NASCAR haulers and drivers won’t have to travel far this race weekend as the distance from their hometown track, Charlotte Motor Speedway, to Martinsville Speedway is just 113 miles.
The Tums Fast Relief 500 on the O.526-mile oval with 12 degree banking will present 263 miles of short-track thrills on the track shaped like a paper clip. Fans not in the stands can catch the action at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 30 on EPSN.
Many Sprint Cup drivers like Martinsville, but for contenders in the Chase this race is one of four remaining that could make or break championship hopes. With 192 potential points between the drop of the green flag at Martinsville and the checkered flag at Homestead, top finishes are at a premium.
Although no one in the Chase is mathematically eliminate yet, statistical history has shown that only the top-five leaders have a legitimate shot at the crown. Only 26 points separate Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselwoski, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick going into Martinsville.
One of these five leaders will likely accumulate the most points and claim the grand prize, the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
All five shared their thoughts on Martinsville.
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford)
“I am a little nervous about Martinsville,” Edwards said. “I think if we can pick up just a tiny bit of speed there we will be good. Otherwise, that will be one of the tracks we go to and just fight and claw for a top 10 and that is how it usually is for me there. I would like to be surprised and would love to run better but I am a little nervous about that one to be honest.”
Matt Kenseth (No.17 Ford)
“Probably the most challenging part for me at Martinsville is being calm, thinking through things, and not doing something because you are mad,” Kenseth said. “I don’t like getting run into and I don’t like running into other people and it’s bound to happen there since it’s such a small track. There is no room to move and there is not an outside groove where you have another choice to pass. It is one of the tracks that takes all the patience that I have usually. The first thing is getting the car to go fast all the time, be smooth and drive it like I am supposed to there. After that, it’s being patient and using your head to get the best finish you can.”
Brad Keselowski (No.2 Dodge)
“Martinsville will always be a track that is hard on brakes,” Keselowski said. “Yes, the braking systems have come a long way over the last 10 years or so. But if you give us more brakes or better brakes, we are going to use more brakes to the point that we will damage the sidewall of the tire. Overheating the brakes is something that is easy to do because you are going so hard every lap as passing is difficult at Martinsville. Managing your brakes is part of being a successful short-track racer.”
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)
“It’s still that old short-track feel,” Stewart said. “That’s what I like. We run a lot of 1.5-mile tracks during the year and it’s the only place that races like this. We’ve got two half-mile tracks that we race on. This one’s quite a bit different than Bristol, and that’s what makes it fun. You can out-brake guys and you can run the outside if you get a shot. It’s racing the way we all grew up racing.”
Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Chevrolet)
“You have to remember where your roots come from and Martinsville is a good example of that,” Harvick said. “We all grew up on short tracks and Martinsville keeps that in our sport. All of us drivers like the short-track feel that we grew up racing on, so we’re looking forward to it. It’s kind of a hometown race for us. I live about 35 minutes from the track and it’s always a fun weekend for us.”
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com.
Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from official release materials provided by NASCAR and team representatives.