Will payback play a role at Martinsville Speedway?
Some of the instances we have seen in the last handful of races have generated talk of "payback," and there's no better place for it to happen than this weekend at Martinsville. The bigger question becomes will we see all this talk of payback turn into real action?
In the old days you'd always hear about "just wait until" North Wilkesboro or Bristol, Richmond or Martinsville.
Everyone in the garage area knows that the short tracks are the places to extract your measure of revenge if given the chance. No driver in our sport is stupid enough to try it on the bigger, faster tracks that could get someone hurt. A short track is the perfect location where you are beatin' and bangin' on each other anyway and the reality is you aren't going that fast where it could cause physical harm.
With that said, I can tell you from experience that it's easy enough to say you are going to do it, but when the time comes it doesn't happen. Over the years I have worked with a number of hot-headed drivers where payback would have been the easiest thing in the world to do but never happened.
I promise you this, don't keep poking the bear. If Joey Logano thinks he can go into Matt Kenseth and rub up against him again and not expect something to happen, well Joey better think again. Don't think that if Dale Eanrhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick start pounding on each other that Dale Jr. doesn't remember that Kevin was the reason he got booted from the Chase and decide "Here Kevin, take this," then you are sadly mistaken.
These are situations that the drivers still in the Chase with the most to lose right now have to be very wary of because you never really know when it might happen. If the race is very intense and the cars are very competitive, trust me, anything can happen. To me, it becomes less of payback and more of "Take this now."
So yes, I know there is a lot of hype in the media right now about some possible showdowns happening at Martinsville with drivers wanting to even the score, but it's really up to the drivers and the situation at the moment. If those drivers are willing to give a little bit when things get tight, then you won't see it happen.
However, if as a driver you go in there thinking since you got away with it once before that you can get away with it a second time, well you better hold onto your hat and your steering wheel, because trust me, you are going to go for a ride and I mean a ride up into the wall.