NASCAR: Three things to watch


NASCAR Sprint Cup racing resumes action this weekend at Martinsville, and here are three things to watch out for after the off week.

1. How will Mark Martin and Brian Vickers fare in Denny Hamlin's ride while he recovers from a back injury sustained in a last-lap crash at California with Joey Logano? Will he be able to make the Chase when he returns? And is the feud between Hamlin and Logano over? Reports say the two texted each other, but there weren't too many positive feelings after the phone words were exchanged. 

2. Expect racing and off-track action to remain competitive and drama-filled. NASCAR seems to have calmed down in regards to racing hard and drivers' emotions - as evidenced by not fining Tony Stewart for his brawl with Logano or expletive-filled postrace interview. It's good news for the fans, who are seeing good races so far with the new Gen-6 car. 

3. It's all about the points. Keep an eye on veteran drivers outside of the top 10 in points. Jeff Gordon and Stewart are among those looking to break into safe Chase territory, and could use a win soon to vault them outside of the bubble zone. Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are off to surprisingly strong starts, and currently sit at eighth and 12th in the points. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski, first and second in the points, are both still looking for their first victory of the season.