Shaped like a paperclip, Martinsville Speedway is among the oldest and most unique tracks on the circuit. The flat straightaways and sharp turns lead to extreme braking conditions as drivers come screaming into the corners. Patience and timing are the keys to making passes at Martinsville. Drivers that can set someone up and out-brake their rivals going through the turns will find it easiest to get to the front. Those relying on straightaway speed alone will lose their handle and give back their position in the turns more often than not.
Practice sessions: Friday, Oct. 25 at 12:00 p.m. EDT; Saturday, Oct. 26 at 10:30 a.m. EDT, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Qualifying: Friday, Oct. 25 at 3:40 p.m. EDT
Race: Sunday, Oct. 27 at 1:30 p.m. EDT
Location: Ridgeway, Va.
Length: 0.526 miles
Turns 1-4: 12 degrees
Frontstretch: 0 degrees
Backstretch: 0 degrees
Drivers to keep an eye on
The Biff consistently improving
Jimmie Johnson | No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports
Last week, Johnson was able to get past Matt Kenseth in the Chase standings during an intense finish to an otherwise tame race at Talladega Superspeedway. The five-time champ has a great opportunity to extend his lead at Martinsville, where Johnson has won the last two events from the pole and has totaled eight victories in 23 starts. The No. 48 machine has paced the paperclip for at least 61 laps in five straight and led at least 111 in each of the last three. If you can start Johnson at Martinsville, you always do it.
Kyle Busch | No. 18 M&M's Halloween Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing
Since 2009, Busch has held an average running position of 10th or better in six of the seven races at Martinsville to go along with four top-five finishes. Rowdy began the Chase with a pair of runner-up performances and three consecutive top-fives before crashing at Kansas Speedway. Busch immediately brushed off the latest of several mishaps at his least favorite track with top-fives in the last two races.
Jeff Gordon | No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports
Going back to 2003, Gordon owns 11 podium finishes and 16 top-fives over 21 starts at Martinsville. During that span he finished outside of top 10 just twice. Also remarkable: Since loop data was created in 2005, Gordon's average running position has been ninth or better 20 tunes. Coming down the stretch, Gordon checks in with nine consecutive top-15s and seven results of eighth or better.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. | No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports
Even though Earnhardt finished outside of the top 20 in the last two Martinsville races, he ran pretty well. In fact, he's recorded an average running position of 12th or better in seven straight and 13 of the last 14. Earnhardt is coming off his second runner-up performance of the Chase and has led multiple laps in every postseason event so far.
Greg Biffle | No. 16 3M Ford | Roush Fenway Racing
Despite poor qualifying results, Biffle has seen his finish improve in five consecutive Martinsville races. The Biff started that run by placing outside of the top 30 and moving all the way up to ninth earlier this season to give him four top-15s in a row. Biffle has been equally solid as of the late with a dozen straight finishes of 16th or better this season.
More good picks, and some shaky ones....
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a two-time award finalist. He's also made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts.
Don't miss these great reports....