The Battle to be King of Martinsville: Johnson, Hamlin, and Gordon

Ashley McCubbinAnalyst IMarch 29, 2010

MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 29:  Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota does a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

After Denny Hamlin won the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500, he proclaimed that Martinville was his track.

“Whose house is this?” He asked on the radio.

“It’s Denny Hamlin’s house.” His spotter answered.

So, with that said, I have to ask the question: Is Denny Hamlin the new king of Martinsville?

To consider the possibility of Denny Hamlin being the king of Martinsville, you need to compare him to the past two kings: Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.

Coming in to 2010 race, Gordon has 34 starts at Martinsville and had completed 99.3 percent of the races he’d run there, leading in 16.5 percent of those laps. Johnson’s completion of laps in his 16 previous starts also is 93 percent, yet he’s led 19.4 percent of his laps.

In contrast, Hamlin has completed 95.7 percent of his laps and led 16.3 percent of the time. In the end, Hamlin looks to be more consistent in completing laps, yet has led a smaller percentage of the laps.

In racing, though, it doesn’t matter how much you lead so long as you're leading in the final lap. A better indication of how the drivers have fared would rely more on their average finishes, wins, top fives, and top 10s.

Gordon’s average at Martinsville, including today’s race, is now 6.9, while Johnson’s is 5.3, and Hamlin’s is 6.6. Give round one to Johnson, with Hamlin in second, and Gordon third.

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Gordon has won in seven of his 35 starts, which is 20 percent of the races he’s run, while Johnson has won six of his 17 starts, which is 35 percent. Hamlin lies in the middle, as he’s won in three of his 10 starts, which is 30 percent. Give round two to Johnson again, with Hamlin in second, and Gordon in third.

Gordon has 23 top fives in 35 starts, which is 66 percent of the races he’s run, while Johnson has 12 top fives in 17 starts, which is 71 percent. Hamlin has seven top fives, which is 70 percent of the races he’s run. Once again, give the round to Johnson, yet Hamlin comes in a close second, with Gordon third.

Gordon has 29 top 10s in 35 starts, which is  82.9 percent of the races he’s run, while Johnson has 16 out of 17 tarts, which is 94 percent of the race he’s run. Hamlin has nine top 10s, which is 90 percent of the races he’s run. As before, give the round to Johnson with Hamlin second and Gordon third.

So, with that said, it looks like Johnson reins as the new king, with Hamlin as the prince, and Gordon following close behind.

To further examine this, take a look at Johnson and Hamlin’s finishes in the past seven races at Martinsville.

Johnson’s finishes in the last seven races are first, first, fourth, first, first, second, and ninth, which equals to four wins, six top fives, and seven top 10s.

Hamlin’s finishes in the last seven races are third, sixth, first, fifth, second, first, and first, which equals to three wins, six top fives, and seven top 10s.

In comparing those seven races, Johnson leads in wins, yet they tie in top fives and top 10s, so Hamlin has been right there with Johnson.

For the time being, the king of Martinsville still has to be Johnson because of those stats, despite the fact that he didn’t run as good as he normally does today.

However, Hamlin certainly has the potential to take Johnson’s spot at the top as he has been getting closer and closer to that goal as the years have gone on.

Whatever way you look at it, and whoever you may call king, both should reign at the top of your picks, because in the past eight races the winner has been either Johnson or Hamlin.

The last driver to win that wasn’t either? Tony Stewart, in the spring of 2006.

Thanks to Racing-Reference.info for the statistics

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