martinsville_mike_wells

We’re back at the “Big Paperclip” track and guess who won back in March, 2009? Yes, Jimmie Johnson. It was not that one-sided at all. It looked like Denny Hamlin would be the one going home with the Grandfather Clock trophy. Hamlin would lead 296 laps that day, but Johnson was lurking just like at Bristol this year.

They would battle back and forth until Johnson made a daring move to the inside, putting his fender into the rear quarter panel of Hamlin’s #11, that moved him up the track. Both cars would nearly wreck from this attempt. Hamlin would try to catch up, but Johnson just coasted to victory. Following close behind was Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr., giving Hendrick Motorsports four of the top eight spots.

This victory would give team owner Rick Hendrick the best place to celebrate his 25th anniversary of his first victory in Nascar’s premier series, which was at Martinsville in 1984. “You know, I didn’t get to take a picture with Bodine 25 years ago,” said Hendrick. “But we got to take one out there today with Jimmie; it was a special day.”

Let’s break Martinsville down by the numbers and see who’s hot and who to keep an eye on. A couple drivers just may surprise you.

Races – 122

Races Won From The 1st Starting Position – 18

Last Five Winners / Margin of Victory

Denny Hamlin / Caution

Jimmie Johnson / 0.774

Jimmie Johnson / 0.708

Denny Hamlin / 0.398

Jimmie Johnson / Caution

Best Average Running Position At Martinsville;

6.2 – Jimmie Johnson

6.4 – Jeff Gordon

7.6 – Tony Stewart

10.1 – Denny Hamlin

11.8 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

13.8 – Kevin Harvick

13.8 – Mark Martin

14.9 – Juan Pablo Montoya

15.8 – Kyle Busch

Top Driver Ratings At Martinsville Last 5 years;

125.5 – Jimmie Johnson

123.0 – Jeff Gordon

112.5 – Tony Stewart

109.1 – Denny Hamlin

98.9 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

90.8 – Kevin Harvick

89.7 – Kyle Busch

87.5 – Mark Martin

87.5 – Jamie McMurray

87.4 – Juan Pablo Montoya

Laps In The Top 15 (Last 10 Races) at Martinsville;

4,507 – 89.9% – Jeff Gordon

4,491 – 89.6% – Jimmie Johnson

4,384 – 87.5% – Tony Stewart

3,585 – 71.5% – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

3,486 – 77.3% – Denny Hamlin (9 races)

3,386 – 67.6% – Kevin Harvick

3,108 – 62.0% – Kyle Busch

2,957 – 59.0% – Jamie McMurray

2,748 – 54.8% – Jeff Burton

2,689 – 53.7% – Ryan Newman

Lap Leaders (Last 10 Races) at Martinsville;

1,380 – Jimmie Johnson

942 – Jeff Gordon

829 – Tony Stewart

737 – Denny Hamlin (9 races)

307 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

120 – Kyle Busch

92 – Jeff Burton

79 – Bobby Labonte

53 – Aric Almirola

52 – Kurt Busch

Odds To Win;

12-1 – Jimmie Johnson

12-1 – Mark Martin

12-1 – Denny Hamlin

12-1 – Kurt Busch

12-1 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Top Martinsville Winners (Active);

6 – Jimmie Johnson

4 – Jeff Gordon

2 – Denny Hamlin

1 – Tony Stewart

1 – Bobby Labonte

1 – Kurt Busch

Top 10 Leaders at Martinsville (Active);

15 – Jimmie Johnson

15 – Jeff Gordon

11 – Tony Stewart

10 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

9 – Jamie McMurray

8 – Jeff Burton

8 – Ryan Newman

7 – Kevin Harvick

7 – Bobby Labonte

Top 5 Leaders at Martinsville (Active);

12 – Jimmie Johnson

12 – Jeff Gordon

8 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

7 – Tony Stewart

6 – Bobby Labonte

6 – Denny Hamlin

5 – Jeff Burton

5 – Ryan Newman

2 – Matt Kenseth

2 – Sterling Marlin

Best Short Track Average (Last 13 races);

6.62 – Denny Hamlin

7.69 – Jeff Gordon

8.33 – Mark Martin

10.92 – Tony Stewart

11.38 – Kyle Busch

11.46 – Jimmie Johnson

12.62 – Clint Bowyer

12.69 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

12.85 – Jeff Burton

13.31 – Carl Edwards

2010 Average Start Leaders;

5.8 – Juan Pablo Montoya

7.2 – Mark Martin

7.2 – Kurt Busch

10.0 – Jimmie Johnson

10.4 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

11.4 – Tony Stewart

11.4 – Kasey Kahne

12.2 – Kyle Busch

12.2 – Jeff Gordon

13.2 – Ryan Newman

2010 Lap Leaders;

441 – Kurt Busch

232 – Jeff Gordon

203 – Jimmie Johnson

148 – Kasey Kahne

109 – Greg Biffle

70 – Kevin Harvick

63 – Juan Pablo Montoya

49 – Jeff Burton

46 – Clint Bowyer

39 – Denny Hamlin

Best Average Finish for 2010;

5.4 –Matt Kenseth

6.2 – Kevin Harvick

7.0 – Greg Biffle

10.0 – Jimmie Johnson

10.6 – Tony Stewart

11.0 – Jeff Burton

13.6 – Kurt Busch

14.2 – Paul Menard

14.4 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

15.4 – Kyle Busch

My Picks;

Jimmie Johnson – I know, I know, but look at the numbers. He has not only won the first 3 of 5 races, but he won this race last year also. He is riding a wave of momentum and not to mention his stats here, but I will. Since 2005, he has never finished worse than 8th place. Since the fall of 2005 he has never finished worse than 4th place. Since 2005, out of 10 races, he has collected ten top 10’s, 9 top 5’s and 5 wins. Combine these numbers with the current year he’s having and you’d have to agree, he’s a shoe-in. Everyone thought “Lowes” was his best track, whatever…

Jeff Gordon – He too is one to always keep on your list at this track. Since 2005, EVERY SINGLE race has been a top 5! Two of those came as wins, but both wins were in ’05. Gordon has come up short many times, but with those kind of numbers, he’s solid to me.

Denny Hamlin – Again, another driver that shines at this track. Since 2005, Hamlin only has one bad finish and that was 37th. All the others were 8th or better. They were 8th, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 1st, 5th, 2nd and 1st. He has the best short track average of 6.62 and 2 wins. Don’t leave him off of your list.

Tony Stewart – In the last 10 races, he has one win, 7 top 10’s and 5 top 5’s. His last 2 race finishes were 3rd and 9th. His average short track finish is 10.92 and he has led 829 laps here. Smoke knows how to get to the front, this should be a driver to watch.

Juan Pablo Montoya – Since 2007, he has placed 16th or better. His finishes were 16th, 8th, 13th, 14th, 12th and 3rd. While these are not contender numbers, they are consistent and decent. If you can get a good start on this one groove track, you can have an advantage. Montoya has the best average start of 2010 @ 5.8 and could get it done.

Ryan Newman – He has not been as successful as the above, but he has posted some decent numbers. Since 2005, Newman has collected 9 top 20 finishes out of 10 races. Five of those races were top 10’s and 2 were top 5’s. His average finish is 11.6 here.

Other Drivers to watch;

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – He has been up and down at this track, but the “ups” outweigh the “downs”. He has 7 top 20 finishes in the last 10 races here. Best were 4th, 5th, 6th, 2nd and 8th. The worst were 29th, 23rd and 22nd. He has led 307 laps at Martinsville and knows how to get to the front. He also has a 12.69 average finish on the short tracks.

Kevin Harvick – He has claimed 5 top 10’s in the last 10 races here. Others were 11th, 12th and 15th. He did take some hard hits in ’07 (41st) and (32nd) in ’05. Harvick is a different driver this year, keep your eye on him.

Dark Horse Pick – Paul Menard – I know, he’s been a mid-pack runner here, but this year is a new year. He is currently 9th in the standings with an average finish of 14.2 for the 2010 season. Out of 5 races, his average finish is 23.0 and best finish came in ’08 placing 16th. If I had to pick one dark horse, this is my stud!

Last week out of ten drivers, my average driver finished 8.8. I did alter them a little after the article. Use these stats as a tool but also factor in the practice speeds (released after article). Look at who had their car dialed in and put up some good lap times. When I pour these stats & the practice speeds into the funnel, I get some decent driver picks and you will too.

Good Luck in making your picks, and let’s hope for another exciting finish!