Turn on the Lights: Martinsville Becomes Dangerous After Sun Sets


By Jared Turner

If you watched Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway there was certainly much to applaud. The racing, particularly in the latter stages, was some of the fiercest and most intense NASCAR has seen all season. And the fact that Jeff Gordon ended a drought of more than a year and landed a place among the Championship 4 in the process made for a super-compelling storyline. About the only disappointment was that the final laps of the race were virtually run in the dark as the sun began to set. In the final few laps it became increasingly difficult for drivers to see each other and for fans to see the drivers. All this begs the question, of course, of how to prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future. Basically, NASCAR has two options: Either move the start time of the fall Martinsville race to earlier in the day or make the track install lights. While the former option would certainly be cheaper, the latter option might be more practical from a TV network standpoint since Martinsville’s start time of just before 1:30 is actually one of the earlier ones on the schedule. Either way, something must be done, because drivers simply cannot race in the dark.

It Could Have Been Worse

Truly, one of the most amazing outcomes from Sunday’s race is that the teams of Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano didn’t succumb to blows after their drivers tangled on the track. You could literally cut the tension in the Martinsville Speedway garage with a knife after Kenseth took Logano out. How everyone managed to get out of there without there being a few black eyes or at least a little pushing and shoving is utterly remarkable, and NASCAR should be thankful that matters didn’t escalate, because it had the potential to be really, really bad.