Kyle Busch wins the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway for his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at the 0.526-mile oval. He also swept the weekend at Martinsville by winning the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 the day prior. Busch is the first driver to ever sweep a weekend at Martinsville. AJ Allmendinger finished second, followed by Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, and Brad Keselowski. Busch was able to lead 352 of the 500 laps in the STP 500.
Busch’s win at Martinsville leaves him with only three more tracks to win at in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He now has to win at Pocono, Kansas, and Charlotte. Today’s win was his 35th win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Busch also has led the most laps at Martinsville since Bobby Hamilton led 378 laps in 1998.
Busch was excited about the win and the car his team brought to Martinsville. “It was a really good car, obviously with practice and everything and learning some things about the car and the track yesterday, we were able to have a really good piece, and we knew that, understood that, and then we were able to come out here today and put it all together and have a really good piece all throughout the race, as well. Leading as many laps as we did, that was really good for us. It was a confidence boost for me as well, too, just being up front that much. I've never really felt like I've had a car to be able to do that in years past, but Adam and the guys were able to give that to me this time around. So pumped about the things that I learned here this weekend, let alone the years past or years prior that I was able to learn, and of course my teammates that helped me out a lot here over the years, so to be able to finally put it all together is pretty cool, and take home not one but two Martinsville trophies, Martinsville clocks is pretty awesome.”
Adam Stevens, crew chief for Kyle Busch, talked about what this win means to him and the team. “You know, this is a big win for myself, for Kyle and this whole team. It hasn't been one of our strongest places, maybe for JGR, but not for myself and Kyle historically. I think we made some good ground last year with David Ragan's help in the spring and Kyle coming back in the fall, and I think his level of feedback really picked up as he really understood what he needed in his car, and that helped us as a team make better adjustments, and continuing through the race today, I think we got him dialed in a little bit better than he has been able to in the past because he could really identify what he was looking for.
Second place finisher, AJ Allmendinger, was pumped about where his team is at and his finish at Martinsville. “You know, Randall Burnett, first-year crew chief, Ernie Cope coming aboard, they've made a huge difference. My crew chief last year, Brian Burns, kind of going down back to his engineering role and Tony Palmer, that was the engineer last year, being kind of the second race engineer, everybody has just embraced their roles. It's made this team a lot of fun to be around, Tad and Jodi Geschickter, they've really put that extra effort into the race team this year to get the personnel. Anybody that saw our car, obviously get the sponsors, as well, and pit crew really stepped up. The last two weeks they've been awesome. Just a solid race.”
Third place finisher, Kyle Larson, who has had a dismal season so far, was excited to get his first top-five at Martinsville. “I was able to do double duty this week, and I think that definitely helped me get my rhythm early in the weekend and better myself each time I was on the track. Our car was way better than it has been here in the past. I felt like I learned a lot throughout that race. I was able to run behind great drivers here, AJ, Jimmie, Kevin, Kurt, Keselowski, there was a lot of people that I could learn off of. You know, this was -- in the past it's been my worst racetrack on the schedule, so to get a top-three finish here feels great, feels like a win to be honest, and hopefully this is a good momentum shift that we need. We've been struggling all year long so far and been working hard, but it hasn't paid off. It's nice to, like I said, be on the podium here and go on to Texas, a track where I've ran good in the past at and hopefully get a solid finish there, also.”
There were many drivers who were not expected to be towards the top of the leaderboard. Brian Vickers, subbing for the injured Tony Stewart, finished in the seventh position. Paul Menard finished in the eighth position. Although he is usually strong at Martinsville, Denny Hamlin will be credited with a 39th place finish due to an accident.
The STP 500 saw an average speed of 88.088 mph. There were 11 lead changes among five different drivers. The time of the race was 3 hours, 17 minutes, and 2 seconds. The caution flag flew eight times for 51 laps. The margin of victory was .663 seconds.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Texas Motor Speedway for the Duck Commander 500, the first Saturday night race of the season. Coverage for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas will begin at 5:30 pm on Thursday, April 7th on Fox Sports 1.
Joey Logano wins the pole for the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway for the third consecutive time with a speed of 97.043 mph. Logano joins the elite group of Glen Wood, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin to win three consecutive poles at Martinsville. Logano was able to top the speed chart in all three rounds of qualifying.
“We figured out the qualifying part really well. We really want to be able to win this race. It’s something we’ve been so close too. We have a little extra motivation coming up here this week to be able to show what we are made out of. Its nice to be able to go up here and do what we know how to do, execute qualifying like we know how to at this racetrack. Ever since we unloaded this morning, it was at the top of the board. It’s a fast race car. We knew that, we just have to keep our heads in the game,” said Logano in his media availability after qualifying.
Kasey Kahne showed to be strong in qualifying. He will start second in Sunday’s STP 500. This is his second time starting in the top-10 in 2016.
“It was really good to get quicker each round. Each round we gained speed, and that was the key. Coming up here today, my main goal was to qualify, and try to figure out how to get the best pit stall that we can. That means a lot on Sunday. In and out is a huge part in starting position, especially under the cautions.”
The threat of rain was a major factor in today’s qualifying session. Teams were constantly checking the radar to see when the best time will be to make a qualifying run. Luckily, qualifying was able to get in its entirety.
The First Round of qualifying still had the heat from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice. However, Joey Logano topped the board with a speed of 97.237 mph. In order to get a fast speed, drivers were taking up to five laps in their run. The “King of Martinsville”, as of late, Jimmie Johnson was barely able to advance to the second round. Notable drivers who were unable to advance to the second round were Carl Edwards (25), Austin Dillon (29), and Danica Patrick (28). 39 drivers were able to take laps at Martinsville; however, Reed Sorenson did not make a lap, but will still make the race.
In between rounds, problems arose in the brakes for Chase Elliott. Chase told his team on the in-car radio that the brakes would not work until he was about halfway pressed down on the pedals.
The second round of qualifying was lead by Logano with a speed of 97.679 mph. In the last seconds of this round, Kahne was able to jump from position 13 to P4 to bump Ricky Stenhouse Jr. from advancing to the third round. Notables who were knocked out in this round include Martin Truex Jr. (16), Jimmie Johnson (24), Kevin Harvick (19), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (21).
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia for the STP 500. This will be the sixth race of 36 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. After the Easter break, the STP 500 will kick-off a 12 week stretch of NASCAR racing before the next off weekend on Father’s Day weekend. A total of 40 drivers will head to Martinsville to compete for the 40 spots granted.
Martinsville Speedway is the longest running track on the NASCAR Circuit since its inception in 1949. Martinsville Speedway is the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit being only .526 miles in length. Many drivers and fans call Martinsville, “The Paperclip, due to its shape and size. The track is at an elevation of 740 feet. The width of the track is only 35 feet. Pit road begins at the entrance of turn three and the exit is at the exit of turn two. Pit Road is only 46 feet wide. The tight turns of Martinsville are 588 feet in length and the straights are only 800 feet long. The turns have a banking of 12 degrees, while the straights have no banking. The turns are concrete and asphalt, while the straights are pure asphalt.
The STP 500 will be the 135th race held at Martinsville Speedway. 59 drivers have won poles at Martinsville. 48 drivers have won a race at the speedway. 21 drivers have won from the pole. Joey Logano holds the track qualifying record of 100.201 mph set back in the fall of 2014.
Last year’s race experienced 21 lead changes among nine drivers. The caution flag flew 18 times for a total of 109 laps. 21 cars finished on the lead lap, while 39 drivers were running at the finish.
Teams will not have to worry about a new tire compound for this weekend. The right side of the tires are the same compound code from 2014, and the left side compound codes have been used since 2013. Cup teams will have five sets of tires for practice and qualifying. For the race, teams will have 10 sets.
Drivers are ready to race at the first true short-track of the season.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point leader, Kyle Busch, explains the key to win at Martinsville in his press release. “It’s a tough racetrack and, anytime you come in the pits and make an adjustment on your car, you certainly hope it goes the right way, or you make enough of it, or you don’t make too much of an adjustment. It seems like I haven’t quite scienced that out for the last run there. The last run can be tricky, too, because you can be coming off a 50-lap run on right-side tires and take four and you’ve only got 30 (laps) to go, or you could have 80 to go and you know you have to manage that run all the way to the end.”
In a press release, Kevin Harvick talks about the uniqueness of Martinsville. “I think a lot of us grew up on short tracks and Martinsville is a place where I’ve raced a lot, whether it’s been with the Trucks, or even the Xfinity Series, in which we were fortunate to win the one race we got to run there. It’s a track where I feel like we could have won more races than we probably have in the record books. It’s a place where you enjoy racing and it’s very similar to Talladega by the fact that you just never know when something’s going to happen. You just never know when it can turn and that’s really what short-track racing is all about. And it’s something that happens a lot at Martinsville.”
For the first time since 2011, the Wood Brothers will return to their hometrack this weekend with Ryan Blaney at the wheel. In an interview with Sporting News, Ryan Blaney talks about the return to Martinsville.
"It's really a home race for those guys, and almost for me, too. I grew up in High Point, North Carolina, an hour away from Martinsville, and I vividly remember every Martinsville race I went to, watched my dad (Dave Blaney) run it. And it's really neat to go back and bring the Wood Brothers back there and have them in their hometown and home state. Hopefully, we'll see a bunch of Wood Brothers fans out there. I think we will."
Action from the Martinsville Speedway will begin at 11 am with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.
Friday, April 1
11 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1
4 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1
Saturday, April 2
10 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1
1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, FS1
3 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice (re-air), FS1
Sunday, April 3
11:30 a.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 FS1
There was a big question going into the Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, whether or not Matt Kenseth would send payback to one Joey Logano.
The driver of the No. 20 promised payback following the Oct. 18 race at Kansas Speedway. At Talladega on Oct. 25, Logano made a bold move cutting off Kenseth during a cycle of green flag pit stops. This week it was Kenseth who returned the favor.
On Lap 453, the tide turned for the No. 22 team. After leading 207 of the first 453 laps, Kenseth found himself behind Logano heading into Turn 1 with the optimal decision on whether or not to pay Logano back. He deliberately pulled over to let Logano go and drove his damaged Toyota into Turn 1 and wrecked Logano.
“It was just a complete coward move, especially by a championship driver and race team” Logano after being taken out by Kenseth. “Just a complete coward. It’s a chicken you know what move to completely take out the leader when your race is over.”
NASCAR red-flagged the race and pulled the No. 20 car from the remainder of the race if they were able to return.
The prior caution came out when Kenseth was spun when making contact with the other driver from Team Penske, Brad Keselowski and also tagging Chase driver Kurt Busch into the wall. Thus leading to the beginning of the end for both Logano and Kenseth in Martinsville.
“Some days you’re the bat, some days you’re the ball, it’s never any fun when you’re the ball,” Kenseth said about the incident. “The splitter was dragging things down and we got into the corner and unfortunately ruined his day. He’s got the best car, he has a couple of races left to till have a shot at it (championship). Certainly disappointed that it came down to that.”
After parking the Joe Gibbs Racing team for the remaining 47 laps in Martinsville, NASCAR had a meeting with Kenseth, crew chief Jason Ratcliff and car-owner Joe Gibbs.
“I think in general you saw a terrific race today,” said the Executive Vice President of NASCAR Steve O’Donnell. When you talk about the incident between that took place with Matt, in our estimation that was a driver who was a number of laps down and we still have some things to look at it, but we were disappointed with what took place. When you look at Kansas, that was two drivers going for a win and really competing. In this instance, it’s a driver multiple laps down who looked like may have waited and came up on the leader and we all saw what happened. I would say it’s a little different with two drivers going for a win.
It’s too early to speculate on what if there will be any repercussions for Kenseth in the coming weeks. If he is facing any penalty it will be announced on Tuesday, the day in which NASCAR announces all of its weekly penalties.
Matt Crafton improved his chances at a three-peat championship with a win in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday. After taking the lead during the second half of the race, Crafton closed the gap between himself and championship leader Erik Jones, with his fifth win of the season.
Crafton, who previously went to victory lane four times this season, had been on a rough stretch since his last win at Kentucky. With the win at the 0.526-mile track known as “The Paperclip”, Crafton captured a career high of wins in a season.
“It’s been a very trying last two months but to get this team back in victory lane is awesome,” Crafton said in Victory Lane. “These guys just never give up. We weren’t that great on the short run and I just never give up on these guys, they just keep fine tuning it, fine tuning it. The second to last run we just got really tight for whatever reason…made a little change and the thing was good.”
Crafton, who led for a total of 63 laps, managed to stay on top after several restarts throughout the race, including the final re-start with three laps to go.
Jones will leave Martinsville still at the top of the point standings but did not have the day he wanted on the track. Despite finishing with a top-10 finish, Jones also had some run-ins on track, including an incident with teammate Daniel Suarez.
“Our Toyota Tundra was a lot better than that, you know in practice, but just to fight all day and we missed a little bit of it. As an organization I think it showed we kind of were off most of the day for the three trucks, but we’ll work on it and get it better,” said Jones after the race. “Texas is a strong one for us, we were good there in the spring and Phoenix has always been good, at Homestead we’ll be fine as well. So looking forward to it.”
Tyler Reddick, who is also competing for the championship, finished in fifth. After the race, Reddick said he felt he could have gotten a better finish, but that the team will take the top five finish and go on from there.
“It was as clean as Martinsville can get. It’s a shame we left fifth, I felt like we could have ran third or second,” said Reddick. “We could have gotten wrecked on that last lap and finished 20th or last on the lead lap, so we’ll take it and we’ll go on from there.”
The race at Martinsville also featured the debuts of Austin Cindric in the No. 29 truck for Brad Keselowski Racing and Ross Kenseth in the No. 18 truck.
Prior to Martinsville, Jones was the championship point’s leader with Reddick in second, 13 points back. Crafton was in third, 23 points behind Jones. Leaving Martinsville, Jones remains at the top of the standings, but Crafton managed to close the gap and move into second place, just 10 points behind Jones. Reddick still remains 13 points behind the top spot and will fall to third.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series now heads to Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, Nov. 6, with just three races remaining until the 2015 champion is crowned at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.