It's time for the second short track race of 2011 and it is at one of my favorite race tracks, Martinsville speedway.
Kevin Harvick who isn't particularly strong at the paperclip just came off a big win at his home track at Auto Club.
Let's take a look at the favorite and ones to watch
Favorites: Denny Hamlin managed to take one thing away from Jimmie Johnson. That is Martinsville. In 11 starts here Hamlin has won three races, has eight top fives, ten top tens, two poles, 949 laps lead, an average finish of 6.09 and three straight wins. If you want to go any further he has six straight top fives at Martinsville. He is the one to beat.
If anyone is right there with Hamlin it is clearly Jimmie Johnson. In 18 races Johnson has six wins, 13 top fives, 17 top tens (all of which are in a row), 1,155 laps lead, one pole, and an average finish of 5.33 which like Auto Club leads all drivers.
Johnson's dominance at Martinsville may have been inherited by Jeff Gordon. In 36 starts Gordon has seven wins, 23 top fives, 29 top tens, 2,942 laps lead, seven poles, and an average finish of 7.06. Before tangling with Kurt Busch in the fall Gordon had 11 straight finishes inside the top five. Gordon has struggled after his phoenix win and Martinsville is always his go to track for a top five.
Tony Stewart loves the short tracks. Martinsville is no exceptions. In 24 starts Smoke has two wins, eight top fives, 13, 1,194 laps lead, three poles, and an average finish of 13.08. Stewart has been up and down at Martinsville as of recent but expect him to be a player when it is all said and done.
Mark Martin says he doesn't run well at Martinsville but stats say otherwise. In 46 starts Martin has two wins, 12 top fives, 24 top tens, 343 laps lead, three poles, and an average finish of 13.09.
Ones to watch: For Jamie McMurray Martinsville may be his best track. In 16 starts McMurray has just one top fives, but nine top tens, 86 laps lead, three front row starts, and an average finish of 16.25. These stats show that McMurray is very consistent here and if you want to make sure you get a top ten he is a good pick.
Jeff Burton is very solid at Martinsville. In 33 starts Burton has one win, ten top fives, 15 top tens, 943 laps lead, and an average finish of 14.61. He lead the most laps in both races in 2010 he will be strong.
Kyle Busch has been lighting it up at Martinsville recently. In 12 starts Shrub has five top fives, six top tens, 120 laps lead, and an average finish of 16.67. In two of the last four races Busch has scored two top fives, But none in the spring race.
Dale Earnhardt loves the short tracks and despite no wins at Martinsville he loves this one as well. In 22 starts Jr has eight top fives, 11 top tens, 848 laps lead, and an average finish of 13.82. He always run well here and with Steve LaTarte he could get that win.
Ryan Newman is the Rocketman and Martinsville is no exception. In 18 starts Newman has six top fives, nine top tens, 138 laps lead, three poles, and an average finish of 14.28. In the last four races here he has one top five and three top tens. They are bringing that same car they have ran in all of those races called the "Martinsville special".
Winner: Denny Hamlin
Martinsville could be what the doctor ordered for Denny Hamlin. After fives races his best finish is seventh and after a blown engine at Auto Club and finishing 39th he is 21st in points. Hamlin should be really confident heading to the paper clip however. In 11 starts he has four wins, eight top fives, ten top tens, 949 laps lead, two poles, and an average finish of 6.09. It is clearly his best track. Picking Hamlin or Johnson may be too easy but how can anyone resit?
11 to victory lane.