2009 Track Performers: Short Tracks
December 20, 2009 | 2:39 P.M. EST
- The three short tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule have very different characteristics, and always produce close, high speed action.
- Road Courses
- 1.5-mile Speedways
- Restrictor-Plate Races
Joe Gibbs Racing enjoyed the most success on the tracks less than a mile in length this season after winning five of the six races with Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
Busch came away with the most short tracks wins in 2009 with victories in both races at Bristol Motor Speedway and the spring race at Richmond International Raceway. He also finished with five top fives and led in four races for 503 laps.
Hamlin recorded the most points (1031) this year in the six races after leading the most laps (956) and scoring the most bonus points (45). He won twice, for two of his five top fives, with victories in the September Richmond race at fall race at Martinsville Speedway.
"In terms of places where I have a lot of laps, certainly Martinsville is the place I have the most," Hamlin said. "Between the Late Model races here and then Cup, trucks and Nationwide this is a place I know well. On top of that, it's a track that reminds me of the kind of short flat tracks that I grew up on. While I know I have become a much better intermediate and superspeedway driver, those are still my best tracks."
Four-time and defending series champion Jimmie Johnson won the series' first trip to a short track in 2009 after he defeated Hamlin at Martinsville in April. The win was Johnson's sixth at the .526-mile Virginia oval.
Mark Martin and Ryan Newman finished third and fourth, respectively, in points on short tracks and were the only drivers to finish in the top 10 in all six events. Martin won three poles with two of them coming in a sweep of Bristol.
"The short tracks are a strong part of our program," Newman said. "We’re a first-year team and want to keep on building a strong baseline for the future."
Behind the series leading drivers of Busch and Hamlin, Jeff Gordon was the only driver to finish with four top fives. His best finish of the season came at Richmond in September in third.
Other drivers not already mentioned that ranked in the top 10 in points scored in the six races were Kurt Busch (seventh), Jeff Burton (eighth), Juan Pablo Montoya (ninth) and Tony Stewart (10th).
Past Track Performers