Watching the season’s first short track race at Martinsville, it was apparent that stage racing has put the drivers up on the wheel more than in the good old days. This article points out the things that the race fans have gained by affording the drivers a new incentive to race full time, not just the last 50 laps. Is it a gimmick? Does it work?

brad k

Holding A Pretty Wheel: Stage Racing Changes the Game In a Good Way

By Amy Henderson, Cup Series at FRONTSTRETCH

The checkered flag flew at Martinsville Speedway as the sun dipped below the grandstand, lengthening the shadows over the backstretch.  Brad Keslowski took his victory lap as the rest of the field pulled onto pit road, battered and bruised (both cars and egos).

Teams rolled their cars back onto the haulers in elation or frustration to begin the hurry-up-and-wait to get out of the garage and on the road home, though, it’s just a couple of hours for most of them. It’s the same dance that’s happened here for years, decades.

It’s also the sixth race of 2017, and one thing that has most certainly changed is how race teams approach races.  With points on the line for the first two stages of each race as well as the finish, it’s changed the game in a major way… without really changing the races themselves.

It’s harder with each passing week to deny that the races heat up toward the end of each stage, as well as in the closing laps. Drivers are pushing the envelope at points when they normally would not. Had the second stage not been on its final lap Sunday, it’s unlikely that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would have taken Kyle Busch wide or that Chase Elliott would have raced Busch as aggressively as he did to the line for the stage win.

 

CONTINUE READING STAGE RACING HERE:  Holding A Pretty Wheel: Stage Racing Changes the Game In a Good Way