The Lee Side: Rubbin’ is racin’

For NASCAR fans out there, the 2013 Chase for the Championship couldn’t be shaping up any better.

Posted on 11/2/13

By Lee Coleman

Unless Dale, Jr. was three races away from the championship.

That’s not happening, again, but the riders of 900 horses and 3,400 pounds atop the leader board are sure enough putting on a show as the championship winds down to the final three races.

Last weekend, the boys of thunder got together at Martinsville, the little half-mile short track shaped like a paper clip.

And the beating and banging was on. Or as they say in racing vernacular, rubbin’ is racin’.

Racing at Martinsville has been described as 500 laps in a traffic jam. There just isn’t any room to go anywhere.

If a driver doesn’t have his patience helmet on when he climbs into the belly of his beast, he might be in for a long day.

Jimmie Johnson came to Martinsville four points ahead of Matt Kenseth in the point standings for the Chase championship.

He finished fifth and Kenseth finished second. They are deadlocked for the lead with races at Texas Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway left on the schedule.

But alas, it was eight-time Martinsville winner Jeff Gordon that owned the day.

Well. at least with 21 laps left when he passed Kenseth for the lead and held on for his first win of the season.

Now, Johnson, Gordon’s teammate at Rick Hendrick Racing, and Kenseth, have a rearview mirror full of Gordon as his win propelled him to third in the standings, only 26 points from first place.,

Gordon drove Sunday’s race like the wily old sea dog veteran he is. He beat and banged all day and put himself in the position to win at the end.

A big win like that can create the momentum Gordon will need to overtake the frontrunners.

There is so much ballyhoo and hoopla surrounding Johnson in his attempt to win his sixth championship, and rightly so, but Johnson and Kenseth have to remember Gordon has been here before and has won a championship or two himself.

In fact, Gordon trails only legendary driver Richard Petty for the most wins in NASCAR history.

The King has 200 wins while Gordon has 90-something.

A driver doesn’t win that many races without knowing what he is doing, especially in crunch time.

Say what you want but there isn’t anything like good old fashioned experience behind the wheel of a stock car.

“I’m proud of my team for never giving up.” Gordon said after his win.

That from a man that knows a thing or two about never quitting.

Clean off your mirrors Jimmie and Matt.

There is a wily old sea dog with his sights on you.

And he’s coming fast.

Coleman is the editor of the Republican and can be contacted at

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