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Last Updated Monday, Oct 30, 2006 1:35 am, EST

Race Capsule

Martinsville Speedway
  • What:

    Race 34 of 38 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, VA

  • When:

    October 22, 2006 12:55 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    500

  • Track Length:

    0.526 miles

  • Race Length:

    263.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $4,779,747

Drivers to Watch

Jeff Gordon Chase Points: 5,547 (10th) Like Busch, another Hendrick Motorsports driver that has run into bad luck throughout the postseason; dropped three spots to 10th in the standings after finishing 24th at Lowe's last weekend; was running fifth when his engine blew up just 32 laps from the finish; got caught up in an 11-car crash late in the race and completed just 167 laps en route to 36th-place finish at Talladega; plummeted four spots after placing 39th at Kansas, where he experienced fuel problems with just 28 laps left; trails Burton by 216 points; has won twice this year to push his career total to 75, most among active drivers; has dominated at this track throughout his storied career, registering seven victories, 15 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s in 27 career starts; won both races at this track last season and was runner-up to Tony Stewart here in the spring.
Denny Hamlin Chase Points: 5,626 (6th) Outstanding circuit rookie has faded over the last three races and will need a strong finish to climb back into Chase contention; was involved in a massive 14-car crash last week at Lowe's and slipped to sixth in the standings, 137 points behind Burton; fell three spots after running 21st at Talladega; has two wins this season, both at Pocono, becoming just the second rookie in series history to win both races at a single track; finished eighth in this event last season but struggled to 37th in the spring race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chase Points: 5,657 (5th) Kept alive his title hopes by finishing fourth at Lowe's; is fifth in the Chase and trails Burton by 106 points in the standings; chances for his first series title took a serious hit at Talladega, where he was knocked off the lead in the final lap by Brian Vickers; managed 23rd place in that race and climbed one spot to sixth in the standings; ran 10th at Kansas; has nine top-five finishes and 14 top-10s this season; ran fourth here in April but struggled to 18th in this race last year; has six top-five finishes in 13 career starts at this track.
Jimmie Johnson Chase Points: 5,617 (7th) Revived fading title hopes with runner-up finish to Kasey Kahne last week at Lowe's; climbed one spot to seventh in the standings but still trails Burton by 146 points; appeared primed for at least a runner-up finish and possibly the checkered flag at Talladega before being wrecked by teammate Vickers in the final lap; led 105 laps at Kansas but was flagged for speeding on pit road, resulting in a 14th-place showing; has won four times this season - including victories at superspeedways Daytona and Talladega - but has not taken a checkered flag since the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in early August; ran third from the pole here in the spring race and also finished third in this event last season; won this event in 2004 and has five top-five finishes and eight top-10s in nine career starts here.
Kevin Harvick Chase Points: 5,674 (3rd) Finished 18th at Lowe's but actually climbed one spot to third in the standings; lost 66 points on Richard Childress Racing teammate Burton and now is 89 points off the pace; finished sixth at Talladega; still tracking an unprecedented double after capturing the Busch Series title last Friday, his second career Busch championship (2001); no driver has won the Nextel Cup and Busch titles in the same year; has been very erratic in his last 10 races, with three of his four victories coming in that span but only one other finish better than 11th; finished seventh here in the spring race but struggled to 28th place in this event last season; has three top-10 finishes in 10 career starts here.
Kyle Busch Chase Points: 5,568 (9th) Is all but eliminated from "Chase" contention despite running sixth last week at Lowe's; finished 11th at Talladega and ran seventh three weeks ago at Kansas but still trails Burton by a whopping 195 points; climbed one spot to ninth in the standings; only win of the season came at New Hampshire on July 16; one of three Chase drivers from Hendrick Motorsports that has struggled this postseason, combining with Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon for a series of bad luck; finished fifth here in April and ran ninth in this event last season.
Matt Kenseth Chase Points: 5,718 (2nd) Ran 14th at Lowe's and lost 39 points in his pursuit of Burton; is still second in the standings, 45 points off the pace; delivered a huge performance with a fourth-place finish at Talladega; had consecutive wins in August to run his season total to four and grab the standings lead heading into the "Chase"; won the series title in 2003 despite capturing only one victory, prompting the change to the "Chase" format; ran to a disappointing 24th-place finish here in the spring race, spinning out on a restart on lap 493 and crashing; finished 12th in this race last season; has struggled throughout his career at this track, recording only one top-five finish and three top-10s in 13 career starts.
Mark Martin Chase Points: 5,661 (4th) Has been in the "Chase" each of the last two seasons and has a legitimate chance to win elusive first series title, which would be a wonderful capper to a remarkable career; championship hopes took a potentially disastrous hit at Lowe's, where he finished 30th after crashing hard into the fourth-turn wall while attempting to enter the pits on lap 241; lost 92 points in his pursuit of Burton and is fourth in the standings, 102 points off the pace; ran eighth at Talladega; avoided trouble and finished third at Kansas to climb three spots in the standings, supplanting Kenseth, his Roush Racing teammate; has yet to win a pole or a race this season, again raising questions about points distribution in the Nextel Cup standings; two-time winner here has 21 top-10 finishes in 41 career starts at this track; ran 13th here in the spring race but finished just 34th in this event last season.
Jeff Burton Chase Points: 5,763 (1st) Still holds the lead in the "Chase for the Championship" after placing third in last week's Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway; leads Matt Kenseth by 45 points in the standings; finished fifth at Kansas and won four weeks ago at Dover, his only victory this season; has seven top-five finishes and 19 top-10s; has teamed with Kevin Harvick to lead a resurgence by Richard Childress Racing; struggled to 33rd place at this track in the DirecTV 500 on April 2; won this event in 1997 and has nine top-five finishes in 24 career starts here; ran fifth in this race last season.
Kasey Kahne Chase Points: 5,603 (8th) Recorded his series-leading sixth checkered flag of the season at Lowe's but failed to gain significant ground on Burton, who ran third; climbed to eighth in the standings but is 160 points off the pace; was runner-up to Vickers at Talladega and kept alive his slim title hopes; failed to cash in on claiming the pole at Kansas, spinning out as he tried to make it to the pits on his final stop after running out of fuel and finishing 33rd; is tied with Kurt Busch for the circuit lead with five poles, fueling his first appearance in the season-ending title run; has struggled at this track, registering only one top-10 finish in five career starts; finished just 35th here in the spring race and ran 17th in this event last season.