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.
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