On a track that tends to elicit a lot of tension and plenty of action, the STP Gas Booster 500 is the perfect stage for one of NASCAR’s bitter rivalries to come to a head.
Much has been said lately of Joey Logano and his aggressive racing style. Sending Denny Hamlin into the wall at Auto Club Speedway two weeks ago resulted in some heated words between the youngster and Tony Stewart, who wasn’t pleased with Logano’s maneuvers.
While Jimmie Johnson has pole position and top drivers like Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon start in the top six Sunday, all eyes will be on Logano and Stewart, especially with the always present possibility of fireworks at Martinsville.
The drama of the weekend is certainly intriguing, but there’s also a race to be won. Let’s take a look at the lineup and break down what to watch for on Sunday afternoon.
Where: Martinsville Speedway, Ridgeway, Virginia
When: Sunday, April 7, at 1 p.m. ET
Television: Fox Sports
Starting Grid Top 20
|1. Jimmie Johnson||11. Kyle Busch|
|2. Marcos Ambrose||12. Martin Truex Jr.|
|3. Brian Vickers||13. Jamie McMurray|
|4. Joey Logano||14. Juan Pablo Montoya|
|5. Kasey Kahne||15. Clint Bowyer|
|6. Jeff Gordon||16. Paul Menard|
|7. Brad Keselowski||17. Dale Earnhardt Jr.|
|8. Matt Kenseth||18. Regan Smith|
|9. Carl Edwards||19. Kurt Busch|
|10. Ryan Newman||20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
*Full grid can be found at ESPN.com.
Martinsville Speedway always makes things a little more interesting. It's the smallest track of the series (.526 miles) and has 12-degree banking at the turns, so don’t be surprised to see a wreck or two on Sunday.
Feuds and rivalries often start and end at Martinsville. The track has been on the NASCAR circuit since 1948, and its history plays into the mystique of racing in the 500-lap showcase.
Drama and intrigue are sure to follow the first flag Sunday.
Drivers to Watch
The starting grid is littered with big names to watch, including Sprint Cup leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson (third) and Brad Keselowski (second). Each driver is within 16 points of one another and at least 19 points ahead of the fourth-place Carl Edwards, and each will start in the top 20 at Martinsville.
The Logano-Stewart feud will also be worth keeping an eye on, as will the three-way race between Edwards, Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch, who are each within a point of one another for fourth place in the Sprint Cup standings.
A lot of movement can take place with a good race on Sunday, especially for the drivers in the top 10 of the standings. Expect Johnson to face considerable resistance from the pole position.