The Chase is at Martinsville Speedway, a track older than NASCAR itself.
It’s the only short track in the playoffs, and for the contenders, it is a place where they must do well — because the other contenders are probably going to do well.
Points leader Jimmie Johnson has won eight times at Martinsville, including in the spring. Matt Kenseth, second in the standings, is coming off one of the best performances of his career on the track.
Behind them, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have histories of success, too.
“I look at Martinsville as an opportunity,” Gordon said. “It’s just a great track for us, even though I know it’s a great track for Jimmie as well and not bad for Kevin [Harvick], either. That’s a track that I feel like we really have the ability to win.”
It may not take a win. But a good finish will be important, because everyone else is likely to have one.Stock up
Kyle Busch got 11 points closer to the lead last week by finishing fifth at Talladega. He’s within 26 points of leader Jimmie Johnson. Cutting into the lead again will be tough at a track where Johnson has won eight times and is going for three in a row. But Busch can do it — he was second at Martinsville last October.Stock down
It looks like the runner-up finish at Charlotte was the exception, not the start of a new trend for Kasey Kahne. He was 36th last week at Talladega, adding to a very blah Chase for him. Even with the podium finish, he has a 19.2 average finish in the six Chase races so far.Notable Welcome, Matt:
Roush Fenway Racing hasn’t won at Martinsville since 2002, a big part of the reason Matt Kenseth is winless there. But this spring, in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, he led 96 laps and finished 13th. Top rating:
Martinsville is the top-rated track for Dale Earnhardt Jr. He has a 98.8 for his career. 6
Place finish by Brad Keselowski in last year’s fall race at Martinsville. No Chase champion has finished worse than that in the fall Martinsville race.Quotable
“I think Martinsville is one of those real predictable places where I could give you five names, and I bet that unless they have a problem, that all five of them finish in the top eight. I think Martinsville is actually really, really predictable, and I don’t look at that as a big wild card race.” — Matt Kenseth Today’s lineup at Ridgeway, Va. Note:
Car number in parentheses.
1. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 99.595; 2. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 99.344; 3. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 99.344; 4. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 99.183; 5. (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 99.162; 6. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 99.084; 7. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 99.007; 8. (34) David Ragan, Ford, 98.815; 9. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 98.79; 10. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 98.774; 11. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 98.748; 12. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 98.712; 13. (42) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 98.702; 14. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 98.656; 15. (56) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 98.553; 16. (9) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 98.553; 17. (39) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 98.527; 18. (41) Aric Almirola, Ford, 98.41; 19. (78) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 98.4; 20. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 98.394; 21. (14) Mark Martin, Chevrolet, 98.379; 22. (31) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 98.328; 23. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 98.129; 24. (40) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 98.053; 25. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 98.048; 26. (51) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 97.972; 27. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 97.855; 28. (13) Casey Mears, Ford, 97.83; 29. (7) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 97.78; 30. (30) Cole Whitt, Toyota, 97.78; 31. (35) Josh Wise, Ford, 97.674; 32. (93) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 97.618; 33. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 97.568; 34. (47) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 97.498; 35. (55) Elliott Sadler, Toyota, 97.473; 36. (98) Michael McDowell, Ford, 97.448; 37. (36) J.J. Yeley, Chevrolet, Owner Points; 38. (32) Ken Schrader, Ford, Owner Points; 39. (33) Tony Raines, Chevrolet, Owner Points; 40. (87) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, Owner Points; 41. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, Owner Points; 42. (95) Reed Sorenson, Ford, Owner Points; 43. (83) David Reutimann, Toyota, Owner Points.Chase standings
|Pos. Driver||Chase wins||Season wins||Pts.||Last week|
|1. Jimmie Johnson||1||5||2,254||2|
|2. Matt Kenseth||2||7||2,250||1|
|3. Kevin Harvick||1||3||2,228||3|
|4. Kyle Busch||0||4||2,228||5|
|5. Jeff Gordon||0||0||2,220||4|
|6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.||0||0||2,202||9|
|7. Greg Biffle||0||1||2,201||6|
|8. Clint Bowyer||0||0||2,197||8|
|8. Kurt Busch||0||0||2,193||7|
|10. Carl Edwards||0||2||2,186||10|
|11. Ryan Newman||0||1||2,182||12|
|12. Joey Logano||0||1||2,179||11|
|13. Kasey Kahne||0||2||2,153||13|
|New Hampshire||Matt Kenseth|
|Sunday||Martinsville||12:30 p.m., ESPN|
|Nov. 3||TMS||2 p.m., ESPN|
|Nov. 10||Phoenix||2 p.m., ESPN|
|Nov. 17||Homestead-Miami||2 p.m., ESPN|
x: non-Chase drivers
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