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Short tracks showcase NASCAR at its best

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 16, 2019 at 4:03 PM

Bristol, Martinsville, Richmond.

In my view, the last few weeks confirmed how the three short tracks on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series provide the best racing on the circuit.

Road courses, once the scourge of NASCAR fans, are now seen as other places offering exciting racing. Other fans prefer restrictor-plate racing and the constant threat of the “big one” at Daytona and Talladega, where the series goes next on April 28.

Among the other superspeedways of a mile or longer, Darlington has its unique flavor with its history, the shape of the track and the Southern 500 having a throwback theme. Charlotte has its unique events with the All-Star Race, the Coca-Cola 600 and the new ROVAL.

For pure racing in the 3,500-pound NASCAR Cup cars, nothing beats what we’ve seen in recent months on the short tracks.

The August Night Race at Bristol was voted the No. 1 race of 2018 and the No. 1 race in the four years that motorsports journalist Jeff Gluck has been doing an online fan poll. That race featured 19 lead changes and had nine cautions for 70 laps. In the end, Kurt Busch held off Kyle Larson in a close finish.

Who can forget the great finish at Martinsville in the fall? Battling for a spot in the NASCAR championship race at Homestead, Joey Logano roughed up Martin Truex Jr. on the final lap to win at the sport’s most historic venue. The move paid off for Logano, who went on to win the championship.

Martinsville in March wasn’t quite as exciting, although it still provided a close finish of Brad Keselowski holding off Chase Elliott for the win.

The recent Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway leads the voting for best 2019 races and it’s easy to see why. Kyle Busch’s charge from an opening-lap crash to race winner highlighted the action, which included 21 lead changes and 11 cautions for 77 laps.

Richmond was a sorely needed follow-up after Bristol, providing another great finish involving Truex and Logano. This time around, Truex held off Logano, who had gotten by Clint Bowyer in a tough battle for second place.

While the finish at Richmond was good, it didn’t offer as good a race as Bristol, with just eight lead changes. It was still great racing throughout the pack and it would take something truly phenomenal next week at Talladega to change my mind about the short tracks offering the best racing in NASCAR.

SHOWERS TURN DIRT INTO MUD

Both the Clay Valley Speedway and Volunteer Speedway dirt tracks had races scheduled last weekend canceled due to weather.

Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap has a weekly program scheduled Saturday with the FASTRAK Late Model, Sportsman Late Model, Mod Street, Classics, Mini Stocks and Open Wheel divisions.

Clay Valley Speedway in Coeburn, Virginia, has a Crazy 8 Crates, a $1,888-to-win Crate Late Model race, along with the Pure 4, Open Wheel Modified and Super Street divisions. There is also an Easter egg hunt for the kids at 6 p.m. with over $1,000 in prizes, including bicycles, to be given away.

CONCRETE JUNGLE

Kingsport Speedway has its weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program scheduled for Friday night. Besides the featured 60-lap Late Model Stock feature, there is racing for the Mod 4, Pure 4, Mod Street, Pure Street and Vintage divisions.

TWO-WHEEL WINNERS

The Hot Summer Nights Supercross Series got underway March 30 at the Appalachian Fairgrounds with several local winners.

Jacob Carberry from Jonesborough edged his brother, Justin, for the 250 D victory. Jacob Carberry also posted a runner-up finish in the Unlimited D class.

Another 1-2 Washington County finish involved Alton Clark from Johnson City beating Quentin Wise from Jonesborough in the ATV Novice division. Jerry Gillis from Telford took the ATV Intermediate title.

Jackson Horne from Kingsport and Anthony Fields from Bluff City each won two divisions. Elijah John from Church Hill posted a win and also a runner-up finish.

Other winners included: Braeden Fletcher from Kingsport (Schoolboy), Hunter Ford from Church Hill (Unlimited C), Mason Price from Kingsport (51 cc, 4-6) and Cory Strickland from Piney Flats (30+).

Runner-up finishes were recorded by: Madison Hensley from Johnson City (Women 85cc), Rylan Wicker from Johnson City (51cc Beginner), Cody Goode from Fall Branch (85 cc, 9-13), Jayce Birchfield from Jonesborough (Super Mini) and Tanner Myers from Bluff City in two divisions.

Round 2 took place last Saturday at I-81 Motorsports Park.

Michael Lambert from Gray was the winner in two classes, while Jacob and Justin Carberry posted another 1-2 finish, this time in the Unlimited D class.

Anthony Fields came through with one win and one runner-up finish. Other winners included: Logan Gilliam from Kingsport (Unlimited C) and Tanner Myers from Bluff City (125cc, 2-stroke).

The Hughes boys from Roan Mountain posted a pair of runner-up finishes. Bo Hughes finished second in the Pro race and Brandon Hughes was runner-up in the 30+ division. Lane Cash from Bluff City, Mason Price, Hunter Ford and Cody Goode also had second-place runs.

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