Henry's Martinsville ramblings

RAMBLINGS -- MARTINSVILLE Ho hum...just another pole winner. Ward Burton (who couldn't even make the field for either race here last year) grabs his 3rd career pole, and guarantees us at least a record-tying...


Ho hum...just another pole winner. Ward Burton (who couldn't even make the field for either race here last year) grabs his 3rd career pole, and guarantees us at least a record-tying field for next years Bud Shootout at Daytona. With 16 different pole winners eligible, and the transfer from the Qualifier race we know we can have a gang of 17...and we've still got 5 more opportunities to come. Ward started from the 18th spot here in the Spring. Quite a turnaround.

Usually you want to get into the Top-25 in the first round, but the magic number today was 21. That's how many front-stretch pits there are at Martinsville...and the winner of that contest was Dale Jarrett. Maybe he should remind Robert Yates that Blackjack pays 3-2.

And Robert Yates...could he look any better (at least so far) with his selection for next year? Kenny Irwin gets a front row start at Richmond, runs Top-10 all race, and today puts the car solidly inside the 2nd row. Next years Rookie of the Year contest could be more exciting than the points battle...with the new sheet metal coming for the Ford teams, Steve Park with a new (Dale Earnhardt) Chevy team...the brand battle may just be heating up.

Speaking of Steve Park....he's subbing for Robby Gordon this week. At least Gordon spared us the pablum he fed us when he decided to skip the Talladega event earlier this season. Passing up a race at 'Dega for an open-wheel event (or even worse, just pole day) is tantamount to treason in Dixie....about the only way he could have made less fans would have been to burn a flag in the infield (G). Sure hope Gordon fares better in this foray than he did in his last, and that he realizes what he's doing.

BTW, Park becomes the 5th different driver to score points in the #40 Car for Sabco. That's probably not a record, but it's certainly way above average (G).

Hut Stricklin (4th) will have his best starting spot since Pocono in June of 1996.

Ricky Rudd (5th) ties his best starting position of the year....he also started 5th here in April.

STREAKIN...Ken Schrader has 6 Top-10 starts in the last 7 races.

Lake Speed & the Melling team will run the remaining 6 races of the season. This could prove to be a very important decision for this team. With the Cartoon Channel moving over to the #9 team for '98, by running out the schedule they will assure themselves of a pretty decent spot in the owners points....and as long as they're in the Top-40 they will gain those valuable provisionals for the first 4 races of next year that are based on this years points. They're currently 36th on the list.

We're assured a field of 42 this week...so there'll be 3 teams packing it up early this week. The trouble train includes Morgan Shepherd (the #1 team is out of provisionals till Atlanta), Gary Bradberry, & Dave Marcis. The latter 2 teams are not in the Top-40 in Owner Points. The driver on the bubble could be Steve Park. They got the 38th spot today, but if Shepherd or Bradberry pick it up just a little, they could put the #40 team on the hauler early. That team is 37th in Owner Points, and could be the odd-man out if times are quicker tomorrow morning.

It isn't often you look at the list of previous race winners for a track and see so many former victors in the current field. Every race winner (save one...Harry Gant) since 1980 is in this years event. That's 16 out of 17....and I can't think of another track that can boast of those numbers. Course, when Darrell Waltrip shows up 6 times on that list, it does help (G).

If this is your typical Martinsville race, it'll be hard on brakes (How many times have we seen _that_ commercial?). Ricky Rudd thinks that starting up front means you've got 30% more pad left at the end of the race....interesting thought.

We've got ESPN back this week, so watch for the usual M'ville camera shots....doggie cam & brake cam. But whatever you do....don't take a commercial with 10 laps to go. The 'Net may not be able to handle it 2 weeks in a row.

Henry Dubret (henry@nascarfans.com) NASCAR Fans _______________________________________ NASCAR Fans Website http://www.nascarfans.com

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Series NASCAR Cup