Friday, October 28, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Kyle Larson Quickest in Close Martinsville Practice

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Oct. 28, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXCII

What to Watch: Friday

- Today, we've got practice for both the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams at Martinsville Speedway.  Sprint Cup Qualifying is also this afternoon.  We'll have all the action from Martinsville at Frontstretch today.


Zach Catanzareti  (@ZachRacing)
Amy Henderson (@Writer_Amy)
Mike Neff (@MNeffShortTrack)

Also, don't forget to follow our Twitter page@Frontstretch as well for updates!
This weekend's TV Schedule can be found

Top News
by The Frontstretch Staff

Kyle Larson Fastest in Opening Martinsville Practice

On Friday morning, Kyle Larson turned in the fastest lap in Sprint Cup practice with a lap of 19.289 seconds (98.170 mph).  Denny Hamlin was second, followed by Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Danica Patrick.  Read more

Frontstretch Folio: Goody's Fast Relief 500
by Phil Allaway
This weekend, the Sprint Cup Series returns to Martinsville for the seventh race of the Chase and the first race of the Round of 8.  Coverage of the Goody's Fast Relief 500 begins with NASCAR America Sunday at 12 p.m, followed by Countdown to Green, while the green flag should fly around 1:15.  Radio coverage will be provided by local MRN radio affiliates and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

Records and facts

In last years' Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville, anger reached the boiling point.  Joey Logano was in good position to potentially claim his fourth consecutive win.  Matt Kenseth wasn't having any of that.  Kenseth intentionally wrecked Logano with 47 laps to go, earning a two-race suspension for his actions.  There was no fighting after the crash, but a number of people, including Tom Logano (Joey's father) had to be restrained.

Jeff Gordon was able to get past AJ Allmendinger with 22 laps to go and held on to take a very popular victory that locked him into the Championship 4.  Jamie McMurray finished second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kyle Busch.  Logano actually finished on-track in 37th, while Kenseth was parked for his actions and finished 38th.

Jeff Gordon, who will be competing in his final career Sprint Cup start (for now), is the active leader in wins at Martinsville with nine.  That includes last fall's run to sunset.  Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson has eight, while Denny Hamlin has five victories.

All-time, Richard Petty is the leader with 15 career victories.  Darrell Waltrip has 11 Martinsville victories, then Gordon with his nine, Johnson with eight and Rusty Wallace with seven.  Three other drivers (Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt and Fred Lorenzen) have six wins each.

Track Facts
Track / Race Length: 0.526-mile oval, 500 laps (263 miles)
Banking: 12 degrees

Straightaways: 800 ft., flat

Grandstand Seating: 55,000

Pit Road Speed: 30 mph
Pace Car Speed: 35 mph
Opened: 1947 (first Cup race in the inaugural season, 1949)




Pre-Race Schedule:

Practice No. 1: Friday, October 28, 11 a.m. - 12:25 p.m. on NBCSN

Qualifying: Friday, October 28, 4:30 p.m. on NBCSN

Practice No. 2: Saturday, October 29, 9 - 9:55 a.m. on CNBC

Happy Hour: Saturday, October 29, 12 - 12:55 p.m. on NBCSN

Say What?!

"Everything is a challenge for me at Martinsville. It has been a rough going every time I have been. I'm definitely going to look into it a lot this week before we go back, and running the truck race there on Saturday should help, too. I've had a lot of thoughts on it from the first race we ran this year as to what I want to do different going back and to try to just rethink that place. I didn't have many short tracks that were similar to Martinsville in shape and size growing up short-track racing. A lot of the places were a little bigger, didn't have quite as tight of a corner and not quite as heavy of braking. A lot of that stuff I'm just trying to sort through and trying to get an idea what I need to do to improve. I have some great teammates and I've tried to talk to the guys who have dominated that place over the years – especially Jeff (Gordon) and Jimmie (Johnson). I've spent a ton of time with each of them talking about Martinsville and trying to walk through some of the things that they do, some of the things they look for. I think, especially Jeff, the success he has had there last fall for instance; I've tried to talk to him as much as I could about that place. Both of them have been just as open as they can be about the things they look for, how they attack the track and the things they think that they are going to fight throughout a race. I just haven't quite been able to put that together on the racetrack yet. I think if I focus on trying not to get too ahead of myself and focusing on the things that you focus on to short-track race – especially keeping that longevity in your race car over a long run -- will help. Making it to the end and running all 500 miles is obviously the most important thing, but I think just short-track racing in general you just want to try not to get too far ahead of yourself. I'm looking forward to trying to improve on that." - Chase Elliott

"I'm pretty optimistic about Martinsville. Earlier this year, we struggled a little in practice and the first half of the race. It was just learning, trying to get better. And the second half of the race, we got the car a little closer to what it needed to be, and I picked up on some things that really helped. We got to running some pretty good times. But with that place being as small as it is, we weren't in a good position to contend for a top-10 at that point. But there was a lot that was positive about our speed at the end of that race. So we'll look to apply that to our Love's Fusion this time around." - Chris Buescher

"Nowadays, our cars drive so well you just race wide open. It's not as important to be a smart racecar driver as it is to be fast. The thing about Martinsville is, no matter what happens, tire wear is still a factor. You have to be smart, you have to take care of your tires. That's what I like about it now. Those tracks are becoming a minority of the tracks we go to. You don't have to take care of your tires hardly at all any more at the majority of the tracks we go to. Martinsville is still one of those tracks where you still have to be smart and take care of your car.

"I'm finding the longer I am here, the definition is different for everybody. When I started in the sport, you had Dale [Earnhardt] Sr., Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte and a host of guys who had a pretty strict etiquette and you played by the rules. If you didn't, when you were sitting there crashed against the wall, you had plenty of time to think about what you did wrong. Now you see guys do things, especially at Martinsville, that they don't normally do anywhere else. You fight to get to the bottom of the racetrack because you have to. You just can't run that second groove. You see them making really sketchy moves to get down as soon as they can." - Tony Stewart

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at

by Zach Catanzareti


Q: The Busch Grand National Winston Classic in 1992 at Martinsville was a wreckfest.  Specifically, there were 14 cautions in a 200 lap race (Note: Yellows seemed to be really popular that year, as the all-time record for yellows was set at Hickory that April (26)).  Jeff Gordon was having a great day until a restart not long before halfway.  What happened?

Check back Monday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Thursday's Answer:
Q:  In 1999, Jeff Gordon held off Dale Earnhardt to claim victory in the NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway.  What was significant about this win?

A: This victory came in Jeff Gordon's first race in Winston Cup without Ray Evernham.  Evernham had just left the No. 24 team in order to head up Dodge's return to Winston Cup.  In this case, that meant that Evernham was spending most of his time testing.  Brian Whitesell was promoted to crew chief in Evernham's place and won on debut.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have recaps of the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series races from Martinsville.  In addition, we'll also cover other news that breaks.

We'll have a series of post-race commentaries analyzing this weekend's action at Martinsville Speedway.
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