Martinsville Speedway schedule, news, media, tickets, and information for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track only on the official site of NASCAR.
Martinsville Speedway schedule, news, media, tickets, and information for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track only on the official site of NASCAR.
BK Racing co-owner believes move still likely to happen A representative for Front Row Motorsports denied rumors that Cole Whitt would join the team in 2015, saying that social media and reports about a potential move were untrue. But a team co-owner with close ties to Whitt said the transition is all but certain. A Tuesday night tweet from Anthony Marlowe, co-owner of BK Racing, seemed to indicate that Whitt had left his team to join Front Row. Via Twitter, Marlowe congratulated Whitt on securing a ride in the No. 34 Ford, which has been driven the past three seasons by David Ragan . @colewhitt congrats on landing the #34 ride @frontrownascar !! Happy Thanksgiving! See you at the track :) — Anthony Marlowe (@AnthonyMarlowe) November 26, 2014 Wednesday morning, Front Row Motorsports reps said that reports that Whitt was shifting to the Statesville, North Carolina,-based team were "not true." Reached Wednesday afternoon, Marlowe said such a move might still become reality. "I think Cole is a very talented driver. I don't think Front Row Motorsports has much of a choice but to say what they've said or respond the way they've responded pursuant to certain agreements. Cole is still under contract with BK Racing," Marlowe said from his Iowa home. "Am I 100 percent certain he's going there? No. If you would've asked me a few months ago if I would be surprised, I would say absolutely yes. If you'd have asked me a few weeks ago if I was surprised, I'd say no, probably not." Marlowe confirmed that Whitt had informed the BK team that he didn't intend to exercise a contract renewal for next season. "Maybe I've made a mistake in (that) he's going to the 34," Marlowe said of Whitt, "but I'm like 98 percent certain he's going to Front Row Motorsports, and if not, the bellwether on garage rumors and Gmail is [that] my pulse is off on that. I think 99 out of 100 times, those rumors tend to be true and an overwhelming amount of people, including your colleague team owners, are kind of unofficially confirming it." Whitt, 23, recently completed his first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finishing 31st in the overall standings as a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate. He began the year with Swan Racing, which was sold and merged with the BK Racing team in the spring. BK fielded entries for Whitt's No. 26, plus full-time entries for the No. 23 and 83 cars. Ragan, 28, brought Front Row and car owner Bob Jenkins their only victory in NASCAR's premier series at Talladega Superspeedway in May 2013. Ragan struggled last season, though, winding up tied for 32nd in the final standings, a single point behind Whitt. He recorded his lone top-10 finish of the season at Martinsville Speedway in the fall with a paint scheme honoring 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott. Jenkins also fields the full-time No. 38 entry driven by David Gilliland . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
What the key parties involved have gone on to do since the incident One year ago, Darrell Wallace Jr . stormed to his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Martinsville Speedway , etching his name in the history books at the sport's oldest big-league track. But behind him loomed a powder keg. Once Kevin Harvick and Ty Dillon made late-race contact in a battle for second place, the events that followed ignited a short fuse; the actions of both sides kept it dry, with Harvick offering a scalding parting shot toward Richard Childress -- then his team owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series -- and his ascendant grandsons, whom he referred to as "punk-ass kids" on his way out of the race track. One year removed from all the hard feelings, bent fenders and name-calling in one of the season's most incendiary moments, the truck series returns to Martinsville for Saturday's Kroger 200 (1:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Neither of the 2013 combatants are entered in the 200-lapper, leaving a large crop of series regulars to fight it out in the tour's 19th of 22 events this season. While there won't be a carbon-copy repeat of last year's melee, all sides have made significant growth from the fireworks that offered an extra layer of heat to the cool autumn weekend in the south Virginia foothills. KEVIN HARVICK His role: Running second with 13 laps remaining, Harvick's NTS Motorsports No. 14 was nudged from behind twice by Ty Dillon 's Childress-owned No. 3, sending both spinning and catching series leader Matt Crafton and rookie Chase Elliott up in the mess. Once righted, Harvick sideswiped Dillon's truck under caution and played bumper cars with his rival before eventually parking, firing off a testy verbal salvo and leaving the track in a huff. Zinger quote: "Exactly the reason why I'm leaving RCR because you've got those kids coming up and they've got no respect for what they do in this sport and they've had everything fed to them with a spoon." Fast forward: Just two weeks later, Harvick and Childress were all smiles and embracing in Victory Lane at Phoenix International Raceway, sharing a post-race toast of celebratory beers and proving that wins go a long way toward shortening memories and allowing bygones to fade. Harvick, who finished third in the Sprint Cup standings in his RCR swan song, joined Stewart-Haas Racing as planned in the offseason and has enjoyed one of the most successful seasons of his career, winning eight Coors Light Pole Awards -- two more than he achieved in 13 years with Childress. Harvick is the lone SHR driver still title-eligible in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. He wound up 30th last October at Martinsville and apologized for his comments the next day; he hasn't entered a truck series event since. TY DILLON His role: Dillon's nudge triggered the rapidly escalating conflict, but he claimed later that Harvick may have dragged his brake to initiate contact or stall his momentum. Either way, the youngster wasn't content to let Harvick's retaliation go unanswered. Dillon repeatedly rammed Harvick's truck from behind during yellow-flag laps, including a resounding pop when Harvick slowed to a stop in his pit stall. Zinger quote: "I used to look up to that guy but I guess he doesn't understand the circumstances of what's going on. I understand it's tough racing down there in (turns) one and two at Martinsville . I know we wrecked, but to tear up a truck after the race and act like a punk on the track and on pit road and stop on pit road in my pit stall when my guys were coming out, that was pretty ridiculous. I'm not happy with him. And for him not to stick around, that's pretty sad, too." Fast forward: The 22nd-place finish -- last on the lead lap -- didn't help Dillon's championship hopes; he took second in the season-long standings, 40 points behind eventual champ Crafton. The 22-year-old, who became engaged in the offseason, advanced to the Nationwide Series for 2014 and landed a defining win, driving the Childress No. 3 to victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July. The Nationwide rookie ranks fifth in the series standings with three races left. AUSTIN DILLON His role: The older Dillon brother wasn't even entered in the Kroger 200 , but found himself lumped in with Harvick's collective ire in his post-race rant. A Nationwide Series regular at the time, Austin Dillon was already earmarked for Sprint Cup duty with his grandfather's team though the official announcement was still two months away. Zinger quote: "Growing up in the family with RCR and knowing what goes on here on a daily basis, it hurt my feelings. But I forgive Kevin. Kevin's taught me a lot; he's done a lot for our company and stepped in at a tough time for RCR. He's kept us at the forefront of NASCAR. With my grandfather's help he was able to do that. My grandfather gave him that opportunity." Fast forward: Austin Dillon officially took Harvick's place at RCR in December, with the team announcing that it would bring the No. 3 back to Sprint Cup competition for the first time since Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s death in the 2001 Daytona 500 . The rookie ranks 19th in the series standings with four top-10 finishes in 32 races. The elder Dillon has also dabbled in truck series competition, with five of his seven starts coming with the NTS team that fielded Harvick's truck last October. RICHARD CHILDRESS His role: The veteran team owner was left seething after being summoned to the NASCAR hauler, but did his best to try to calm Ty Dillon in the garage after the late-race dust-up. Childress' team, however, was anything but calm, approaching Harvick's truck on pit road and heaving a heavy rubber mallet toward it. Five days later, the team was penalized, with crew chief Marcus Richmond absorbing a $10,000 fine and crew member Adam Brown suspended indefinitely for the hammer throw. Zinger quote: "I'm disappointed. Very disappointed -- that's all I can say. I've got too much class to say what I really want to say. When I say it, I'll say it to his face." Fast forward: Childress launched its 2014 campaign with a new-look Sprint Cup driver lineup, with Austin Dillon replacing Harvick and Ryan Newman taking over for the retiring Jeff Burton alongside the returning Paul Menard . Newman was the only RCR driver to qualify for the Chase playoffs, and his title hopes remain alive in the eight-driver Eliminator Round. Childress ended his full-time participation in the truck series after 2013, but expanded his Nationwide Series operation to three full-time teams with full-time drivers by promoting truck regulars Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan . Richmond remained in the truck series and joined Red Horse Racing as a crew chief for Timothy Peters . Brown, the only one suspended in the Martinsville aftermath, is listed as a tire specialist for Gaughan's No. 62 team on RCR's website. NTS MOTORSPORTS Its role: Harvick's only two truck starts of 2013 came at Martinsville behind the wheel of NTS Chevrolets, and both races ended in DNFs. Though last October's effort wasn't for championship points, it had the unintended impact of drawing more TV time for Anderson's Maple Syrup, primary sponsor on Harvick's No. 14 entry. Zinger quote: None. Fast forward: NTS Motorsports currently occupies the Kernersville, N.C., racing shop of the former Kevin Harvick Inc., which ceased operations after the 2012 season. Nine drivers have taken the wheel for Bob Newberry-owned trucks in 2014, with the major highlight coming from Justin Lofton 's runner-up finish after starting from the pole at Texas Motor Speedway in June. The team is still looking for its first victory in the Camping World Truck Series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 88 team's win comes 10 years after fatal plane crash RELATED: Full race results " Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota MORE: Junior meets with another Junior MARTINSVILLE , Va. -- History exists in every turn, in every crevice of Martinsville Speedway . From the elegant grandfather clocks given as race trophies and the antiquated look and feel of the 0.526-mile track, the oldest on the circuit, to the historic black-and-white photos that populate the media center, there is always a constant reminder of the past here in the southern Virginia foothills. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a lover of NASCAR history, made some of his own with Sunday's victory. The man who attended his first race at the track in the 1980s, who grew up playing with toy Matchbox race cars in the front hall of his childhood home, listening to a race on the radio as one of the clocks his father won chimed every hour, now has a timepiece of his own after Sunday's thrilling victory. "You know, I love the history of the sport and just can't get enough of it," said Earnhardt Jr., whose mood vacillated from euphoric to contemplative throughout a 30-minute press conference after Sunday's win. "I just know this place has a special meaning and a special place in the series and the sport. Dad won several races here, brought home several clocks. I always wanted one." "This is so special. I try not to get too caught up in the emotion of it because it's a team deal, but this is very personal and very special to me to be able to win here." He did so by charging through the field after starting 23rd, leading 79 laps and holding off Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon over the frenetic final four laps in a race that had big wrecks and bigger swings. That it was Junior and Gordon finishing 1-2 made the day more fitting for Hendrick Motorsports. Yes, Martinsville is steeped in history. Not all of it is worth celebrating. It was 10 years ago when a Hendrick Motorsports plane crashed into the side of Bull Mountain en route to Martinsville , killing all 10 people aboard. Jimmie Johnson didn't go to Victory Lane that day after his win, and team owner Rick Hendrick's presence at this track is no longer guaranteed. Sometimes attending is too painful for Hendrick, who lost his son, brother and two nieces in the tragedy. The team owner was at this one, though, his mere presence a symbol of the same strength he showed in the days and years following that incident. Like so many in the stands, he nervously watched the dramatic final stages unfold as he wondered if either of his two drivers would win -- or if they'd wreck each other trying. "We miss those folks, family and friends, and they meant so much to the organization," he said as the race wound down. "Every year we think about it, but this year's (different) … 10 years." Then he was there in Victory Lane, the man who has built a four-car operation that is the envy of many, wrapping up the 11-time Most Popular Driver Award winner in a massive embrace. There they stood as confetti poured down around them, two men who have both endured unfathomable tragedy yet manage to still exude genuine gracefulness all these years later. "I could feel how important it was to (Hendrick) and his embrace, when he would hug me," Earnhardt said. "You just know, there's a hug and then there's a genuine hug. His was the real deal. "This is the 10th anniversary. It's more difficult. The 10th anniversary sort of has you reflecting and remembering. … Losing my dad was difficult. I can't imagine that loss that he went through, his family went through, the whole organization. I think I've paralleled my loss and his loss until I started working with him, then I started understanding it's quite a bit larger void that it created." Sunday's unforgettable victory was Earnhardt's fourth of 2014, his highest total in a decade. He's won at Daytona and Martinsville in the same year, and swept the Pocono races. His No. 88 Chevrolet constantly runs toward the front more than it ever has in his career. In his final year with crew chief Steve Letarte, the National Guard team has reached that rare stage where it is fast at every track on the schedule. Opening the season with a Daytona 500 win set a standard the group has consistently matched, and for a while it looked like this team was destined to win the 2014 title until a rough three-race stretch ousted them from the postseason. "I don't believe in fairytales," Earnhardt Jr. said of no longer being in control of his title aspirations. "It's only destiny in hindsight, you know? This wasn't our year. It's only magical after the fact, when you see it happen." Letarte agreed, saying the team had "no excuses" for why it's out of the championship running. That reality didn't keep smiles off either of their faces, though. Letarte may have been as excited as Earnhardt, simply because of how frequently he's heard the clock talk over years -- and how winning at Martinsville was something that Earnhardt needed to check off his career resume. Sure, it didn't come in a championship season, but Earnhardt will never again have a "0" next to the win column at this venue. His place in the Martinsville history book is secured, the man who loves NASCAR history helping to ensure his name will be etched among other legends 50 years from now. There's a different kind of history that comes with this win, too. Personal history. "Hopefully when I'm at his house having a cold one, we'll listen to the thing chime 10 years from now and smile," Letarte said. Now that sounds like a fairytale ending. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Wallace Jr. tries to repeat on weekend honoring Wendell Scott TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Darrell Wallace Jr. bounds into the media center, shaking hands and saying hellos as though he wanted to be there. He recently turned 21, and is excited to finally have the chance to win a Keystone Light Pole Award. A year ago, when he won his first NASCAR national series race at Martinsville Speedway in the Camping World Truck Series , he couldn’t enjoy a champagne celebration in Victory Lane. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver has seen a lot in that year. In the 21 races following his first win, he's scored two more trips to Victory Lane and seven top-five finishes. He still taunts good friend Ryan Blaney on Twitter, showing that he really is just 21, but has developed into a more level-headed driver in the year after his first win. "The maturity level has gone up, I'd say, inside the race car," Wallace said of the past year. "... I think just learning everything -- learning the tracks, understanding how things work, letting little stuff go, and focusing on the end of the race, instead of getting flustered at the beginning when I lose six or seven spots, and get upset and end up wrecking." That scenario plagued Wallace twice last year, once at Charlotte Motor Speedway and again at Kentucky Speedway . A poor restart at Charlotte and slow pit stop at Kentucky both lost positions for the then 20-year-old rookie, and both situations ended in a wreck for the No. 54 team. He's kept himself out of trouble more often this year, resulting in a much-improved season. " ... Now we just go out and have (a) fun, smooth race -- still not happy if we don't win, but it's still a good points day to finish in sixth vs. 26th, so i think that has changed a lot," Wallace said. "I've relaxed and learn to take in more and listen more and go out there and utilize that -- what I've learned, -- it's definitely shown." Also impressed with his season is boss and Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch , who knows how emotion can impact the performance of his full-time driver. "Our trucks have been really good this year; it has been great to see other talent run well in our stuff with Bubba -- and Erik Jones as well," Busch said after his win at Chicagoland Speedway , finishing five spots ahead of Wallace. "I look forward to watching the rest of the year and see if Bubba can't make a challenge for the championship ... he needs to keep his head up and just keep fighting." Wallace has also been a big part of NASCAR history. Beyond earning a personal milestone at Martinsville Speedway with his first Trucks win, Wallace also became the first African-American driver to win a national series race since Wendell Scott in 1963, as well as the first to win in the Camping World Truck Series. The Scott family was on hand at Martinsville to witness and celebrate the history of the occasion. "When the checkered flag dropped, I heard a big boom from heaven, and my daddy said 'Hell, yeah!'" Franklin Scott, son of the soon-to-be Hall of Famer, said after the race. Wallace, on the other hand, seemed a bit overwhelmed by the magnitude of the occasion. "It's been great seeing all the outlets that I'm on, doing all this stuff, it's for the better, and it's trying to change the sport, and I'm all-in for that," he said. "Just carrying the torch that Wendell Scott laid down for us, and taking it farther. That's the biggest thing I'm trying to do." When he returns to the track this weekend, known as Scott's home track, Wallace will drive with Scott's number and paint scheme adorning his KBM truck as he continue to battle toward the Camping World Truck Series title, which would put the young driver in NASCAR history books once again. "The colors look good, the blue-and-white Toyota Tundra No. 34 is going to be different for sure, but I'm excited to carry on the Wendell Scott banner and represent their family and his legacy for that weekend," Wallace said. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
CGR driver will lead field to green in Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 (Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota MORE: Full Martinsville race lineup MARTINSVILLE , Va.— When the green flag waves to start the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN), it won't be a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver who leads the field to the start/finish line. Touring the .526-mile short track in 18.954 seconds (99.905 mph) in his No. 1 Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Jamie McMurray upstaged the championship contenders on Friday in winning the pole for the first race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase. In claiming his second Coors Light pole award of the season, his second at Martinsville and the 11th of his career, McMurray beat title contenders Joey Logano (99.605 mph) and Matt Kenseth (99.318 mph) for the top spot. Tony Stewart (99.297 mph) qualified fourth, followed by Chase driver Denny Hamlin (99.266 mph). Six of the eight eligible remaining Chase drivers qualified in the top 12. Brad Keselowski will start sixth, Ryan Newman ninth and Carl Edwards 11th. In McMurray's case, practice made perfect. His pole followed a productive recent test session at the historic short track. "We tested here a couple of weeks ago, and I thought we had one of the best tests that I've been a part of, really since I started racing," McMurray said. "Really well organized… We made the car better throughout the test and hit on a couple things that really had a lot of speed in it. "So I was pretty excited about getting here this weekend. Our cars have been so quick the past two or three months—really all year, but more so in the past few months. This is a great track for me, and we had a really good test. When things are going well, you get excited to come back to the track. It was really great that we were able to take that test and use that toward earning the pole today." Jeff Gordon, one of the pre-race favorites, narrowly missed advancing to the second round of knockout qualifying and will start 13th. The real casualty of Friday's time trials, however, was Kevin Harvick , who scraped the wall in the 30-minute first round and will start 33rd. "We just missed it today," said Harvick, whose career-average finish of 15.8 at Martinsville is worst among the eight remaining Chase drivers. "We were way too loose. We struggled in practice and just missed it in qualifying. "We'll just have to get it better (in Saturday's practice) and be ready to go on Sunday." Gordon, who missed advancing to the second round by .003 seconds, shrugged off his position on the grid. "I don't mind starting 13th," he said. "It's not a bad place to start. You just want that really good pit stall, and so we'll definitely suffer with a pit stall a little bit. "But we can definitely still win it from there. Our car is really good." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Get caught up quickly before the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota What: 66th annual Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 Where: Martinsville Speedway When: Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 TV/Radio: ESPN, MRN, SIRIUSXM NASCAR Radio Distance: 500 laps; 263 miles Time: 1:30 p.m. ET Pit road speed: 30 mph Caution car speed: 35 mph On the front row 1. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet (99.905 mph) 2. Joey Logano , No. 22 Team Penske Ford (99.605 mph) Fastest in practice First practice: Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet (99.250 mph) Second practice: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (99.023 mph) Final practice: Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (97.322 mph) Great eight Sunday's Goody's Headache Relief 500 marks the first race in the Eliminator Round. Eight drivers are still in contention to win this year's championship, and their point totals were reset to 4,000 after last week's race at Talladega. Among the surprises still in title contention -- Ryan Newman , whose three top-fives are the fewest out of all eight eligible drivers, and Carl Edwards , whose 13 top-10s rank last in the group. "I keep going back to what Ryan Newman said at the Hall of Fame," Edwards said. "He said, 'Man, I've never been tied for the points lead with four races to go.' It's an amazing opportunity." They said it … on tempers "Things do carry over. You can put them away, but if you're back racing with that individual and they use you up a time or two, maybe you remember and don't push the brakes as hard or get on the gas a little earlier than you should have. Those moments seem to surface on short tracks. There can be plenty of madness here." – Jimmie Johnson "This is a track certainly where it's easy to let your temper get the best of you, especially if things aren't going your way and your car isn't driving good and somebody runs into you and all that kind of stuff. I think this track always lends itself to that no matter what the situation is. " -- Matt Kenseth "It will be interesting to see how everything plays out. I think there will be something that happens that we don't expect. It will definitely be entertaining." -- Carl Edwards Hope for Harvick? A loose race car during the first round of group qualifying saw Chase contender Kevin Harvick slap the wall twice, then finish 33rd. That's where he will start Sunday. It's his worst start of the season at a non-restrictor-plate track and far worse than his average start in this year's 32 races -- 8.8, second-best in the series. A positive: Harvick was fast Saturday, leading final practice and finishing fifth in the day's opening session. Fond farewell Sunday marks the final race for drivers Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch with their respective crew chiefs, Tony Gibson and Daniel Knost. The Stewart-Haas Racing teammates will swap crew chiefs, starting next week at Texas Motor Speedway , for the remainder of the year and into 2015. The hope is to jumpstart both teams by better meshing the personalities between the two roles. Knost has an analytical background that Patrick likes, while Gibson was referred to this weekend as more of an "old-school" crew chief. "I think long-term, it's the right thing," SHR Competition Director Greg Zipadelli said. Driver rating (Best driver rating average at Martinsville Speedway based on past nine years) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (124.8) Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (119.0) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (109.6) Defending race champion: Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet Former Martinsville winners in the field Jeff Gordon (8), Jimmie Johnson (8), Denny Hamlin (4), Tony Stewart (3), Kurt Busch (2), Ryan Newman (1), Kevin Harvick (1). Fantasy Sleeper (powered by Rotowire.com): Dale Earnhardt Jr. The Hendrick Motorsports star is coming off the disappointment of not advancing in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Talladega last weekend. Earnhardt should shake that off as we visit one of his favorite short tracks this weekend. He has been the closest driver in the field at upsetting the Martinsville big three of Denny Hamlin , Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon in recent races. The risk is relatively small and the fantasy racing upside is too good to ignore. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Drivers have to be separated by team members RELATED: Quiroga goes four-wide, angers Gaulding MARTINSVILLE , Va. -- The post-race scrap for position Saturday afternoon between hard-nosed veterans Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters ended with both trucks practically locked together on Martinsville Speedway 's pit road, with both drivers emerging and looking to brawl. But after tempers had soothed slightly, it also ended with an extended olive branch -- at least from one side of the battle. "I'll buy him dinner if he's willing to talk," Peters said, suggesting local staple Clarence's Steakhouse as a cozy nearby venue. Sauter was in no mood for chitchat, regardless of Peters' offer to pick up the check. While his rival went on to a second-place finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' Kroger 200 at his home track, Sauter sunk to seventh place after leading the second-most laps (41). "The future of NASCAR looks bright, don't it? What a disgrace of a race," Sauter fumed to MRN Radio, drawing a chorus of boos from the crowd when his remarks were broadcast over the track's public-address system. Sauter declared his fringe candidacy for his first series championship over after last week's engine failure and 31st-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway . At Martinsville , he looked poised to at least keep pace if not make gains, but his late run-in with Peters placed him behind the three drivers ahead of him in the series standings -- race winner Darrell Wallace Jr ., points leader and teammate Matt Crafton and fifth-place Ryan Blaney . Points or no points, Sauter was irate and then some, needing to be separated from Peters and his Red Horse Racing team. Officials and other crew members stepped in, but on more than one occasion when Sauter seemed settled down, heated words and the lure of the scrum pulled him back in. "Take your helmet off, tough guy," Sauter yelled. "You want some? I'll give you all I got. You're nothing." After a slight cooling-off period and a haphazard search for his car keys to beat a hasty retreat out of the .526-mile track, Sauter's dander was still up. "You're just racing hard all day, and you get clobbered at the end," Sauter said. "It's the way it is, and if people like that, I guess they should keep coming." The melee gave Peters an odd season sweep of sorts, with involvement in cool-down lap confrontations in both Martinsville races this year. In March, he crumpled fenders with Peters' Red Horse teammate German Quiroga after their late-race conflict. This time around, Peters was the one in a giving mood. "Just hard racing. I didn't mean to get into him as much as I did, but did I mean to get into him? Absolutely," Peters said. "He drives pretty recklessly and when I get driven like that, I'm going to return the favor. It's just hard short-track racing. I was on the receiving end of it in the spring, so it was time for someone else to be." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet is defending race winner at Virginia short track Jeff Gordon has been pretty strong in his career at Martinsville Speedway . The driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has eight wins, 27 top-fives, 34 top-10s and seven Coors Light Pole Awards at the Virginia short track. Gordon's last win at Martinsville came last fall in the Chase race, where he led 78 laps, including the final 21 circuits to secure his victory. Earlier in his career, Gordon swept the Martinsville Sprint Cup Series races in 2003 and 2005. Gordon and his Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson have the most wins among active drivers at the track, but they are tied for third all-time behind Richard Petty (15 wins) and Darrell Waltrip (11 wins).