Race: Tums Fast Relief 500
Date: Sunday October 25th, 2009
Track: Martinsville Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
Bet this race at the online sportsbook with the most Nascar betting options on the Net: Sportsbook.com.
This weekend, we are headed to my personal favorite track. It’s Martinsville! Short-track racing is awesome. Rarely is there a dull moment on or off the track when you get to a place like this. It’s similar to Bristol, but oh so different in the way that the drivers handle it. Drivers either LOVE this track or hate it, with most falling into the love category. It’s so exciting because you never know what’s going to happen here. One minute, Jeff Gordon is three laps down and the next, he’s winning the race. It’s a pretty incredible place.
This track is just over a half mile. The turns are 12 degrees with no banking on the straights. The frontstretch and backstretch are an equal 800 feet. I walked that track back in the day and also through the garage area. It’s so incredible, the vibe that you get when you walk through. I went after the race, when the teams were putting up toolboxes and actually talked with some of them. I think my bulldog got the most attention though. Martinsville is just such a cool place because everyone is so close and there is such a sense of community there. Unlike some of the larger tracks, there’s literally and figuratively less distance between the fans and the drivers. If you ever get a chance to go to Martinsville, I HIGHLY recommend the drive. You won’t be sorry. Not to mention, the Martinsville hotdog is pretty darn good.
What is most important here is staying out of trouble. I can not repeat that enough. It really doesn’t matter if your car gets some donuts. If it doesn’t, it wouldn’t be like racing at Martinsville. The problems occur when you start losing fenders. Cars have come back from being almost decimated to finishing a race. Unlike Talladega where you’re doomed if your car loses its fenders, Martinsville is a track that allows the drivers to maintain position and those critical points. So while not winning the race may be a bummer to most, it’s critical and possible to gain those points instead of losing spots and essentially the championship in one race.
Tires are important here as they cut down so easily and rubber on the track is important. Track position is more important though. If you can get out front here, you can stay out of trouble for the most part. Issues arise quickly, though, as cars begin to get passed quickly. Lap traffic is always a problem. There are guys racing to keep their laps or get their laps back because it’s so easy to do at a short-track. The lap cars generally pull over and let the leaders by at Daytona or Las Vegas, but they sure don’t do that here.
My Pick: Jeff Gordon
Gordon is notoriously awesome here. So is teammate Johnson, but I think that Gordon is tired of being second best. If he can win anywhere, it’s here. He has 7 wins here and always is a strong contender. Johnson is the defending champ, and it is possible that he could win, but Gordon is pushing towards the front again. Denny Hamlin is another one to watch. This is his home track and one that he always does well at. Tony Stewart is very good here as well, but he’s been wavering the past couple of weeks. Look for a solid finish but no win from him. In fact, those four drivers account for every win at this track since 2004.
Here’s a look at your current top 12 in points heading into Martinsville:
,p>1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Mark Martin
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Tony Stewart
5. Kurt Busch
6. Juan Montoya
7. Greg Biffle
8. Ryan Newman
9. Kasey Kahne
10. Carl Edwards
11. Denny Hamlin
12. Brian Vickers
This weekend’s race is sure to shake things up. It’s all about staying on the track and staying out front. The Hendrick drivers own this track. I know you’re sick of hearing that but look for Johnson and Gordon to dominate again.