Opinion: Race Then Chase

Matt Kenseth

As the Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are tied for the top spot - the closest the Chase championship has been at this juncture of the season since its inception.

Something may have gotten lost in last weekend’s buzz-worthy visit to Martinsville Speedway.

In addition to the high emotions, drama, rivalries between drivers, bombastic comments and a tie for the Sprint Cup championship points lead, there was another very important thing to remember – an entertaining race.

Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 was exactly what fans have been asking for in the last few weeks.  The 500-lap grind around the venerable Virginia short track provided the kind of side-by-side action and tight competition that has been synonymous with Martinsville over the years.

And at the end of the long afternoon, it was the racing that produced the championship story.

Too many times, it’s the other way around.

While the Chase and the Sprint Cup championship are certainly the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we sometimes lose sight of what it takes to actually get to the final destination.  No matter what the title picture may look like on a given week, there’s a race to be run, an event that - while adding to the overall scope of the championship - is also an experience onto itself.

What was great about Martinsville is that what was happening on the track was the main attraction.  When the dust settled, then it was time to talk points and the crown.

As the Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are tied for the top spot - the closest the Chase championship has been at this juncture of the season since its inception.

But what will be more memorable come Sunday night, the title possibly remaining as close or a slam-bang, exciting run to the checkered flag?

I’ll get greedy and hope both happen.  If Texas comes remotely close to what happened in Charlotte a couple weeks ago, when cars were mostly single-file all night long and aerodynamic challenges were center stage, I’m not sure many fans will be happy.

But if the AAA Texas 500 is more reminiscent of Martinsville and awakens memories of the 2010 fall race at TMS, there will be a lot of smiles around "NASCAR Nation."

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup

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