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Last Updated Monday, Oct 31, 2005 1:18 am, EST

Race Capsule

Martinsville Speedway
  • What:

    Race 32 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, VA

  • When:

    October 23, 2005 1:00 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    500

  • Track Length:

    0.526 miles

  • Race Length:

    263.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $4,705,474

Drivers to Watch

Tony Stewart Was the victim of a tire failure as the leader on lap 217 in Charlotte last week and finished 25th, evaporating his 75-point lead atop the standings; is tied with Johnson in points but still holds the top spot in the standings by virtue having one more victory than the fellow Chevrolet driver; entered the "Chase" on a tear with 12 straight finishes of eighth or better, including each of his five checkered flags this season; after extending the streak to 13 with a runner-up in New Hampshire, has posted two finishes outside the top 15 in the last four races; has posted three straight finishes of 14th or worse here since running third in this event in 2003; won this event in 2000 and is fourth among "Chase" drivers with a 14.923 average finish on this track.
Short-track specialist has 55 career wins with 25 coming on tracks measuring under one mile; seven of those victories have come here, with the most recent coming last spring in the Advance Auto Parts 500 - his only checkered flag since 2001; the 49-year-old, in his final season on the circuit, fell three spots to seventh in the standings after a late accident resulted in a 24th in Charlotte last week; has run outside the top 20 twice in the last three races after running 19th or better in 18 of the previous 19 events; ran 10th in this event last year and fifth here in April for the first of his eight top-fives this season; the 1989 series champion is excited to be coming to a track that other drivers fear: "Martinsville's been a great track for me. I always feel like when I get there, if I'm in a ditch of having a problem, Martinsville's a place where I get back on track."
Ryan Newman The circuit's most prolific qualifier the last four seasons tumbled two spots to fourth in the standings despite a seventh in Charlotte last week; is just 17 points behind the leaders after arriving at Lowe's Motor Speedway 75 points behind Stewart; after being the last driver to clinch a spot in the "Chase," recorded his first victory of the season in New Hampshire; had not finished higher than 12th in the six races leading up to the "Chase" but has run seventh or better four times in five events since; has run in the top five in each of his last four starts here, including a fourth in April; has 32 poles over the last four seasons, including two on this track; hoping to continue recent run of success here: "We used to be absolutely horrible at Martinsville and that was because the driver would burn off the brakes. After we talked to him, we got him to settle down and drive the car right. We've always had fast cars there and that shows with our qualifying effort, but recently we got the package together for racing and I think we'll be better than we've ever been this time."
Jimmie Johnson Entered this race 227 points off the pace last year but claimed his second straight checkered flag amid a furious rally that brought him within eight points of Busch in the closest standings finish in stock car racing history; his victory here in 2004 came amid tragedy as several members of team owner Rick Hendrick's immediate family were killed in a nearby plane crash; went on to claim an emotional victory the next week at Atlanta Motor Speedway among his six straight top-10s, including four wins, to conclude the season; is in an opposite position this season, tied for the points lead with Stewart after claiming his record fourth straight checkered flag at Charlotte last week; was his fourth victory of the season and second of the "Chase"; was runner-up to teammate Jeff Gordon in this event in 2003; expects more frustration here this week after tire issues riddled drivers in Charlotte: "I think Martinsville is a place where contact is going to come into play and tempers are going to be high a lot like at Bristol. There is a lot on the line for the 'Chase' contenders on a track where you can never get away from lapped cars and cars that you are racing. The potential there is for contact and problems. Since they resurfaced the track, it is a single-file track on the bottom. The way you make a position is by someone making a mistake or you helping them make a mistake."
Finished 11th in Charlotte last week to climb a spot to eighth in the standings, 115 points off the pace; the "Chase" has been a microcosm of his season as he mas managed only one top-10 but has not finished lower than 16th; has only eight top-10s overalls - easily the fewest among championship-eligible drivers - but has stayed out of trouble with just five finishes outside the top 20 this season; won in Michigan on August 21 for his first victory since a dramatic triumph in Richmond to climb four spots to ninth in the standings on the eve of the inaugural "Chase"; ran sixth in this race last year as one of few bright spots in last year's 10-race championship run; under the scoring system used from 1975-2003, would have finished 15th in points last season; has five top-10s but just a 21.25 average finish in 20 career starts here.
Kurt Busch Was runner-up to Jimmie Johnson last week at Lowe's Motor Speedway, making up 82 points on the top spot in the standings; still is last among the 10 championship-eligible contenders, 142 points off the pace; after posting nine top-10s in the inaugural "Chase," finished 35th and 23rd in the first two races of this year's edition to become a long shot to repeat as series champion; has sandwiched top-10s at Talladega and Charlotte around a 14th in Kansas two weeks ago; won this event in 2002 among his three top-10s in 10 career starts at this track; finished 19th here in April after running fifth in this race last year.
Carl Edwards In his first full premier series season, is among five Roush Racing drivers in the "Chase"; ran 10th in last week's UAW-GM Quality 500, which was plagued by 15 cautions, for his fourth straight top-10; remained sixth in the standings but moved within 54 points of the leaders; also still in championship contention in the Busch Series and will race in that circuit's event in Memphis on Saturday before taking a charter flight to Martinsville; has struggled more than any other championship-eligible driver on this track, finishing 24th in this race last year and 38th here in April.
Greg Biffle Emerged relatively unscathed from a tire-issue marred UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte last week, running third to climb within 11 points of the leaders; was his second straight top-three finish and third top-five in the first five "Chase" events; tied with Tony Stewart for the circuit lead with five checkered flags and has won six races dating to last season's finale; has run sixth or better in seven of the last nine events but has not won since June 19 in Michigan; struggled to a 29th here in April and has not finished higher than 17th in five career starts on this track.
Matt Kenseth The 2003 series champion encountered a tire problem on lap 63 in Charlotte and finished 26th - last among "Chase" contenders - and slipped a spot to ninth in the standings; has three top-fives during this year's 10-race run for the championship after managing just one top-10 in the inaugural "Chase," his struggles from the end of last year carried into this season as he recorded only one top-10 in the first 10 races; has produced 13 top-10s in 22 events since, including a dominating victory in Bristol - a short track similar to Martinsville - from the pole in August; ran 11th here in April and 16th in this event last year; was runner-up to Bobby Labonte in the 2002 spring race among his three top-10s in 11 career starts here.
Mark Martin Four-time series runner-up is fifth in the standings, just 51 points off the pace in what was scheduled to be his final season on the circuit; the 46-year-old claimed his first checkered flag since last June two weeks ago in Kansas and followed with a fifth in Charlotte last week; has run seventh or better in all but one of the first five "Chase" events, but an early accident in Talladega relegated him to a 41st and jeopardized his chances for an elusive first title; won this race in 1992 and the spring race in 2000 among his six checkered flag on the five remaining tracks this season; expected to drive the No. 6 Ford Fusion for Roush Racing against next year before Jamie McMurray takes over in 2007; won three straight poles here, beginning with this race in 1990.