Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 marks the second race at Martinsville Speedway this season. It’s the seventh race of the Sprint Cup Chase for the Cup and a pivotal race in deciding this year’s champion.
Of note, Dale Earnhardt Jr. placed third during the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 on April 1 of this year.
Speaking of Junior, the injured star will make his return to the Chase in Virginia this weekend. He missed the two previous races due to concussion-like symptoms he suffered from two different accidents.
Points leader Brad Keselowski placed just one spot ahead of second-place Jimmie Johnson last week at Kansas. Placing ahead of Keselowski and gaining ground were Matt Kenseth, who won the race, Martin Truex Jr. (second place), Kasey Kahne (fourth place) and Clint Bowyer (sixth place).
Keselowski needs a big performance at Martinsville in order to keep the competition at bay and hold on to capture the Cup.
Where: Martinsville Speedway, Ridgeway, Virginia
When: Sunday, October 28, 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: TrackPass
Listen: Motor Racing Network
For the full starting order please visit NASCAR.com.
Full TV Schedule
Tums Fast Relief 500 Practice, Oct. 27, 9:30 a.m. ET, SPEED
Tums Fast Relief 500 Final Practice, Oct. 27, Noon ET, SPEED
Tums Fast Relief 500 Race, Oct. 28, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
Drivers to Watch
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Junior has little to race for other than showing positive signs of recovery after the two concussions sidelined him from two consecutive Chase races. However, he started out on a good note, recording the second-highest time during the opening practice on Friday afternoon.
As mentioned, this is a pivotal race for the points leader. Keselowski has performed well during this Chase, but the competition is beginning to heat up.
Does he have what it takes to keep his competitors at bay?
Johnson trails Keselowski, the points leader, by just seven points everything Martinsville on Sunday. He’s the pole-sitter after qualifying on Friday afternoon and is in a great position to catch Keselowski with a top-notch performance in Virginia.
Bowyer has a history with this track. He finished 10th at the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 back in April and has a championship on his mind after closing the point total to 25 following his performance at Kansas last week.
Predicted Winner: Clint Bowyer
A win here would do wonders for Bowyer’s chances at catching Keselowski. He’s experienced at Martinsville and has been driving remarkably to this point of the Chase.
Mike Hoag Jr. is a B/R Breaking News Team writer and covers the NFL and Cleveland Browns for the site. Follow him on Twitter for analysis and updates on the latest news and happenings in the sports world.