Joey Logano wins the pole for the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway for the third consecutive time with a speed of 97.043 mph. Logano joins the elite group of Glen Wood, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin to win three consecutive poles at Martinsville. Logano was able to top the speed chart in all three rounds of qualifying.
“We figured out the qualifying part really well. We really want to be able to win this race. It’s something we’ve been so close too. We have a little extra motivation coming up here this week to be able to show what we are made out of. Its nice to be able to go up here and do what we know how to do, execute qualifying like we know how to at this racetrack. Ever since we unloaded this morning, it was at the top of the board. It’s a fast race car. We knew that, we just have to keep our heads in the game,” said Logano in his media availability after qualifying.
Kasey Kahne showed to be strong in qualifying. He will start second in Sunday’s STP 500. This is his second time starting in the top-10 in 2016.
“It was really good to get quicker each round. Each round we gained speed, and that was the key. Coming up here today, my main goal was to qualify, and try to figure out how to get the best pit stall that we can. That means a lot on Sunday. In and out is a huge part in starting position, especially under the cautions.”
The threat of rain was a major factor in today’s qualifying session. Teams were constantly checking the radar to see when the best time will be to make a qualifying run. Luckily, qualifying was able to get in its entirety.
The First Round of qualifying still had the heat from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice. However, Joey Logano topped the board with a speed of 97.237 mph. In order to get a fast speed, drivers were taking up to five laps in their run. The “King of Martinsville”, as of late, Jimmie Johnson was barely able to advance to the second round. Notable drivers who were unable to advance to the second round were Carl Edwards (25), Austin Dillon (29), and Danica Patrick (28). 39 drivers were able to take laps at Martinsville; however, Reed Sorenson did not make a lap, but will still make the race.
In between rounds, problems arose in the brakes for Chase Elliott. Chase told his team on the in-car radio that the brakes would not work until he was about halfway pressed down on the pedals.
The second round of qualifying was lead by Logano with a speed of 97.679 mph. In the last seconds of this round, Kahne was able to jump from position 13 to P4 to bump Ricky Stenhouse Jr. from advancing to the third round. Notables who were knocked out in this round include Martin Truex Jr. (16), Jimmie Johnson (24), Kevin Harvick (19), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (21).
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia for the STP 500. This will be the sixth race of 36 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. After the Easter break, the STP 500 will kick-off a 12 week stretch of NASCAR racing before the next off weekend on Father’s Day weekend. A total of 40 drivers will head to Martinsville to compete for the 40 spots granted.
Martinsville Speedway is the longest running track on the NASCAR Circuit since its inception in 1949. Martinsville Speedway is the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit being only .526 miles in length. Many drivers and fans call Martinsville, “The Paperclip, due to its shape and size. The track is at an elevation of 740 feet. The width of the track is only 35 feet. Pit road begins at the entrance of turn three and the exit is at the exit of turn two. Pit Road is only 46 feet wide. The tight turns of Martinsville are 588 feet in length and the straights are only 800 feet long. The turns have a banking of 12 degrees, while the straights have no banking. The turns are concrete and asphalt, while the straights are pure asphalt.
The STP 500 will be the 135th race held at Martinsville Speedway. 59 drivers have won poles at Martinsville. 48 drivers have won a race at the speedway. 21 drivers have won from the pole. Joey Logano holds the track qualifying record of 100.201 mph set back in the fall of 2014.
Last year’s race experienced 21 lead changes among nine drivers. The caution flag flew 18 times for a total of 109 laps. 21 cars finished on the lead lap, while 39 drivers were running at the finish.
Teams will not have to worry about a new tire compound for this weekend. The right side of the tires are the same compound code from 2014, and the left side compound codes have been used since 2013. Cup teams will have five sets of tires for practice and qualifying. For the race, teams will have 10 sets.
Drivers are ready to race at the first true short-track of the season.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point leader, Kyle Busch, explains the key to win at Martinsville in his press release. “It’s a tough racetrack and, anytime you come in the pits and make an adjustment on your car, you certainly hope it goes the right way, or you make enough of it, or you don’t make too much of an adjustment. It seems like I haven’t quite scienced that out for the last run there. The last run can be tricky, too, because you can be coming off a 50-lap run on right-side tires and take four and you’ve only got 30 (laps) to go, or you could have 80 to go and you know you have to manage that run all the way to the end.”
In a press release, Kevin Harvick talks about the uniqueness of Martinsville. “I think a lot of us grew up on short tracks and Martinsville is a place where I’ve raced a lot, whether it’s been with the Trucks, or even the Xfinity Series, in which we were fortunate to win the one race we got to run there. It’s a track where I feel like we could have won more races than we probably have in the record books. It’s a place where you enjoy racing and it’s very similar to Talladega by the fact that you just never know when something’s going to happen. You just never know when it can turn and that’s really what short-track racing is all about. And it’s something that happens a lot at Martinsville.”
For the first time since 2011, the Wood Brothers will return to their hometrack this weekend with Ryan Blaney at the wheel. In an interview with Sporting News, Ryan Blaney talks about the return to Martinsville.
"It's really a home race for those guys, and almost for me, too. I grew up in High Point, North Carolina, an hour away from Martinsville, and I vividly remember every Martinsville race I went to, watched my dad (Dave Blaney) run it. And it's really neat to go back and bring the Wood Brothers back there and have them in their hometown and home state. Hopefully, we'll see a bunch of Wood Brothers fans out there. I think we will."
Action from the Martinsville Speedway will begin at 11 am with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.
Friday, April 1
11 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1
4 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1
Saturday, April 2
10 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1
1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, FS1
3 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice (re-air), FS1
Sunday, April 3
11:30 a.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 FS1
Ray Evernham was a successful NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief and car owner. Before becoming a car owner, Evernham was the crew chief for a very successful up and coming driver, Jeff Gordon. He is known as the man who “revolutionized the pit stop.”
Ray Evernham competed as a Crew Chief for Hendrick Motorsports from 1992 to 1999. Evernham was paired to future NASCAR Hall of Famer, Jeff Gordon. Evernham had 213 starts, 47 wins, and 30 poles as a crew chief. He guided Jeff Gordon to three championships in 1995, 1997, and 1998. Evernham won two Daytona 500’s in 1997 and 1999. Because of his expertise in the mechanical aspect, Evernham and his team revolutionized the pit stop. Each member of the pit crew had a specialized task and tried to perfect it by using choreography.
After his crew chief days, Evernham took to the ownership side of NASCAR in 2001. His move to the ownership brought Dodge back into NASCAR. The glory days of Evernham’s teams were when NASCAR Hall of Famer, Bill Elliott, drove for Evernham. Together, Elliott and Evernham won the 2002 Brickyard 400 in triumphant fashion, and won 13 times. Elliott Sadler and Kasey Kahne are notable drivers that have also driven under Evernham’s ownership. Unfortunately, in 2007, Evernham sold majority of his team and began work for NASCAR on ESPN.
Currently, Evernham is a consultant for the competition department at Hendrick Motorsports. Evernham is also the host of AmeriCarna on Velocity.
Richard Childress was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver. Currently, Childress is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series Team Owner. His career in NASCAR started in 1969 and continues to succeed in NASCAR’s premier divisions.
Childress started his racing career with limited means. At the age of 17, he purchased his first car for only $20. Childress was well-respected as a racer, and was a consummate self-made racer. Childress has six top-five finishes, 76 top 10’s, all within 285 starts. Childress finished fifth in the points standings in 1975. Ultimately, he retired in 1982.
In 1972, Childress formed Richard Childress Racing. And the rest is history from there. Much of his team’s success came with NASCAR Hall of Famer, Dale Earnhardt. Under Earnhardt’s career at RCR, Childress won six championships and 67 races from 1984 to 2000. Drivers who have driven for Childress have received five additional championships. Childress became the first team owner to win championships in all three of NASCAR’s premier divisions. Childress is ranked second on the championship list with 11.
“Once you've raced, you never forget it...and you never get over it,” said Richard Childress.
Childress is still active in the community of Welcome and Lexington, North Carolina. Childress started his own vineyard located in Lexington, North Carolina. He and his wife started the Childress Institute for Pediatric Research in 2008.
After a weekend off, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway. The first five races of the NASCAR season have been some of the best racing fans have seen. Here are five takeaways from the first five:
- Low Downforce Package: An idea that was tried in 2015 at Kentucky and Darlington has turned into the success of 2016. The racing is back in the driver’s hand, drivers are able to pass without “aero push” and many of the driver’s we thought this package would benefit hasn’t done all so well. Teams are in the works of trying to add some of the downforce back, but will NASCAR continue to head in the direction of taking more downforce off the cars?
- Close Finishes: When was the last time we had two close finishes in the first five races? The Daytona 500 and the Good Sam 500 both experienced a margin of victory of .010 seconds, which has added excitement into the brand-new season. Could we see the closet finish in NASCAR history this season? The first four races of the season have seen a margin of victory of .232 seconds.
- Goodyear: I have to applaud Goodyear for working with NASCAR and its teams to create tires that work with this package. Through the first five races, we have seen tire strategy come into play more than fuel strategy. I applaud Goodyear for creating a tire that falls off before a fuel run.
- FOX Booth: When Jeff Gordon was announced to join the NASCAR on Fox Booth Team, I was excited. However, I have become disappointed with the approach. The problem is not Mike Joy, but Darrell Waltrip. Jeff and Darrell seem like they are competing for the “top spot” in the booth. Although both have the credentials to be an analyst, I would rather take the word of someone who recently just got out of the car compared to someone who has not been in the car in the last 16 years. My hope is the dynamic in the booth will get better as they are still trying to learn each other, but only time will tell. What are your thoughts on the new NASCAR on Fox Booth?
- West Coast Swing: The West Coast Swing just finished its second year, and was a true success. NASCAR should have more “swings”. For example, many consider April a “Short Track Swing”. Unlike the West Coast Swing, the “Short Track Swing” has Texas Motor Speedway thrown into the mix. Although the West Coast Swing can be a logistical nightmare, drivers and teams enjoyed their time out west. I hope NASCAR continues the tradition of the West Coast Swing in the future!
What are your five takeaways from the first five races of the season?