NASCAR at Martinsville 2014: Start Time, Date, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More

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NASCAR at Martinsville 2014: Start Time, Date, TV Schedule, Live Stream and More
Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

Martinsville Speedway may be the smallest track on NASCAR's Sprint Cup circuit, but as racing fans will witness on Sunday, drivers tend to go big or go home in an effort to tame "The Paperclip."

The STP 500 will emanate from Ridgeway, Va., where the racing is sure to be both chaotic and exciting. The half-mile track makes for some interesting situations that aren't often encountered at most other tracks, and that is what often makes Martinsville one of the year's best races.

It takes a special kind of driver to thrive at Martinsville, which explains why Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have won there on 16 occasions combined. That would seem to suggest that Hendrick Motorsports has this race in the bag, but there are plenty of intriguing contenders who can potentially spoil the party.

Here is everything you need to know about when and how to watch the STP 500, along with a glance at the top contenders looking to pull out a victory.

 

Where: Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Va.

When: Sunday, March 30 at 1 p.m. ET

Watch: Fox

Live Steam: Fox Sports Go

Radio: Motor Racing Network

 

Starting Positions

STP 500 Qualifying Order
Position Driver Number Best Speed (mph)
1 Kyle Buch 18 99.674
2 Denny Hamlin 11 99.548
3 Joey Logano 22 99.428
4 Jimmie Johnson 48 99.178
5 Jeff Gordon 24 99.048
6 Matt Kenseth 20 99.048
7 Tony Stewart 14 98.883
8 Carl Edwards 99 98.846
9 Jamie McMurray 1 98.625
10 Danica Patrick 10 98.165
11 Greg Biffle 16 97.764
12 Clint Bowyer 15 97.382
13 Brian Vickers 55 98.965
14 Brad Keselowski 2 98.929
15 A.J. Allmendinger 47 98.888
16 Ryan Newman 31 98.877
17 Marcos Ambrose 9 98.712
18 Kevin Harvick 4 98.707
19 Alex Bowman 23 98.661
20 Aric Almirola 43 98.625
21 Paul Menard 27 98.610
22 Kurt Busch 41 98.610
23 Casey Mears 13 98.599
24 David Ragan 34 98.599
25 Justin Allgaier 51 98.430
26 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 88 98.379
27 Kasey Kahne 5 98.359
28 Kyle Larson 42 98.333
29 Travis Kvapil 32 98.246
30 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 17 98.206
31 Martin Truex Jr. 78 98.200
32 Michael McDowell 95 98.002
33 Josh Wise 98 97.957
34 Austin Dillon 3 97.886
35 Cole Whitt 26 97.820
36 Landon Cassill 40 97.759
37 David Stremme 33 97.684
38 Ryan Truex 83 97.598
39 David Gilliand 38 97.458
40 Michael Annett 7 97.217
41 Parker Kligerman 30 97.078
42 Reed Sorenson 36 97.053
43 Joe Nemechek 66 96.332

NASCAR.com

 

Drivers to Watch

Jeff Gordon

Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

While it's no secret Jeff Gordon hasn't been dominant in recent years when it comes to winning races, he is always a threat to get the job done at Martinsville. Gordon has taken the No. 24 car to victory lane at Martinsville on eight occasions, including last year's October race.

That marked his first Martinsville win since 2005, but he always manages to run well there. There seems to be a lot of confidence in Gordon's ability to make it two straight triumphs at Martinsville, as Marcus DiNitto of Sporting News, via his Sporting News colleague Micah Roberts, pointed out that Gordon has 5-1 odds on Sunday:

Although Gordon hasn't won a race yet this season, he has been running extremely well and currently sits in third place in the overall standings. Gordon can't afford to rest on his laurels, though, due to the importance of winning races this season.

One win essentially guarantees a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and Sunday's Martinsville race represents one of Gordon's best opportunities.

 

Jimmie Johnson

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

If Gordon is the king of Martinsville, then perhaps Jimmie Johnson is the czar. The six-time Sprint Cup champion has also won at Martinsville on eight occasions, and he will look to usurp his Hendrick Motorsports teammate in order to cement a Chase spot in his own right.

Qualifying well at Martinsville is paramount, as the short track makes it much easier for top cars to lap those near the back of the field. In fact, no car with a qualifying finish of worse than 20th has won the race since Kurt Busch did it from No. 36 in 2002. With that in mind, Johnson finds himself in an ideal position at No. 4.

According to NASCAR Stats on Twitter, Johnson has been a consistently great qualifier all season long:

At the same time, Johnson's race results have been a bit disappointing due to some bad tire luck. That has put a little extra pressure on him to win a race, but it isn't likely to throw him off his game. As long as Johnson's equipment holds up, he's guaranteed to be in the mix.

 

Denny Hamlin

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

There hasn't been a great deal of variety in terms of winning drivers at Martinsville over the past decade, and while that is due largely to the dominance of Gordon and Johnson, Denny Hamlin has something to do with it as well. Hamlin has four career wins at Martinsville, including three in a row between the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Hamlin will start second, but there is some concern regarding his status. Hamlin was a late scratch in Fontana, Calif. last week due to vision issues, which stemmed from a piece of metal being found in his eye, according to Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press:

Hamlin's absence led to plenty of speculation regarding the circumstances surrounding his situation, but Hamlin attempted to silence critics leading up to the Martinsville race, per Jim Utter of the Charlotte Observer.

People who think negatively of me or think that we sidestepped some sort of drug test or something is ridiculous. I'm in one of the top-three cars in NASCAR; I would have to be an absolute moron – moron – to risk that.

After such a strong qualifying run, it seems as though Hamlin is back to normal. If that is the case, he will undoubtedly be a factor.

 

Prediction

As multi-time winners at Martinsville, it is clear that Gordon, Johnson and Hamlin have targets on their backs. While having a good car at Martinsville is paramount, a big part of being successful there is experience. The aforementioned drivers have plenty of that, but they aren't alone in that regard.

Who will win the STP 500 at Martinsville?

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Tony Stewart has also won at Martinsville on three occasions, and he'll start cozily in the No. 7 spot. "Smoke" has finished in the top five in consecutive weeks, and he is in position to do so again on Sunday.

Kevin Harvick is a bit of a dark horse after qualifying 18th, but he knows how to win there as well. Harvick took the checkered flag in 2011, and he has had great cars all season long. Mechanical issues have stymied him at times; however, he should have a machine capable of getting to the front.

For those looking at a semi-long shot outside the top 20 in qualifying, look no further than Kurt Busch. As previously mentioned, he is the last driver to qualify outside the top 20 and win at Martinsville. He qualified 22nd, but he should have a great deal of confidence after a third-place showing last week.

It's difficult to pick a winner based on the sheer number of realistic contenders, but due to the fact that Gordon has been running so consistently well this season, he seems due to cross the finish line first.

 

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