MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Three takeaways from Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway:
1. Denny Hamlin won despite his pit crew incurring a penalty for the third consecutive race. NASCAR penalized Hamlin’s pit crew for an uncontrolled tire. The crew was penalized for the same infraction last week at Auto Club Speedway. NASCAR penalized the crew for going over the wall too soon at Phoenix. There’s plenty of time before the Chase to fix those issues but such mistakes have got to stop soon.
2. Kevin Harvick’s streak of top-two finishes ended at eight consecutive races with an eighth-place finish Sunday. Still, Harvick’s streak might be one of the more impressive feats in the modern era because of how many good cars he’s had to beat during that streak.
3. A series of cautions slowed the pace so much that it took nearly two hours to run the first half of the 500-lap race. Fewer cautions in the second half of the race allowed the event to finish in 3 hours, 49 minutes and 13 seconds – the longest race of the season by seven seconds over the Atlanta race. If they can change the hot dogs at Martinsville, then maybe it’s time to ask if they need to run 500 laps at this track. Would 400 laps be better? Or is the value of 500 laps at Martinsville worth it?