Alan Cavanna gives you the latest information on the penalties handed down from NASCAR following the races at Texas Motor Speedway and Rockingham Speedway .
Rockingham Speedway schedule, news, media, tickets, and info for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series track only on the official site of NASCAR.
Longtime track promoter built Ohio track in 1954 RELATED: Big Bill's path to Talladega Eldora Speedway founder and longtime promoter Earl Baltes died Monday morning at an Ohio hospital. He was 93. Baltes built the rural Ohio dirt track in 1954, then switched its configuration four years later to the high-banked, half-mile oval that still exists today. In the decades that followed, Eldora became one of the premier dirt tracks in the United States. For the past two years, it has hosted NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. In addition to the eventual Truck Series races, the promoter had a relationship with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., and assisted France in recruiting cars for the inaugural race at Talladega Superspeedway . Following a 50-year run as owner, Baltes sold the track to NASCAR driver Tony Stewart in 2004. Stewart promptly erected statues of Baltes and his wife, Berneice -- who survives Baltes -- to honor the track's founder. "Earl was the yardstick other track promoters measured themselves by," Stewart said in a track release. "He constantly raised the bar, and he did it by creating events everyone else was afraid to promote. He did them himself, too. Not as a fair board, or a public company, or with major sponsors or millions of dollars in TV money. He put it all on the line with the support of his family. "He and his wife, Berneice, created a happening at Eldora. They turned Eldora into more than just a race track. They made it a place to be. They were integral to the evolution of dirt-track racing and the sport as a whole. Earl will be missed, but he won't ever be forgotten because of his devotion to auto racing." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
Track president: 'We've got history and experience doing March races' Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live For the first time since 2004, NASCAR teams won't load up and head west for the season's second stop following the Daytona 500. Instead, Week No. 2 will find teams from all three national series -- Sprint Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck -- headed to Atlanta Motor Speedway . Coming on the heels of the season’s premier race has its challenges, AMS president Ed Clark told NASCAR.com, and weather is always a concern with an early March date in the area. RELATED: Atlanta plans SAFER barrier additions But, Clark said, "We've got history and experience doing March races. "The thing that's different about this one is that in the past, the Daytona 500 kicked the season off, we came home and had two to three weeks of outstanding interest in the sport. The day after the 500 was always your biggest ticket sales day of the year. "In this case, the Daytona 500 is over Sunday afternoon and we’re into Atlanta's race week right then." AMS hosted a Labor Day weekend race from 2010 through this past season. Up until 2010, it hosted two annual Sprint Cup weekends, the first typically falling in early to mid-March. From '82 through 2004, the second Sprint Cup race of the season was held at either Richmond International Raceway or North Carolina Motor Speedway ( Rockingham ). California's Auto Club Speedway hosted the second stop from '05 through '10 and Phoenix International Raceway had been the host since '11. "It's a plus and a minus," Clark said of being No. 2 on the schedule. "We all remember the year that Cale (Yarborough) and Bobby and Donnie (Allison) got in a fight (at Daytona in '79). The printing press couldn't have printed enough tickets for the next race. … That's a bonus when it happens. The world is watching what goes on at Daytona, there's a lot of focus on the sport. Everything is new. So it's a plus from that standpoint." Weather issues early in the year aren't uncommon for the Atlanta region, however. And the long-range forecast for this year's race weekend didn't look promising. But it has since changed (and will likely again), going from a chance of snow to a 40 percent chance of rain to a 20 percent chance of rain in the span of a week, according to www.NOAA.gov. Clark is more concerned about those things his group can control instead of those it can't. "I haven't even looked at (the weather forecast) in about a day and a half," he said. "No need to. It changes. "That's the approach we've taken all along. We know how to promote races; we've done it for years. Have your plan; work your plan. When you get to race time, you don't want to look back and say there was something you could have done that you didn't do." Part of that plan included an appearance by reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick on Monday. Prior to Thursday's scheduled test session, Atlanta Motor Speedway Day will be celebrated at the state capitol. Three-time premier series champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Darrell Waltrip is expected to join active native Georgia drivers from all three series for a visit with the governor as well as stops as the Senate and House chambers. "The long and short of it," Clark said, "is we've done things we typically do, no matter when the race is." In addition to normal race-weekend preparations, AMS announced Tuesday upgrades to its current SAFER barrier system will be put in place in time for this weekend's events. Camping World Truck Series teams, which haven't competed at AMS since 2012, will share top billing on Saturday with the XFINITY Series in a double-header race day that features the Hisense 250 XFINITY Series race (2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) and the Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 Truck Series event (5:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Sprint Cup Series event is scheduled for Sunday, March 1 with TV coverage on FOX. "We know we'll have a good race; we always have a good race at Atlanta," Clark said. "If we can get that first one done and all be positive, we have a whole year to work on ('16). I think that's when we will find out what the potential is for the future." 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
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); 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
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
NASCAR reminds teams of severe penalties Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Related: Crew chief Childers loves chatter about tires MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- NASCAR gave teams a reminder Friday morning about the severity of tampering with tires, a hot-button issue after the sanctioning body sent the Goodyears from select teams for an independent audit the last two weeks. Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs Alan Gustafson and Chad Knaus, making an early Friday media appearance at Martinsville Speedway , addressed the issue, saying their frantic schedules on race weekends prevented them from witnessing any prohibited behavior first-hand. Still, NASCAR's confiscations and the rumblings at the track made the issue hard to ignore. "It's hard to speculate because that's all I can do, but in my experience there's a lot of smoke around that, right?" said Gustafson, who oversees preparation for Jeff Gordon 's No. 24 Chevrolet. "There's a lot of talk, there's a lot of dialogue, there's a lot of rumors in the garage. So yeah, I think some people think something is going on. And is NASCAR reacting to that or do they feel uncomfortable with what's going on? I don't know that answer. "I do think that it is something that's on the forefront of a lot of people's minds and obviously NASCAR is trying to make sure that we're all on a level playing field and if anyone is violating that that they'll pay the price, which they've reminded us this morning is very, very stiff. That's all I know, but anything beyond that speculation beside the fact is that it's a hot topic obviously." NASCAR took the tires from two teams -- those of points leader Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano -- after the season's fourth Sprint Cup Series race, at Phoenix International Raceway . Harvick's tires were taken again for independent study after last weekend's race at Auto Club Speedway , joining those from the cars driven by fellow Chevrolet drivers Kurt Busch , Paul Menard and Ryan Newman . Officials issued no penalties or expanded details from their findings, and NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said in a recent appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the "audits" were routine. WATCH: Drivers sound off on tire tampering talk Any infraction involving manipulating tires falls under the heading of a P5 penalty -- the second-highest severity in the NASCAR deterrence system, which was introduced before the 2014 season. The NASCAR Rule Book provides examples of P5 penalties, including a specific passage about tires in Section 126.96.36.199.1.a, which states, "Effecting, modifying and/or altering the standard tires in any way, other than through authorized means such as tire pressure adjustments within the recommended range, permitted tire cooling when mounted on the race vehicle; or heat-cycling on the race vehicle on the race track earlier in the Event." The punishment for a P5 violation includes the loss of 50 points in the driver and team owner standings, a fine ranging from $75,000 to $125,000, a six-race suspension for the crew chief, probation until the end of the calendar year for all suspended crewmembers, and any other applicable penalties. The practice of teams potentially "needling" tires with miniscule holes, Gustafson said, would "be a very difficult thing to police." The tactic is intended to provide a slow release of air, which would allow tire pressures to remain more consistent -- while improving grip and durability -- over the course of a green-flag run. Ordinarily, pressures rise as the tires heat up, changing the handling characteristics of the car. Gordon said that he has been a longtime advocate for NASCAR adopting bleeder valves on its tires to better regulate pressure. "I came from sprint cars where they're just built into the wheel," Gordon said. "You set them. Those might not be advanced enough for what we need in a Cup car and a Cup tire, but it just makes sense. It's crazy what we do with air pressures and these big, heavy cars build the air pressures up so much that we're always trying to start them real low, which always causes issues for Goodyear and the teams. They just increase, increase, increase. "So it makes sense to me that we have bleeder valves, but because we don't, it's pushing the teams to do things. … I've heard about a lot of things with valve caps and poking holes in tires for years, but I've never seen it done, have never had proof that it was done, so it's very interesting to me that NASCAR is investigating this further and I look forward to seeing what comes out of it. "If they find a way to stop that, if it's really going on, I get excited about our chances because I know that we're not doing it, so it will close the gap for us to whoever may be doing it. WATCH: Chris Rice explains the issue Gordon was at the center of another TireGate in September 1998, when rival team owner Jack Roush accused his Hendrick team of using illegal, chemically treated tires to gain an advantage. He said Friday that if Ray Evernham, his crew chief, was doing something illegal back then, he wasn't aware of it. No team has been outed as a rule-breaker yet, but the murmurs of unusual happenings in the garage persist. Gordon said when the rumor mill churns as loudly as its current tenor, there's something to it -- just how it's being done is the question. "I don't know if there's anything or not," said Knaus, crew chief for Hendrick's No. 48 Chevy driven by Jimmie Johnson -- like Gordon, an eight-time Martinsville winner. "I'm busy on Sunday and I don't have a lot of friends in the garage. I don't talk to anybody else, either, so it's OK. My friends are outside of racing. So I don't know what's going on. I know I sent ( Sprint Cup managing director) Richard Buck a text and I said, 'Hey man, can we poke holes in our tires? Is that OK?' and he sent me a text back that said, 'Absolutely not.' So that's all I know." Denny Hamlin said that NASCAR told all crew chiefs at Phoenix International Raceway last fall to discontinue the tactic, but since it deals with one of the three so-called sacred areas -- engine, tires and fuel -- the penalties should be fittingly severe. "If it's out there and they know about it, you should be gone forever," said Hamlin, a four-time Martinsville winner. "I mean, that's a major, major, major thing. This isn't like the old rodeo days of being able to go out there and run a big motor or soak the tires. This is a professional sport and when people alter tires that's a big, big deal. Definitely no room for it in the sport, that's for sure. Hope they clamp down on that if they do find it, and if they find it multiple times with somebody, they should have a permanent vacation somewhere." That said, Hamlin acknowledged that trying to make the distinction between a natural tire leak and a man-made one is difficult. "They'll figure out a way, and whether it will be with someone else taking a look at the tires to try to figure it out, they'll find it," Hamlin said of NASCAR officials. "And when they do, that person when they feel NASCAR getting hot on them, they're going to stop doing it and that's maybe when you'll see some performance differences. You never know." 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
Cole Custer will join Logano on the front row for the Kroger 250 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Full lineup for Kroger 250 Joey Logano won the Keystone Light Pole Award for Saturday's Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Logano turned the fastest lap in the final round of the three-round group qualifying session to earn the top starting spot, setting a new track record with a lap of 97.088 mph. It was a sweep of poles this weekend for the 24-year-old driver as Logano also took the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Joining him on the front row will be Cole Custer (96.622 mph), who is making the first Camping World Truck Series start for JR Motorsports. The second row will consist of Cameron Hayley (96.499 mph) and Erik Jones (96.357 mph). Tyler Reddick enters the race as the series points leader, while two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton is just two points behind him. Reddick will start seventh, while Crafton, the defending race winner, will start 13th. The Kroger 250 is the third of 23 races this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. After the Martinsville race, the series is off again for just over a month before resuming its schedule on May 8 at Kansas Speedway . 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
Denny Hamlin paced the field in Saturday's opening practice Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Practice results After qualifying 15th on Friday, Denny Hamlin powered his No. 11 Toyota to the top of the leaderboard during Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup practice for Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) at Martinsville Speedway . The Joe Gibbs Racing driver posted a speed of 97.113 mph and has won four times at the paperclip oval, ranking third among active drivers in NASCAR's premier series. Just behind Hamlin was Jimmie Johnson , who wheeled his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 96.988 mph around the short track after overcoming an electrical issue midway through practice. Rounding out the top five were Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne , followed by Joe Gibbs Racing 's Carl Edwards . Coors Light Pole Award winner Joey Logano didn't show quite as much speed in today's practice session, ranking 15th on the leaderboard. Since qualifying 17th yesterday, reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick seemed to have found his groove around the short track today, posting the 10th-fastest speed in the field. A little further back was Chase Elliott , who is making his Sprint Cup debut with Hendrick Motorsports in Sunday's STP 500 . The 19-year-old posted the 20th-fastest speed. Final Practice " Results Defending STP 500 winner Kurt Busch finally showed his speed during the final practice at Martinsville Speedway , powering his No. 41 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet at 97.098 mph around the 0.526-mile track. Jimmie Johnson 's momentum from the earlier practice continued, as the No. 48 driver once again posted the runner-up speed on the leaderboard of 96.810 mph. Following Johnson was Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon , along with Joe Gibbs Racing 's Denny Hamlin , who topped the leaderboard in practice earlier in the day. Richard Childress Racing 's Ryan Newman , who posted the fastest speed during Friday's Sprint Cup practice session, rounded out the top five. Coors Light Pole Award winner Joey Logano seemed to find his power again in this practice, putting up the seventh-fastest speed on the leaderboard. Right behind Logano was 2014 Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick , who posted the eighth-fastest speed in his No. 4 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., the last driver to celebrate a Sprint Cup win at Martinsville, continued to run in the middle of the pack, putting up the 18th-fastest speed. Chase Elliott , who will be making his first start in a Sprint Cup car with Hendrick Motorsports , slowed a bit in the final practice, ranking 27th on the leaderboard. The 19-year-old will make his Sprint Cup debut from the 27th position in Sunday's STP 500 . 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