Last week’s NASCAR race at Auto Club Speedway was typical to that type of speedway; wide open racing with long green flag runs. What was not typical is that with the threat of weather it seemed like everyone, NASCAR, the drivers, the crew chiefs, teams and even some of the fans did not want the race to be delayed. No cautions, debris or otherwise enabled the race to make it to ½ way and be an official race ensuring that it wouldn’t get delayed and the Teams could take the long trip home. In the end Tony Stewart prevailed to get his first win of the season. The race was really more about making sure your car is in the top 35 in owner points this year because this week’s race is the first race where they will be using this year’s points to determine if you make the race or not. David Reutimann and Kasey Kahne were in danger of not staying in the top 35 in points. David Reutimann’s run of 27th was enough to keep him 33rd in points but he will have to continue working on better finishes in order to stay there. Kasey Kahne’s 14th place finish moved him up to 27th in points, not as dire as last week but he also has some work to do. This week we are back to short track racing. This week is the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
The Martinsville Speedway is a ½ mile track, .526 miles to be exact. Many people refer to it as the paper clip track because if you look at it from above it looks exactly like a paper clip. There is 12 degrees of banking in the turns and the straights are flat. Since it is a short track the race is 500 laps not miles.
This track is another one where track position is very important because it will be very hard to pass. Pit stops and pit strategy will be the key to getting and keeping track position. This also makes qualifying very important. Some drivers may lose patience with one another. In the fall race Brian Vickers seamed to either be in everyone’s way or everyone was in his way as he hit just about everyone except the pace car. He will be racing this week driving the no. 55 for Michael Waltrip Racing. Look for him to try his best to redeem himself by staying out of trouble. See http://www.rantsports.com/nascar/2011/11/15/you-sure-cant-tell-that-brian-vickers-needs-a-job/ for more.
Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven wins here but Jimmie Johnson is right on his tail with six wins and owned this place from 06 to 09. Denny Hamlin has four wins and is the driver that took away Jimmie Johnsons dominance. Last week’s winner Tony Stewart won the race last fall and has three wins here. Kevin Harvick won this race last year and rounds out the active drivers who are past winners here. Unlike last week that is a small list of drivers who have success here. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has the highest driver rating of all drivers who have never won here. On last item to note is if a Hendrick Motor Sports driver wins this week then HMS would tie Petty Enterprises with the most wins at 19 races.
If you can’t make it to Martinsville this weekend, the race is on Fox at 1:00 PM ET. Follow me during the race on twitter @brian_jr1. The race should be an exciting one.