Friday, April 1, 2011

Kyle Busch Looks Better Than Ever At Martinsville After Two Friday Practices

By Micah Roberts

Kyle Busch has never looked better at Martinsville
The first practice session looks to be the most telling of all for Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500 race at Martinsville just because of it being completed entirely in race trim. The final practice session was more to do with a qualifying set-up and the times are not as clear to who will be really fast on race day.

Seeing Kyle Busch at the top of the charts is quite a change from what we saw last year. Kyle has never warmed up to Martinsville like we have seen him do to all other short tracks in his career, including the Bull Ring at his home town of Las Vegas before he even had a drivers license. It's kind of been shocking considering his nature, but this is the first time he's ever looked like he has a car that can take on both Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson who have owned Martinsville over the last five years.

When looking back at 2010's Martinsville practices, Busch looked like an also-ran even though he finished 22nd in the spring and a respectable fourth in the fall, which tied his all-time best on the track. His six combined practice times for both Martinsville races in 2010 looked like this: 32nd, 25th, 27th, 21st, 26th, and 26th. Those are awful times for someone of his caliber, especially considering that his teammate has won three straight races on the track.

We've seen either Johnson or Hamlin win the last nine races in a row at Martinsville, but it looks like Kyle Busch just entered his name to the small list of probable candidates to win Sunday with such a fine performance in practice.

Joey Logano wrecked his primary car in happy hour, a car that was running very well, but his back-up car may be even better. That primary car was brand new, but the back-up chassis was the same one he used to finish sixth in the fall Martinsville race last year. In the two races run there last season, Logano finished runner-up and sixth. The back-up may be the ideal situation for him.

A car that stood out more than normal was Brad Keselowski's who was good in both race and qualifying trim. He will be a good candidate to sit on the pole during Saturday's qualifying. Martinsville was one of his best tracks collectively last season on his first two attempts at it with 10th and 12th place finishes.

Be sure to check back Saturday afternoon for my Final Martinsville Driver Ratings which are sure to have Busch near the top.

1st Friday practice - Martinsville Goody's Fast Relief 500 (90 minutes):
#18-Busch 95.617
#20-Logano 95.612
#29-Harvick 95.314
#2-Keselowski 95.266
#1-McMurray 95.228
slowest: #34-Gilliland 92.583 and #37-Raines 92.737
incidents: #48-Johnson spun in trun 2, but didn't hit anything and had no damage. (

Happy Hour practice - Goody's Fast Relief 500 (90 minutes):
#6-Ragan 96.268
#24-Gordon 96.220
#2-Keselowski 96.166
#00-Reutimann 95.864
#4-Kahne 95.811
slowest: #32-Schrader 92.547 and #37-Raines 92.814
incidents: #20-Logano wrecked and will go to a backup car. #92-Setzer lost the brakes and wrecked hard, he is ok, but the car is totaled and he says the team doesn't have a backup car, so will have 43 cars going for 43 spots on Saturday in qualifying. (

Practice Results - practice page

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