Dustin off the Next Race: Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500
The Martinsville Speedway in Virginia reminds me a lot of rush—hour traffic in Los Angeles.
Mainly due to the fact it's usually bumper—to—bumper, quick spurts of speed and someone usually ends up with damage.
But, it's one of the best short—tracks on the circuit.
It may be short, and speeds aren't as fast as others, but the competition is incredible.
This track has been dominated by one team for over a decade and it looks right now as if that won't change.
But, there's a lot of hungry drivers from other teams waiting to break into victory lane.
So, with the weekend getting off to a wet start causing qualifying to be cancelled, let me dust off Sunday's Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It was Ric Flair who made the statement, "To be the man, you have to beat the man."
Right now, when it comes to Martinsville, Johnson is the man.
Six wins, 12 top—five and 15 top—ten finishes are what Johnson has accomplished at this track.
He's the guy everyone is focused on this weekend. There's not one driver in the garage that will deny he has all the momentum and he's got an incredible chance to gain so much more come Sunday.
I picked the No. 48 this week and for sure he's the one everyone has put a bulls—eye on this weekend.
DENNY HAMLIN: It always seems to help when a driver races in his home state.
A Virginia native, Hamlin has two wins at this track and would have three it it wasn't for Johnson's chrome horn last spring.
But, he has always been consistent at this track. He's got six top—fives and eight top—tens and that is in just eight races at this track.
I wouldn't be surprised if he challenges for the win again and maybe uses his chrome horn to get a little payback.
The FedEx Freight Toyota will be on the radar.
JEFF GORDON: This man used to be "Mr. Martinsville" as he was always at the front and winning races at this track.
With seven wins, 22 top—fives and 28 top—tens, it's hard to deny that Gordon is an incredible racer at this track.
But, his last win at Martinsville came in 2005 when he swept both races. Since Johnson went on his winning ways at the 0.526—mile oval, Gordon has come close but not gotten that checkered flag.
I wouldn't count him out though. He's not afraid to get physical and is wanting to get back to victory lane so bad.
The DuPont car is going to bring a lot to the table this weekend. Watch out as Gordon returns to possibly his strongest track.
DALE EARNHARDT JR: For a guy that isn't winning, he sure has been on these lists for a long while. For good reason though as he's currently eighth in the points.
Martinsville has been extremely good to Earnhardt Jr. as he has nearly won a few times.
I'm putting him as a sleeper because the questions that are still coming are whether he can continue to ride the momentum he gained from Bristol?
It would be a huge boost to the team if he wins. The No. 88 again could be lurking in the shadows.
TONY STEWART: It may not be a Hendrick team, but it's an affiliation. I'm not wavering on this one either.
Stewart has two wins at this track from when he raced with Joe Gibbs Racing and has always enjoyed this track.
Now that he has the experience running the new equipment, I'd say he's got a strong chance of knocking the bigger Hendrick team off their pedestal.
I look for "Smoke" to make a lot of smoke at Martinsville.
Sure, I'm favoring any team that is running Hendrick equipment, but that's because this track is the one where every Hendrick car has a legitimate chance at victory.
Maybe it's because this was the speedway where Hendrick made his debut as a car owner. Or it's because it's the track where he suffered a family tragedy that was healed with victory.
What I do know is come Sunday afternoon, if there's a Hendrick car out front, chances are it will be in the winner's circle.
FOX has coverage starting at Noon ET Sunday.
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