Saturday, October 25, 2014

Martinsville Driver Chassis Selections: 2014 Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500

Keselowski using his road course car from Watkins Glen this week

#2-Brad Keselowski: Primary Chassis:PRS-914. Last Raced: Watkins Glen (finished 35th). Backup Chassis: PRS-910. Last Raced: Charlotte backup (not raced)

#3-Austin Dillon: will pilot Chassis No. 489 in the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway. This is a new Chevrolet SS that will be utilized for the first time this weekend.

#4-Kevin Harvick: Chassis No. 4-868: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 4-864 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Built new for 2014, Chassis 4-864 started 18th and finished seventh at Martinsville in April, its only time in competition.

#10-Danica Patrick: Chassis No. 10-865: Chassis No. 10-865 debuted in March at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where Patrick qualified 10th but finished 32nd. It was then used in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where she started 29th and finished 22nd.

#14-Tony Stewart: Chassis No. 14-742: This car first turned its wheels on a racetrack in 2012 during a test session Sept. 4-5 at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin, which prepared Chassis No. 14-742 for its debut in the Sept. 23 Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. There, the car qualified third and led 38 laps before finishing seventh. Chassis No. 14-742 returned to another relatively flat, 1-mile oval when it made its second career start in the penultimate race of the 2012 season at Phoenix International Raceway. After qualifying ninth, a pit road miscue and a lap-282 spin conspired for a 19th-place finish. With a new 2013 Chevrolet SS body, Chassis No. 14-742 returned to Phoenix in February for its third career start, where it had a solid outing, qualifying sixth and finishing eighth. With the exception of a test June 25-26 at New Hampshire, the car sat idle for the remainder of the 2013 season. Chassis No. 14-742 reprised its testing regimen in 2014, with tests Jan. 30-31 at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway and Feb. 6 at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Georgia. The STP 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in March marked Chassis No. 14-742's first start in more than a year and its fourth overall. The run, however, was a quiet 17th-place effort. Looking for more in its second start this season and fifth overall, Chassis No. 14-742 returns to Martinsville for this weekend's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500.

#15-Clint Bowyer: Chassis No. 806 serves as the primary chassis for Bowyer at Martinsville. This chassis raced at Martinsville in April where Bowyer finished ninth. Chassis No. 787 serves as the back-up chassis. This chassis served as the primary chassis for Martin Truex Jr. in last October's Martinsville race where he finished 16th.

#16-Greg Biffle: Chassis RK-856 is the same car Biffle led laps with in the spring race and is also the same car he finished in the top 10 last fall at Martinsville. Backup Chassis: RK-867 Last ran Phoenix - finished 17th 

#17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.:Chassis RK-858 is the same chassis that the No. 17 team raced at Martinsville in the spring. Stenhouse had worked his way inside the top-20 before breaking a drive shaft. Backup Chassis: RK - 877 - last raced at Loudon - finished ninth.

#22-Joey Logano: Primary Chassis: PRS-913. Last Raced: Watkins Glen (finished sixth). Backup Chassis: PRS-901. Last Raced: Charlotte backup (not raced)

#24-Jeff Gordon: #24 crew chief Alan Gustafson has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 24-902 for this Sunday's race. This chassis is new and has never been raced.

#27-Paul Menard: will utilize chassis No. 488 during the 263-mile event at Martinsville Speedway. This Chevrolet SS chassis is brand new to the Richard Childress Racing stable and will make its first laps during Friday's practice session at the paperclip-shaped track. 

#31-Ryan Newman: will drive chassis No. 490 on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. This is a new Chevrolet SS that will be utilized under race conditions for the first time this weekend. The No. 31 team tested with this car last week in a two-day Richard Childress Racing Cup team test at the .526-mile track.

#41-Kurt Busch: Chassis No. 909: Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 909 in Sunday's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Built new for 2014, Chassis No. 909 will see its first laps of competition this weekend.

#48-Jimmie Johnson: Crew chief Chad Knaus has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-913 for this weekend's event in Martinsville. This is a brand new car. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-749, which was last raced in March at Martinsville, where Johnson finished second.

#55-Brian Vickers: Primary: 807 finished 16th at Martinsville on March 30. Backup: 785 has not raced.

#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-789 for this weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to a third-place finish at Martinsville in April.

#99-Carl Edwards: Primary chassis RK-866 last ran at the Spring Martinsville race, starting eighth and finishing 13th. Backup chassis RK-886 last ran at Richmond, starting 10th and finishing 22nd.

- compiled by Jayski.com

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Urgency for Denny Hamlin to get at least top-5 at Martinsville

Denny Hamlin is 8/1 to win Sunday
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 23, 2014) - For Denny Hamlin, the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 at Martinsville Speedway couldn’t come at a more perfect time in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The Virginia native has four career Sprint Cup wins at the historic half-mile track and with the Oct. 26 race marking the beginning of the Eliminator Round, a fifth victory would guarantee him a spot in the Championship Round.

“No win would be bigger than what this one is, if we were to get it this weekend at Martinsville,” Hamlin said.

In addition to his four Sprint Cup wins, Hamlin also boasts an average finish of 8.7 in 17 career starts at the historic half-mile speedway. He’s only finished outside of the top 10 four times.

“This is obviously our best track left in the Chase and it’s going to be a key part of whether we are part of the championship picture at Homestead or not,” Hamlin said. “So, I think that this is a pivotal weekend for us. If we don’t get a win, we’ve got to get a top five finish to give ourselves a chance.”

For Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing team, the race strategy has changed from when the Chase started six weeks ago to now.

“I think we have to be faster now that you’ve only got eight cars. The field is cut in half,” he said. “Before, when you had 16 (cars in the Chase), you could count on guys eliminating themselves with mistakes, but you just can’t count on that now. I think you’re going to have to have all-out speed.”

The Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 race weekend kicks off on Friday with the Virginia Lottery Pole Day.

Ticket prices for the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 begin at just $45.

Tickets to the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500 on Oct. 26, the Kroger 200 on Oct. 25 and the Virginia Lottery Pole Day on Oct. 24 can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

- Martinsville Speedway

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

2014 Martinsville odds: How do you scout anyone but Gordon, Johnson or Hamlin?

Gordon, Johnson and Hamlin have won 15 of past 20 Martinsville races
Jeff Gordon, on a quest to win his fifth Sprint Cup title, has been posted by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as the 4-to-1 favorite to win Sunday's Goody's Headache Powder Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway. He has eight grandfather clocks (Martinsville trophy) and 27 top-5 finishes in 43 starts. He is an absolute legend on the half-mile flat track, and with only eight drivers remaining eligible to win the championship -- a group that doesn't include Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- Gordon now becomes an even bigger fan favorite.

There are several great stories to root for over the next three races. Four drivers will advance either by winning or having the most points. It's possible that only one driver could advance on points, especially with Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano being favorites to win the Texas and Phoenix races.

The sentimental choice, whether a fan of his or not, has to be Gordon. NASCAR fans gave him a heap of boos throughout his early career while he was winning his four championships -- the last coming in 2001. He was almost like a villain character and that image was sometimes fueled by rival and fan-favorite Dale Earnhardt. Now, after watching Jimmie Johnson takeover the winners' villain role, and seeing Gordon 'pay his dues' over the years, there's been a reversal of feeling by many toward the good old dog.

Kevin Harvick should also have plenty of supporters as well. He's still looking for his first Cup title. The thing most like about him is that he's a badass that doesn't take any guff, and he's a direct link to the Earnhardt/Childress No. 3 era. There's a lot of love in NASCAR Nation for the Bakersfield, CA native. Harvick won at Martinsville in 2011 and his teammate Kurt Busch won in the spring race. He should run well. The Westgate will pay 6-to-1 odds if Harvick wins Sunday.

Denny Hamlin is listed at 8-to-1 odds, and from the standpoint of rooting for a Chase underdog, he's a great choice to support in the quest to win his first title. He had to sit and watch those Penske and Hendrick cars pass him all season long with their massive horsepower, but he drove smart. He took 25th-place cars and routinely finished with top-10's. Now his team is gradually getting better. He's one of the final eight drivers and he comes to Martinsville where he has a home field advantage with four wins and an 8.8 average finish in 17 starts.

Then there's Matt Kenseth, who is still looking for his first win this season and first at Martinsville. Last fall during the Chase, Kenseth had the best Martinsville run of his career with a second-place finish. He has some more fans just because he stepped up at Charlotte and showed everyone he's not going to be bullied anymore. He finished sixth in the spring race.

Jimmie Johnson is an eight-time winner at Martinsville and comes in at 5-to-1 odds. Because of his 3.7 average finish over his past 20 starts, it seems logical to think he might finish fourth or better. In his last four he has two wins, a fifth and runner-up. Now that his championship chase for title No. 7 is over, does the team regroup and begin testing for 2015? Does it matter with Johnson at Martinsville?

Johnson, Gordon and Hamlin have combined to win 15 of the last 20 Martinsville races. Besides Gordon and Hamlin, Harvick and Ryan Newman (2012) are the only Chase drivers with a Martinsville win. Brad Keselowski finished 38th in the spring race, but prior to that he had three solid runs of sixth or better. Joey Logano was fourth in the spring, and his best finish was runner-up in 2010.

Read More Here.......Westgate odds to win at Martinsville

Martinsville Driver Chassis Selections: 2014 Goody's 500

Spring winner Kurt Busch is using new chassis this week at Martinsville

#2-Brad Keselowski: Primary Chassis:PRS-914. Last Raced: Watkins Glen (finished 35th). Backup Chassis: PRS-910. Last Raced: Charlotte backup (not raced)

#3-Austin Dillon: will pilot Chassis No. 489 in the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway. This is a new Chevrolet SS that will be utilized for the first time this weekend.

#4-Kevin Harvick: Chassis No. 4-868: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 4-864 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Built new for 2014, Chassis 4-864 started 18th and finished seventh at Martinsville in April, its only time in competition.

#10-Danica Patrick: Chassis No. 10-865: Chassis No. 10-865 debuted in March at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where Patrick qualified 10th but finished 32nd. It was then used in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where she started 29th and finished 22nd.

#15-Clint Bowyer: Chassis No. 806 serves as the primary chassis for Bowyer at Martinsville. This chassis raced at Martinsville in April where Bowyer finished ninth. Chassis No. 787 serves as the back-up chassis. This chassis served as the primary chassis for Martin Truex Jr. in last October's Martinsville race where he finished 16th.

#16-Greg Biffle: Chassis RK-856 is the same car Biffle led laps with in the spring race and is also the same car he finished in the top 10 last fall at Martinsville. Backup Chassis: RK-867 Last ran Phoenix - finished 17th 

#17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Chassis RK-858 is the same chassis that the No. 17 team raced at Martinsville in the spring. Stenhouse had worked his way inside the top-20 before breaking a drive shaft. Backup Chassis: RK - 877 - last raced at Loudon - finished ninth.

#22-Joey Logano: Primary Chassis: PRS-913. Last Raced: Watkins Glen (finished sixth). Backup Chassis: PRS-901. Last Raced: Charlotte backup (not raced)

#24-Jeff Gordon: #24 crew chief Alan Gustafson has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 24-902 for this Sunday's race. This chassis is new and has never been raced.

#27-Paul Menard: will utilize chassis No. 488 during the 263-mile event at Martinsville Speedway. This Chevrolet SS chassis is brand new to the Richard Childress Racing stable and will make its first laps during Friday's practice session at the paperclip-shaped track. 

#31-Ryan Newman: will drive chassis No. 490 on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. This is a new Chevrolet SS that will be utilized under race conditions for the first time this weekend. The No. 31 team tested with this car last week in a two-day Richard Childress Racing Cup team test at the .526-mile track.

#41-Kurt Busch: Chassis No. 909: Kurt Busch will pilot Chassis No. 909 in Sunday's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Built new for 2014, Chassis No. 909 will see its first laps of competition this weekend.

#48-Jimmie Johnson: Crew chief Chad Knaus has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-913 for this weekend's event in Martinsville. This is a brand new car. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-749, which was last raced in March at Martinsville, where Johnson finished second.

#55-Brian Vickers: Primary: 807 finished 16th at Martinsville on March 30. Backup: 785 has not raced.

#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-789 for this weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to a third-place finish at Martinsville in April.

#99-Carl Edwards: Primary chassis RK-866 last ran at the Spring Martinsville race, starting eighth and finishing 13th. Backup chassis RK-886 last ran at Richmond, starting 10th and finishing 22nd.
- compiled by Jayski.com

Ryan Newman looking for second Martinsville win and Championship ticket

Ryan Newman is 40/1 to win for second time at Martinsville
Ryan Newman
No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS
Event Preview Fact Sheet

This Week’s Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS at Martinsville Speedway
… Ryan Newman will drive chassis No. 490 on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. This is a new Chevrolet SS that will be utilized under race conditions for the first time this weekend. The No. 31 team tested with this car last week in a two-day Richard Childress Racing Cup team test at the .526-mile track.

Newman at the Paperclip … In 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at Martinsville Speedway, Newman visited victory lane at this event in 2012. The Rocket Man also owns three pole awards … all happening in the fall events in 2002, ’04 and ’09. In total, he owns seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes along with 194 laps led in competition. The South Bend, Ind., native has an average start of 9.7 and average finish of 15.5. When calculating points earned over the last 10 races at the half-mile track, Newman ranks 10th in points earned.

Engineered to Amaze … Detroit-based Quicken Loans Inc. is the nation’s fourth largest retail home mortgage lender. The company closed a record $80 billion of volume across all 50 states in 2013. Quicken Loans generates loan production from web centers located in Detroit, Cleveland and Scottsdale, Arizona. The company also operates a centralized loan processing facility in Detroit, as well as its San Diego-based One Reverse Mortgage unit. Quicken Loans ranked #1 in customer satisfaction among all home mortgage lenders in the United States by J.D. Power for four consecutive years in 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010.

Quicken Loans was named among the top-30 companies on FORTUNE magazine’s annual “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the last 11 consecutive years, ranking #5 in 2014. It ranked in the top-15 of Computerworld magazine’s “100 Best Places to Work In Technology” for the past nine years, ranking #1 in 2013. The company moved its headquarters to downtown Detroit in 2010, and now more than 8,500 of its 10,000-plus team members work in the city’s urban core. For more information about Quicken Loans, please visit www.quickenloans.com, on Twitter at @QLnews, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/QuickenLoans.

Drive Home a Winner … Quicken Loans’ latest sweepstakes, “Drive Home a Winner” awards one lucky winner both a brand-new Chevrolet SS and a year’s worth of mortgage payments. The sweepstakes, open to those 18 and older, is a collaboration between General Motors and Quicken Loans. Fans can enter by visiting www.qlracing.com.

#NewmanNation … With a fifth-place showing at Talladega Superspeedway, Newman transfers into the Eliminator Round. The point standings for the Eliminator eight drivers have been reset with all eligible competitors in a tie for the lead with 4000 points each.

Race Rewind … Earlier this year in the No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet, Newman started 16th and with 150 laps to go, reported a possible mechanical issue with the No. 31 machine. Newman remained competitive en route to 20th-place finish.

Rescue Ranch … This Saturday, the Rescue Ranch will be in full swing for its annual Fall Festival andInauguralRun, The Ranch 5K Mud Run. At the Fall Festival, come and meet some of the education animals, take a hayride, paint a pumpkin, listen to live music, watch the Food Truck Throw Down competition and enjoy lots of fun fall activities. Plus, if you want to break a sweat, sign up for the Inaugural Run The Ranch 5K Mud Run benefitting Rescue Ranch and Hope For The Warriors®. Participants will make their way through a set of eight different obstacles that will include mud pits, hay mounds, tunnels, ropes and more. For details and to register visit: http://www.rescueranch.com/special-events.

RYAN NEWMAN QUOTES:

What are your thoughts on racing at Martinsville and it being the first race in the Eliminator Round?

“Martinsville Speedway is a fun track to drive when you have a car that allows you to look out the front window. If you are spending too much time looking in the mirror and can’t get in the corner, you are going to have a nightmare of a day. Looking at where this race lands in the Chase, all of the races are equally important when you do the math. There are outside, situational circumstances like a wreck that you can be involved in. That applies to any track but I think Martinsville has a higher potential for a wreck to happen in comparison to some of the 1.5-mile tracks we go to for example. Obviously, you never know what’s going to happen. So we’ll just have to wait and see and hope for the best. We had a decent test at Martinsville last week that answered some of the questions we had so I hope we can be one of those teams up front and in contention for the win.”

What was it like to win at Martinsville in 2012?
“It was one of those deals where you have to keep yourself in contention. I was fifth after getting two tires on a restart. I got a pretty good launch and I was going to dive underneath Clint Bowyer and he blocked me so we made contact into Turn 1. In the end, it collected three cars and gave me the lead. We had another good restart and ended up winning the race. It was awesome for me and it was awesome to get that grandfather clock and know that you are a part of NASCAR history at Martinsville Speedway forever. It was really special.”

- Richard Childress Racing

Denny Hamlin looking for fifth Martinsville grandfather clock and Championship ticket

Denny Hamlin is 8/1 to win Sunday at Martinsville
Event: Goody’s 500
Date/Time: Oct. 26/1:30 p.m. ET
2013 winner: Jeff Gordon
2013 polesitter: Denny Hamlin
Distance: 500 laps/263 miles
Track Length: 0.526-mile
Banking: 12 degrees
Track Shape: Oval

EXPRESS NOTES:


Talladega Recap: Denny Hamlin finished 18th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway to advance to the Eliminator Round of the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in the #11 FedEx One Rate/”Deliverminator” Toyota. Hamlin came into the race needing a 15th-place finish to ensure a spot among the final eight drivers vying for this year’s title, and along with other teams in similar situations, elected to hang in the back of the draft pack throughout most of the 188-lap event won by Brad Keselowski. Hamlin started 38th but quickly moved forward on the high-banked superspeedway. He earned a valuable bonus point by leading Lap 39, and then fell back to avoid a pair of multi-car incidents during the race. Hamlin lined up 20th for the final restart and moved up two spots at the checkered flag. The Chase standings reset following the race, and Hamlin is now tied for the points lead with four races remaining in the season. The Eliminator Round consists of three events — Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix — where Hamlin has a combined seven victories in his career.

Martinsville Preview: The Series heads to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday’s 500-lap event on the flat, half-mile paper clip. Hamlin is a four-time winner at the Virginia facility and is arguably his best track on the circuit. The 33-year-old Chesterfield, Va., native won his first race at Martinsville in the spring of 2008, and then won three-straight at the track in 2009 and 2010, including back-to-back Chase races. In total, Hamlin has recorded three poles and 13 top-10 finishes in 17 career Martinsville starts, leading 1,153 laps. Hamlin is second among remaining Chase drivers in average running position, average finishing position and driver rating at Martinsville, all to four-time champion Jeff Gordon.

FedEx Office – Closest to Martinsville Speedway: 3731 Battleground Ave., Greensboro, NC 27410, (336) 282-5650

Louisville Along for the Ride at Martinsville: The FedEx Freight service center in Louisville will be recognized for outstanding performance with its “LOU” code letters on the b-post of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

HAMLIN CONVERSATION – MARTINSVILLE:

How do you think the Eliminator Round sets up for the FedEx Racing Team?

I have said all year that if we made it to the final eight, to this Eliminator Round, that we suddenly had a good shot at this championship. This round has three tracks that our FedEx team has had a lot of success at over the years, obviously starting with Martinsville. We didn’t have a great race there in the spring, but we have made some gains on our short track program, and I’m confident we can go there and compete for the win this weekend. Winning on Sunday is our ultimate goal and would be great to put ourselves in position to battle for the championship at Homestead.”

          2014 FEDEX RACING TEAM – SEASON RESULTS
DATEEVENTLOCATIONSTARTFINISHLAPSSTATUSWINNINGSLEDPTSTREND
Feb. 23Daytona 500Daytona42200/200Running$1,148,451162nd
March 2The Profit on CNBC 500Phoenix1219312/312Running$87,4808th
March 9Kobalt Tools 400Las Vegas2712267/267Running$121,41018th
March 16Food City 500Bristol16500/500Running$116,86547th
March 23Auto Club 500Fontana*1317202/202Running$107,41011th
March 30STP 500Martinsville219500/500Running$94,47512th
April 7Duck Commander 500Texas613340/340Running$137,7702013th
April 12Bojangles’ Southern 500Darlington1019374/374Running$101,905315th
April 26Toyota Owners 400Richmond2822400/400Running$88.89014th
May 4Aaron’s 499Talladega351188/188Running$303,3151212th
May 105-Hour Energy 400Kansas3018266/267Running$94,76512th
May 25Coca-Cola 600Charlotte622398/400Running$112,98514th
June 1FedEx 400Dover75400/400Running$136,8809th
June 8Pocono 400Pocono14160/160Running$137,50048th
June 15Quicken Loans 400Michigan2929198/200Running$92,64012th
June 22Toyota/Save Mart 350Sonoma1626110/110Running$97,03513th
June 28Quaker State 400Kentucky44227/267Accident$71,58017th
July 6Coke Zero 400Daytona376112/112Running$135,37014th
July 13Camping World RV Sales 301Loudon38305/305Running$109,5652012th
July 27The John Wayne Walding 400Indianapolis273160/160Running$307,8901821st**
Aug. 3GoBowling.com 400Pocono139160/160Running$96,96521st
Aug. 10Cheez-It 355Watkins Glen172490/90Running$84,01520th
Aug. 17Pure Michigan 400Michigan217200/200Running$108,94020th
Aug. 23Irwin Tools Night RaceBristol1340160/500Accident$96,5652820th
Aug. 31Oral-B USA 500Atlanta173335/335Running$182,7053719th
Sept. 6Federated Auto Parts400Richmond1121398/400Running$89,6159th
2014 CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP
Sept. 14MyAFibstory.com 400Chicagoland246267/267Running$131,0456th
Sept. 21Sylvania 300New Hampshire437265/303Running$87,2173213th
Sept. 28AAA 400Dover312400/400Running$96,540T-1st
Oct. 5Hollywood Casino 400Kansas257267/267Running$126,4705th
Oct. 11Bank of America 500Charlotte39334/334Running$106,640227th
Oct. 19GEICO 500Talladega3818194/194Running$96,5361T-1st
Averages/Totals15.315.193.0% $4,800,024218  
Driver: Sam Hornish Jr.
** Penalized 75 points following post-race inspection

- Weber Shandwick Worldwide for FedEx Racing

Matt Kenseth getting closer to first Martinsville win

Matt Kenseth is 12/1 to win at Martinsville Sunday
Matt Kenseth/No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Preview
Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway
No. 20 Dollar General Toyota News and Notes:

JOE GIBBS RACING AT MARTINSVILLE:
Joe Gibbs Racing has 95 Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville Speedway earning a total of seven wins, 31 top-five, 49 top-ten finishes, and eight poles. The organization also has led for a total of 3,325 laps and has an average finish of 13.5 at the 0.526-mile short track.

KENSETH BY THE NUMBERS: In 29 Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville, Kenseth has completed 14,401 of 14,534 laps (99.1 percent). Kenseth has led for a total of 407 laps and has earned four top-five and 10 top-ten finishes at the half-mile track. A runner-up finish is Kenseth’s career best finish at Martinsville, which he earned in April 2002 and October 2013.

THIS WEEK ON THE NO. 20 DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA: Dollar General vendor partners Bounty, First Quality, Cheez-It, Reese’s, Listerine, Pedigree, Eckrich, Xtra and Coca-Cola will be featured on Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
RACE INFO: The Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway (0.526-mile) begins at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 26th. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.

Kenseth’s 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season Stats:
StartsWinsTop 5Top 10PolesLaps LedEarningsAvg. StartAvg. Finish
32012191468$5,704,80415.413.6

Kenseth’s Career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Stats:
StartsWinsTop 5Top 10PolesLaps LedEarningsAvg. StartAvg. Finish
54031150267129,394$105,247,06818.314.1

From the Cockpit:
Matt Kenseth:
“We really need to go to Martinsville this weekend and have a good run while also doing the things that I know we’re capable of doing these final four weeks of the season. I really am looking forward to going to Martinsville, because looking at the next three races, I really feel the most confident heading into this weekend. It is a track however that you can have a lot of trouble and where things can go wrong, so hopefully we can get a solid run in on Sunday. We actually were leading the race last year towards the end, but then Jeff (Gordon) ended up beating me. It was really fun to battle with him up front, and I was just happy to be challenging for the lead at a track that has always been a challenge for me.”

From the Pit Box:
Jason Ratcliff:
“Martinsville is kind of like Bristol in the sense where it’s a big deal to win a race there because you really just fight to survive. I feel that we’ve had three great races there since Matt (Kenseth) has joined the No. 20 team where we were able to lead for a lot of laps. I think that we have an opportunity to win there because our cars have been great. I think that everyone was still caught off guard in the spring this year with the new rules package and that the track wasn’t rubbering up as well as it had in the past. Martinsville is very temperamental to the outdoor temps, but I’m looking forward to our weekend and know that we have a strong DG Toyota that we’re bringing with us.”

DG at the Track:
Dollar General has more retail locations than any retailer in America, with more than 11,500 stores in 40 states.

About Dollar General:
Dollar General Corporation has been delivering value to shoppers for 75 years. Dollar General helps shoppers Save time. Save money. Every day!® by offering products that are frequently used and replenished, such as food, snacks, health and beauty aids, cleaning supplies, basic apparel, house wares and seasonal items at low everyday prices in convenient neighborhood locations. With 11,500 stores in 40 states, Dollar General has more retail locations than any retailer in America. In addition to high quality private brands, Dollar General sells products from America’s most-trusted manufacturers such as Clorox, Energizer, Procter & Gamble, Hanes, Coca-Cola, Mars, Unilever, Nestle, Kimberly-Clark, Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Pepsico.

Find the Dollar General store nearest you or learn more about the company at www.dollargeneral.com or on Dollar General’s Facebook or Twitter pages.

- Joe Gibbs Racing

Kevin Harvick heading into Martinsville: "These next three races line up really well for us"

Kevin Harvick is 6/1 to win at Martinsville Sunday
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Oct. 22, 2014) – Kevin Harvick knows the name of the game this time of year is to survive and advance to the next and final round of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. The three races on the Sprint Cup Series schedule that make up the Eliminator Round, starting with Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, are aligned in a way that might have Harvick “bloomin’” at the right time.

Harvick, the driver of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), raced his way from the Challenger Round through to the Contender Round with top-five finishes at both Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and a 13th-place finish at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

Harvick made advancing from the Contender Round a little less stressful by scoring a win at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway to automatically punch his ticket to the Eliminator Round.

The next three races that make up the Eliminator Round – Martinsville, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Phoenix International Raceway – line up well for Harvick and the No. 4 team. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Harvick ranks third with 72 starts, six wins, 35 top-10s, an average running position of 13.312, average finishing position of 13.8, 67.1 percent of laps in the top-15 and driver rating of 93.5 at the next three tracks. Harvick ranks fourth with an average finish of 13.8 at those venues .

Harvick also has wins at two of the next three racetracks, including an April 2011 win at Martinsville, where he led six laps and battled Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the closing laps to score the win by .727 seconds. Harvick has yet to score a Sprint Cup victory at Texas, but he has scored five Sprint Cup wins at Phoenix, including three of his last four starts at the mile oval.

In only his sixth start with SHR and the No. 4 team, Harvick started 18th, led one lap and finished seventh at Martinsville in April. The result was only Harvick’s second top-10 of the season following his dominating performance in which he led 224 laps en route to the win at Phoenix. Since that time, Harvick and the No. 4 team have gone on to score wins at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and Charlotte, added eight poles, 10 top-five finishes and 15-top 10s to their totals.

Outback Steakhouse has celebrated Harvick’s 17 top-10 finishes thus far in 2014 by giving its customers a free Bloomin’ Onion® on the Monday immediately following the race. And while he’d like to continue those celebrations this weekend by scoring another top-10, he’d prefer to do it in a bigger way – by winning his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the 2014 season and automatically advancing to the Championship round at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Give me your thoughts on the next three races that make up the Eliminator Round of the Chase?

“These next three races line up really well for us. We’ve been fortunate to have won at Martinsville before and we ran really well there the first race. The 1.5-mile tracks have been our bread and butter and Phoenix has been really good pretty much every single time we’ve been there. First, it was just trying to get to Martinsville and we’ve accomplished that. Now we have to focus on getting the best finish that we can out of each racetrack. I guess if I’d have to pick one that we’ve been most successful at it would be Phoenix hands down. But, our 1.5-mile stuff has been our bread and butter this year as we’ve gone through the season, so that should be good. And, Martinsville has been good to us in the past.”

Which of the next three races do you view as the biggest wild card race?
“Well, I think we’ve all proven as we’ve watched all the races or been a part of the races, that we can pretty much make all the races into being a wild card race. I don’t think anybody predicted Kansas being as crazy as it was. Chicago, with all the penalties and everything that happened was pretty crazy, as well. Charlotte got out of control with everything that happened after the race. So I think we could turn any event into a wildcard, but I think that Martinsville is probably the place that a lot of things could even up in terms of the rivalries that have been created with guys in the Chase and out of the Chase – whatever it is on each other. I think we are on a pretty good path to having a clean slate as far as things have gone this season, so hopefully we can make it through Martinsville because I think that’s the one that’ll be the craziest.”

Going from Talladega to Martinsville – what do you expect to see?
“Well, I think everybody is unhappy at this particular stage of the year because the intensity level is so high. You know that whether that moment was good or bad that it could have been the moment that you could win or lose the championship from. You see that intensity and obviously that showed through pretty heavy at Charlotte with a lot of guys. I think right now you just have to approach it as, whatever you have to do to get the best finish for your team, that’s what you have to do at this particular point. The goal is to get to Homestead and we have three races to do that.”

Talk about your sponsor this weekend – Outback Steakhouse – and the unique activation they do around the program, including the Bloomin’ Monday promotion.
“Outback is very involved in what they do. The Bloomin’ Monday promotion is really fun and it’s something that the fans are really into. It’s something that draws a lot of attention to Monday mornings, afternoons or evenings, whatever time zone you’re in, for everyone to head to Outback Steakhouse. People love free stuff.”

Kevin Harvick’s Martinsville Speedway Performance Profile:
YearEventStartFinishStatus/LapsLaps LedEarnings
2014STP 500187Running, 500/5001$127,053
2013STP Gas Booster 5002113Running, 500/5000$128,711
 Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500106Running, 500/5000$133,846
2012×Goody’s Fast Relief 500219Running, 513/51521$125,971
 TUMS Fast Relief 5001332Engine, 473/5000$120,596
2011Goody’s Fast Relief 50091Running, 500/5006$200,786
 †TUMS Fast Relief 50054Running, 500/50035$139,386
2010×Goody’s Fast Relief 500135Running, 408/50857$105,776
 TUMS Fast Relief 500363Running, 500/50097$147,951
2009†Goody’s Fast Relief 5001211Running, 500/5000$116,878
 ×TUMS Fast Relief 5001010Running, 501/5010$118,703
2008Goody’s Cool Orange 5001112Running, 500/5000$119,961
 ×TUMS QuikPak 50067Running, 504/5040$131,636
2007Goody’s Cool Orange 500641Running, 445/5000$114,911
×Subway 500310Running, 506/5060$131,761
2006DirecTV 500267Running, 500/5000$115,011
 Subway 500129Running, 500/5000$112,411
2005Advance Auto Parts 500532Running, 436/5000$111,661
 Subway 5002915Running, 500/5000$115,986
2004Advance Auto Parts 500519Running, 500/5000$97,403
 Subway 500198Running, 500/500104$101,903
2003Virginia 5002916Running, 499/50013$87,678
 Subway 50057Running, 500/50010$92,228
2002Old Dominion 5001331Running, 498/5000$81,903
2001Virginia 5001534Running, 454/5000$76,627
 Old Dominion 5003522Running, 499/50020$77,677
× Race length extended due to green-white-checkered finish.
† Qualifying canceled due to weather, starting position set via car owner points.

- Stewart-Haas Racing

Clint Bowyer close to grabbing first Martinsville grandfather clock

Clint Bowyer is 18/1 to win Sunday at Martinsville
CORNELIUS, N.C. — The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to the final short track race of the season, Martinsville Speedway. The .533-mile track typically produces plenty of beating and banging with the winner getting one of the most coveted trophies on the circuit– a seven-feet tall grandfather clock.

Clint Bowyer knows how to get around the paperclip-shaped track in his AAA Insurance Toyota. He has finished in the top 10 in 11 of 17 races. In the last four races he has finished fifth, second, third and ninth. He led three times in April and was in position to win before he had trouble in the pits while leading and finished ninth.

Bowyer will drive the chassis that nearly won in April again this weekend. It’s the perfect track and the perfect time for a win and his statistics certainly show this could be the weekend he clocks into victory lane.

Are you looking forward to Martinsville?
“Heck yes I am. We’ve been close and were really close earlier this year, like we could have won the thing, but things just didn’t go our way. We’re due for a win and we should have a shot again at Martinsville. Brian Pattie (crew chief) has won at a bunch of tracks but not at Martinsville. He keeps saying he wants a grandfather clock and we’re going to do everything we can to get this AAA team a win and get him a clock.”

CHASSIS
Chassis No. 806 serves as the primary chassis for Bowyer at Martinsville. This chassis raced at Martinsville in April where Bowyer finished ninth. Chassis No. 787 serves as the back-up chassis. This chassis served as the primary chassis for Martin Truex Jr. in last October’s Martinsville race where he finished 16th.

CLINT BOWYER– CHAMPION TEAM OWNER
He had to wait until Sunday after rain delayed the Dirt Track World Championship in Portsmouth, Ohio, Saturdayevening. But it was well worth the wait as Clint Bowyer won his first championship as a team owner. Don O’Neal finished fourth in the No. 5 Peak/Crawford Supply Barry Wright race car, clinching his and Clint Bowyer Racing’s first championship in the Lucas Oil Late Models Series.

O’Neal went into the race leading the standings by 75 points. He was batting three-time and defending series champion Jimmy Owens for the title. Owens finished third but it wasn’t enough to hold off O’Neal who finished 65 points ahead of Owens in the final standings.

MARTINSVILLE STATS
* Four top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 17 starts
* Completed 8,389 of 8,534 laps (98.3%) and has led 323 laps
* Average start 15.4 and average finish 12.4
* One DNF (did not finish) – October 2010

RaceStartFinishLapsStatusLed
2006-064222496/500running0
2006-323723500/500running0
2007-062111500/500running0
2007-32219506/506running0
2008-061210500/500running0
2008-3259504/504running0
2009-0635500/500running0
2009-321919501/501running0
2010-06127508/508running0
2010-321738359/500rear gear0
2011-06159500/500running91
2011-331319500/500running0
2012-06410515/515running2
2012-3385500/500running154
2013-06152500/500running0
2013-3353500/500running60
2014-06129500/500running16


DANCING WITH THE STARS
Michael Waltrip and his dancing partner, Emma Slater, scored a 30 out of 40 from the Dancing with the Stars’ judgeson Monday night. The pair danced the Argentina Tango to Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything”. Fans can vote for Waltrip and Slater by calling 1-800-868-3409, voting on Dancing with the Stars Facebook page or going toabc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars. Phone voting begins Monday at 8 p.m. ET and ends one hour after the show. Online voting ends Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET. One couple will be eliminated on a live show, Monday, Oct. 27 at 8 pm ET on ABC. Follow the couple’s progress on social media: Twitter: @mw55 @emmaslaterdance Instagram: @emmaslaterdance @mwr55

Clint Bowyer attended Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night in Kansas City. Before the game Bowyer visited with Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie met the Kansas native earlier this year when Guthrie visited Phoenix International Raceway during Spring Training.

- Michael Waltrip Racing

Las Vegan Kurt Busch looking for Martinsville sweep

Kurt Busch is 30/1 to win at Martinsville Speedway Sunday
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Oct. 22, 2014) – An unbelievable feeling. That’s how Kurt Busch described his No. 41 Haas Automation team’s breakthrough win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway earlier this season.

For the Las Vegas native, it was a long and oftentimes difficult journey to finally get back to victory lane that day in March. The Martinsville win ended an 83-race winless streak that dated back to Oct. 2, 2011, at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and spanned Busch’s stops with three different teams over the past three seasons.

Delivering a win for his new team – for owner Gene Haas and sponsor Haas Automation – in his first season at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) was a dream come true for Busch. When Haas hand-picked Busch to drive the No. 41 car, he told the 2004 Sprint Cup champion that his job was simple – to win races. Haas wanted to see his car and, more importantly, his Haas Automation colors in the winner’s circle.

Just six races into the season, Busch delivered on that mission. While the win was Busch’s 25th career victory and his second at the Virginia short track, it was the first for Haas Automation as a primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series.

Haas Automation is the largest CNC machine tool builder in the western world and is owned by SHR co-owner Haas. The company had served as a primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series for 11 different drivers and 114 races since 2002 before finally getting to victory lane with Busch in March.

While the win achieved his owner’s goal of getting Haas Automation in victory lane, the win was perhaps even more important by the fact it helped secure Busch a spot in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. It also served notice to his competitors in the garage that Busch and his No. 41 Haas Automation team would be a contender in 2014.

Earlier this season at Martinsville, victory lane seemed like an unlikely destination for Busch and the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet at the rough-and-tumble .526-mile oval. Busch had a fast racecar, but a pit-road incident came close to ruining the day for the No. 41 team. Busch’s Chevy sustained damage after drivers Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski collided during a round of yellow-flag pit stops. After an extra trip to pit road for repairs, Busch restarted the race deep in the field in 38th place.

He then went to work and steadily picked up positions on the track, overcoming a few handling issues as the team continued to massage the car’s handling with slight adjustments as the race progressed. The combination of smart pit work and the driver’s on-track savvy served the Haas Automation team well, and Busch took the lead for the first time on lap 243. Although he would surrender the lead a lap later, Busch delivered the message that the No. 41 Haas Automation team was certainly one to beat that day.

As the race drew to a close, it became clear the outcome would be decided between Busch and Jimmie Johnson. The two traded the lead a handful of times during the last 30 laps, with Busch taking the lead for good on lap 490. Johnson made a bold move out of turn four on the final lap, but the six-time Sprint Cup champion and eight-time Martinsville winner was unable to overtake Busch, who had an emotional celebration in victory lane.

While Busch is no longer in contention to win another Sprint Cup championship this year, the Haas Automation driver would like nothing more than to relive that winning moment with a repeat victory at Martinsville Speedway in Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500.

KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Talk a little bit about your win at Martinsville earlier this year.

“I didn’t know if we’d be able to do it. Every time you come to Martinsville, you draw a line through it; like ‘there’s no way I’ll be able to challenge those Hendrick guys or challenge for a top-10.’ The old theory is, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. We use chassis from Hendrick Motorsports at Stewart-Haas Racing, so maybe that had something to do with it. It was a battle. But there was no better way to bring the Haas Automation Chevy into victory lane than to beat Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville, a track where he’s a king. It was a dream come true when Gene Haas called me and told me that he wanted me to drive his car and to go for trophies and wins. It was an unbelievable feeling to deliver on that in just our sixth race together.”

How much more important is track position at a place like Martinsville?
“Track position is everything, everywhere, but at Martinsville, it is just so easy to lose it. It doesn’t take much to find yourself going backward, whether it’s a situation with someone bumping you out of the way or you get too high on the track and up in the marbles. Then, deal with what that does to the tires and, boom, next thing you know, you may have had a 10th-place car and now you are 18th. It’s a goal all day to work your way forward and then just to have smooth pit stops to carry you through those midpoints of the race. Then, at the end, when everything is on the line, you have to be aggressive and you can’t be afraid to use the fenders on people to get that solid finish.”

How much does pit strategy become a factor at Martinsville?
“That is definitely something that comes into play – you may gamble early to pick up some positions on the track, especially if you’ve had trouble in qualifying. It’s just one of those things, though, where you always hope you’re on the right one (strategy) and, if you get caught on the wrong one, then you’re kicking yourself the whole time.”

What is the toughest part about racing at Martinsville?
“To me, the toughest part of Martinsville is that you just never have a moment to breathe. You have to be on your game nonstop for 500 laps because somebody’s on you or you are on top of somebody the whole time, and there is just no room for error.”

Kurt Busch’s Martinsville Speedway Performance Profile:
YearEventStartFinishStatus/LapsLaps LedEarnings
2014STP 500221Running, 500/50023$158,410
2013STP Gas Booster 5001937Accident, 457/5000$102,961
 Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 5001918Running, 499/5000$109,155
2012×Goody’s Fast Relief 5004033Running, 497/5150$80,235
 TUMS Fast Relief 5001915Running, 500/5000$103,443
2011Goody’s Fast Relief 5002016Running, 499/5000$118,675
 †TUMS Fast Relief 500814Running, 500/5000$119,375
2010×Goody’s Fast Relief 500623Running, 506/50819$116,098
 TUMS Fast Relief 5002916Running, 499/5000$117,523
2009†Goody’s Fast Relief 500218Running, 500/5000$91,975
 ×TUMS Fast Relief 5003717Running, 501/5010$91,250
2008Goody’s Cool Orange 5002033Running, 493/5000$68,400
 ×TUMS QuikPak 5001936Running, 470/5040$67,400
2007Goody’s Cool Orange 5001212Running, 500/5000$114,858
 ×Subway 5001131Running, 501/5060$98,483
2006DirecTV 500911Running, 500/5000$111,683
 Subway 500127Running, 496/50019$112,118
2005Advance Auto Parts 500919Running, 498/50033$119,325
 Subway 500146Running, 500/5000$124,050
2004Advance Auto Parts 500711Running, 500/5000$80,100
 Subway 50075Running, 500/500120$107,175
2003Virginia 5003628Running, 498/5000$64,910
 Subway 5001339Engine, 407/50037$63,065
2002Virginia 5002010Running, 500/5000$59,750
 Old Dominion 500361Running, 500/500111$142,175
2001Virginia 5004133Running, 466/5000$38,800
 Old Dominion 5004035Running, 479/50038$37,800
2000NAPA AutoCare 5004037Running, 396/5000$29,375
* Race cut short due to weather.
† Qualifying canceled due to weather, starting position set via car owner points.
× Race length extended due to green-white-checkered finish.

- True Speed Communication for Stewart-Haas Racing

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Martinsville Preview: 2014 Goody's Headache Powder Relief Shot 500

Last fall's winner, Jeff Gordon, is the 4/1 favorite to win Sunday
It's kind of ironic in this twist and turns of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase drama that we go from the biggest track in the series -- Talladega Superspeedway -- to the smallest at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. It’s half-mile short track racing time and this layout -- with relatively no banking -- will have a huge impact on which of the eight eligible drivers win the Championship in four weeks at Homestead.

Martinsville starts the three race Eliminator Round, and after races at Texas and Phoenix, four of the eight drivers will be eliminated with a championship game of sorts at Homestead for the final four remaining drivers. They have to either win one of the next three or total more points to advance. There's a possibility that only one driver will advance by points. Then, the best finish among the last four remaining at Homestead wins the Sprint Cup.

The cool thing about this round is that there are three vastly different tracks and each has drivers that traditionally do well on them. The Westgate SuperBook has Jeff Gordon listed as the 5/2 favorite (Bet $100 to win $250) to be that final driver standing at Homestead with Brad Keselowski at 3/1 odds. Keselowski advanced to The Eliminator round in dramatic fashion with a win at Talladega.

Keselowski will have an edge at Texas and Phoenix, but he’s not considered one of the favorites at Martinsville where his best finish is fourth in this race last fall. If he can somehow manage to finish in the top-10 like he did during 2012 championship season when he finished sixth, he’ll be in a good shape to advance because he’s absolute money on the other two tracks and will be favored to win. However, if he finishes 38th again like he did in the first Martinsville race back in March, he’ll be in a situation again like Talladega where he’ll need to win to advance.

Gordon should get off to a great start in this round because he’s one of the best ever at Martinsville, a track that has been running continually in the Cup series since 1949. Gordon has eight wins on the track that looks like a paper-clip, but most importantly is that he won this race last fall. He had been stuck on seven wins since 2005 as Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin were doing most of the winning.

In between the wins, Gordon had 12 top-5 finishes in 15 starts, an amazing run of consistency and it was a huge moment when he finally visited victory lane again there last season. He finished 12th in the spring race this season.

The only driver just as smooth as Gordon at Martinsville is Johnson who also has eight career wins. He won five of six races there from 2006-09 and won there last spring. In the spring, he led the most laps before settling for second behind Kurt Busch. Johnson lost the lead with 11 laps to go.

Now that Johnson has been eliminated from winning his record tying seventh Cup title, it will be interesting to see where the team goes from here. Are they in test mode for 2015 or do they come out swinging trying to steal wins from Chasers. Regardless of what mode they’re in, Martinsville should still be a good track for him where in many ways it‘s a track that is about the driver.

No one is talking about Denny Hamlin as a viable Sprint Cup contender because of Keselowski, Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano getting most of the spotlight, but he could punch himself a ticket into the Homestead race with a win this week and then care less about what happens in the next two races. Hamlin hails from Virginia and is a four time winner there including three straight from 2009-10. That was his last win and he’s raced there six times since. He looked extremely sluggish with a 19th-place finish in March in a car that was probably only the 30th best.

The hope here for Hamlin is that his Joe Gibbs Racing organization shows some urgency into giving him something he can win with like he’s had in the past. It should be a collaborative effort by all the JGR resources to make his car great again and give their driver a shot to win a championship. The same goes for teammate Matt Kenseth’s crew. If Hamlin doesn’t have a top-5 car at Martinsville, then the season is likely over for them.

Read More....Top-5 Finish Prediction

Video: Roberts talks Martinsville odds