Hendrick Motorsports has owned Martinsville in the recent past. Since 2003, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have combined for 20 top 5's, nine wins and seven poles. Considering that has all been accomplished in the last 12 races, I think domination is the correct word.
Now, add Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the mix and you get an unbeatable team.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished sixth and second (to Johnson) in his two Martinsville appearances last year. Back with DEI (his old team) he was often up front, though never capturing a win. In a seven race stretch from '01-'04 he had six top four starts and in the spring races since '02 he had five top five finishes. Besides an accident in '04, Dale has completed every possible lap since '02.
Mark Martin has two wins along with three poles in his career at Martinsville. Even though Martin has not attempted a race here since '06 he will be going for a personal best third straight start from the pole.
Throw those four names in a hat and one of those is your winner this weekend. I wouldn't be surprised if they all finish in the top five (all four Hendrick cars were in the top seven last year). Unfortunately, it's never that easy and that's why they play the game or should I say "race the race."
Put 43 of the best drivers on a track only .526 miles long for 500 grueling laps...anything can and will happen.
I think Dale Earnhardt Jr. will step up and show the critics that he and his crew chief can win races together despite many questioning how long they will last. They only produced one win last year and one top 10 so far this year. If they do not win soon something will change, even though this week Mr. Hendrick said he is confident in the two of them.
Safe pick: Jeff Gordon
Sleeper Pick: Martin Truex Jr.
My Pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr.