You know what I think would help NASCAR to get people to buy tickets to race? Short tracks. Martinsville is known for being a paper clip, drama and the famous hot dog of course. The Alpha 250 proved my theory of thought with good crowd numbers. I haven't checked the actual numbers, but as we all know we see a questionable sized crowd for Trucks and Xfinity races which is a controversial topic on how to get people to go to those races. So it isn't hard to say what you see in the stands when it is more than usual. Martinsville being a half mile paper clip as it's called always gives the drama and bumper to bumper excitement with wrecks from aggressive driving and constant close door contact between drivers eventually moving one out of the way. The term "Spread out" isn't really a word used to describe your usual NASCAR event. They don't really spread out and it's what the sport needs for the excitement factor that NASCAR wants to attract more younger generation fans. That's what we face today in terms of how to sell entertainment value. Millennial youngsters just don't like to sit for a long period of time and seeing something drag out to the end with it being spread out. Stage racing which worked perfectly gave the fans just that with close together competition making you want to see what's next. Bigger tracks NASCAR has implemented different such rule changes and body packages to slow the cars down so the rest of the pack can catch up with the leader. The leader on the bigger tracks always have the best air and the sanctioning body really has themselves scratching their heads on how to fix it with not really any luck. Short tracks you don't have that problem. There is no draft to worry about how to change aero so you can catch the leader. From fan perspective you get to see the entire track with little in the way of distance. You don't need binoculars to see across or wait until they cross the finish line. Although, some tracks do have the big screens for the front stretch fans to watch so they don't miss the action. Myself, I think the big screen is a good thing and helps, but since the coverage of TV has gotten better, that's why I find the at home experience the best way to watch. Short tracks give a good reason to watch both ways, but I think makes the ticket value the winner to go watch live. The Alpha 250 came to a close with Chase Elliott taking home the famous Grandfather clock. Fans took to Twitter with reaction saying mostly another cup driver won in the lower series. I see the race was really fair game as toward the end restarts were common. Giving all different experience levels the equal opportunity to win. The race came down to experience and people say "yeah, chase is a cup driver and shouldn't be there". Chase is a Cup driver, yes. Chase has experience, but don't forget when chase got the Xfinity Series he won the championship his rookie season. Chase was younger than most competing at the time and had help from Jr Motorsports. Many will say he did that because he had good equipment. That is true, but that equipment didn't would not get any other kid at 19 years old a championship the first time around. What got him that championship the first trying was the knowledge passed down from his father Bill Elliott. So today as he is a Cup driver now he is still younger than most there and in the Cup Series. Being in the truck race Saturday he isn't much older. Imagine if he hadn't won the Xfinity Series championship in 2014 and he is in the 24 ride still winless winning the Alpha 250? The difference? He still has the teachings and crew behind guiding him. Why didn't KBM win? Or some other team with high resources? In the end like every other competition you only have one winner. A fair win it was that any other in the top five if they played their cards right could of done what Chase did.
On the Cup side of things the STP 500 started out very smooth and part way in things got a little "Martinsvillish" with bumping and banging with McMurray being the end result of a cut tire. Getting to the pits is the idea, but the team didn't want to go two laps down. I have nothing against Johnson at all with his performance, but like everyone else he was getting knocked around with the heavy congested traffic. It would be bias to say the 7 time champ wasn't fairly raced. Same goes for Jr being in contact with Blaney. Jr didn't have any problem with Blaney shortly after it happened and went on like it was nothing. That's the attitude you need to have. Obviously it's a different story when you are chasing an 8th title and every thing counts, but good lord it's Martinsville with close racing not entitlement. I'm not speaking for Johnson or anyone else, but it's Jimmie Johnson. He can come back from anything. Further down as the race paced its way, Chris Buescher had an incident with both Ricky Stenhouse who spun out earlier and then almost hit a parked Jamie McMurray, YES parked haha and Danica Patrick being squeezed three wide, well not squeezed, but right between the two he made contact with Danica. Fortunately nothing came of it. This is what short tracks do to make me excited to watch. Logano, my favorite driver had a tire go down putting him down 2 laps. Thankfully for the lucky dog he got back on the lead lap. I'm a die hard Logano fan and when adversity strikes I have very little worry for him to get back in contention. Rather than screaming at the TV or taking to Twitter, I chose not to act like the world is going to spin off its axis. In the end my driver, whether he is taken out early or gets a good finish, I don't want to be the fan that creates a flood of hate that might make future or current fans turn away from the sport. With 100 laps to go Sunday proved to be just as exciting as the truck series race with the neck and neck battle between Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was the ultimate on the edge of your seat entertainment you could ask for. Brad chased Kyle and Kyle chased Brad. It almost made me wish I had been there in person to witness the pure awesomeness of adrenaline filled entertainment. That is what the millennials want in any sporting event if you want to secure them as a fan in the future. Keselowski proved to be the stronger car in the end. Crowned winner of the race along with a new custom made Grandfather clock, Keselowski took it all in an all out 500 lap survival of the fittest grudge match. MORE SHORT TRACKS!
All photos used with permission by Nascar Media.