The field is set for the third round of the Chase, but not with some controversy involved. Kevin Harvick was involved in a wreck with Trevor Bayne on the final restart of the race and the result is Kevin moves on to the next round. The problem occurred when the #4 car couldn’t get up to speed on the restart and the #6 tried to pass Kevin on the outside. It appears that the #4 car drifted up the track a little and caught the rear quarter panel on the Bayne machine causing him to spin and the caution to come out freezing the field.
I for one really don’t have any problem with what happened no matter if it was on purpose or was just an accident. There is so much blocking going on during the whole race, one more incident shouldn’t make any difference. Back in 2009, Carl Edwards tried to block Brad Keselowski at the end of this race and the result was Edwards getting spun and Brad winning his first race. I’m going to say that there is no fault on any of the drivers parts as NASCAR writes the rule book and there is no rule about blocking. Because of this controversy this rule might change in the near future.
GOODY’S HEADACHE RELIEF SHOT 500
We go from the longest to the shortest track as the third round of the Chase will start at Martinsville Speedway. Martinsville is a .526 mile flat oval with a narrow pit road and pits that go all the way around the track. Qualifying is extremely important at this track for just this reason. The better you qualify the better pit box you can choose and that can be the difference between winning and losing at this track. Start towards the back of the field and the leaders will be right behind you in no time.
Jeff Gordon: I am picking Jeff to keep his chances alive for a championship in his final season in NASCAR. I think he will pick up his first win of the season and qualify for the final race of the season at Homestead. Jeff has eight wins at this track and this team has been running consistently well lately. He also has twenty-eight top five finishes in forty-five starts at this track and that is very impressive.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie also has eight wins here and eighteen top five finishes in twenty-seven starts. This team has struggled the second half of the season, but this is a track where they can get back to victory lane and start building some momentum for next season. They might give Jeff a break late in the race as they are already out of the Chase and Jeff is a teammate who is in his final season.
Denny Hamlin: After a disappointing week at Talladega that knocked Denny out of the Chase because of a broken latch on his roof hatch caused this team to lose two laps when they pitted twice to fix the issue even though NASCAR didn’t black flag them which they claim was a miscommunication, this team will be looking for redemption. They have five wins at this track and ten top five finishes in nineteen starts here.
Joey Logano: Joey is the hottest driver in NASCAR right now winning the last three races and sweeping the second round of the Chase. He is still looking for his first win at this track, but he has three straight top five finishes here. That tells me this team knows what they need to do to start towards the front and stay towards the front at this track.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale won this race last year and has finished in the top five here in twelve of his thirty-one starts. After coming so close to winning the race at Talladega last week and advancing to this round of the Chase, this team is disappointed, but they will still come to the track and try to win races. I think they have done a lot to improve themselves on all types of tracks this season and that is a good stepping stone for next year.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin has one win at this track and has finished in the top ten here in thirteen of his twenty-eight starts. No matter what kind of controversy they were involved in last week at Talladega they will put that behind them and continue to defend their championship. This team is going to be dangerous in every race for the rest of the season.
Brad Keselowski: Brad is another driver looking for his first win at Martinsville, but he has finished in the top ten in six of his eleven start here. This team really runs well on these short flat tracks and should have a car capable of giving them a shot at their first win here. This team never counts themselves out no matter how dismal things might look. I attribute this to the driver and crew-chief trusting each other in all aspects of racing.
Kyle Busch: Kyle fought his way through the second round to just squeak into the top eight in the standings and keep his championship hopes alive. Kyle is still looking for his first win at this track although he has eight top five finishes in twenty starts here. His biggest disadvantage this week is that he missed the spring race here while he was recovering from a broken foot and leg. All of the other drivers in the Chase put in a lot of laps that weekend that Kyle didn’t get to.
Martin Truex Jr.: This will be the telling race for Martin during the Chase. This is the track on the Chase schedule where he has struggled for most of his career. He has only two top five finishes and five top ten finishes in nineteen starts at this track. This team needs to do their best and avoid making mistakes that will drop them further in the field. Maintain this week and then shoot for two really good race in the next couple of weeks.
Carl Edwards: Carl is another driver who has struggled at Talladega during his career with only one top five and five top ten finishes in twenty-two starts here. He stated after the Talladega race that he is looking forward to going to Martinsville as both Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth have given him some good advice on how to get around this track with the speed he will need to finish in the top ten this weekend.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Jeff Gordon
- Denny Hamlin
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Clint Bowyer
- Jamie McMurray
- Casey Mears
- Kyle Larson
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Danica Patrick
- Justin Allgaier
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
- Jeff Gordon
- Denny Hamlin
- Jimmie Johnson
- Joey Logano
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dark Horse: Kyle Larson
Stay Away From: Carl Edwards