For many fans, the season starts on Sunday.
The similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks have featured some great racing. The one-mile Phoenix International Raceway had quite a few surprises, but for viewers who grew up going to bullrings across America, nothing beats a short track.
Martinsville Speedway is a venerable old course. In one form or another, it dates back to the birth of the sport, and while most of the drivers of today are separated by a vast space of time and distance from those roots, watching them race around this half-mile bullring evokes memories of strictly stock cars from the past.
This race has an even greater “throwback” feel.
NASCAR’s relatively new rules of locking in the franchise teams to leave only a few spots available for open entries has virtually eliminated the start-and-park operations. The prize money is divvied out differently than in the past, so the field is shrinking. Forty cars mark a full field. The Daytona 500 is only event this year that filled up. Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Western Swing hosted only 39 cars each. This week, Martinsville has 38 cars on the entry list.
In the not-so-distant past, NASCAR had different field maximums for various track types. Short tracks maxed out at 36 cars and that gave the drivers more room to navigate on these tight confines. With two fewer cars than fantasy players have seen in the past, the competition will improve—especially if one or two retire with damage or mechanical difficulty.
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