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

Martinsville Speedway Track Facts: 2014 Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2014 Eliminator Eight at Martinsville Speedway

Driver
Races
Poles
Wins
Top Fives
Top 10s
DNFs
Average Finish
Driver Rating
 
 
1
Joey Logano
11
0
0
2
3
0
14.8
82.3
 
2
Kevin Harvick
26
0
1
3
12
1
15.8
93.2
 
3
Ryan Newman
25
3
1
7
11
2
15.5
86.9
 
4
Denny Hamlin
17
3
4
9
13
1
8.8
109.6
 
5
Matt Kenseth
29
0
0
4
10
2
15.0
84.2
 
6
Carl Edwards
20
0
0
1
5
0
15.7
81.4
 
7
Jeff Gordon
43
7
8
27
34
0
7.0
119.0
 
8
Brad Keselowski
9
0
0
1
5
0
13.4
84.5
 
* – Based on last 19 races at Martinsville Speedway (2005 – 2014).

Martinsville Speedway:
History
·         Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles, Martinsville, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States.
·         The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville was on July 4, 1948.
·         The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was Sept. 25, 1949.
·         The track was paved in 1955.
·         The first 500-lap event at Martinsville was in 1956.
·         Concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976.
Notebook
·         There have been 131 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway, one in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950.
·         599 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville; 376 in more than one.
·         NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has the all-time most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville with 67 starts; Jeff Gordon has the most among active drivers with 43.
·         Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Martinsville Speedway in 1949.
·         58 drivers have Coors Light poles at Martinsville, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with eight; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven.
·         12 drivers have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway. Four of the 12 have won three consecutive poles at Martinsville: Glen Wood (Fall of 1959 and 1960 sweep); Darrell Waltrip (1979 sweep and spring 1980); Mark Martin (fall of 1990 and 1991 sweep); Jeff Gordon (2003 sweep and spring 2004).
·         Youngest Martinsville pole winner: Ricky Rudd (4/26/1981 – 24 years, 7 months, 14 days).
·         Oldest Martinsville pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (4/26/1987 – 45 years, 6 months, 14 days).
·         47 different drivers have won at Martinsville Speedway, led by Richard Petty with 15; Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the series among active drivers with eight wins each.
·         24 drivers have multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway only five active drivers have multiple wins:  Jimmie Johnson (eight), Jeff Gordon (eight), Denny Hamlin (four), Tony Stewart (three) and Kurt Busch (two).
·         Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 21.  
·         21 of 131 races (16.0%) at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; seven of those 21 wins came from active drivers: Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (2003 twice), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2012, spring 2013) and Denny Hamlin (2010).
·         The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville producing more wins (21) than any other starting position.
·         36 of the 131 (27.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the pole and 15 from second-place.
·         95 of the 131 (72.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position.
·         Six of the 131 (4.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
·         The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 36th, by Kurt Busch in the fall of 2002.
·         Youngest Martinsville winner: Richard Petty (04/10/1960 – 22 years, 9 months, 8 days).
·         Oldest Martinsville winner: Harry Gant (09/22/1991 – 51 years, 8 months, 12 days).
·         NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes at Martinsville Speedway with seven; Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson lead all active drivers with four each. 
·         Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 30; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 27, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 18.
·         Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 37; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 34, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 22.
·         Jeff Gordon leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.186. Ryan Newman (9.680) and Denny Hamlin (9.765) are the only two other active drivers with an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top-10.
·         Three active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top-10 at Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson (5.200), Jeff Gordon (6.953) and Denny Hamlin (8.765).
·         There have been five NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Martinsville Speedway: fall 2007 (500/506), fall 2008 (500/504), fall 2009 (500/501), spring 2010 (500/508), and spring 2012 (500/515).
·         Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions eight times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway; the most recent was the fall race of 2011.
·         Jeff Gordon has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway without a DNF (43).
·         Tony Stewart (4/18/1999) and Scott Riggs (4/10/2005) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway.   
·         Mike Bliss (09/27/1998), Travis Kvapil (10/24/2004), Michael McDowell (3/30/2008) and Scott Speed(10/19/2008) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Martinsville Speedway.
·         12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Martinsville Speedway. Fred Lorenzenwon four NSCS races straight (the most) from the fall of 1963 through the spring of 1965. 
·         All eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Martinsville Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Martinsville with the fewest previous appearances (three).
·         Ryan Newman competed at Martinsville Speedway 20 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
·         Four drivers have made eight or more attempts before their first win at Martinsville Speedway: Kevin Harvick (19) and Ryan Newman (20).
·         Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway is the 4/1/2007 race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.065 second.
·         Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 
Driver
Starting Position
Finishing Position
Date
Danica Patrick
10
32
3/30/2014
Danica Patrick
41
17
10/27/2013
Danica Patrick
32
12
4/7/2013
·         Seven car numbers have produced five or more Martinsville Speedway NSCS wins:
Car Number – Drivers – (Years)
o    No. 43  – Richard Petty (1960, ’62, ’63, ’67 sweep, ’68, ’69 sweep, ’70, ’71, ’72 sweep, ’73, ’75 and ’79); John Andretti (1999)
o    No. 11 – Cale Yarborough (1974, ’76, ’77 sweep, ‘78); Darrell Waltrip (1981, ’82, ’83, ’84); Geoff Bodine (1990 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2008, ’09, ’10 sweep)
o    No28 – Fred Lorenzen (1961, ’63, ’64 sweep, ‘65 and ‘66); Buddy Baker (1979); Ernie Irvan (1993).
o    No– Dale Earnhardt (1980); Rusty Wallace (1993, ‘94 sweep, ’95, ’96 and ‘04)
o    No48 – Jimmie Johnson (2004, ’06, ’07 sweep, ’08, ’09, ’12, ‘13)
o    No24 – Jeff Gordon (1996, ’97, ’99, ’03 sweep and ’05 sweep, fall 2013)
o    No– Ricky Rudd (1983); Dale Earnhardt (1985, ’87, ’88, ’91, ’95)

NASCAR in Virginia
·         There have been 285 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among nine tracks in Virginia.
Track Name
City
NSCS
Martinsville Speedway
Martinsville
131
Richmond International Raceway
Richmond
117
South Boston Speedway
South Boston
10
Langley Field Speedway
Hampton
9
Old Dominion Speedway
Manassas
7
Southside Speedway
Richmond
4
Starkey Speedway
Roanoke
4
Norfolk Speedway
Norfolk
2
Princess Anne Speedway
Norfolk
1

·         172 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Virginia.
·         19 drivers from Virginia have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. 11 of the 19 Virginia native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Driver
NSCS
NNS
NCWTS
Joe Weatherly
25
0
0
Denny Hamlin
24
11
2
Ricky Rudd
23
1
0
Jeff Burton
21
27
0
Curtis Turner
17
0
0
Ward Burton
5
4
0
Glen Wood
4
0
0
Elliott Sadler
3
10
1
Emanuel Zervakis
2
0
0
Lennie Pond
1
0
0
Wendell Scott
1
0
0
Tommy Ellis
0
22
0
Jimmy Hensley
0
9
2
Rick Mast
0
9
0
Hermie Sadler
0
2
0
Elton Sawyer
0
2
0
Stacy Compton
0
0
2
Jon Wood
0
0
2
Jeb Burton
0
0
1