South Dade News Leader: Matt Becherer

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Matt Becherer

Friday 04/21/2017
Short-Track Racing

Trip to Bristol heads the first of back-to-back short-track races

Matt Becherer

With all of NASCAR having a rare off week in its schedule last weekend as part of the Easter holiday, many drivers and teams on the circuit had the opportunity to enjoy some down time with family and friends. 

However, while some drivers were using the break to reenergize, others kept their competitive juices flowing, as they took part in races at a few short tracks around the nation.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Larson took his talents back to his home state of California where he participated in the Sprint Car Challenge Tour at Placerville Speedway. Larson, who you can find competing quite often in sprint car races around the United States (even on a race week), picked up the victory at the quarter-mile track.

While Larson took the checkered flag in the open-wheel race in Northern California on Saturday night, 2015 Monster Energy Series champion Kyle Busch was running in the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Unlike Larson, Busch’s car ran into technical issues during his run at the 0.363-mile oval and did not finish. Also keeping busy over the weekend was driver of the No. 5 car for Hendrick Motorsports, Kasey Kahne. From atop the pit box, Kahne cheered on his sprint-car team, which came away victorious on the half-mile oval at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Texas.

All three of these drivers will look to bring their short-track racing experiences from last weekend, and use them as they travel this weekend to Bristol Motor Speedway and next weekend to Richmond International Raceway.

NASCAR drivers and fans got their first taste of short-track racing earlier this month at Martinsville Speedway when Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Ford Fusion for Team Penske, visited Victory Lane for his first time at the 0.526-mile “paperclip.”

The STP 500 at Martinsville was arguably the most competitive race this year in the Monster Energy Series. After Martin Truex Jr. captured Stage 1 following a contested sprint to the green-white-checkered flag, 21-year-old Chase Elliott took Stage 2 of the race in surprising fashion. Kyle Busch had been leading the race heading into the final lap of the stage until Ricky Stenhouse Jr. nudged him on the final turn, which allowed Elliott to swoop by and earn the extra regular-season point and a much coveted playoff point.

The end of the race was even more entertaining and featured several swaps for the lead, aseither Keselowski or Busch led the head of the field for the last 160 laps. 

In the end, it was Keselowski who navigated his way to the victory, beating Busch by 1.8 seconds and earning Martinsville’s prized grandfather clock.

The next two races on the NASCAR schedule are shaping up to be just as good or even better. Like Martinsville, both of the race tracks are short, measuring 0.533 miles (Bristol) and 0.75 miles (Richmond). Even more, the flair of short-track racing will be on display, offering excitement for drivers and fans from green to checkered flags.

But what makes short tracks so much fun?

One thing that is prevalent is the countless bumps and bruises that the cars take when running on the raceway. Because of the short length, drivers have to maneuver through close quarters in bunches. For the majority of the time the cars are traveling within inches of each other, and more times than not, bang into one another.

In addition, there is a greater demand for drivers to use their brakes and less of their throttle at short tracks because of the constant turning. This repetitive stop-and-go approach can lead to a large amount of wear and tear on the brakes, making it something competitors need to keep a close eye on during the race.

For drivers, the close racing turns into heated racing, as their temperaments are tested in the grueling on-track action. Drivers enjoy the mini-battles on the track and many times have to push aside the car ahead of them to gain a spot in the race. This type of forceful racing lends itself to fans who are watching their favorite drivers bump heads as they work for the win.

As the NASCAR schedule makes its way to Bristol and Richmond over the next two weeks, you can expect to see the same short-track magic and drama that was displayed at Martinsville earlier this month. The racing juices will certainly be flowing, as drivers get back on the track after their off week.


Sunday, April 23

at 2:00 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway

Tune In: FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Saturday, April 22

at 1:00 PM (ET)

NASCAR XFINITY Series Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

*The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off and will return May 12*


Apr. 21

Fast Lane Friday presented by The Ticket Clinic

Apr. 22-23

Miami Grand Prix Remote Control Car Racing

Apr. 22-23

ports Car Club of America

Apr. 29-30

High Performance Driving Experience

May 5

Legacy Track Dayz Motorcycle School

May 6-7 Championship Cup Series Motorcycle Racing

May 12

High Performance Driving Experience

May 12

Fast Lane Friday presented by The Ticket Clinic


Nov. 19

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race

Nov. 18

Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 200 Camping World Truck Series Championship Race

Posted in Columnists, Matt becherer, Sports on Friday, April 21, 2017 1:07 pm. Updated: 1:20 pm. Comments (0)


Matt Becherer is President of Homestead-Miami Speedway. This long-time motorsports executive is one of the good guys, and he leads a team of 40 that operate the track. If you would like to talk to Matt, he can be reached at chatwithmatt