The NASCAR Cup Series finds itself amid a short track swing on the 2021 season schedule, tasking the teams to find the best setups for the cars on three similar tracks in length (less than a mile) but for three vastly different competitive arenas.
From last week’s history-making half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track, to this weekend’s historic Martinsville Speedway that stretches 0.526-mile in length with asphalt paved straights and concrete corners, to next weekend’s 0.75-mile asphalt paved Richmond Raceway.
Martinsville Speedway is the longest continuously running track on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, and the only currently active track that was a part of the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series season in 1949. Martinsville Speedway was originally a dirt track and the facility hosted 12 NASCAR Cup Series races on the then dirt surface before paving the track in the late summer months of 1955, between the track’s two Cup races of that season. In total, there have been 144 NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway, one in the inaugural year (1949) and two races per year since 1950. The first 500-lap event at Martinsville Speedway was in 1956 and the concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976.
The 144 NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway are the second-most series events run at a facility behind Daytona International Speedway’s 148 races. Martinsville’s 144 races have produced 61 different pole winners and 54 different race winners; nine of the Cup Series Martinsville Speedway winners are entered this weekend – Denny Hamlin (five wins), Brad Keselowski (two), Kurt Busch (two), Kyle Busch (two), Martin Truex Jr. (two), Chase Elliott (one), Joey Logano (one), Kevin Harvick (one) and Ryan Newman (one).
The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway was on Sept. 25, 1949 and won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Red Byron driving an Oldsmobile for car owner Raymond Parks. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 15 victories (1960, 1962, 1963, 1967 sweep, 1968, 1969 sweep, 1970, 1971, 1972 sweep, 1973, 1975, 1979) – the most any driver in the series has won at a single track; he also won 15 races at North Wilkesboro. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin leads the NASCAR Cup Series among active drivers in wins at Martinsville Speedway with five victories (2008, 2009, 2010 sweep, 2015).
This weekend’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 on Sunday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90) will be 500 laps (263 miles) and broken up into the three stages. The first two stages are 130 laps each (68.38 miles each) and the final stage is 240 laps (126.24 miles). This weekend’s starting lineup was determined by Metric Qualifying. Last week’s winner Joey Logano will start on the pole at Martinsville and Logano will be joined by series standings leader Denny Hamlin on the front row.
Next Race: Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500
The Place: Martinsville Speedway
The Date: Saturday, April 10
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 263 miles (500 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 130),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 260), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 500)
Hot Streak: Trend of different winners to start the season could reach eight
Team Penske’s Joey Logano made history last weekend winning the first race on dirt in the NASCAR Cup Series in over 50 years and the first at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt. In the process, Logano kept the streak of different winners to start the season alive making the 2021 season the fifth different year in the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-2021) to start with seven different drivers in Victory Lane; joining 2014, 2003, 2000 and 1991.
Now the NASCAR Cup Series is heading to the historic Martinsville Speedway to see if the streak can make it to eight different winners. If the 2021 season sees an eighth different victor this weekend it will become just the third different season in the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-Present) to start with eight different winners in the first eight races; joining 2003 and 2000.
|2021||1||Michael McDowell||Daytona||Sunday, February 14, 2021|
|2021||2||Christopher Bell||Daytona RC||Sunday, February 21, 2021|
|2021||3||William Byron||Homestead||Sunday, February 28, 2021|
|2021||4||Kyle Larson||Las Vegas||Sunday, March 7, 2021|
|2021||5||Martin Truex Jr||Phoenix||Sunday, March 14, 2021|
|2021||6||Ryan Blaney||Atlanta||Sunday, March 21, 2021|
|2021||7||Joey Logano||Bristol Dirt||Monday, March 29, 2021|
The Modern Era record of different winners to start a NASCAR Cup Series season is 10 set back in 2000. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. snapped the different winners streak by winning his second race of the 2000 season at Richmond (Race No. 11).
|2000||1||Dale Jarrett||Daytona||Sunday, February 20, 2000|
|2000||2||Bobby Labonte||Rockingham||Sunday, February 27, 2000|
|2000||3||Jeff Burton||Las Vegas||Sunday, March 5, 2000|
|2000||4||Dale Earnhardt||Atlanta||Sunday, March 12, 2000|
|2000||5||Ward Burton||Darlington||Sunday, March 19, 2000|
|2000||6||Rusty Wallace||Bristol||Sunday, March 26, 2000|
|2000||7||Dale Earnhardt Jr||Texas||Sunday, April 2, 2000|
|2000||8||Mark Martin||Martinsville||Sunday, April 9, 2000|
|2000||9||Jeff Gordon||Talladega||Sunday, April 16, 2000|
|2000||10||Jeremy Mayfield||Auto Club||Sunday, April 30, 2000|
The next longest streak of different winners to start a season in the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era belongs to 2003 with nine consecutive different winners. Kurt Busch snapped the streak of different winners by winning his second race of the 2003 season at Auto Club Speedway (Race No. 10).
|2003||1||Michael Waltrip||Daytona||Sunday, February 16, 2003|
|2003||2||Dale Jarrett||Rockingham||Sunday, February 23, 2003|
|2003||3||Matt Kenseth||Las Vegas||Sunday, March 2, 2003|
|2003||4||Bobby Labonte||Atlanta||Sunday, March 9, 2003|
|2003||5||Ricky Craven||Darlington||Sunday, March 16, 2003|
|2003||6||Kurt Busch||Bristol||Sunday, March 23, 2003|
|2003||7||Ryan Newman||Texas||Sunday, March 30, 2003|
|2003||8||Dale Earnhardt Jr||Talladega||Sunday, April 6, 2003|
|2003||9||Jeff Gordon||Martinsville||Sunday, April 13, 2003|
In the Modern Era (1972-2021), the record for the most different NASCAR Cup Series winners in a single season in its entirety is 19 set back in 2001. The series has also seen a total of 18 different winners (second-most) in a single season twice – in 2002 and 2011. Last season the series produced 13 different winners.
Short Track Showmen
Since the first NASCAR Cup Series season in 1949, short tracks – a track less than a mile in length – have graced the competitive schedule and been part of the fabric that makes up the sport.
NASCAR Hall of Famer, aptly nicknamed ‘The King,’ Richard Petty scored 138 of his record 200 NASCAR Cup Series victories on short tracks – the series-most short-track wins all-time. He also holds the record for the most wins at a single NASCAR Cup Series track posting 15 victories at this weekend’s venue – Martinsville Speedway.
Among the active drivers this weekend, 10 have posted wins on short tracks in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch with 16 short-track Cup victories. Team Penske’s Joey Logano is the only driver to win at all four of the currently active short tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule with his victory last weekend at Bristol Dirt.
|Short Track Winners||Total||Martinsville||Richmond||Bristol||Bristol Dirt|
|Martin Truex Jr||4||2||2||0||0|
Seven of the 10 active NASCAR Cup Series short track winners entered this weekend are looking for their first victory of 2021, and all seven are former winners at Martinsville – Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, and 2020 series champion (and most recent winner at Martinsville Speedway) Chase Elliott.
Additionally, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick is the only NASCAR Cup Series driver to win in all three NASCAR national series at Martinsville Speedway (NCS: 2011, NXS: 2006, NCWTS: 2009, 2010, 2012) and the only active driver with an Xfinity win at the track. Five other drivers entered this weekend have won in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway – 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace has two wins (2013, 2014), Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin (2011, 2012) and Kyle Busch (2016, 2019) each have two wins, Hendrick Motorsport’s Chase Elliott has one Truck win (2017) and Team Penske’s Joey Logano also has one win (2015).
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. is the defending winner of this event last season at Martinsville Speedway; his fourth career short track win. In total, Truex has made 30 series starts at Martinsville posting one pole, two wins, seven top fives and 13 top 10s. He has also led 987 laps at the Paperclip shaped track just 13 shy of 1,000. Truex won the Martinsville spring race last season but finished 22nd in the Playoff race later in the year.
Virginia native Denny Hamlin returns to one of his favorite tracks – Martinsville
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin returns to Martinsville Speedway, one of his most successful tracks, as the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings leader looking for his first win of the 2021 season. The Chesterfield, Virginia, native also leads the NASCAR Cup Series in victories at the historic Martinsville Speedway with five (2008, 2009, 2010 sweep, 2015) and has all the intentions of making it six in Saturday night’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 (April 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Hamlin’s consistency has been the key to his early success in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings this season. In seven starts this year, he has collected six top-five finishes (series-most) and now sits 58 points ahead of second place Joey Logano.
Among active drivers, Hamlin is one of the most prolific short track competitors in the series. He is tied with Kurt Busch for the second-most short track Cup wins among the drivers entered this weekend with 10 victories each.
At Martinsville, Hamlin has made 30 series starts posting four poles, five wins, 15 top fives and 21 top 10s. But his Martinsville Speedway accolades don’t stop there. The NASCAR Cup Series pre-race Loop Data has him leading just about every category among active drivers heading into Saturday night – Average Finish of 9.933 (series-best), Average Running Position of 9.622 (series-best), Driver Rating of 105.0 (series-best), 984 Fastest Laps Run (series-best), 12,039 Laps in the Top 15 (80.1%) (second-most), 1,024 Quality Passes (series-most).
Hamlin finished 11th in last season’s Playoff race at Martinsville. He will start on the front row Saturday night.
Local Angle: Spotlighting team members from Virginia
It takes a lot of different people from all over the country to make a NASCAR event run with the precision we have all come to enjoy. This weekend, we turn the spotlight on team members from Virginia and a snapshot of their responsibilities.
|Team Member||Hometown||Organization||Car No.||At-Track Responsibilities|
|David Jones||Roanoke, VA||Starcom racing||00||Car Chief|
|Scott Woodfin||Colonial Heights, VA||Chip Ganassi Racing||1||Hauler Driver|
|Stephen Price||Lynchburg, VA||Chip Ganassi Racing||1||Rear Tire Changer|
|Ethan Tingler||Radford, VA||Richard Childress Racing||3||Rear Tire Changer|
|Cliff Daniels||Smithfield, VA||Hendrick Motorsports||5||Crew Chief|
|Chris Haymaker||Moneta, VA||Hendrick Motorsports||9||Front-End Mechanic|
|Tony Bove||Burlington, VA||Hendrick Motorsports||9||Engine Tuner|
|Joe White||Windsor, VA||Stewart-Haas Racing||14||Spotter|
|Keith Eads||Arlington, VA||Stewart-Haas Racing||14||Tire Specialist|
|DeWayne Zirkle (Ryder)||Roanoke, VA||Roush Fenway Racing||17||Hauler Driver/Front Tire Catcher|
|Jonathan Salmons||Bassett, VA||Roush Fenway racing||17||Engine Tuner|
|Bradley Donaghy||Orange, VA||Joe Gibbs Racing||19||Tire Carrier|
|Jeff Curtis||Fairfax Station, VA||Joe Gibbs Racing||19||Lead Engineer|
|Chris Jones||Smith Mountain Lake, VA||Joe Gibbs Racing||20||Front End Mechanic|
|Chris Sherwood||Portsmouth, VA||Joe Gibbs Racing||20||Car Chief|
|Bryan Goodman||Midlothian, VA||Front Row Motorsports||34||Engine Tuner|
|Bradley Sisson||King George, VA||Richard Petty Motorsports||43||Social Media Manager/Hospitality|
|James (J.P.) Kelley||Luray, VA||TrackHouse Racing||99||Gasman, Pit Department Foreman|
|Lamar Neal||Virginia Beach, VA||TrackHouse Racing||99||Tire Carrier|
Logano’s win on the Bristol Dirt adds his name to the 2021 list of Playoff & All-Star Race drivers
Team Penske’s Joey Logano became the seventh different winner this season and, in the process, added his name to the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and the NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway (June13).
The historic Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt victory marks the 10th consecutive season (2012-2021) Logano has won in the NASCAR Cup Series. Logano is now tied with his Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski for the third longest active streak of years with victories; behind Kyle Busch (16 years with victories, 2005-2020); Kevin Harvick (11 years with victories, 2010-2020) and Brad Keselowski (2011-2020).
Looking ahead to this weekend at Martinsville, Logano is preparing to keep the winning spoils flowing. He is the only active driver to win at all four of the current active short tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule with his victory last weekend at Bristol Dirt. He also has wins at Martinsville (2018), Richmond (2014, 2017) and Bristol (2014, 2015).
In total, Logano has made 24 series starts at Martinsville posting five poles, one win, eight top fives and 12 top 10s. He finished fourth in the Martinsville spring race and third in Playoff race last season.
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
Blue-Emu, NASCAR & Martinsville Speedway Honor Frontline Healthcare Workers at Sovah Health – In advance of the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 NASCAR Cup Series race, Blue-Emu, NASCAR and Martinsville Speedway honored frontline healthcare workers at Sovah Health – Martinsville with a NASCAR hauler parade led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace and Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell.
“We are grateful to join with Blue-Emu to start our NASCAR spring race week by sharing our appreciation to the dedicated frontline healthcare workers at Sovah Health – Martinsville,” said Martinsville President Clay Campbell. “Sovah Health is a long-time valuable partner with the speedway, so we’re honored to recognize their sacrifices to care for our community during these unprecedented times.”
“I’m really excited to partner with our friends at Blue-Emu to honor all of the brave frontline healthcare workers at Sovah Health,” said seven-time Martinsville winner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace, “Martinsville Speedway has always been a special place for me, and Sovah Health is definitely a special part of the community.”
After Wallace and Campbell led the NASCAR hauler parade around the Sovah Health – Martinsville campus in Martinsville Speedway’s Ford Mustang Pace Car, they were joined by Blue-Emu Executive Vice President of Marketing Ben Blessing and Sovah Health – Martinsville Interim Chief Executive Officer Tory Shepherd for a ceremony to share gratitude to frontline healthcare workers.
“So, we are once again super proud to support the community involvement that has encompassed the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500,” said Ben Blessing, EVP of Marketing, Blue-Emu. “We find it very humbling to partner with the Sovah Health family which is made up of just an incredible group of people who continue to provide for those in need.”
In addition to the NASCAR hauler parade, Blue-Emu provided employees of the 220-bed facility located approximately 15 minutes away from the speedway with samples of Blue-Emu products. Sovah Health – Martinsville has served as the official healthcare provider for Martinsville Speedway for over three decades.
Martinsville Speedway & God’s Pit Crew Partner to Host Food Box Distribution Event This Week – As NASCAR returns to racing at Martinsville Speedway, God’s Pit Crew and Mercy Crossing are partnering with the track to distribute Farmers to Families food boxes on Wednesday, April 7 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Jeb Burton, native of South Boston, Va., and driver of the No. 10 for Kaulig Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, will join to support the event benefiting families in Henry County, Va.
“We are proud to partner with God’s Pit Crew and Mercy Crossing to support our residents in Martinsville and Henry County,” said Martinsville President Clay Campbell. “God’s Pit Crew is a Virginia organization that has had a positive impact in the lives of families in need across the nation since 1999. We look forward to welcoming one of our own, Virginia native and NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Jeb Burton, to join us to give back to our community.”
There will be 2,400 Farmers to Families food boxes distributed to residents of Martinsville and Henry County. The food boxes will contain 30 pounds of fresh produce, meats and dairy products. Recipients will also receive a case of Propel flavored water. Henry County residents will enter from on Industrial Park Road, turn right on Clover Road and follow signs to the food distribution sites.
“We are excited to partner with Martinsville Speedway and Jeb Burton to help provide our neighbors in Martinsville and Henry County with Farmers to Families food boxes,” said Randy Johnson, founder and president of God’s Pit Crew. “With COVID-19 impacting everyone in the past year, God’s Pit Crew is honored and blessed to be able to help provide families with this food assistance.”
God’s Pit Crew is a non-profit, faith-based crisis response team whose mission is to bring hope, healing, and restoration to hurting people in times of crisis. Since 1999, God’s Pit Crew has responded to over 140 disasters in 28 states and 13 countries and also distributes millions of food and drink products in their local region through their bi-weekly distribution program. So far in 2021, God’s Pit Crew has responded to five disasters, including the winter storms that impacted Virginia and Texas, severe flooding in Kentucky, and most recently the tornado outbreak that caused damage in Alabama and Georgia.
Brief history of the unique NASCAR trophy at Martinsville Speedway – There is nothing else out there like it and that’s what makes it so unique, the Martinsville Speedway trophy that is. The seven-foot-tall trophy is known as the ‘Grandfather Clock’ or the Ridgeway Clock. It was presented for the first time in 1964 to NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen. Back then, and for many years, the trophy was manufactured just down the road from the iconic short-track. Clockmakers Howard Miller then bought Ridgeway, who were the manufacturers of the clock, and started making them in their unit in Zeeland, Michigan.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update – Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe has taken command of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings over second place Front Row Motorsports driver Anthony Alfredo. Briscoe is 46 points ahead of Alfredo following the seventh race of the season at Bristol Dirt. Both drivers will be making their series track debut this weekend. Briscoe has some experience at Martinsville though, he made his NASCAR national series debut at the ‘Paperclip’ last season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series; he started fifth and finished seventh.