Monday, March 28, 2011

Martinsville Storylines For Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500

This weekend, NASCAR returns to its roots at Martinsville Speedway, which has hosted a race every year since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ inaugural season of 1949.

It’s the second short-track race in three weeks for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, running the 62nd Annual Goody’s Fast Relief 500. Kyle Busch won the first short-track race of the year at Bristol Motor Speedway.

On Sunday, Harvick offered up NASCAR’s version of a “buzzer beater” with a last-lap pass of Jimmie Johnson to claim his first win at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track closest to his hometown, Bakersfield, Calif. The victory vaulted Harvick into the top 10 in points.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is back on track after three open weeks for the 13thAnnual KROGER 250.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series has an open week with its fourth different driver standings leader of the season after five races. Find out who it is and more below in this week’s storylines.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Five For Five: Competitive Balance Is Alive
Burton, Hamlin & Johnson could keep make it six straight
For the first time since 2005, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has had five different winners in the first five races of the season: Trevor Bayne (Daytona), Jeff Gordon (Phoenix), Carl Edwards (Las Vegas), Kyle Busch (Bristol) and Kevin Harvick (Auto Club).

In the manufacturer standings, Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota are deadlocked at 31 points apiece.

All four manufacturers are represented in the top four drivers in the points standings, and all are within 11 points of the lead: 1. Carl Edwards (Ford); 2. Ryan Newman (Chevrolet); 3. Kurt Busch (Dodge); 4. Kyle Busch (Toyota).

Trailing brother Kurt by one point, Kyle’s quest for a second consecutive race weekend sweep came up just short at Auto Club Speedway. Paul Menard continues to lead the way for Richard Childress Racing in seventh place in the points standings while the Stewart-Haas Racing resurgence continues with Newman sitting second and Tony Stewart at sixth in the points.

Hamlin Seeks Home-State Turnaround
Hamlin hoping for some much needed home cooking
The bad news: Virginia native Denny Hamlin sits 21st in points after an engine failure at Auto Club Speedway relegated him to his second consecutive finish of 33rd or worse and third finish of the season outside the top 20. It’s his worst start to season in his six-year career.

The good news: Hamlin was 19th in points after five races last year, and he claimed victories at two of the next three tracks, Martinsville Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. Those two tracks host the next two races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.

"The uplifting part is I’m going to some really, really good racetracks for ourselves," Hamlin said after his 39th-place finish on Sunday. "With this new (points) system, you can get in based on wins if for some reason we can't work our way back to the top 10."

Hamlin has won three consecutive races at Martinsville Speedway and seeks to tie Fred Lorenzen (1963-65) as the only drivers to win four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in a row at the facility.

Including the fall 2008 race at Richmond, the last 15 short-track races have been won by three drivers: Hamlin (5), Kyle Busch (6) and Jimmie Johnson (4). Hamlin and Johnson have combined to win the last nine races at Martinsville Speedway.

Locked In And Out Of The Top 35
For the first five races, the 2010 owner points were used when awarding top 35 teams guaranteed status to each race.

This weekend at Martinsville, the 2011 points will be used.
After having to qualify on speed for the first five races of the season, Casey Mears and his No. 13 Germain Racing Toyota are locked in, six points ahead of Sunoco Rookie of the Year Contender Andy Lally and his No. 71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet and nine points ahead of Dave Blaney and the No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet as well as Tony Raines and the No. 37 Front Row Motorsports Ford.
Two marquee teams are close to the bubble. Jamie McMurray and the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet sit 30th, 36 points ahead of the cut-off. Joey Logano and the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota are 32 points up in 31st place.

Martin’s ‘Ville Leads Off Milestones
Gordon a contender to win pole and tie record on Saturday
Mark Martin will become the eighth driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to start 800 races on Sunday, and he’ll do it at the track where he got his first top-five finish nearly 30 years ago. Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray will make their 300th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts as well.

With a Coors Light Pole Award on Friday, Jeff Gordon would tie Darrell Waltrip for most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series poles at Martinsville with eight. Gordon’s owner, Rick Hendrick, can tie Richard Petty for most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins by an owner at the track with 19.

Running both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500, Kyle Busch can reach 20,000 laps led in NASCAR’s national series if he leads 332of the 750 scheduled laps this weekend.

- NASCAR Media Services

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