NASCAR visits its second short track of the year, Martinsville Speedway today. The “Paperclip,” for the unique shape of the race track, has long straightaways and extremely sharp turns. Martinsville has one of the most unique trophies on the circuit, the grandfather clock, which is one of the most coveted to the drivers.
The track has seen dominance by some drivers in the recent years.
There have only been six different active drivers that have won at Martinsville since the 1998 season. Only two drivers have won there in the past nine races—Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin—and those two lead the pack in the picks this week.
The favorite to win this week is Hamlin. Posting a career average finish of 6.1 with four wins, eight top fives and 10 top 10’s over 11 races. Dominating the last four races at Martinsville and coming away with three wins out of those four races, you can’t go wrong with picking Hamlin this week.
Jimmie Johnson wouldn't be a surprise winner, though. In the 18 career races Johnson has had at Martinsville, he has posted an average finish of 5.3 with six wins, 13 top fives and 17 top 10s. The lone race Johnson finished out of the top 10 was his first race at Martinsville—a 35th place finish. Let's just say he has figured the track out since then.
Jeff Gordon is a driver not to be forgotten at Martinsville since he dominated this track for years before Hamlin and Johnson debuted in NASCAR. Posting an average finish of 7.1 in 35 career races at the track, Gordon has not won in his last 11 races there. The last race at Martinsville Gordon finished 20th, but before that he posted 11 straight top fives and 15 straight top-10s.
Who do you pick to win this weekend at Martinsville?
A few low-price fantasy options for this week are Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has the eighth-highest average finish at Martinsville among active drivers, posting 11 top-10s and eight top fives in 22 career races. Since joining Hendrick Motorsports, Junior has four top 10’s and one top five in six races. Don’t be surprised if Dale Jr. makes some noise up at the front of the pack this weekend.
In 16 creer races at Martinsville, McMurray has nine top 10’s. With posting the 14th-best career average finish at the track among active drivers, look for McMurray to have a solid finish this weekend.
A few drivers to stay away from this weekend are Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne.
Busch does have a win at Martinsville, but it came nine years ago in 2002. He has not posted a top five at Martinsville since 2005, and with an average finish of 21.3 and only four top 10s in 21 starts, look for a good finish somewhere else.
In 14 career starts at Martinsville, Kahne has just two top 10s, posting an average finish of 19.1 in that span. This track bodes for a lot of contact with other drivers, and that is something Kahne has not showed he can overcome with a good finish.