Friday, April 5, 2013

2013 Martinsville STP 500 Practice Notes: Johnson Fastest in First Session

Harvick and Junior raced hard for win in 2010 at Martinsville  
Jimmie Johnson was the fastest during the first STP Gas Booster 500 practice session at Martinsville Speedway with a fast lap of 98.553 mph. Johnson is a seven-time winner on the track, including last fall, with a 5.5 average finish in 22 career starts.

Second fastest was Juan Pablo Montoya (98.502), followed by Clint Bowyer (98.359), Jeff Gordon (98.257), and Brad Keselowski (98.236). Gordon is a seven-time winner at Martinsville and is tied with Johnson for the most active wins on the tracks. Richard Petty is the all-time leader with 15 wins. His last win came in 2005 when he swept the season, but in 11 of his last 15 races he has finished in the top-5

Ricky Stenhouse Jr ran the most laps of the session (52) with his best lap being 23rd fastest. Kasey Kahne was next with 51 laps.

There were 19 drivers that ran at least 10 consecutive laps showing quite a few race runs during the 90 minute session. Bowyer led the way with the best average, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2010 winner Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Earnhardt Jr. has never won at Martinsville but has been close several times, including runner-up to Harvick in 2010.

In his last 20 starts at Martinsville, Earnhardt Jr. has averaged an 11th-place finish, fourth only to Johnson, Gordon and Hamlin over the same span -- the three drivers that have won 15 of the last 20 Martinsville races. He could be a nice choice this week at 12-to-1.

The teams will return to the track later this afternoon for their 3:40 pm (ET) qualifying session to determine the starting lineup for Sunday’s race. They'll return Saturday for two more practice sessions (10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. & 11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. ET).

STP 500 Practice 1 Speeds

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