RACE PREVIEW

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Duck Commander 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
APRIL 6th, 3:00 PM CHARLOTTE TIME FOX TV
1.5 MILES, 24 DEGREES of BANKING
It’s time for an action-packed, high-banked mile & a halfer and Texas Motor Speedway is just the place. Texas is very similar to Atlanta and Charlotte Motor Speedway, but unlike those tracks, this one flattens out very quickly after turn two. The wide, flat back straightaway makes for great passing. Eleven of the 26 races run here were won by Fords, the most of any maker. Roush/Fenway Racing has nine team wins here, making this Lone Star State track a “House of Roush.” Even though Ford has the most wins it has been three races since we have seen one get to the checkered flag first; will this be the race where we see the blue oval in victory lane? We’ll find out on Sunday.

Tuesday look for our Top 10 drivers on intermediate tracks.

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TOP 5 DRIVERS

STP 500 from MARTINSVILLE

Since Rusty Wallace won the spring race here in 2004 only six drivers have won at this track. That’s 19 races & only six different winners!

My #5 driver is trying to break into that group of winners, #18 Kyle Busch. Kyle is red hot coming off a win in California. He has 17 starts, no wins and seven Top 5 finishes. While he has never won here, he did finish 5th here last year in this race.

The #4 pick has struggled here at Martinsville, #2 Brad Keselowski. Brad has eight starts here and only one Top 5, but that Top 5 came last year in the autumn race. So why put him in my Top 5? Because Brad is only getting better here and with him sitting 3rd hottest we shouldn’t have to wait much longer for his next Top 5.

The #3 pick is also winless at Martinsville, #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has ten Top 5’s in 28 starts and finished third in this race in 2012. He is currently #2 in points and ranked #1 hottest over the last six races.

My #2 driver is tied with Jeff Gordon for career wins here, #48 Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie has 24 starts, eight wins, and an incredible 17 Top 5’s. Every race but three was a Top 10 finish. His last Martinsville win came in this race last year helping to give him the #1 highest average finish here.

My #1 pick is the most recent here, #24 Jeff Gordon. Jeff and Jimmie Johnson both drive for Hendrick Motorsports who have 11 wins in the last ten years here. Jeff has 42 starts, eight wins and 27Top 5’s. 13 of his last 18 stops here were Top 5 finishes, giving him a #2 highest average finish. His last win here was the autumn race last year. This IS Jeff’s best opportunity to make the Chase in 2014 with a win. Jeff should qualify well and stay upront.

 

Monday look for our preview of the Duck Commander 500 from Texas.

TOP 30 DRIVERS

TOP 30 POWER RANKINGS
STP 500-MARTINSVILLE

1. JEFF GORDON #24
2. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
3. DALE EARNHARDT JR #88
4. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
5. KYLE BUSCH #18
6. MATT KENSETH #20
7. DENNY HAMLIN #11
8. CLINT BOWYER #15
9. CARL EDWARDS #99
10. GREG BIFFLE #16
11. KEVIN HARVICK #4
12. JAMIE MCMURRAY #1
13. RYAN NEWMAN #31
14. JOEY LOGANO #22
15. A.J. ALLMENDINGER #47
16. BRIAN VICKERS #55
17. TONY STEWART #14
18. ARIC ALMIROLA #43
19. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
20. AUSTIN DILLION #3
21. KASEY KAHNE #5
22. MARCOS AMBROSE #9
23. PAUL MENARD #27
24. DANICA PATRICK #10
25. CASEY MEARS #13
26. KURT BUSCH #41
27. MARTIN TRUEX #78
28. KYLE LARSON #42
29. DAVID RAGAN #34
30. JUSTIN ALLGAIER #51

 

Above the Top 30 drivers for Martinsville Speedway, Friday we break down the Top 5 drivers to watch.

TOP 10 TEAMS

TOP 10 TEAMS POST CALIFORNIA
1. HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS
2. JOE GIBBS RACING
3. TEAM PENSKE
4. RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING
5. ROUSH/FENWAY RACING

6. CHIP GANASSI RACING
7 GERMAIN RACING
8. STEWART HAAS RACING
9. RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS
10. JTG/DAUGHERTY RACING

For the second week in a row Hendrick Motorsports stay at #1. Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing swap places. JGR had a tough week with Denny Hamlin sitting bout but the Kyle Busch win and strong finish from Matt Kenseth move them up. Richard Childress Racing and Roush Fenway Racing trade positions. The move of the week goes to Chip Ganassi Racing who move from #10 to #6. Germain Racing go up a spot to #7. Stewart Haas Racing fall two places and Richard Petty Motorsports do so also. JTG/Daughtery Racing return to the Top10 and edge out Furniture Row Racing.

Thursday look for out Top 30 drivers at Martinsville Speedway.

TOP 10 DRIVERS by TRACK TYPE

TOP 10: SHORT TRACK
1. JEFF GORDON #24
2. CLINT BOWYER #15
3. MATT KENSETH #20
4. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
5. DALE EARNHARDT JR. #88
6. KYLE BUSCH #18    

7. CARL EDWARDS #99
8. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
9. DENNY HAMLIN #11
10. KEVIN HATVICK #4
Top 10 drivers on Short tracks, Wednesday look for our Top 10 for Sunday’s STP 500 from Martinsville Speedway.

RACE PREVIEW

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STP 500
MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
MARCH 30th, 1 PM CHARLOTTE TIME FOX TV
.5 MILES 12 DEGREES of BANKING
Spring short track race #2. Like Bristol Motor Speedway this is a half-mile track, but that is where the similarities end. This track has less banking on the turns than Bristol has in the front stretch. Flat and shaped like a paper clip, we’ll see the less seasoned drivers start to lose their brakes about three fourths of the way through the race. We’ll also see patience in short supply; and with tempers boiling over from California, this race could be a powder keg. More short tempers, more chrome horns, and more wrecked sheet metal are about the only things you can bank on at the short track that lacks serious banking. In the last ten years the Hendrick guys have won 11 of 20 races. Jeff Gordon and his teammate Jimmie Johnson have won here eight times each. They each took a win here last year. The Hendrick Motorsports dominance helps give Chevrolet 15 wins in the last 20 races! Will Hendrick Motorsports domination continue? We’ll find out Sunday.

Tuesday look for the Top 10 drivers on short tracks.

TOP 5 DRIVERS

CALIFORNIA Auto Club 400

My #5 driver is coming off a tough run at Bristol, #18 Kyle Busch. Kyle is very excited to get here where he has 16 starts, two wins and seven Top 5’s. Kyle has the third highest average finish here and his last three stops were all Top 3 finishes.

 

The #4 driver is another former winner here, #99 Carl Edwards. Carl is a great downforce track driver and his team Roush/Fenway Racing is coming off a big week at Bristol. Carl, of course, got the win. Here Carl has 16 starts, one win and eight Top 5’s.

 

My #3 pick is sitting #2 in points right now, #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale has 21 starts, no wins and five Top 5 finishes. Dale finished 2nd here last year.  Jr. is happy to be in a Chevy here, where five of the last six winners wore the bow tie.

 

The #2 pick won here three years ago, #29 Kevin Harvick. Kevin used to struggle here, but lately has found the winning formula. Kevin has 20 starts, one win and just four Top 5’s. More importantly five of his last six stops were all Top 10’s.

 

My #1 driver to watch has the highest average finish here, #48 Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie has 19 starts with five wins and 12 Top 5’s. His last win at this track was in 2010.  His last 13 races were all Top 15’s, with nine of those being 3rd place or better. Jimmie’s team, Hendrick Motorsports, has nine wins in the 25 races run so far at California – the most of any owner.

 

Monday we’ll preview the STP 500 from Martinsville Speedway.