Martinsville has been owned by two NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in recent years. Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin's records are equally spectacular on the Martinsville Speedway paperclip-shaped track.
Johnson has won six races while Denny Hamlin has begun to challenge his supremacy, winning one race every year at Martinsville since 2007.
Hamlin, a native of Virginia, treats this race as his birthright. Hamlin knows the intricacies of the strange flat half mile track. A driver has to feather the throttle, avoid the curb on the inside of the track and know when to pick up the throttle coming out of the turn.
Martinsville is the best definition of a rhythm track in NASCAR. Drivers who master the subtle techniques that lead to victory will then need to deal with Hamlin or Johnson.
Qualifying is a big factor when it comes to a race at Martinsville. Hamlin is a solid qualifier, and if he makes the top ten in qualifying it could be game over for the rest of the field. Martinsville is one of the toughest tracks to pass on in NASCAR.
This leads to much of the short track animosity that occurs on Martinsville Speedway. If a driver has the faster car at Martinsville it is incumbent upon them to get under the slower car and root them out of the way.
A nudge in the quarter panel at Martinsville is not like a a nudge on a high speed track. It is expected by the slower car.
Hamlin is smart enough to get up front and manipulate the slower cars in traffic. This is one reason why an impatient driver at Martinsville is doomed to fail.
Hamlin may not win at Martinsville this weekend, but he will land in the top five without much of a hitch.