those guys and was a showcase of what this race is supposed to be.
The crowd was also amazing. We knew the first Late Model Stock Car race under the lights at Martinsville Speedway was going to draw in more people but never have we seen the level of crowd that turned out for this event. The stands looked better than any NASCAR Xfinity or Truck series race that’s been held this season and certainly the fans got their money’s worth.
Sure the hype guy was extremely annoying asking “Are you ready?” 74 times but the atmosphere of this race was the best overall that we’ve ever seen it. The fans were electric, the crews were geeked up and the drivers all desperately wanted to be in this one. It was the race we all expected and the atmosphere surrounding it gave the vibe that this was the biggest race in the country.
Heats 1 & 2:
To say that the first two heat races were caution filled and not a showcase of the level of talent that was at this race is an understatement. The first and second heat races destroyed a lot of equipment and left some desperation for the Last Chance Qualifier, which we’ll discuss later.
Fighting in the Pits and No one to see it and No Video:
Someone forgot to tell Jay Fogleman and Michael Diaz that they don’t pay for fights in the infield where fans can’t see it. We would have all loved to have seen them fight in front of the stands or at least on camera but we’re still confused as to why they were fighting.
Over Aggressiveness in Lock in Positions:
I guess this is where the fight came from. Peyton Sellers and Matt Bowling were racing the heck out of one another at the front of the field of the second heat race. Two veterans who maybe didn’t want to be beat by the other since they were no longer teammates. I can’t say I know why but they were racing extremely hard and it eventually led to Bowling getting shuffled back to alongside Mason Diaz.
Diaz was having a great run and Bowling proceeded to race him exactly like he did Sellers which was entirely too aggressive. They made contact into turn one which spun Bowling’s car and eventually led to him being out of the race when suspension damage was done in another incident. Clearly it wasn’t intentional and clearly Bowling was still geeked up from his battle with Sellers but racing that hard in the heat race was extremely foolish and sometimes when you get too aggressive it doesn’t end well.
Last Chance Qualifier:
The Last Chance Qualifier was probably one of the most embarrassing displays of racing that Martinsville Speedway has ever seen and given the fact that this is known for being somewhat of a demolition derby already, that’s saying something. Guys were just driving in over their heads and just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse race director Lynn Carroll had the genius idea to cut the race short to 13 laps instead of 25. I get the reason, sure it was meant to save time and hope that the race could be started somewhat on time but that didn’t work. That led to more crashing and more crashing and eventually a green, white checkered to finish the race at lap 8.
Dylan Ward’s DQ
The disqualification of Dylan Ward following the Last Chance Qualifier finish wasn’t surprising as Cameron Bowen was delivered the same fate last year but upon review of the video you could clearly see that Ward never touched Owen Smith. In fact if you watch the video the only car who might have made contact with Smith for the position was Scott Lancaster who was the beneficiary of Ward’s DQ. Lancaster made the race in the final spot and Ward left dejected and disqualified for something he clearly didn’t do. The track had their own video and a clearer decision could have been made but was made in haste following the LCQ finish.
Front Row Tossed
Pre-qualifying tech is pretty thorough at Martinsville. The officials work really hard to make sure that everything is legal but this year the front row was disqualified following qualifying. First Deac McCaskill was tossed from his second place starting position for what he described as a piece of trash covering one of the squirters. Of course Lynn Carroll did not agree saying that it was intentionally done. Pole winner Jeff Oakley was disqualified for having a spacer plate which wasn’t legal for Martinsville. His team claimed they didn’t know it and with the way the rule book is different everywhere they might get the benefit of the doubt but they wouldn’t start on the pole either way.
As you can tell there was plenty of good, plenty of bad and some of the ugliest of the ugly during the ValleyStar Credit Union 300. Hope you enjoyed our list and if you want to share your thoughts on any of this or what stood out to you please do so on our Facebook page.
Race22 staff contributed to the content of this article.