Race: Goodys Cool Orange 500
Track: Martinsville Speedway
Date: Sunday March 30, 2008
Time: 1:30 pm E.T.
You will have to excuse my enthusiasm this week as I will be IN Martinsville enjoying the race on Sunday. Its going to be awesome. Theres not much better than being able to get to the track and enjoy the race in person. Its SUCH a different and awesome experience. If you like NASCAR or are sort of into it, go to a race and I guarantee that you will become a diehard fan.
Now, the race on Sunday is sure to be a great one. How can you go wrong with two short track races in a row? Bristol was certainly everything that I hoped for, and I am sure that Martinsville will be as well. Martinsville is a bit different than Bristol, though. No matter how many times people try to compare the tracks and decide which one is better, there really is no comparison. The configurations are so much different that each track is great in its own right. Martinsville Speedway is a little more than a half mile track with zero banking on the stretches and only twelve degree banking in the turns. Already, we see the differences between Martinsville flatness and the banks in Bristol. The speedway opened in 1947 and has only had one configuration change when it was paved in 1950. Since then, its been the same, and the majority of drivers site this as one of their favorite tracks to race on.
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The track record is held by Jeff Gordon from way back in 1996. He has seven wins on this track, winning a few years ago from three laps down. This is one of the few tracks that drivers can come from being any amount of laps down to winning. That is the beauty of it. The running order often gets jumbled up as green flag pit stops happen, drivers get lapped, and caution flags fly. The winner of the race is truly never known until we hit that last turn towards the front stretch. Jimmie Johnson battled Gordon for the win there in the fall, but Gordon is performing better than Johnson this year. Although Gordon remains outside of the top twelve in points, he still shows that he can dominate on the track. There have been few races this year where Gordon was not at least in the top ten before bad luck strikes. Johnson, on the other hand, has had issues mechanically and also within his team. The cohesiveness is just not there like it was last year, and I think that Johnson still has some sorting out to do before he can come and win again. I doubt that he will make it four in a row at Martinsville. In fact, he will be lucky to be in the top five. Johnson has not shown domination at all this year, barely leading any laps and hardly remaining in the top ten for several races.
The other guys that we need to watch out for here are the Gibbs drivers. We know that Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart are fierce on the short tracks. If I had to pick between them, I would say that Stewarts record outshines Buschs at this track and that he would be the next contender for Gordon. Stewart has won here twice, the last win being his 2006 victory in the spring race.
My money is going on Gordon. I think that he has shown this year that he can be a competitor, and if there is any track that he can dominate and show that at, its in Martinsville. We need to keep our eyes on the Gibbs cars, as teamwork, although not essential for the win here, can give that extra little push to knock out Gordon. We have seen that Stewart and Busch are capable of working together. We have also seen recently on this track that Gordon and Johnson are capable of battling it out on the track for the win instead of working together.
So thats it for this week. I pick Gordon. I will be at the track and be able to provide a from-the-track-analysis when I get back on Monday. I will certainly fill you in on all of the beatin and bangin thats bound to happen at one of the best short tracks in the world.