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 up someone 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, March 28, at 12 p.m. EDT; Saturday, March 29, at 10 a.m. EDT, 1 p.m. EDT
Qualifying: Friday, March 28, at 4:40 p.m. EDT
Race: Sunday, March 30, at 1 p.m. EDT
Location: Ridgeway, Va.
Length: 0.526 miles
Turns 1-4: 12 degrees
Frontstretch: 0 degrees
Backstretch: 0 degrees
Jamie McMurray | No. 1 McDonald's Chevrolet | Chip Ganassi Racing
Larson's youth no advantage
A total of six drivers recorded a top-10 finish in both Martinsville races last year. The biggest surprise on that list is McMurray, who placed seventh in the spring and 10th in the fall. In addition to the performances of last season Jamie Mac is coming off a season-high sixth-place finish at Auto Club Speedway. If not for a crash a week earlier at Bristol Motor Speedway he would likely own a top-15 in all five races of 2014.
Brian Vickers | No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing
Vickers did not compete last fall at Martinsville but has started sixth or better in his last three qualifying attempts on The Paperclip. In the fall of 2012 he held a career-best average running position of fifth and led 27 laps from the outside pole. Vickers started third last spring and ran 11th, on the average, and finished in that same position. Vickers has seen his finishing position improve each week of the season, recently claiming 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, ninth at Bristol and seventh at Auto Club.
A.J. Allmendinger | No. 47 Bush's Beans Chevrolet | JTG Daugherty Racing
Allmendinger was not behind the wheel in either Martinsville race of 2013 and managed to finish only 28th in the fall of 2012. However, he was the runner-up that spring and had placed inside the top 15 for three consecutive Martinsville events prior to that. While Allmendinger is now in equipment that's a step down from that of his successful efforts he set season-highs last week at Fontana, finishing eighth with an average running position of 14th.
Clint Bowyer | No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing
Bowyer heads to Martinsville with three consecutive top-five finishes at the site, matched only by Jimmie Johnson. In those races Bowyer placed fifth, second and third, respectively. Going back to 2007, his second full season as a Cup driver, Bowyer has yet to finish worse than 11th in the spring race at Martinsville. Despite some pretty solid efforts, Bowyer has yet to record a top-10 this year and is currently 23rd in points. Those sluggish results present quite a value.
Carl Edwards | No. 99 Fastenal Ford | Roush Fenway Racing
In 19 career starts, Edwards has managed only a single top-five at Martinsville and has finished outside the top 10 in five of the last six. Among all active drivers his career average running position of 16.2 at the site is good for just 14th. Despite coming in with four consecutive top-10s and the lead in points there are other top drivers to consider in his place.
Kyle Larson | No. 42 Target Chevrolet | Chip Ganassi Racing
After finishing as the runner-up last week at Fontana and placing 10th at Bristol, Larson has become one of the bigger early-season surprises, but a lack of experience could hurt him here. His lone Martinsville appearances came last year, in just his second career start in the Cup car, and was cut short by a blown engine. Martinsville is not an annual stop on the Nationwide Series and Larson did not race there in his limited starts in the Camping World Truck Series.
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's 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. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.
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