Martinsville Handicaps

Matt Kenseth- Kenseth finished second in this race last year, one of only two career top 10 finishes in six Martinsville starts.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.- Junior had struggled at Martinsville until last year when he managed a pair of top 5 finishes here. (Fifth in the spring and fourth last fall.)

Kurt Busch- Busch won at the Martinsville fall race last year and finished 10th in last spring’s race. Prior to that he had finished 30th or worse in all of his Martinsville Cup starts.

Jimmie Johnson- Johnson struggled in this race last year, his first Martinsville start, and wound up 35th. He rebounded with a sixth place finish here in the fall.

Jeff Gordon- Gordon is a three time Martinsville winner though his last victory here was the fall race of 1999. Still Gordon has a pretty enviable record at Martinsville with top 5 finishes in half of his twenty starts here.

Ricky Craven- Craven’s first Winston Cup win came in Martinsville in the fall race of 2001. Craven also finished seventh here last fall.

Michael Waltrip- Nope, I don’t think so. In 32 Cup starts at Martinsville Waltrip has managed just one top 5 finish and a total of five top 10s. Maybe if they started running restrictor plates at Martinsville?

Kevin Harvick- Krazy Kev got to sit out this race last year as punishment for his antics during Saturday's truck race here. He didn’t do much better in the fall finishing 31st.

Tony Stewart- Stewart won the fall 2000 race here, and has finished 11th or better in half of his eight starts at Martinsville.

Elliott Sadler- A win by Sadler would be hugely popular with the fans in his native Virginia but in eight career Cup starts to date Sadler hasn’t finished better than fifteenth. If they awarded Cup points at Martinville for hot dog consumption Sadler would be this year’s champion. They don’t.

Ryan Newman- Newman won the pole for last fall’s race and finished 15th, a considerable improvement over his 41st place result here in this race last year.

Dale Jarrett- Jarrett won this race in 2001 and is batting slightly better than .500 as far as top 10 finishes in thirty two career starts here. DJ finished fourth and eighth here last year.

Robby Gordon- Might as well stay home this weekend and double his vacation time.

Mark Martin- Despite the name of the track, Mark Martin despises this track. He once threatened to run naked through the grandstands if he ever won here. He did. Twice. (Win that is, not run naked through the stands….fortunately.) Martin has a total of ten top 5 finishes in 34 starts at Martinsville.

Bobby Labonte- Labonte isn’t known as much of a short track racer but he did win this race last year. That was only his second top 5 finish in 20 Martinsville races.

Sterling Marlin- Marlin has never been thought of as much of a short track racer. His best career finish in 33 starts is second. Marlin has just three top 5s and ten top 10 finishes in those 33 starts. Finished 12th here last spring and missed the Martinsville race last fall due to the neck injury.

Joe Nemechek- Probably won’t be much of a threat. In the last ten Martinsville races (and Nemechek has competed in nine of them) his best finish was fourteenth and he has four finishes of 35th or worse. Even last fall during his impressive string of races with the 25 team that eventually landed him a job Nemechek finished 41st here

Rusty Wallace- Wallace leads all active drivers with six races here. (As a side note DW has won here 11 times but don’t let him tell you he was the best ever here. Richard Petty won six of seven fall races here from 1967 to 1973 and scored 15 total Martinsville victories.) If Wallace doesn’t win here this week, my prediction is he won’t win a race this year and possibly will never win again.

Ricky Rudd- Rudd is a three time winner at Martinsville most notably the 1998 “Shake and Bake” victory when Rudd won the race on a brutally hot day despite a failed driver cooling system that left him so worn out he conducted the winner’s circle interview flat on his back. Rudd has top 10 finishes in five of his last six Cup starts at Martinsville.

Dave Blaney- In six career Cup starts at Martinsville Blaney has a best finish of seventeenth. Now if they were to throw down a foot of dirt over the pavement he’d be a shoe-in.

Others To Watch

Johnny Benson- Benson gave Kurt Busch all he could handle here last fall, but came up just a little short finishing second.

Jeff Burton- Since winning the 1997 fall race here, Burton has only missed a top ten finish at Martinsville twice in the subsequent ten races.

John Andretti- Andretti won this race back in 1999.

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2003

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