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Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500
Martinsville Speedway
Sun, Oct 26, 2014
1:45pm EDT - ESPN

Race Data

Chase #: 7 of 10
Race #: 33 of 36
Event: Goodys Headache Relief Shot 500
Location: Martinsville, Va.
Track Size: 0.526 Miles
Track Type: Oval
Total Laps: 500
Total Miles: 263
2014-1 Winner: Kyle Busch
Pit Speed: 35 mph

Previous Winners

8- Jimmie Johnson 04/06/07/07/08/09/12/13
8- Jeff Gordon 96/97/99/03/03/05/05/13
4- Denny Hamlin 08/09/10/10
2- Mark Martin 92/00
3- Tony Stewart 00/06/11
1- Jeff Burton 97
1- John Andretti 99
1- Bobby Labonte 02
1- Kurt Busch 02
1- Kevin Harvick 11
1- Ryan Newman 12
1- Kyle Busch

Sponsors

25 team Parlay at BetOnline







Other News

New logo revealed for upcoming Xfinity Series

A little over a month after Comcast's XFINITY brand announced it would take over sponsorship of what's currently known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the new logo for the soon-to-be renamed division has been released.

Nationwide Insurance's shade of blue has been swapped for XFINITY's red in the new logo, which goes along with the oval-shaped marks of its fellow NASCAR national series, Sprint Cup and the Camping World Truck Series.

In a statement, NASCAR said the logo was being provided in advance "solely for the purpose of allowing teams and tracks to prepare for integration of NASCAR XFINITY Series marks for the 2015 season (i.e. uniform production, paint scheme design, promotional materials, etc.)."

XFINITY will officially become title sponsor of the NNS on January 1, 2015, beginning a 10-year-run that will match the longest single series entitlement sponsorship deal in NASCAR history.

With the emergence of the new logo, several series drivers have tweeted their excitement over XFINITY's sponsorship this morning, including current points leader Chase Elliott.

NBC Sports Group, which is owned by Comcast, will begin broadcasting the XFINITY Series as well as the top-level Sprint Cup Series starting next summer.

That deal, which also runs for 10 years, will have NBCSN and NBC-TV broadcasting 19 XFINITY Series events annually. For more on the 2015 broadcast schedule, head over here.

New Parlay Odds at BetOnline


 
...Game open for Martinsville...
 




Pole Winner: Jamie McMurray

Courtesy of NASCAR Media


Qualifying Fast Facts
Martinsville Speedway
66th Annual Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500

Coors Light Pole Winner: Jamie McMurray
Age: 38
Team: No. 1 - McDonald's Chevrolet
Owner: Felix Sabates
Crew Chief: Keith Rodden

Jamie McMurray won the Coors Light Pole Award for the 66th Annual Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 with a lap of 18.954 seconds, 99.905 mph.

This is his 11th pole in 435 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

This is his second pole and 13th top-10 start in 2014. His first pole of 2014 came at Sonoma. It's the second multi-pole season of his career (2010).

This is his second pole in 24 races at Martinsville Speedway. He last won the pole at Martinsville in 2011.

Joey Logano (second) posted his 23rd top-10 start of 2014 and his seventh in 12 races at Martinsville Speedway.

Matt Kenseth (third) posted his eighth top-10 start at Martinsville Speedway. It is his ninth in 33 races this season.






Statistical Advance: Analyzing the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500

Courtesy of NASCAR Media


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 20, 2014) - Below is a look at the eight Eliminators - and beyond - at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia going into the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 on October 26.

MARTINSVILLE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

 

1 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.6

2014 Rundown

         Five wins, 15 top fives, 20 top 10s; one pole

         Average finish of 11.5

         Led 20 races for 916 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         Two top fives, three top 10s

         Average finish of 14.8 in 11 races

         Average Running Position of 16.0, 13th-best

         Driver Rating of 82.3, 14th-best

 

2 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.7

2014 Rundown

         Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; eight poles

         Average finish of 13.4

         Led 24 races for 1,817 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s

         Average finish of 15.8 in 26 races

         Average Running Position of 13.7, eighth-best

         Driver Rating of 93.2, eighth-best

         956 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most

         Average Green Flag Speed of 91.163 mph, eighth-fastest

         6,348 Laps in the Top 15 (66.6%), sixth-most

         578 Quality Passes, sixth-most

 

3 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.1

2014 Rundown

         Three top fives, 14 top 10s

         Average finish of 13.3

         Led 7 races for 41 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         One win, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; three poles

         Average finish of 15.5 in 25 races

         Average Running Position of 15.1, 10th-best

         Driver Rating of 86.9, 10th-best

         1,008 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most

         5,419 Laps in the Top 15 (56.8%), ninth-most

         528 Quality Passes, ninth-most

 

4 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.0

2014 Rundown

         One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles

         Average finish of 15.1

         Led 14 races for 218 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; three poles

         Average finish of 8.8 in 17 races

         Average Running Position of 9.0, third-best

         Driver Rating of 109.6, third-best

         580 Fastest Laps Run, third-most

         Average Green Flag Speed of 91.467 mph, third-fastest

         7,007 Laps in the Top 15 (82.1%), fourth-most

         609 Quality Passes, fifth-most

 

 

5 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.6

2014 Rundown

         12 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole

         Average finish of 13.6

         Led 18 races for 468 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         Four top fives, 10 top 10s

         Average finish of 15.0 in 29 races

         Average Running Position of 16.0, 12th-best

         Driver Rating of 84.2, 12th-best

         173 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most

         1,023 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most

         Average Green Flag Speed of 91.042 mph, 11th-fastest

 

6 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford Ecoboost Fusion Ford)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 81.7

2014 Rundown

         Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s

         Average finish of 14.5

         Led 11 races for 135 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         One top five, five top 10s

         Average finish of 15.7 in 20 races

         Average Running Position of 15.9, 11th-best

         Driver Rating of 81.4, 15th-best

         1,036 Green Flag Passes, third-most

         5,181 Laps in the Top 15 (54.3%), 11th-most

         555 Quality Passes, eighth-most

 

7 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.4

2014 Rundown

         Four wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles

         Average finish of 10.3

         Led 23 races for 743 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         Eight wins, 27 top fives, 34 top 10s; seven poles

         Average finish of 7.0 in 43 races

         Average Running Position of 6.7, second-best

         Driver Rating of 119.0, second-best

         Series-high 1,034 Fastest Laps Run

         933 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most

         Average Green Flag Speed of 91.684 mph, second-fastest

         8,375 Laps in the Top 15 (87.8%), second-most

         Series-high 691 Quality Passes

 

8 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 104.3

2014 Rundown

         Six wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s; five poles

         Average finish of 12.9

         Led 26 races for 1,518 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         One top five, five top 10s

         Average finish of 13.4 in nine races

         Average Running Position of 16.2, 14th-best

         Driver Rating of 84.5, 11th-best

         Average Green Flag Speed of 91.102 mph, 10th-fastest

 

9 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Halloween Toyota)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.0

2014 Rundown

         One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles

         Average finish of 17.0

         Led 15 races for 453 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         Eight top fives, nine top 10s; one pole

         Average finish of 15.9 in 19 races

         Average Running Position of 13.3, seventh-best

         Driver Rating of 96.1, sixth-best

         409 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most

         952 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most

         Average Green Flag Speed of 91.342 mph, fifth-fastest

         6,587 Laps in the Top 15 (69.1%), fifth-most

         616 Quality Passes, fourth-most

 

10 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 99.2

2014 Rundown

         Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole

         Average finish of 14.7

         Led 16 races for 1,119 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         Eight wins, 18 top fives, 22 top 10s; three poles

         Average finish of 5.2 in 25 races

         Series-best Average Running Position of 5.6

         Series-best Driver Rating of 124.8

         1,010 Fastest Laps Run, second-most

         Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 91.737 mph

         Series-high 8,833 Laps in the Top 15 (92.6%)

         680 Quality Passes, second-most

 

 

11 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 89.1

2014 Rundown

         One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s

         Average finish of 16.3

         Led 12 races for 218 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         Three top fives, four top 10s; one pole

         Average finish of 20.2 in 21 races

         Average Running Position of 20.4, 20th-best

         Driver Rating of 77.7, 19th-best

         255 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most

 

12 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Clorox Chevrolet)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.2

2014 Rundown

         One win, two top fives, four top 10s

         Average finish of 20.2

         Led 5 races for 68 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         One top five, two top 10s

         Average finish of 20.6 in 12 races

         Average Running Position of 21.3, 23rd-best

         Driver Rating of 70.8, 22nd-best

 

13 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.6

2014 Rundown

         Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s

         Average finish of 12.8

         Led 15 races for 300 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         11 top fives, 16 top 10s

         Average finish of 12.8 in 29 races

         Average Running Position of 10.8, fourth-best

         Driver Rating of 99.9, fourth-best

         471 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most

         Series-high 1,111 Green Flag Passes

         Average Green Flag Speed of 91.374 mph, fourth-fastest

         7,393 Laps in the Top 15 (77.5%), third-most

         668 Quality Passes, third-most

 

 

14 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 78.6

2014 Rundown

         Three top fives, 10 top 10s

         Average finish of 16.1

         Led 7 races for 110 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         Five top 10s

         Average finish of 20.1 in 23 races

         Average Running Position of 20.6, 21st-best

         Driver Rating of 70.5, 23rd-best

         1,068 Green Flag Passes, second-most

 

15 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.5

2014 Rundown

         One win, six top fives, nine top 10s

         Average finish of 19.4

         Led 12 races for 183 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         Two wins, three top fives, five top 10s; one pole

         Average finish of 20.8 in 28 races

         Average Running Position of 18.2, 18th-best

         Driver Rating of 79.0, 18th-best

         987 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most

 

16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Smithfield Ford)

         Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 72.4

2014 Rundown

         One win, two top fives, seven top 10s

         Average finish of 21.6

         Led 5 races for 23 laps

Martinsville Speedway Outlook:

         One top five, three top 10s

         Average finish of 24.0 in 11 races

         Average Running Position of 23.9, 30th-best

         Driver Rating of 64.8, 27th-best

 

 

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2014 Eliminator Eight at Martinsville Speedway

 

Driver

Races

Poles

Wins

Top Fives

Top 10s

DNFs

Average Finish

Driver Rating

 
 

1

Joey Logano

11

0

0

2

3

0

14.8

82.3

 

2

Kevin Harvick

26

0

1

3

12

1

15.8

93.2

 

3

Ryan Newman

25

3

1

7

11

2

15.5

86.9

 

4

Denny Hamlin

17

3

4

9

13

1

8.8

109.6

 

5

Matt Kenseth

29

0

0

4

10

2

15.0

84.2

 

6

Carl Edwards

20

0

0

1

5

0

15.7

81.4

 

7

Jeff Gordon

43

7

8

27

34

0

7.0

119.0

 

8

Brad Keselowski

9

0

0

1

5

0

13.4

84.5

 

* - Based on last 19 races at Martinsville Speedway (2005 - 2014).

 

Martinsville Speedway:

History

         Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles, Martinsville, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States.

         The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville was on July 4, 1948.

         The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was Sept. 25, 1949.

         The track was paved in 1955.

         The first 500-lap event at Martinsville was in 1956.

         Concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976.

Notebook

         There have been 131 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway, one in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950.

         599 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville; 376 in more than one.

         NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has the all-time most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville with 67 starts; Jeff Gordon has the most among active drivers with 43.

         Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Martinsville Speedway in 1949.

         58 drivers have Coors Light poles at Martinsville, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with eight; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven.

         12 drivers have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway. Four of the 12 have won three consecutive poles at Martinsville: Glen Wood (Fall of 1959 and 1960 sweep); Darrell Waltrip (1979 sweep and spring 1980); Mark Martin (fall of 1990 and 1991 sweep); Jeff Gordon (2003 sweep and spring 2004).

         Youngest Martinsville pole winner: Ricky Rudd (4/26/1981 - 24 years, 7 months, 14 days).

         Oldest Martinsville pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (4/26/1987 - 45 years, 6 months, 14 days).

         47 different drivers have won at Martinsville Speedway, led by Richard Petty with 15; Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the series among active drivers with eight wins each.

         24 drivers have multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway only five active drivers have multiple wins:  Jimmie Johnson (eight), Jeff Gordon (eight), Denny Hamlin (four), Tony Stewart (three) and Kurt Busch (two).

         Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 21.  

         21 of 131 races (16.0%) at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; seven of those 21 wins came from active drivers: Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (2003 twice), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2012, spring 2013) and Denny Hamlin (2010).

         The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville producing more wins (21) than any other starting position.

         36 of the 131 (27.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the pole and 15 from second-place.

         95 of the 131 (72.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position.

         Six of the 131 (4.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.

         The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 36th, by Kurt Busch in the fall of 2002.

         Youngest Martinsville winner: Richard Petty (04/10/1960 - 22 years, 9 months, 8 days).

         Oldest Martinsville winner: Harry Gant (09/22/1991 - 51 years, 8 months, 12 days).

         NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes at Martinsville Speedway with seven; Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson lead all active drivers with four each. 

         Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 30; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 27, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 18.

         Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 37; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 34, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 22.

         Jeff Gordon leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.186. Ryan Newman (9.680) and Denny Hamlin (9.765) are the only two other active drivers with an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top-10.

         Three active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top-10 at Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson (5.200), Jeff Gordon (6.953) and Denny Hamlin (8.765).

         There have been five NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Martinsville Speedway: fall 2007 (500/506), fall 2008 (500/504), fall 2009 (500/501), spring 2010 (500/508), and spring 2012 (500/515).

         Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions eight times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway; the most recent was the fall race of 2011.

         Jeff Gordon has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway without a DNF (43).

         Tony Stewart (4/18/1999) and Scott Riggs (4/10/2005) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway.   

         Mike Bliss (09/27/1998), Travis Kvapil (10/24/2004), Michael McDowell (3/30/2008) and Scott Speed (10/19/2008) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Martinsville Speedway.

         12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Martinsville Speedway. Fred Lorenzen won four NSCS races straight (the most) from the fall of 1963 through the spring of 1965. 

         All eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Martinsville Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Martinsville with the fewest previous appearances (three).

         Ryan Newman competed at Martinsville Speedway 20 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.

         Four drivers have made eight or more attempts before their first win at Martinsville Speedway: Kevin Harvick (19) and Ryan Newman (20).

         Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway is the 4/1/2007 race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.065 second.

         Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 

Driver

Starting Position

Finishing Position

Date

Danica Patrick

10

32

3/30/2014

Danica Patrick

41

17

10/27/2013

Danica Patrick

32

12

4/7/2013

         Seven car numbers have produced five or more Martinsville Speedway NSCS wins:

Car Number - Drivers - (Years)

o    No. 43  - Richard Petty (1960, '62, '63, '67 sweep, '68, '69 sweep, '70, '71, '72 sweep, '73, '75 and '79); John Andretti (1999)

o    No. 11 - Cale Yarborough (1974, '76, '77 sweep, '78); Darrell Waltrip (1981, '82, '83, '84); Geoff Bodine (1990 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2008, '09, '10 sweep)

o    No. 28 - Fred Lorenzen (1961, '63, '64 sweep, '65 and '66); Buddy Baker (1979); Ernie Irvan (1993).

o    No. 2 - Dale Earnhardt (1980); Rusty Wallace (1993, '94 sweep, '95, '96 and '04)

o    No. 48 - Jimmie Johnson (2004, '06, '07 sweep, '08, '09, '12, '13)

o    No. 24 - Jeff Gordon (1996, '97, '99, '03 sweep and '05 sweep, fall 2013)

o    No. 3 - Ricky Rudd (1983); Dale Earnhardt (1985, '87, '88, '91, '95)

 

NASCAR in Virginia

         There have been 285 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among nine tracks in Virginia.

Track Name

City

NSCS

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville

131

Richmond International Raceway

Richmond

117

South Boston Speedway

South Boston

10

Langley Field Speedway

Hampton

9

Old Dominion Speedway

Manassas

7

Southside Speedway

Richmond

4

Starkey Speedway

Roanoke

4

Norfolk Speedway

Norfolk

2

Princess Anne Speedway

Norfolk

1

 

         172 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Virginia.

         19 drivers from Virginia have won at least one race in NASCAR's three national series. 11 of the 19 Virginia native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

 

Driver

NSCS

NNS

NCWTS

Joe Weatherly

25

0

0

Denny Hamlin

24

11

2

Ricky Rudd

23

1

0

Jeff Burton

21

27

0

Curtis Turner

17

0

0

Ward Burton

5

4

0

Glen Wood

4

0

0

Elliott Sadler

3

10

1

Emanuel Zervakis

2

0

0

Lennie Pond

1

0

0

Wendell Scott

1

0

0

Tommy Ellis

0

22

0

Jimmy Hensley

0

9

2

Rick Mast

0

9

0

Hermie Sadler

0

2

0

Elton Sawyer

0

2

0

Stacy Compton

0

0

2

Jon Wood

0

0

2

Jeb Burton

0

0

1





NASCAR National Series News & Notes
2014 Martinsville-2

Courtesy of NASCAR Media


Almost There: Welcome to The Eliminator Round

Before we get into the nitty gritty of this storyline-rich round, a quick primer of the Eliminator Round - the final hurdle before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Only eight drivers remain in championship contention as the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup kicks off its Eliminator Round with the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday (1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).

Points for the remaining drivers in the Chase - Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin - have been reset to 4,000. Following Martinsville, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will visit Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 2, 3 p.m. ET on ESPN) and conclude the Eliminator Round at Phoenix International Raceway (Nov. 9, 3 p.m. ET on ESPN). Like the previous two Chase segments, a win by a championship-eligible driver guarantees advancement to Homestead. The four winless championship-qualifying drivers lowest in points will be "eliminated" after Phoenix. The advancing four drivers left in NASCAR's Playoffs will move on to the one-race Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16, 3 p.m. ET on ESPN).

No driver without Chase eligibility has won a race so far in NASCAR's playoffs. Four drivers - Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne were knocked out of the Chase following Talladega. Six-time series champion Johnson led the most laps (84) at the Alabama track, but he was unable to close the race and defend his 2013 title. Of the final eight drivers, Jeff Gordon (four: 2001, 1998, 1997, 1995), Brad Keselowski (one: 2012) and Matt Kenseth (one: 2003) have previously won series championships.

 

Team Penske Tandem In Title Contention With Four Races Left

Here is a trivia question that is likely to stump fellow NASCAR fans around the water cooler:

Q: Which of the remaining eight Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contenders has not won a race at the final four tracks?

A: Brad Keselowski

The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion driver claims 14 wins in the last four seasons, second only to Jimmie Johnson's 16. He leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with six victories this season, but has never visited victory lane at Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix or Homestead. Contributing to Keselowski's win total is his 37 starts at the four tracks are the fewest of any remaining Chase driver. He will look to change his luck in Sunday's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).

Keselowski has been strong at the paper clip in his career with five top-10 results in nine starts, including a fourth-place showing in the 2013 Martinsville fall race. He finished 38th at the Virginia track in March, but placed no worse than ninth in his previous four starts there.

Looking further ahead, Keselowski owns just four top fives and eight top 10s in 28 career starts with a 17.3 average finish at the last three Chase tracks.

When Keselowski won the 2012 NSCS Championship, he came up clutch with sixth-place finishes at Martinsville and Phoenix, and a runner-up finish at Texas, before taking home the title with a 15th-place showing at Homestead.

Arguably the most impressive driver in the Chase so far has been Keselowski's Team Penske shop mate Joey Logano, who ranks second in the series with five wins this season, including two so far during NASCAR's playoffs. He became the first driver ever to log top-five finishes in the first five Chase races. The 24-year-old has one victory (Texas, 4/7/14), eight top fives and 13 top 10s in 39 careers starts at the final four tracks. Sunday, he will attempt to improve on his fourth-place Martinsville finish in March.

 

Hamlin In Position For Championship Run

Persevering his way through the regular season and the first two rounds of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Denny Hamlin finds himself in the perfect situation for a championship run.

The trio of Eliminator Round tracks - Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix are three of his best courses. All he has to do is win a race at one of those venues and he automatically advances to the Championship at Homestead where he boasts two victories and is the defending winner. If not, he can still move on to Homestead by accumulating more points in the Eliminator Round than four winless Chase-contending drivers.

Hamlin gets his first crack at winning in Sunday's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville (1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN). The No. 11 FedEx Toyota driver owns four victories at "The Paper Clip" - tied with Pocono for his most at any track. Additionally, he boasts nine top-five and 13 top-10 finishes at the track located 130 miles from his hometown of Chesterfield, Virginia.

Although he has the third-fewest starts (52) of the remaining eight drivers at the Eliminator Round tracks, Hamlin's seven wins rank second to only Jeff Gordon's 11, accumulated over 101 starts. The 34-year-old also claims the highest average finish (10.3) and second-best driver rating (100.1). He owns two wins at Texas and one at Phoenix.

"It's a huge opportunity for us," said Hamlin of his opportunity to advance with a win at Martinsville. "As average as our team has been this year, we go into a short track where horsepower doesn't matter, aero doesn't matter, it's about driver and mechanical setup. I feel like that's our strong suit with our team."

 

Still Alive In His Drive For Five, Gordon Goes For Ninth Win At Martinsville

After surviving the unpredictability of Talladega to advance to the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Jeff Gordon travels to a welcoming site this weekend in his quest for his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship - Martinsville Speedway.

Gordon will go for his ninth win at the .526-mile oval in Sunday's Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 (1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN). Currently, the No. 24 Chevrolet driver ranks tied with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson for its wins lead among active drivers.

An added bonus?

By visiting Victory Lane on Sunday, Gordon would automatically advance to the Championship Round race at Homestead-Miami.

Standing in his way at Martinsville is a contingent of Chase contenders who have also previously won there - Denny Hamlin (four victories), Ryan Newman (one) and Kevin Harvick (one).

Gordon captured the checkered flag in last fall's race at Martinsville and boasts a gaudy 27 top fives (62.8%) and 34 tops 10s (79.1%) in 43 starts at "The Paper Clip."

If he is able to clinch the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, Gordon's 13-year period between titles will defeat Terry Labonte's record 12-year dry spell. His 92 career NSCS wins rank third on the all-time list.

 

Consistency Key For Kenseth, Newman

No win, no problem.

Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman have both moved on to the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup although neither has won a race all season. Instead they have navigated their way through the field with consistent high finishes all season.

Coming off a seven-victory 2013 season, Kenseth hasn't been able to match his winning ways. Still, he ranks third in the NASCAR Sprint Series in both top-five (12) and top-10 (19) finishes. Facing elimination at Talladega on Sunday, sitting one point behind the cutoff line, Kenseth ironically teamed up with rival Brad Keselowski at the end of the race, drafting with him to a second-place finish.

Newman ranks ninth on the Sprint Cup circuit this season with 14 top-10 finishes. Although he has posted just three top-five efforts, he has stayed out of major trouble with only two finishes worse than 30th. The Richard Childress Racing driver has taken his consistency to a new level during the Chase as the only driver with top-10 performances in all three Eliminator Round races. Dating back to the August Atlanta race, Newman claims six top-10 efforts in his last eight starts. "Rocket Man" made a run at his first victory this weekend at Talladega, leading with ten laps remaining, but was eventually passed by Keselowski who blocked him on his way to the win. Newman ended up finishing fifth.

Advancing to the Championship Round race at Homestead-Miami Speedway without a win in the Eliminator Round will be a tough proposition for any Chase-contending driver. Three of the four Championship Round spots can be filled by drivers who win during the Eliminator Round.

 

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Etc.

Milestone Watch: Kurt Busch finished seventh at Talladega last Sunday, his 199th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series top-10 finish. With his next top 10, he'll become the 31st driver to reach 200 top-10 finishes. . Hendrick Motorsports is still waiting for its 200th NSCS Coors Light Pole (it's last came at Michigan in August (Jeff Gordon). Martinsville might be a good spot to get it; the team has 17 poles there, tied with Richmond and Charlotte as its most prolific track in terms of poles. . David Ragan will run a special paint scheme this weekend at Martinsville to honor NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott, who also drove the No. 34 car during his career. . Testing Update: Five teams will test at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Tuesday and Wednesday (Oct. 28-29): Stewart Haas Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske, Roush Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing.

 

Captain Has Set Sail: Penske's Tight Ship Is Title Bound                

Four of the last six NASCAR Nationwide Series owner titles have been won by the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) organization. From 2008-12, in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, week-in and week-out the JGR teams have been the ones to beat. But last season all that changed. 

In 2012, Roger Penske, the owner of Team Penske, famously known as 'The Captain,' decided to create what he calls, 'a farm team' in the NASCAR Nationwide Series to groom young talent and further progress his whole organization's NASCAR program. With the addition of young talented superstars like Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney his vision has become reality. Penske won the NASCAR Nationwide Series owner title in 2013 and is on pace to go back-to-back, effectively dethroning Gibbs from his owner title dominance.

Penske's No. 22 Ford Mustang team guided by the tutelage of crew chief Jeremy Bullins has a 31 point lead over Gibb's No. 54 Toyota Camry team.  Penske's No. 22 Ford team can clinch the series owner title by finishing in the next three races: sixth or better without leading any laps, seventh or better leading one lap or eighth or better having led the most laps in each event.

Penske sums it up best about their recent success.

"It's the human capital," said Roger Penske.  "It's the people that we've been able to attract as we got some speed and we got some success.  We're able to bring people in, the key people on the team are folks who have come up through the organization, and I think that's been key."

 

Dillon, Buescher Are Sunoco Rookies With Big Potential

Three Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates have won this season - Chase Elliott (Darlington, Texas, Chicago), Ty Dillon (Indianapolis) and Chris Buescher (Mid-Ohio). While the spotlight has mostly rested on Chase Elliott and his successes, below is a look at the other two rookies this season that have visited Victory Lane.  

Ty Dillon - Is currently sixth in the series driver standings, and second in the Sunoco ROY standings. Dillon has had an outstanding season posting one win (Indianapolis), six top fives, 22 top 10s and three poles. His average finish this season in 30 starts is 9.6. Dillon's season-to-date Loop Data stats also speak to his successful season. He ranks fifth in the series in Driver Rating (98.7), seventh in Average Running Position (9.580), and fifth in Laps in the Top 15 (4,898 laps; 89.9%). Dillon's series career-best finishes at the three remaining tracks: Texas (ninth); Phoenix (10th) and Homestead-Miami (14th).

Chris Buescher - Is currently seventh in the series driver standings, and third in the Sunoco ROY standings. In Buescher's 29 starts (missed Daytona in Feb.) he posted one win (Mid-Ohio), four top fives and 13 top 10s. His average finish this season in 29 starts is 12.9. Buescher's season-to-date Loop Data stats have him ranked ninth in all three Loop categories: Driver Rating (88.4), Average Running Position (9.580), and Laps in the Top 15 (4,090 laps; 76.7%). Buescher's series career-best finishes at the three remaining tracks: Texas (17th); Phoenix (15th) and he will make his series track debut at Homestead-Miami.

 

Battle For 10th: Former Truck Champ Buescher Tries To Hold Off Rookie Kwasneiwski

There are three races left for 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (2013) and West (2012) Series champion Dylan Kwasniewski to battle it out for the final top 10 spot in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver standings. Buescher, in 10th, holds a nine point lead on 11th-place Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Kwasniewski.  

James Buescher, a NASCAR national series champion and former winner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (Daytona-1; 2012), joined car owner Robby Benton and RAB Racing's No. 99 Toyota team in 2014 with the opportunity to run a full schedule and compete for a championship. In 30 starts this season he has posted two top 10s and an average finish of 17.7.  If Buescher can hold on to his 10th-place standings position this season, it will be RAB Racing's second-best finish in the series standings in the organization's history; behind Kenny Wallace's seventh in 2011.

But Buescher will have his work cut out for him; Kwasniewski's rookie season has produced three top 10s and an average finish of 17.9.

The drivers have produced similar performances this season, but the NASCAR season-to-date Loop Data points to Kwasniewski over Buescher in a few categories. For instance, Kwasniewski (79.3) ranks higher than Buescher (75.9) in driver rating. In average running position, the splits favor Kwasniewski (15.340) over Buescher (16.370).

These final three tracks will decide who grabs 10th in the standings this season. Buescher has made five starts at Texas posting a pole and an avg. finish of 19.0. He also has made seven series starts at Phoenix posting an average finish of 19.3 and he has just one start at Homestead where he finished 14th. Kwasniewski will be making his series debut at Homestead in the final race of the season and will be returning for just his second start at Texas and Phoenix where he finished 14th and 13th, respectively.

 

NASCAR Nationwide Series Etc.

Blake Koch will pilot the No. 44 Celsius Flo Fusion Camry at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Koch is teaming up with Grammy nominated and multi-award winning hip-hop artist, Flo Rida to promote Flo Rida's new workout powder, Celsius Flo Fusion. Flo Rida will serve as the Honorary Starter for the Ford EcoBoost 300. . Voting for the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver Awards kicked off Thursday, Oct. 9. This season, fans not only can vote for their favorite driver (www.NASCAR.com/mostpopulardriver ), but also their favorite moment at www.NASCAR.com/nnstopmoment until Ford Championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

Title Race Tightens With Four To Go

Nineteen points separated defending champion Matt Crafton from ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter heading into Talladega Speedway. Now that margin has tightened, but with new faces in the hunt. Former NASCAR Next drivers Ryan Blaney (-16 points) and Darrell Wallace Jr. (-28) loom close behind Crafton, overtaking the second and third spots respectively, following top-10 finishes at the Alabama track.

Blaney, who led the standings from the end of the Eldora race until his 21st-place showing at Michigan, heads to the Kroger 200 (1:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1) riding a streak of three top-10 performances. He finished third at Talladega to gain 11 points on Crafton, who took 14th. 

"This is a long (four)-race stretch to Homestead here, and I told our guys, 'If we have weeks like this, we're gonna be right there at Homestead,'" Blaney said.

Wallace has been one of the hottest drivers in the series after starting the season off slowly. Since the fifth race at Dover, he has climbed from 11th to third in the standings behind the strength of two wins and four runner-up finishes. His 107.4 driver rating is the highest among NCWTS regulars.  

 

Darrell Wallace Jr. Keeps Championship Hopes Alive

With four races left in the 2014 season, Darrell Wallace Jr. may be peaking at the right time. In the last four races, Wallace has earned four consecutive top-10 finishes, vaulting from fifth to third in the standings - 28 points behind NASCAR Camping World Truck Series leader Matt Crafton.

The NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity alum will try to further cut into Crafton's lead in this Saturday's Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). Wallace captured his first career checkered flag last year at Martinsville where he became the first African-American driver since NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott to win a NASCAR national series race (12/01/63 at Jacksonville).

Wallace will pay tribute to Scott by driving the No. 34 Toyota Tundra in honor of him. The 20-year-old normally drives the No. 54 truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

"It's an honor to run the No. 34 Toyota Tundra at Martinsville," Wallace said. "I got my first win at Martinsville and the historical significance of that win and to be so close to Wendell Scott's hometown was a really cool bonus to getting my first win. The Scott family has followed my career since I ran the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program for Rev Racing, and I've kept a relationship with the family over the years."

 

Homecoming For Burton And Peters

Virginia natives Timothy Peters and Jeb Burton return home to the Old Dominion State and the track at which it all started for Saturday's Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1).

Both drivers launched their NASCAR Camping World Truck Series careers at the .526-mile oval, Burton making his first ever start in 2012 and Peters in 2005.

Burton has since earned one win and seven pole awards, including his first pole, at Martinsville in 2013. Meanwhile, Peters, who earned his first victory at Martinsville in 2009, has tallied an additional seven wins and five top-10 finishes in the NCWTS final standings.

Fresh off a visit to Victory Lane at Talladega, Peters will go for his third straight top-five finish on Saturday. In 17 Martinsville starts, Peters claims five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. He currently ranks fifth in the series standings.

ThorSport driver Burton has picked up some momentum lately with two top-10 finishes in his last four starts. He boasts two top-five results in four starts at Martinsville. At the moment, Burton occupies the ninth spot in the NCWTS standings.

The last Virginia native to win a NCWTS race at Martinsville was Denny Hamlin on Oct. 27, 2012.


 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Ben Kennedy returns to his best track on the circuit, owning an average finish of 3.5 following third and fourth place finishes in two career starts at Martinsville . Cole Custer, the youngest race winner in NASCAR national series history, is back in action this weekend and will run a special Breast Cancer Awareness paint scheme in support of the annual Ken Schrader Racing PINK Campaign.