Last-minute sub for Kyle Larson finishes 16th at Martinsville Speedway Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Kyle Larson was hours away from Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon, staying in a Charlotte medical facility while Regan Smith filled in as an 11th-hour substitute in the No. 42 Chevrolet he usually drives. That doesn't mean he wasn't tuned in to how his Chip Ganassi Racing outfit was doing, leading to an entertaining back-and-forth over the team radio communications during pace laps. "We know you're listening, Kyle. We're going to get one for you." "He just texted me to say 'I'm listening.' " "We can't get away with anything." With their talented driver eavesdropping the day after he fainted at an autograph session, Smith wheeled Ganassi's No. 42 to a solid 16th-place finish in the STP 500 , rallying from a mid-race spin and a last-place starting spot. Ganassi officials contacted the NASCAR XFINITY Series regular on Saturday night, shortly after Larson was transported to a local hospital for tests, to inquire about his availability. When Smith awoke at 5:30 a.m. ET, he was already tapped for substitute detail. "I definitely appreciated them calling me in that situation," Smith said. "I hate it for Kyle -- he's a friend and a competitor, so you don't ever want to see that happen. I know it probably tore him up today." On such short notice, the makeshift accommodations -- Smith was fitted using CGR teammate Jamie McMurray 's seat as a model, and he borrowed a crew member uniform for his firesuit -- took some getting used to. He was forced to drop to the rear of the field from the seventh starting position that Larson earned in Friday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying because of the driver change, making his battle an uphill one before the green flag ever unfurled. But Smith made progress, getting to the fringes of the top 10 until he spun after a nudge from Kurt Busch in the 286th of 500 laps during a traffic jam. "It was just a check-up, a chain-reaction deal and by the time it got back to me, I hit the car in front of me and whoever was behind me hit me even harder," Smith said. "It's typical Martinsville. We saw it happening all day. Sometimes it's such a big check-up that you can't do anything about it. It's just a racing deal." The contact dropped him from 17th to 27th, last on the lead lap, for the next restart, but Smith still found momentum that kept him on the leader's pace. "We just fought hard all day long, stayed on the lead lap. That was a big goal, starting where we did," Smith said. "It's tough sometimes to stay on that lead lap here. I thought the car was a little better than where we finished at the end. I got hung on the last restart on the outside and then couldn't get through some of the traffic as quick as I needed to. But nonetheless, good day for sitting at the house last night, thinking I wasn't going to be doing anything." In the span of the last 21 Sprint Cup races dating back to last August, Smith has subbed in for three teams -- the No. 14 and 41 cars from Stewart-Haas Racing and Sunday's ride in the No. 42. The effort wasn't lost on crew chief Chris Heroy, who applauded Smith's versatility in running a largely clean race at one of the sport's roughest tracks. "I was really impressed," Heroy said. "To jump in cold like that and be able to run solid in the top 15 is a real credit. We struggled from time to time with Kyle here, with Juan here, so it's a nice run for our program, and I can't say enough about what a great job he did." Heroy said he spoke to Larson on Sunday morning, saying that his evaluations were going well thus far. "He's in good spirits," Heroy said. "He's passing all his tests. He's an incredible student down there, so I'm going to go check on him right now and drive back to Charlotte." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Drivers give their takes on California dustup Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jeff Gordon said he felt he had run out of options. David Ragan said he thought he could hold Gordon off. The result was a spin by Ragan during last weekend's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway that brought out the day's first caution less than 25 laps into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Ragan, filling in for the fourth consecutive week for the injured Kyle Busch in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, said Friday at Martinsville Speedway that "at the end of the day, I certainly got the bad end of the deal." "I was in the preferred line but Jeff was a little faster than me at the time," Ragan said before heading out to take part in the day’s lone practice at the 0.526-mile track. "Looking back at it, I probably would have just let him by knowing that I was going to be the one that was coming off Turn 4 backwards." The two were battling for seventh place when Gordon's Chevrolet drew close enough to the left-rear of Ragan's car to send it into a spin. The move came after Gordon had shot underneath, only to see the JGR driver flash back by on the high side of the 2-mile track. "We were moving forward at that time – both me and (teammate) Jimmie (Johnson)," the four-time Sprint Cup champion said. "We caught David. He was definitely struggling and trying to hang on until the pit stop where they could make some adjustments. He was letting off real early in the corner." Johnson cleared Ragan and had driven away when Gordon made his initial move to the inside. While he could have moved up the track and in front of Ragan, Gordon said he thought "I'm not going to do a slide job on the guy this early in the race. We'll see if he wants to race me hard or not.” And that, Gordon said, is what transpired. "He raced me hard on the outside," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "A couple laps later I got inside him again, and this time I crowded him a little bit more. He got all over my door; got me loose and so I basically said at that point that I was going to have to do it the hard way. "I know on the radio I said I may have to use the bumper, and I would have if I could have gotten to him and tapped him a little. But I didn't have to. I just got up to him and he was already pretty loose. I just took the air off of him to just get him to lift, but he didn't lift. He stayed in the gas and spun out." Ragan said he didn't give Gordon the spot because he felt "maybe once I got my track bar adjusted a little bit and kind of got my rhythm I felt like I might could pull away from him. "I did feel like once I could get my car going in the top lane that I could be a little better. Jeff was a little impatient. He didn't do anything wrong, he just didn't give me a break. And I didn't give him a break either. "What I can learn from that is it was early in the race, that one spot didn't matter. I could have had a little bit of give and take and the 24 could have had a little bit of give and take. It's one of those things that at the end of the day I got the bad end of the deal and that's sucked. I learned from it and moved on." The two spoke briefly after the race, the fifth of 36 that make up the 2015 Sprint Cup Series schedule and the final stop of a three-race West Coast swing that began in Las Vegas and moved to Phoenix before wrapping up at Auto Club "I don't expect somebody to just let me go by them, but when you're that much faster than somebody else, you have to make a choice: 'How do I want to race at this point and this stage in the race? Is it worth it to me?'" Gordon said Friday. "In my opinion and on a track that was that difficult to pass on, I was going to get up behind him. I never touched him, but I definitely took the air off of him." "Jeff's obviously a champion and a smart racer and you've got to give him some respect," Ragan said. "I raced him like I would anybody else. But at the beginning of a race we both have to have some give and take; he's lucky that he didn't get collected somehow. If I would have spun a little earlier in the corner and he couldn't turn down, he very well could have been collected too and it would have been a bad deal for both of us." Gordon eventually finished 10th while Ragan was 18th. He finished 17th in the season-opening Daytona 500 while driving for Front Row Motorsports , and has finished 18th, 22nd, 21st and 18th since taking over for Busch. "I feel like the last couple of weeks have been good ," Ragan said. "I'm disappointed that we haven't gotten a good finish to show for (it), I think we've had some pretty good cars. "I think we've had a top-10 car every week besides Phoenix, and that's disappointing when you don't finish where you think you should – for several reasons, from mistakes on my behalf to just poor racing luck to situations like we had last week. "We could win one of these things, break off with two or three top-fives in a row and it wouldn't surprise me. But we've just got to put a whole weekend together." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Catch up quickly before Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live What: 66th annual STP 500 Where: Martinsville Speedway , Martinsville, Virginia When: Sunday, March 29, 2015 TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, Motor Racing Network Time: 1:13 p.m. ET Distance: 500 laps (263 miles) Pit Road Speed: 30 mph Caution Car Speed: 35 mph Estimated Pit Window: 125-135 laps, based on fuel mileage On The Front Row " Full starting lineup " See all 43 cars 1. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (98.461 mph) 2. Ryan Newman , Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet (98.328 mph) To The Rear Casey Mears , Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet (transmission); Regan Smith , Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet (driver change, subbing for Kyle Larson ); Justin Allgaier , HScott Motorsports No. 51 Chevrolet (backup) Failed To Qualify Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet; Ron Hornaday Jr ., TMG No. 30 Chevrolet. Fastest In Practice First practice: Ryan Newman , Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet (97.835 mph) " Full results Second practice: Denny Hamlin , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (97.113 mph) " Full results Final Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (97.098 mph) " Full results It's Not Where You Start After qualifying first or second in two of the last three races, defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick will roll off from the No. 17 position at Martinsville. He's qualified worse this season, starting 18th at Las Vegas. For the record, he won Las Vegas. Remember When? A Ford team has not finished first or second at Martinsville since 2002, going 0-for 24 since Kurt Busch won the fall race here while driving for Roush Fenway Racing . Chevrolet teams have won the last eight races at the 0.526-mile track. Hey Buddy, Move It "There is a lot of blocking that goes on (at Martinsville) and nobody wants go give up the inside, but the guy behind can control that a little bit. You can just get to their bumper and move them. … The guy that chops your nose off a lot going into say, Turn 3, you are just going to move him. … It is frustrating at times, but you definitely want to be on the offensive here rather than the defensive." – Paul Menard , RCR No. 27 Chevrolet He Can See The Front Tony Stewart will start sixth at Martinsville, his best starting spot since the fall race at Texas last year. He's also coming off his best finish of the season, a 14th-place result last week at Auto Club Speedway . The three-time Martinsville winner says earning a good starting spot "is half the battle" on the tiny track. "If you can just get a good pit spot and … a decent starting spot to where you do not have to beat the thing to death trying to get to the front, that's half the battle," he said. Pole or Bust Pole winners have won two of the last five Martinsville races, which might be good news for No. 1 qualifier Joey Logano . But drivers starting outside the top-20 have won the last two – Kurt Busch won from 22nd last spring while Dale Earnhardt Jr . won from 23rd in the fall race. Winless and counting Yes, it's been quite a while since a Toyota team won a Sprint Cup Series points races, 31 races in fact, and while Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin says a victory at Martinsville would be a big boost, it wouldn't be a cure-all. "It's been tough and it's been a hard year for the organization and the manufacturer," he said. "Not that a win here would just satisfy all those needs -- we still know that realistically we've got a lot of work to do, but it definitely would take a lot of pressure off because right now we're all in that hornets' nest of the bubble spot if this thing comes down to points." An Off-Weekend? Let's Go Racing Chase Elliott , the defending XFINITY Series champion and the son of NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott , is making his Sprint Cup Series debut today. Elliott will start 27th in the No. 25 Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports . "You just want to put together 500 solid laps on Sunday and try to run all the laps and hope we can have a good day," Elliott, 19, said. The XFINITY Series has the weekend off, returning to action Friday, April 10 at Texas Motor Speedway . Defending STP 500 Champion Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Martinsville Speedway based on past 10 years: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (122.5) Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet (119.8) Denny Hamlin , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (110.1) Former Martinsville Speedway Winners In Field Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson 8; Denny Hamlin 4; Tony Stewart 3; Kurt Busch 2; Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman 1 MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver earned career-best second-place finish in this race last year Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live FONTANA, Calif. -- Ending his first full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series as the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year with eight top-fives and 17 top-10 finishes along with one Coors Light Pole Award, Kyle Larson is still searching for more -- a win. It was last year's Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Spedway when the California native's racing abilities truly began to shine. Rightfully earning the admiration of NASCAR veteran Kyle Busch , Larson came up second to Busch in the 2014 Auto Club 400 after fighting hard in the final laps. Busch was able hold Larson off as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver crossed the finish line .214 seconds ahead of the then-rookie, who had won the NASCAR XFINITY Series race just one day earlier. Now, with Busch being sidelined for injuries sustained in this year's opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona, it begs the question -- what driver will be holding off Larson for the lead this year? "There's a lot of good cars and (Kevin) Harvick has definitely been strong so far this season, so I'm sure he'll be the one to beat," Larson said on Friday at the Auto Club Speedway . Though 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Harvick has displayed nothing but dominance so far this season, Larson has already earned himself two top-10 finishes and will start fifth in the field for Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). "I like this place," Larson said. "It's tricky because of all the seams and it's got a pretty worn out surface and you have to search around for all the grip, but it seems to suit my driving style." The 22-year-old will get plenty of practice on the oldest asphalt on the Sprint Cup Series schedule when he runs in Saturday's Drive4Clots.com 300 (4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), the race that gave Larson the first XFINITY Series win of his career. But Larson's run in Saturday's XFINITY Series race will see him start in a backup car as the No. 42 driver spun out in opening practice after Mike Bliss dropped oil on the track, forcing Larson to make the move. "We should be OK," Larson said. "I got to make one lap in (the backup car) afterward and it felt fine so hats off to my guys for getting me back out there in that practice to make one lap, that gives me some extra confidence to qualify." Once the XFINITY Series race is over, Larson will have one thing on his mind: proving that he's the car to beat in Sunday's race. Larson's crew chief Chris Heroy jokingly recalled a request Larson made after coming up short to Busch last year. "He came on the radio and asked me if he could do a burnout," Heroy said after the 2014 Auto Club 400 . "I told him, 'Next time, if things work out.'" Perhaps Larson's "next time" is now. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kevin Harvick finishes second for eighth straight top-two finish RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings FONTANA, Calif. -- After Sunday's Auto Club 400 , there may be a warrant issued for Brad Keselowski . After all, the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford committed his own version of "Grand Theft Auto" at Auto Club Speedway -- he stole an entire race. Benefitting from a four-tire call on the last lap of regulation and two opportune cautions that extended the event nine laps beyond its scheduled distance, Keselowski passed polesitter Kurt Busch on the final lap (209) and pulled away to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. Trying to make one last desperation run at Keselowski, Busch scraped the wall in the final corner at the two-mile track, allowing Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick to pass him for the runner-up spot. Keselowski arrived at the finish line .711 seconds ahead of Harvick, simultaneously taking the checkered flag and leading his first lap of the day. The 2012 champion, who led the series with six victories last year, recorded his first victory at Fontana -- and his first finish higher than 18th -- and the 17th of his career. "At the end, we caught some breaks, made the most of the breaks we caught," Keselowski said. "That was kind of the story of our race. It looked like we were probably going to finish sixth or seventh. That yellow came out (on Lap 185 for debris). We came in and pitted and drove up a little bit, then caught another yellow. Now what do we do? "So (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) made the call to come down pit road and put four tires on. When he said that, I said, 'This can either go really good or really bad.' Didn't know which one it was going to be. Some guys stayed out, some guys took two tires, all different types of strategies on the restart. "We were able to find our way through the lanes and get to the front there, somehow end up in Victory Lane leading the last lap. Kind of a race car driver's dream. This is one we're going to sit back and go 'Wow!' for a while." Keselowski can call it a break, but it was theft, pure and simple. Aside from a stretch before the halfway point where Denny Hamlin got out front in clean air and led 56 laps, the cars of Busch and Harvick dominated the race, leading 65 and 34 laps, respectively. But Keselowski’s Wolfe made what turned out to be the winning call on Lap 200, after NASCAR called the sixth caution of the race because of debris in Turn 4. Opting for four new tires, where the vast majority of the field took right sides only for track position, Keselowski restarted 18th on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish on Lap 203. The No. 2 Fusion quickly moved forward. When Kyle Larson lost his bumper cover during a melee on the restart, NASCAR threw caution No. 7, and by then, Keselowski was already up to seventh place. Using the new tires to full advantage, Keselowski shot into second place like a lightning bolt after a green-white-checkered restart on Lap 208. As Greg Biffle crashed on the frontstretch on the white-flag lap, Keselowski rocketed past Busch off Turn 2 and pulled away for the win. Busch came home third, followed by Richard Childress Racing teammates Paul Menard and Ryan Newman . Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Joey Logano , Martin Truex Jr ., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon completed the top 10. Having won at Las Vegas and Phoenix in the previous two races, Harvick fell one position shy of completing a sweep of NASCAR's three-race West Coast swing, but he could commiserate with Busch, who was trying to win for the first time this season after serving a three-race suspension. "I hate that the 41 (Busch) wasn't able to hold on for the win there," said Harvick, who posted his eighth straight top-two finish, dating to last year, and extended his series lead over Logano to 28 points. "I would have loved to see those guys get their first win. "But you never know how the strategy is going to play out here. There's so many cars on the lead lap, you didn't want to get buried in there (by taking four tires). One little bad move for Brad, he would have been stuck in the middle of that traffic. But it all worked out for him. The second restart, he was in prime position up on the outside with fresh tires." Busch was disappointed but philosophical about the result. "It was a solid day," Busch said. "I don't know what we could have done different. We just got pinned in by the yellows and the sequence at the end on which tires we needed to have to optimize how many laps were left. "We had two tires; Keselowski had four. We didn't need that extra yellow at the end. That last restart, I just didn't get the job done, and I just got out muscled by Keselowski." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today All-time consecutive top-two finishes Streak Driver Year 11 Richard Petty 1975 10 Richard Petty 1971 10 Richard Petty 1967 9 Richard Petty 1964 8 Kevin Harvick 2014-15 8 David Pearson 1968
From hot tempers to sitting on the hot seat, check out the in-car audio highlights from the Auto Club 400.
Host Matthew Dillner and the GarageCam crew takes you around the XFINITY Series garage at Auto Club Speedway but not before coming across three huge beehives.
Breaking down how the full 43-car field fared at Phoenix International Raceway Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet , Stewart-Haas Racing . The desert domination continued for Harvick and the No. 4 bunch, which led 224 of 312 laps in the team's fourth straight Phoenix victory. Harvick's second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win increased his streak of top-two finishes to seven, the first driver to accomplish it since Richard Petty in 1975. "That gives me chills," said the defending Sprint Cup champ. 2. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet , Chip Ganassi Racing . Though he voiced concerns about a tire going down to crew chief Matt McCall in the final 50 laps, McMurray persevered for his best Sprint Cup finish since winning at Talladega Superspeedway in October 2013. McCall's decision to keep the No. 1 on the track over the final fuel run gave McMurray a chance to battle hard with Harvick in the late stages. 3. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet , Richard Childress Racing . Newman went all the way into late June last year before he notched his first top-five finish of the season. Four races into the 2015 campaign, Newman already has two top-fives -- his 99th and 100th of his career -- thanks to his second straight third-place finish. 4. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet , Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne saved his best finish of the season for his 400th start in NASCAR's premier series, moving up two spots to fourth place in the Sprint Cup standings in the process. "I hope I get 400 more," said the 34-year-old driver. 5. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet , Stewart-Haas Racing . The driver formerly known as "The Outlaw" ran second to his SHR teammate Harvick for much of the waning stages, but lost ground when he pitted for fresh tires with 22 laps left. In his first race of the season since NASCAR lifted his suspension, Busch was all business, telling his crew on the radio on the cool-down lap that he thought he had "enough good will saved up, but top five is exactly where we need to be." " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 6. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford , Team Penske . The 2012 Sprint Cup champ led the second-most laps (52) and landed his best finish of the season, but remains on the hunt for his first top-five. "We just didn't quite have enough speed," said Keselowski, who drove the top-finishing Ford. "I thought we were about a third- or fourth-place car and got shuffled to finish where we did." 7. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet , Furniture Row Racing . The scrappy Colorado-based team continued its upswing, moving to third in the early Sprint Cup standings. Truex rose to as high as second place Sunday, gaining two spots on a 126th-lap restart and leading his spotter to exclaim, "All clear, you are the man!" Truex joins points leader Kevin Harvick and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano as the only three drivers with top-10 finishes in all four races thus far. " Sign up for RaceView to see in-car video on race days 8. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford , Team Penske . Logano led twice (the only driver other than Harvick to lead more than once) for 35 laps, benefitting from some fleet-footed pit work from his No. 22 crew. He rallied back after a pit stop during the next-to-last caution period, saying afterward, "getting a top-10 is great but we want to win some more." 9. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet , Hendrick Motorsports . The first top-10 finish of Gordon's final full season in NASCAR's top division couldn't come soon enough, helping him jump five spots to 25th in the Sprint Cup standings. He gave up third place by pitting during the ninth of 10 yellow flags, but threaded his way back for his fourth top-10 in his last five Phoenix races. 10. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet , Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson survived a dicey moment shortly after a restart in the 126th lap when Kevin Harvick pushed on his back bumper, getting the No. 42 askew off Turn 4. Larson kept headed in the right direction, securing his second straight top-10 finish. 11. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet , Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson's adventures came early and late in the 312-lapper at Phoenix: He collided with Brian Vickers at the end of the first lap, leading Johnson to tell crew chief Chad Knaus on the radio, "It's so weird, he left me a lane and came over on the straight." Johnson pressed on after more contact with Carl Edwards on pit road during the race's seventh caution. 12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford , Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse was at the head of the Roush Fenway class Sunday, marking his best Sprint Cup finish since a sixth-place effort at Bristol Motor Speedway last August. The effort wasn't without some drama, an 81st-lap nudge from Tony Stewart that sent him out of the groove and cost him a handful of spots early on. 13. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota , Joe Gibbs Racing . Over his radio in the final stages, Edwards -- who withstood a collision with Jimmie Johnson 's No. 48 on pit road -- radioed his crew that the No. 19 was "shaking like hell," but he was assured that a flapping piece of sheet metal at the rear was upsetting the car's balance. His JGR entry was the highest-finishing Toyota in the 43-car field. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 14. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet , Richard Childress Racing . Menard's third straight finish on the outskirts of the top 10 didn't come without some excitement as he just missed Tony Stewart 's spinning car in the 238th lap. "I may have just kissed it, but nothing major," he told his RCR crew. 15. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet , Richard Childress Racing . Another RCR driver having a more definitive brush with Tony Stewart was Dillon, who sustained a 143rd-lap bump off the fourth turn. Displeased team owner Richard Childress, Dillon's grandfather, gave him some stern instruction for dealing with Stewart over the team radio: "You know what to do when you get back there." 16. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota , Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth spent his fair share of the day mixing it up among the top 10, but an 188th-lap penalty for speeding exiting the pits cost the No. 20 group precious track position. 17. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet , JTG-Daugherty Racing. The 'Dinger overcame a pair of Phoenix setbacks -- starting at the rear of the field because of a Saturday engine change, then seeing his jack man sidelined by injury on an early pit stop. The solid finish kept Allmendinger firmly in the provisional Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff grid, fifth in the series standings. 18. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet , HScott Motorsports . Allgaier sewed up his best finish of the season, but also drew some initial criticism from Tony Stewart after their 238th-lap battle sent Smoke spinning. "I don't think I crowded him, but you know how it is," Allgaier told his crew, noting the difficulties in judging his line through the third and fourth turns. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 19. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford , Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola lamented his car's struggles with handling, especially in traffic, but was hopeful for a rebound next Sunday at Auto Club Speedway , site of the third and final leg of NASCAR's West Coast Swing. "Our intermediate program has been good this year, so we'll look to getting up front next week in California," Almirola said. 20. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet , Germain Racing . Handling woes kept the No. 13 from making progress during the 500 -kilometer race, but Mears tweeted hours after the checkered flag that the team found a problem in the right-rear that was the culprit. Despite the midpack finish, he still held a tenuous grip on the 12th of 16 spots in the provisional Chase grid. 21. David Ragan , No. 18 Toyota , Joe Gibbs Racing . Ragan's stint as a substitute for the injured Kyle Busch has yet to produce a finish better than his interim car number. Sunday, it produced an irate Danica Patrick after their late-race run-in. Ragan's JGR team celebrated as last year's winner at Auto Club Speedway , where Busch scored his only Sprint Cup victory of the season. 22. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet , Hillman Smith Motorsports. The Iowa native posted his best finish of the Sprint Cup season by a wide margin, finishing on the lead lap for the first time in 2015. He was the recipient of the free pass back onto the lead lap three times in the early going. 23. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Finishing last among the JGR contingent didn't sit well with Hamlin, who hopes to bounce back into form at Auto Club Speedway , a track that has been a house of horrors, injury-wise, for him the last two years. "We have to go to California and offset this," he told his No. 11 team on the cool-down lap. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 24. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota , Michael Waltrip Racing . An unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel in the 143rd lap left Bowyer shouting a stream of profanities over his team radio near the race's midpoint. He received the free pass back onto the lead lap during the sixth of 10 caution periods. 25. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford , Front Row Motorsports . Whitt matched his best performance in five career Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix International Raceway , but also held the distinction Sunday as the race's biggest gainer, finishing 14 spots up from his starting position. 26. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet , Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick found herself at the tail of the field after drawing a 201st-lap penalty for her crew's failure to control a tire on pit road, then spun through turns 3 and 4 after a significant nudge from David Ragan 's No. 18. "Nice try, Mr. Nice Guy Ragan," she told her crew under caution. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 27. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford , Roush Fenway Racing . A loose wheel with roughly 75 laps to go cost Biffle dearly when he was forced to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop. He was the beneficiary of the race's next caution flag, but wound up as the final driver on the lead lap in his worst finish of the season. 28. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford , Roush Fenway Racing . After going a lap down to leader Kevin Harvick in the race's first half, Bayne said, "I about flipped over trying to keep up with him. Loose in, about to wreck every lap. Just terrible." Bayne matched both his result from the previous week and the number of laps down at the finish (3). 29. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford , Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland illustrated the tooth-and-nail nature of racing back in the pack when he traded paint with Mike Bliss down the backstretch early on, trying to avoid going a lap down. He eventually did, winding up three laps back at the checkered flag in his worst result so far in 2015. 30. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet , Tommy Baldwin Racing . The second-year driver made the most of an ill-handling car, telling his TBR crew over the radio about feeling "brake shake" as the race entered its second half. It marked a modest improvement over Bowman's last-place finish the previous weekend in Las Vegas. 31. J.J. Yeley , No. 23 Toyota , BK Racing . High hopes for a solid day in his Arizona hometown went for naught with his worst finish at the 1-mile track since spring 2011. The performance left him 0-for-13 in the top-10 column over his Sprint Cup career at Phoenix. 32. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford , Front Row Motorsports . In two starts thus far as David Ragan 's sub in the No. 34, Moffitt has been unable to replicate the magic from his eighth-place outing earlier in the season as Brian Vickers ' fill-in at MWR. He'll get another shot this Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in the last of his three scheduled drives for the Front Row team. 33. Mike Bliss , No. 32 Ford , GoFAS Racing. After Bliss failed to qualify the previous weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway , the No. 32 was back on track Sunday at Phoenix. The veteran won a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Phoenix in 1998, but has been no better than 20th in the desert in his Sprint Cup career. 34. Jeb Burton , No. 26 Toyota , BK Racing . The rocky start to Burton's Sprint Cup tenure continued Sunday at Phoenix, but the 22-year-old can take some solace in wrapping up a career-best finish. "We made big gains this weekend had a better car then (sic) where we finished," Burton tweeted after the race. "Proud of the effort all weekend." 35. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota , BK Racing . After failing to qualify the previous two weeks at Atlanta and Las Vegas, DiBenedetto's Sprint Cup debut finally came. He drove home in the same position that he started -- 35th. 36. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford , Phil Parsons Racing. Wise lagged to his lowest finish of the season, continuing a trend of finishing 35th or worse in all six of his Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix International Raceway . 37. Brendan Gaughan , No. 62 Chevrolet , Premium Motorsports. Gaughan sits sixth in the standings in his regular circuit, the NASCAR XFINITY Series, but the results haven't been there on the Sprint Cup side. His third start of the season in the Jay Robinson-owned ride marked his 45th career start in NASCAR's top series. 38. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet , Circle Sport Racing. Kennedy started last in the Joe Falk-owned Chevy and recovered from a Turn 3 spin during the 16th lap. He wound up eight laps down in making his first Sprint Cup start of the year. 39. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet , Stewart-Haas Racing . Smoke used brute force to complete two passes earlier in the race, but found close-quarters racing with Justin Allgaier to be his undoing in the 238th lap. Stewart scraped the wall again 52 laps later, ending his day. The three-time series champ has just 32 points, lowest among drivers who have run all four Sprint Cup events this year. 40. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford , Richard Petty Motorsports . Involvement in the fourth yellow flag (for a solo spin) and the ninth caution period (for catching a piece of Tony Stewart 's second crash of the day) doomed any chances at Phoenix, the site of his first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory. The Petty No. 9 spent plenty of time behind the wall for repairs, finishing 35 laps down at the end. 41. Brian Vickers , No. 55 Toyota , Michael Waltrip Racing . Vickers' second start of the year went awry as he crossed the stripe to complete Lap 1, when he collided with Jimmie Johnson 's car on the frontstretch. "What happened to all clear?" Vickers exclaimed, raising the possibility of miscommunication with his MWR spotter. 42. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet , HScott Motorsports . Annett's car sputtered down on the apron in the 63rd lap, leading him to radio his crew: "Something rattling around in the drivetrain. … It's in gear and nothing gets power to it." Once in the garage, crew chief Jay Guy issued a warning to the No. 46 crew: "The gear is burned up. Do not expose it to air, it will catch on fire." Annett eventually returned to the track, finishing 110 laps down. " Sign up for Scanner today to hear in-car audio 43. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet , Hendrick Motorsports . A blown right-rear tire sent Earnhardt's car careening into the Turn 2 wall, severely damaging the rear end and snapping his streak of three top-five finishes to start the season. Earnhardt was uninjured and was at least able to joke about the situation, which happened suddenly in the 182nd lap. "They never tell you they are going to blow out, never," he said with a laugh. "You don't ever have a warning." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver recalls coming to track as a kid, uniqueness of trophy Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . doesn't always credit himself for his driving ability, but when he does, he prefers to do it at Martinsville Speedway . Earnhardt enters Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) with an increasing amount of short-track savvy on his side, logging seven top-10 finishes in his last nine starts at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' shortest track. It's a fur piece from his unflattering Martinsville debut, a four-laps-down 26th place back in 2000. "The first time I came here, I hit everything, even the pace car," Earnhardt said. "It looked like, at that time, after my first race here, that it was going to be quite a challenge to sort it out and understand what I needed to do." Perhaps that, combined with his appreciation for the speedway's rich heritage, kindled his glee at winning his first Martinsville Speedway grandfather clock trophy last fall -- that, and knowing that being able to wheel a car plays an even bigger factor here than at most venues. "There is something about the race track -- obviously it has so much history, the style or racing that you do, and it takes some driver to win here. I don't often take a lot of credit for everything we do good out there, but I will say that at Martinsville, it does take a little bit of driver to do well here. I feel like when you win at certain tracks like Martinsville you can feel good about it that you were part of that puzzle and part of making that happen." Things clicked here for Earnhardt early on, shortly after a period of extensive testing at the .526-mile track with the former Dale Earnhardt Inc. team. The extra track time led to a stellar streak of five consecutive top-five finishes (2002-04) and a feel for the paper-clip layout that has aided his Martinsville resume. MORE: Dale Jr. looks at Martinsville But it's also the childhood memories of visits to Martinsville -- the family trips, his father's six wins here -- that have stuck with him. "It was one of the race tracks that I always could come to even when we were in school it being such a short trip from home," said Earnhardt, who spent 29 fruitless efforts before his first Martinsville victory. "We always did get to go to this race. So it is one of the few tracks that I always got to go to even as a young kid. You could get right up on the action man, right against the fence down there in the corner and see the guys coming through there in practice. And you could see the balance of the cars and what they were dealing with. It is just a fun place to be at even as a kid. "I don't know man, just been coming here a long time and I always wanted to win. That clock makes it even more special and more desirable, I guess, because of the uniqueness of that trophy." RELATED: NASCAR.com offers its review of the new hot dog Earnhardt has proven to be a purist when it comes to racing tradition, wearing his fondness for nostalgia on its sleeve. So when Martinsville Speedway changed course on the provider of its trademark hot dogs this weekend, a shift in a decades-long concessions custom, Earnhardt said as long as the hot dogs had the same flavor as the original, he would give them his blessing. "I kind of liked them to begin with and if they are anywhere close that will be fine with me," Earnhardt said. "I will probably be having two for (Friday) lunch and I'm going to call it a day." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
A stats-based look ahead as the series comes back East to Martinsville Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-- Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia going into the STP 500 on March 29 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). MARTINSVILLE-SPECIFIC STATS Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota) · Four top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 12.1 · Average Running Position of 12.1, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 95.0, seventh-best · 296 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.276 mph, sixth-fastest · 6,586 Laps in the Top 15 (72.9%), seventh-most · 613 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), sixth-most Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) · One win, 12 top fives, 17 top 10s · Average finish of 12.4 · Average Running Position of 10.6, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 101.2, fourth-best · 523 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Series-high 1,181 Green Flag Passes · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.386 mph, fourth-fastest · 7,860 Laps in the Top 15 (78.3%), third-most · 719 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) · Eight wins, 28 top fives, 35 top 10s; seven poles · Average finish of 6.8 · Series-best Average Running Position of 6.6 · Driver Rating of 119.8, second-best · Series-high 1,105 Fastest Laps Run · 1,000 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.689 mph, second-fastest · 8,848 Laps in the Top 15 (88.2%), second-most · Series-high 754 Quality Passes Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 8.7 · Average Running Position of 8.8, third-best · Driver Rating of 110.1, third-best · 612 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.473 mph, third-fastest · 7,503 Laps in the Top 15 (83.1%), fourth-most · 659 Quality Passes, fifth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser / Jimmy John's Chevrolet) · One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 16.4 · Average Running Position of 14.4, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 91.8, eighth-best · 255 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 1,016 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.130 mph, eighth-fastest · 6,475 Laps in the Top 15 (64.5%), eighth-most · 593 Quality Passes, seventh-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Eight wins, 18 top fives, 22 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 6.2 · Average Running Position of 6.8, second-best · Series-best Driver Rating of 122.5 · 1,041 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 91.700 mph · Series-high 8,932 Laps in the Top 15 (89.0%) · 689 Quality Passes, third-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Four top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 14.7 · Average Running Position of 15.7, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 84.9, 12th-best · 178 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 1,097 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.043 mph, 11th-fastest · 5,235 Laps in the Top 15 (52.2%), 12th-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 14.0 · Average Running Position of 15.1, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 85.1, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.036 mph, 12th-fastest Jamie McMurray (No. 1 CESSNA Chevrolet) · One top five, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.3 · Driver Rating of 85.1, 11th-best · 195 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.060 mph, 10th-fastest · 5,471 Laps in the Top 15 (54.5%), 10th-most · 452 Quality Passes, 12th-most Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet) · One win, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 15.0 · Average Running Position of 15.0, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 87.4, ninth-best · 1,071 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · 5,843 Laps in the Top 15 (58.2%), ninth-most · 568 Quality Passes, ninth-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Code 3 Associates / Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 13.6 · Average Running Position of 11.2, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 97.6, fifth-best · 397 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.253 mph, seventh-fastest · 6,711 Laps in the Top 15 (70.4%), sixth-most · 471 Quality Passes, 10th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Martinsville Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 27 0 1 3 12 1 16.4 91.8 2 Joey Logano 12 0 0 3 4 0 14.0 85.1 3 Martin Truex Jr . 18 0 0 2 4 2 23.1 68.7 4 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 30 0 1 12 17 2 12.4 101.2 5 Brad Keselowski 10 0 0 1 5 0 15.2 83.4 6 Ryan Newman 26 3 1 8 12 2 15.0 87.4 7 Jimmie Johnson 26 3 8 18 22 1 6.2 122.5 8 Kasey Kahne 22 1 0 3 4 5 21.1 76.4 9 Paul Menard 15 0 0 0 1 1 20.5 63.4 10 Aric Almirola 12 0 0 1 3 3 23.8 66.0 11 AJ Allmendinger 13 0 0 1 3 1 19.7 72.2 12 Casey Mears 23 0 0 0 3 2 23.5 64.0 13 Matt Kenseth 30 0 0 4 11 2 14.7 84.9 14 Denny Hamlin 18 3 4 9 14 1 8.7 110.1 15 David Ragan 17 0 0 0 2 1 22.0 64.5 16 Jamie McMurray 24 2 0 1 12 2 17.3 85.1 * – Based on last 20 races at Martinsville Speedway (2005 – 2014). Martinsville Speedway Data Season Race #: 6 of 36 (03-29-15) Track Size : 0.526-mile Banking/Turn 1 & 2 : 12 degrees Banking/Turn 3 & 4 : 12 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 0 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 0 degrees Frontstretch Length : 800 feet Backstretch Length : 800 feet Race Length : 500 laps / 263 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Martinsville Jimmie Johnson ........................ 122.5 Jeff Gordon .............................. 119.8 Denny Hamlin ............................ 110.1 Dale Earnhardt Jr . ..................... 101.2 Tony Stewart ............................... 97.6 Kyle Busch ................................. 96.2 Clint Bowyer ............................... 95.0 Kevin Harvick .............................. 91.8 Ryan Newman ............................. 87.4 Joey Logano .............................. 85.1 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (20 total) among active drivers at Martinsville Speedway . Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kyle Busch , Toyota 99.674 mph, 18.998 secs. 03-28-14 2014 race winner : Kurt Busch , Chevrolet 72.176 mph, (03:38:38), 03-30-14 Track qualifying record: Jamie McMurray , Chevrolet 99.905 mph, 18.954 secs. 10-24-14 Track race record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 82.223 mph, (3:11:55), 09-22-96 Martinsville Speedway : History · Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles , Martinsville, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States. · The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville was on July 4, 1948. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was Sept. 25, 1949. · The track was paved in 1955. · The first 500 -lap event at Martinsville was in 1956. · Concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976. Notebook · There have been 132 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway , one in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950. · 602 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville; 380 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has the all-time most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville with 67; Jeff Gordon has the most starts among active drivers with 44. · Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Martinsville Speedway in 1949. · 58 drivers have Coors Light poles at Martinsville, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with eight; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. · 12 drivers have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . Four of the 12 have won three consecutive poles at Martinsville: Glen Wood (Fall of 1959 and 1960 sweep); Darrell Waltrip (1979 sweep and spring 1980); Mark Martin (fall of 1990 and 1991 sweep); Jeff Gordon (2003 sweep and spring 2004). · Youngest Martinsville pole winner: Ricky Rudd (4/26/1981 – 24 years, 7 months, 14 days). · Oldest Martinsville pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (4/26/1987 – 45 years, 6 months, 14 days). · 48 different drivers have won at Martinsville Speedway , led by Richard Petty with 15; Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the series among active drivers with eight wins each. · 24 drivers have multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway only five active drivers have multiple wins: Jimmie Johnson (eight), Jeff Gordon (eight), Denny Hamlin (four), Tony Stewart (three) and Kurt Busch (two). · Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 22. · 21 of 132 races (15.9%) at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; seven of those 21 wins came from active drivers: Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (2003 twice), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2012, spring 2013) and Denny Hamlin (2010). · The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville producing more wins (21) than any other starting position. · 36 of the 132 (27.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the pole and 15 from second-place. · 95 of the 132 (71.9%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Seven of the 132 (5.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20 – including both races last season. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 36th, by Kurt Busch in the fall of 2002. · Youngest Martinsville winner: Richard Petty (04/10/1960 – 22 years, 9 months, 8 days). · Oldest Martinsville winner: Harry Gant (09/22/1991 – 51 years, 8 months, 12 days). · NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes at Martinsville Speedway with seven; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five, followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson with four. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 30; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 28, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 18. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 37; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 35, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 22. · Jeff Gordon leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.318. Denny Hamlin (9. 500 ) and Ryan Newman (9.654) are the only other active drivers with an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top 10. · Three active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top 10 at Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson (6.231), Jeff Gordon (6.841) and Denny Hamlin (8.722). · There have been five NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Martinsville Speedway : fall 2007 ( 500 /506), fall 2008 ( 500 /504), fall 2009 ( 500 /501), spring 2010 ( 500 /508), and spring 2012 ( 500 /515). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions eight times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway ; the most recent was the fall race of 2011. · Jeff Gordon has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway without a DNF (44). · Tony Stewart (4/18/1999) and Scott Riggs (4/10/2005) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . · Mike Bliss (09/27/1998), Travis Kvapil (10/24/2004) and Michael McDowell (3/30/2008) are active drivers that made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Martinsville Speedway . · 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Martinsville Speedway . Fred Lorenzen won four NSCS races straight (the most) from the fall of 1963 through the spring of 1965. Jimmie Johnson is the most recent driver to win consecutive races (Fall of 2012 / Spring of 2013) at Martinsville. · All eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Martinsville Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Martinsville (2000) with the fewest previous appearances (three). · Ryan Newman competed at Martinsville Speedway 20 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Two active drivers have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Martinsville Speedway : Kevin Harvick (19) and Ryan Newman (20). · Chevrolet leads series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 54 victories – including the last eight consecutive races. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway is the April 1, 2007 race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.065 second. · Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Below are Patrick’s stats at Martinsville. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Driver Rating Date Danica Patrick 32 12 72.6 4/7/2013 Danica Patrick 41 17 64.7 10/27/2013 Danica Patrick 10 32 52.4 3/30/2014 Danica Patrick 30 34 61.3 10/26/2014 · Seven car numbers have produced five or more Martinsville Speedway NSCS wins: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 43 – Richard Petty (1960, ’62, ’63, ’67 sweep, ’68, ’69 sweep, ’70, ’71, ’72 sweep, ’73, ’75 and ’79); John Andretti (1999) o No. 11 – Cale Yarborough (1974, ’76, ’77 sweep, ‘78); Darrell Waltrip (1981, ’82, ’83, ’84); Geoff Bodine (1990 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2008, ’09, ’10 sweep) o No . 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1961, ’63, ’64 sweep, ‘65 and ‘66); Buddy Baker (1979); Ernie Irvan (1993). o No . 2 – Dale Earnhardt (1980); Rusty Wallace (1993, ‘94 sweep, ’95, ’96 an