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“A length of wire bent into flat loops that is used to hold papers together.”
Yes, I just defined a paperclip. These fasteners found in cubicles all across the United States are highly important in the office world, yet what significance does it have in the NASCAR world?
With Martinsville Speedway shining bright at the end of the Off Weekend Tunnel, I can see the similarities between the track and its nickname, The Paperclip. For one, the shape is, well, paperclip-y. Two, it’s flat. Three, it can either hold together a strong start or let the good results scatter like dozens of unsecured papers caught by the wind.
Looping around the idea that this is a crucial race to survive, I’m asking five questions before Sunday, when the big question is answered: When it gets down to the wire, who can clip off the competition on Sunday?
Does Joey Logano make it through the entire race? After what happened at Fontana, Logano made a new enemy in Tony Stewart. The possibility of the No. 22 not making the whole race is very likely. However, will Stewart sacrifice a potentially season-changing run for some good ole’ revenge? If he’s smart enough, he won’t. He doesn’t need to jeopardize good results just to spin out Logano. With the way his season is going, Stewart can thrive at Martinsville, and thriving doesn’t involve wrecking. Logano should be safe.
Will Clint Bowyer ruin Hendrick’s day again? The last spring race we saw at this track was going great for Hendrick Motorsports until a restart with Clint Bowyer took out Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. This place is great for HMS, and it’s understandable that they should look out for the No. 15. Why? Because Bowyer is a serious threat to contend for the win. The former dirt track racer is good at short tracks, and this weekend is his time to shine. He’ll ruin the Chevy party all right. In a good way, of course.
Can Mark Martin win and miraculously cure the 11 team’s broken heart? With Denny Hamlin out for six weeks because of his back injury, Mark Martin is behind the wheel of his machine this weekend. Martin, a very, uh, experienced driver, has a great record at The Paperclip, including two wins. So, can he snatch a win and create a feel-good storyline? Martin is a class act, one that can shock, surprise and stun. Don’t count that win out, because you might end up eating some crow.
Is there really any contest in who will be Rookie of the Year? Remember when everyone talked about the competition that involved Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and that Rookie of the Year title? Well, it looks like there’s not much competition at all; Stenhouse is currently 12th in points, and Patrick ... well, isn’t. Given, Stewart-Haas Racing has had a rough start to the season, but everyone thought it would be closer than that. Maybe Martinsville is where Patrick can close in on her man and give him a run for his money? Or should the trophy be handed out now?
Are Junior Nation’s prayers finally answered? The fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. have spoken: their driver is going to win this weekend! If that sounds familiar, don’t worry; they say that every weekend. However, is this the weekend where they’re finally right? The allegiance is getting hungry for another win, but that fire isn’t there in Junior right now. This could be the time where he gets up and fights again. With strong stats in his favor, it’s easy to see the checkered falling as Earnhardt Jr. crosses the finish line first. All that is questionable is if the focus is there to do the job, and we might be able to answer that after this weekend.