NASCAR rail: Tums QuikPak 500 at a glance

Dan Beaver, dba Media

WHERE: Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, VA

WHEN: TV Start 1:00 p.m. ET

BROADCAST: ABC, live on Sirius satellite radio, channel 128

THE LOWDOWN: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who dominates Martinsville; just take a quick look at the last five winners of the fall race there. Between them, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have won eight of the last 11 races on this track dating back to the start of 2003, and on four occasions they finished ether first and second or first and third. In that span, they have swept the top 10 and have a combined average of 3.2. So you probably know where this is headed: another strong weekend for Hendrick.


2007: Jimmie Johnson *

2006: Jimmie Johnson

2005: Jeff Gordon *

2004: Jimmie Johnson

2003: Jeff Gordon *

* also won the spring event to sweep the track.


With his victory at Lowe's, Burton climbed to second in the points and became Johnson's primary competition for the Championship. Most importantly, he's recording great results on tracks that have traditionally been unkind. The No. 31 and 48 remain the only two teams with a perfect record of top-10s during the Chase. Johnson has the lead because of bonus points for regular season wins and a slightly better average finish of 4.6 to Burton's 5.0, but his slim advantage can disappear with a single mistake.

1. Jimmie Johnson

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 2.2 in six starts

Don't look for Johnson to make a mistake at Martinsville; he's been flawless there for more than half a decade, with a 12-race top-10 streak to his credit – and he's improving. His last six races have been top-fives.

2. Jeff Burton

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 16.8 in six starts

By their recent Martinsville numbers, Johnson should have a clear-cut advantage over Burton, but nothing is predictable about the No. 31 this season. In his heyday, Burton was one of the best flat track racers.

3. Greg Biffle

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 23.7 in six starts

Biffle has been clearing hurdles with ease during the Chase, so he's not overly concerned about three 30-something finishes at Martinsville in his last five attempts; he remembers last fall's seventh instead.

4. Carl Edwards

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 15.2 in six starts

Two weeks ago this was a three-man battle between Johnson, Biffle and Edwards, but how quickly things change. An accident at Talladega and ignition failure at Martinsville have all but doomed "Cousin Carl."

5. Clint Bowyer

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 15.0 in five starts

Bowyer is slowly improving at Martinsville. His first two starts on this short, flat track were in the 20s; he nearly cracked the top 10 in his third try and has results of ninth and 10th in his last two efforts.

6. Kevin Harvick

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 15.7 in six starts

Look for the same effort at Martinsville that Harvick gave at Lowe's: he's never cracked the top five there, but five of his last six races have ended in top-15s, which will keep him in striking distance in the Chase.

7. Tony Stewart

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 5.3 in six starts

After winning late in the season, Stewart has a tendency to go on a tear. Last week, he looked like the driver to beat in portions of the Bank of America 500 and Martinsville has always been kind to him.

8. Jeff Gordon

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 2.5 in six starts

Last week, Gordon started eighth by virtue of his point position, finished eighth and remained eighth in the standings. Sounds like he's an eighth-place driver this year.

9. Kyle Busch

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 13.0 in six starts

The remainder of the Chase is all about pride for Busch. With an average finish of 24.8 in the first five races, he cannot win the Championship, but if he logs top-fives like he did at Lowe's, he will record an emotional victory.

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 13.0 in six starts

Earnhardt and Busch have identical records at Martinsville in the last six races, with three top-sixes and an average of 13th, but Junior has notes from Johnson and Gordon to help him improve this week.

11. Matt Kenseth

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 15.3 in six starts

The Chase format has not been overly kind to Kenseth. Like Johnson, he's qualified for the playoffs every time, but his average finish of 15.7 is the 10th-worst among active Chasers.

12. Denny Hamlin

Last three years’ average finish at Martinsville: 9.5 in six starts

Hamlin gets the Ironman award at Lowe's for driving hurt and Martinsville could completely heal his wounds. Drivers have swept this track three times in the last five years and he won this spring.

Average Finish, short, flat tracks last three years

(Martinsville, New Hampshire and Phoenix)

Driver    Avg Finish    Attempts

Jeff Gordon    5.72    18

Jimmie Johnson    5.83    18

Tony Stewart    8.17    18

Denny Hamlin    9.56    18

Kevin Harvick    11.61    18

Jeff Burton    12.11    18

Carl Edwards    12.67    18

Mark Martin    13.40    10

Martin Truex Jr.    15.75    16

Matt Kenseth    15.78    18

Kyle Busch    16.17    18

Greg Biffle    16.89    18

Clint Bowyer    16.94    16

Dale Earnhardt Jr.    18.00    18

Bobby Labonte    18.50    18

Kurt Busch    18.53    18

Ryan Newman    19.39    18

Juan Montoya    19.40    10

Casey Mears    20.56    18

Kasey Kahne    20.72    18

Jamie McMurray    21.56    18

Tony Raines    24.14    14

Reed Sorenson    24.75    16

Elliott Sadler    25.00    18

David Ragan    25.36    11

Travis Kvapil    25.83    12

Paul Menard    26.60    10

Brian Vickers    27.00    18

Regan Smith    27.57    7

Scott Riggs    27.76    17

Dave Blaney    28.28    18

David Reutimann    28.60    10

Ken Schrader    28.75    12

Robby Gordon    29.28    18

David Gilliland    29.38    13

Joe Nemechek    30.83    18

Bill Elliott    32.38    8

Michael Waltrip    33.00    18

Sam Hornish Jr.    33.71    7

A J Allmendinger    41.00    8

Quality Passes at Martinsville, last three years

Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag

Rank    Driver    Quality Passes

1.    Dale Earnhardt Jr.    188

2.    Jimmie Johnson    187

3.    Kyle Busch    182

4.    Jeff Gordon    178

5.    Tony Stewart    173

6.    Carl Edwards    135

7.    Denny Hamlin    129

8.    Jeff Burton    120

9.    Ryan Newman    118

10.    Bobby Labonte    107

11.    Kurt Busch    101

12.    Kevin Harvick    100

13.    Matt Kenseth    93

14.    Elliott Sadler    88

15.    Jamie McMurray    85

16.    Kasey Kahne    81

17.    Clint Bowyer    76

18.    David Ragan    73

19.    Juan Montoya    72

20.    Travis Kvapil    65

21.    Greg Biffle    63

22.    Brian Vickers    60

23.    Ken Schrader    60

24.    Reed Sorenson    50

25.    Tony Raines    45

Mulligans (finishes of 25th or worse):

3: Kyle Busch (34th at New Hampshire, 43rd at Dover and 28th at Kansas)

3: Matt Kenseth (40th at New Hampshire and 26th at Talladega, 41st at Lowe's)

2: Denny Hamlin (38th at Dover and 39th at Talladega)

2: Carl Edwards (29th at Talladega, 33rd at Lowe's)

2: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (28th at Talladega, 36th at Lowe's)

1: Tony Stewart (40th at Kansas)

1: Jeff Gordon (38th at Talladega)