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Last Updated Tuesday, Apr 6, 2010 2:04 am, EDT

Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500

Status: Final Martinsville Speedway

Race Capsule

Martinsville Speedway
  • What:

    Race 6 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Martinsville Speedway, Ridgeway, VA

  • When:

    March 29, 2010 12:00 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    500

  • Track Length:

    0.526 miles

  • Race Length:

    263.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $4,935,846

Drivers to Watch

Jimmie Johnson Johnson is just 14 points out of the Cup points lead as he heads to his best track, where he has six wins, 12 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 16 starts. He won this race last spring and was second in October. In fact, beginning with his first race in 2002, when he finished 35th, Johnson has 15 consecutive top-10 finishes at Martinsville, including nine straight top-fives. "I love it," Johnson said of Martinsville. "It took me a year to really understand the track. And actually it took Tony Stewart lapping me to help me understand what I was doing wrong and to figure the race track out. I think it's a great opportunity for myself in the spring to get a win. And then in the fall it's been a really good track for us points-wise in the Chase. So I'm really excited going back. Denny (Hamlin) has been awfully strong there. I know the 24 (Jeff Gordon) will be. And a few other guys have been sorting things out there. I think it's just such a unique race track -- real quirky and difficult to get the car to handle correctly with the weird braking zone, how tight the radius of the corner is, and then you need to be able to put all this horsepower down up off the turns. And it's just really tough to figure it out from a chassis standpoint and from a driver standpoint. I mean, you can really make the car mad there if you do some things wrong. It's been a great place for me, and I really enjoy racing there."
Denny Hamlin Hamlin won the fall race at Martinsville for his second victory at the track and has been in the top six in each of the last seven races there. "We led a lot of laps (502) last year and finished second and first, so we are really looking forward to this weekend," said Hamlin, who is still looking for his first top-10 finish in 2010.
Kevin Harvick Leading by just one point over Matt Kenseth, Harvick has never won at Martinsville. In fact, he has never finished in the top five. He has seven top-10 finishes in 17 starts. He was 11th in this race last year and 10th in the return visit in October. His best finish is a trio of seventh-place finishes beginning with October 2003, April 2006 and October 2008. "From a confidence standpoint, it's really important for us to keep doing the things that we are doing," Harvick said. "You want to look ahead to make sure that you don't get behind, and you want to keep pushing things forward. The ball is in our court right now as far as how we push things forward and how we make things happen. Leading the points in this part of the season is great, but really it only matters in the last 10." ... Harvick believes Richard Childress Racing has reason to be confident about returning to Martinsville. "I think Clint (Bowyer) ran really well there in the first race last year, and we all ran fairly well the second race," Harvick said. "It's just one of those places where you have to be going good at the right time. If you get off a little bit during the middle of the race and lose your track position, it just takes too long to get back up there. Track position is really key, and you have to keep it for the entire race. The car is actually a little aero-sensitive at Martinsville. When you get behind people off the corner, your car gets a little bit tighter. The corners are so tight that you wind up beating and banging. You don't want to tear up your car, but you have to do something to progress through the field and make some track position, so it's just a fine balance between aggressiveness and taking care of your car."
Carl Edwards Edwards has two top-10 finishes, both in 2008, in 11 races at Martinsville. "Martinsville is a demanding race track, both physically and mentally," said Edwards. "It's a difficult place to get the car handling just right, and the driver has to be patient in traffic to save the brakes."
Matt Kenseth Kenseth is looking for his first Martinsville win but he has two top-five and six top-10 finishes in 20 starts there. He was 23rd last spring and 14th in October. His last top-10 finish at Martinsville was eighth in October 2008, and his last top-five was fifth in October 2007. "It's really hard to be patient at Martinsville," Kenseth said. "For me, it always seems like you're getting run into or you're running into somebody and we're always racing for the little bit of room we have on the track. It can easily become a frustrating track, and a lot of times I have a hard time giving my crew the right information about the car's handling. It's not a tricky place to get around, but a lot of times it gets tough to be able to tell my crew what we need to change on the car to have it handle how I need it to be at Martinsville."
Greg Biffle Biffle has just one top-10 (seventh in October 2007) in 14 starts at Martinsville as he heads into Sunday's race 24 points out of the lead. He was 28th last spring and 25th last October. "It's obvious by looking at my stats that Martinsville has been a tough place for me," Biffle said. "We've had a few decent runs there, but getting your car to turn can make the difference between a fun race at Martinsville and a long day at Martinsville. When the car is turning and you can get off of the corners on the gas, the race at Martinsville can be one of the most fun races of the season, but when it won't turn or your brakes are failing, it is probably my least favorite track on the circuit. I would say our goal this weekend is to leave Martinsville with a top-10 finish and hold our position in the standings."
Tony Stewart Stewart is 89 points out of the lead as he heads to a track where he has two victories (fall 2000 and spring 2006), eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10s in 22 starts. He was third in this race last spring and ninth in October. He has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four Martinsville starts. Stewart said of his success there, "It's knowing that feel, it's finding that combination that works, and the next time you come back to that track you know what that feel is like and you know what you're looking for in practice for it to be good in the race. During the race, the track changes quite a bit, but you know when you kind of have that rhythm. You have the timing of what it was like, you just know what that feel is in the car that you're looking for, not necessarily to be good in Happy Hour as much as to be good for the race. When you've had a good weekend, the next time you go back it's just easier to try to go back and mimic that feel. That's why when guys hit on something they're normally good for a while until the package changes quite a bit, and then once that changes, you have to learn a different feel. Normally for a while you can have that, and different guys, if you look over the history, have kind of had runs at it. It seems like whether it's a three- or four- or five-race period, guys get that feel of it and know what that tire likes, what the chassis combination likes at that time, and they kind of have that and they know how to adapt to it."
Kyle Busch Busch has four top-five and five top-10 finishes in 10 starts at Martinsville but has not won there. He was 24th last spring and fourth in October. He also was fourth in both 2007 races there. "It's hard to have a good car there with the field as tight as it is," he said. "Qualifying up front seems to help out a little bit. We know who the guys are who are going to be tough there. Really, there's nothing that you can change about that race track to stay out of trouble. Basically, you can be leading the race and have a wreck in front of you while you are trying to lap some guys, and that could be it. If I had Jeff Gordon's or Jimmie Johnson's success there, then I would be comfortable going there. I've had some decent runs there, where I've felt like we've had a car to win and had a shot to win. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get the track position toward the end of the race. Jeff (Gordon) is so good there and Jimmie (Johnson) is so good there. They are probably the two most difficult guys to pass there because they know the place. They know how to get off the corner and how to roll the middle of the corner there. Everything is timing, and their stuff just works, whatever it is."
Jeff Gordon Gordon will be seeking his 11th consecutive top-five finish at Martinsville this weekend as well as his 15th straight top-10 finish at the track. Four of his seven victories have come during this remarkable streak. "This has always been a rhythm track for me," said Gordon. "It just took me a few years and thousands of laps to find that rhythm. But once I did, it just clicked."
Clint Bowyer Bowyer will be seeking his fifth top-10 finish in the last six races at Martinsville. "Martinsville was one of those tracks that I struggled at big time early in my Cup career," said Bowyer. "The last couple of times we've run good there -- we've run inside the top 10. I feel like that's a track where I've improved a lot."
Kurt Busch Busch is 97 points out of the lead as he heads back to the track where he won in October 2002 but has only two top-five finishes and four top-10s in 19 starts. He was 18th last spring and 17th in October. In fact, he has not finished in the top 10 in his last eight Martinsville starts. "I struggle at Martinsville and I've made no secret about it," said Busch, who won the pole at Martinsville in October 2006. "I've sat on the pole before and I've won there before, but I don't really know how I did either one of those when it actually happened. It's just a tough parking-lot style of racing. You're racing on a flat surface on the straightaways and all the way through the corners. You just stay so hard on the brakes into the corners that you don't know when you're going to slide over that edge of how you need to be running. I seem to almost always heat up my front brakes too much there and they lose the grip we need toward the end of the race. Most of the time, we still have plenty of rear brake left as the race concludes, and that really tends to create a loose handling situation. You're all on top of one another for the whole race, with cars behind you and in front of you ramming and jamming and beating and banging. It's so tough on the drivers and the teams. You can have one slow pit stop and find yourself falling from the top-five all the way back to 25th. You get mired up in the traffic and it's so difficult to pass. You can do a complete tire run and maybe only make up half the positions that you lost earlier. Everyone has to be on top of their game just about for the entire race in order to excel there."
Jeff Burton Burton is 97 points out of the lead and is a former Martinsville winner, but that came all the way back in 1997. That is one of his 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 31 starts. He had a pair of 15th-place finishes last year, and his last decent finish was third in the spring of 2008. "It is frustrating because it is a track that historically I have run very well on, but I've struggled since I've come to RCR, which is odd because you really think of RCR as being a real short-track company," Burton said. "I have to do a better job as a driver communicating what I need and paying attention to what other people are doing, but that's a tough race track. It's a very challenging race track, and we need to step it up. I think the majority of the reason that the wing is being changed is because of the way it looks. So that means that I believe that the wing could have worked. And we've seen that. If you look at the races at the middle and end of last year and the races this year, all those races have been good with the wing. I believe the car could be successful with the wing because we've seen it be successful, but by no means do I think it can't be successful with the spoiler. At most race tracks, you set your car up so you can go fast in the center of the corner and make good exit speed. For Martinsville, because everything happens so quickly and the track is so short, when something is not going well on one part of the race corner, it really affects everything else. So, you have to be able to have the entire corner working. If you don't, then you can't enter the corner how you want to and you can't exit it right. You have to have the entire corner working. If you're off just a little bit, it's a lot."
Mark Martin Martin has two wins and 23 top-10 finishes in 44 starts at Martinsville. He finished seventh and eighth in the two races in 2009. "Martinsville is not as hard on equipment as it used to be," said Martin. "A lot of the reason why is a lot of the equipment is nearly bulletproof today. Typically, most of the field is still running at the end now, and mostly all are up to full song."
Jamie McMurray McMurray will be seeking his third straight top-10 finish at Martinsville and fourth in the last five races. "We have had some really awesome, really fast race cars all year," said McMurray. "And as long as we can run like we did at Bristol, Vegas and California, we'll have a really solid season."
Ryan Newman Newman won the pole for the fall race at Martinsville and finished seventh after leading 23 laps. It was his eighth top-10 finish in 16 starts at the track, including a second in the fall of 2007. "We had two top-10s there last year, and we really need another top-10 this week to help us get back in the hunt for the Chase," said Newman, who 149 points out of the top 12.
Joey Logano Logano finished 12th in the fall race at Martinsville after ending up 32nd in his Sprint Cup debut at the short track. "Martinsville showed how much we improved last year," said Logano, who won the Rookie of the Year title in 2009. "And I think we will be even better when we go back."
Juan Pablo Montoya Montoya finished third last fall at Martinsville for his best finish ever at the track. He has finished 16th or better in all six of his starts at the .525-mile speedway. "We've got faster cars than last year, so we should be OK," said Montoya. "Right now we just need a little luck. We've had fast cars but not much luck."
David Reutimann Reutimann is still looking for his first top-10 at Martinsville. His best finish in six starts is 16th, which came last fall after leading for 18 laps. "We qualified well for both races last year and ran a lot better than we had, so we feel good about this weekend," said Reutimann. "We just need for our luck to change after two straight DNF's."
AJ Allmendinger Allmendinger finished ninth last spring at Martinsville for his lone top-10 finish in five starts at the track. His team tested its Martinsville car last week at Rockingham. "I think all of our Richard Petty Motorsports teams were able to take away a lot of notes and information from that test," he said.
Kasey Kahne Kahne has two top-10 finishes in 12 starts at Martinsville. "I feel like we've had a pretty good five races to start the year," said Kahne. "So I feel pretty good about where we're at and where we can still go this year. We've just had a few things go wrong, but that's racing and things happen. I think we can recover from that and gain some of the points back pretty quick."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. After dropping out of the top 10 in the second race of the season, Earnhardt is back but is 153 points out of the lead. He has never won at Martinsville and has eight top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 20 starts. He was eighth there last spring and 29th last fall. "It feels good (to be in the top 10 in points)," Earnhardt said. "It's more of a relief than anything. We've got five races in the bank. We just need to keep working on one after another and do the best that we can. The real, real important thing is to get everything we can out of every week. Even if you are having a bad day, you need to get everything you can out of it, even if it does sound cliche."
Martin Truex Jr. Truex has only one top-10 finish in eight starts at Martinsville. "I haven't had a lot of success at Martinsville for some reason," said Truex. "For me the biggest challenge is the track is so much different when the race starts on Sunday than it's been all weekend. The rubber buildup starts to get really bad during the race around the bottom groove."
Paul Menard Still in the top 10 for the second consecutive week, Menard is 160 points out of the lead but has not finished in the top 15 in five starts at Martinsville. He was 25th last spring and 23rd last fall. "It's been a good start," Menard said. "The guys improved the cars a lot in the offseason. We've got a good working relationship with Slugger (Labbe, his crew chief), and the merger between Yates and RPM went pretty seamlessly. There's been a lot of moving around with locations of race shops, but in the whole process of moving they improved the cars, so it's been a good start. We haven't had any real bad luck so far, so, knock on wood, hopefully we can keep that going and keep having solid finishes."
Scott Speed Speed has not finished better than 30th in his three starts at Martinsville. "They call it a paper clip, and I can certainly understand why," said Speed, who made his Sprint Cup debut at the flat, .525-mile speedway. "It is one tough place with two long straightaways and two really tight, flat corners. But I think we will be much better this time around."
Brian Vickers Vickers has only one top-10 finish in 10 starts at Martinsville but was 11th in two of the last three races there. "I think we are getting better and better there," he said. "We just need to run a complete race without any problems, and I think we can get us a top-10."