The NASCAR Sprint Cup series moves to Martinsville Speedway for the 33rd race of the 2011 season, the Tums Fast Relief 500. Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and spoke with NASCAR contacts to predict how the field should finish on Sunday.
When: Sunday, October 30, 2011; 1:43 p.m./et.
Weather: Mostly sunny with a high around 60; wind out of the NNE at 4 mph. There is a zero percent chance of precipitation.
The Track: The Half Mile Paperclip
Martinsville Speedway is a half mile paperclip shaped track with intermediate 12 degree banking on the turns. It is a smaller version of New Hampshire Motor Speedway so teams often use the same car and a similar setup at both tracks. Drivers that are successful at NHMS often run well at Martinsville.
Key to Race: LOOK OUT FOR THE HENDRICK BOYS
Hendrick Motorsports and Denny Hamlin have dominated Martinsville lately. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin have combined to win 11 of the last 14 races at the track. If it isn't a member of this trio taking the checkers we will be surprised.
47 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. Cars not in the top 35 in the final 2010 owner point standings will have to qualify based on speed. Starting positions 1-43 will be determined by qualifying on Saturday, October 29 at 12:00 pm/et.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has 10 top 10 finishes in 13 career starts at Martinsville. He won three of the past four races at the track and is our favorite to battle J.J. for the win.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has won five of the past 10 races at Martinsville. We expect the No. 48 team could be headed back to Victory Lane to claim yet another of Martinsville’s Grandfather Clocks.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has seven career wins atMartinsville. He will crack the top five and could win with a little luck.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has managed to avoid trouble atMartinsvilleduring his career. He should continue to avoid the frequent accidents and crack the top 10.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Busch has had plenty of past success at short-tracks, but his lack of patience makes him the riskiest pick in our top five.
6 to 10
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Denny Hamlin are the only drivers not named Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon to win a race at Martinsville since 2004. Smoke will eat a ton of the track’s famous red hot dogs and have the No. 14 near the front most of this weekend.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards cracked the top 10 in four of the last six races at Martinsville. He should be the top Roush-Fenway driver this weekend.
No. 5 Mark Martin: Martin has 25 top 10 finishes at M’ville during his career. He should make it 26 on Sunday.
No. 33 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has cracked the top 11 in seven of his last nine starts at Martinsville. We like the latest ‘Dega winner’s chances on Sunday.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has finished inside the top 16 in seven of his nine career starts at Martinsville. This is a rare weekend that we recommend the No. 42 car.
11 to 20
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior has finished in the top seven in 11 of his 23 career starts at Martinsville. He should have no trouble cracking the top 15 on Sunday.
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman has qualified inside the top 10 in 13 of his 19 Cup starts at Martinsville. His strong qualifying skills will help Newman start in the front and stay there.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has finished in the top 10 in 10 of his 17 career
Martinsville starts. This is the weekend to use the No. 1 car.
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burtonhas averaged a 15th place finish atMartinsville during his career. He should finish right around his average this weekend.
No. 20 Joey Logano: Logano has been awesome at M’ville during his career. He is worth using in all leagues.
No. 22 Kurt Busch: Busch has really struggled at Martinsville lately. There are much better weekends to use the No. 22 driver.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has just two top five finishes in 23 Cup starts at Martinsville. He isn’t a great option this weekend.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has just two top 10 finishes in 17 career starts at Martinsville. There are far better weekends to use The Biff.
No. 6 David Ragan: Ragan has cracked the top 27 in all nine of his career starts at Martinsville. He will do it again this weekend.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski drove great races at Martinsville last year. We like his chances this trip to Virginia.
21 to 30
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has been great on short-tracks during his career. This is a good opportunity to use the Terrific Tasmanian.
No. 83 Brian Vickers: Vickers has been a top 20 driver at Martinsville during his career. He is a nice play to round-out your roster.
No. 4 Kasey Kahne: Kahne has led just 18 laps in 14 career starts at Martinsville he isn't a great choice this weekend.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has averaged a 23rd place finish at Martinsville during his career. He is definitely worth using in the deepest leagues.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. ran well at Martinsville during the spring 2010 race, but that was one of his only good runs at the track. There are better weekends to use him.
No. 43 A.J. Allmendinger: Allmendinger has had just four top 30 finishes in eight career starts at Martinsville. This isn’t the best weekend to use him.
No. 00 David Reutimann: Reutimann has never cracked the top 14 at Martinsville. This isn’t a race to use him.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has averaged a 20th place finish at Martinsville during his career. We love him as a sleeper this week.
No. 78 Regan Smith: Smith is a bit of a short-track stallion. He could surprise with a top 25 finish this weekend.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte: Labonte is always a threat at Martinsville. Plug him into the No. 5 spot in your roster.
No. 34 David Gilliland
No. 51 Landon Cassill
No. 38 Travis Kvapil
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 177 Robby Gordon
No. 87 Joe Nemecheck
No. 32 Ken Schrader
No. 46 Scott Speed
No. 55 J.J. Yeley
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 7 Reed Sorenson
No. 277 Andy Lally
No. 66 Michael McDowell
No. 37 Josh Wise
No. 92 Dennis Setzer
No. 71 Hermie Sadler
No. 75 Derrike Cope
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Kevin Harvick
1. Juan Pablo Montoya
2. Regan Smith
Bust of the Week: