With three HMS drivers already in the Chase, contenders eye first race in Eliminator Round.
Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson lead all active drivers with eight wins at Martinsville Speedway.
So why would the two drivers feel the need to test on a track where success has come so easy?
“We haven’t tested here in a long, long time, so as a group we kind of sat in a room and raised our hands as to what tracks in the Chase we wanted to test at and the majority wanted to come to Martinsville,” Johnson said.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel while we’re here, but we’re certainly learning a lot and are hopeful to strike when we come back in the Chase.”
We’re not reinventing the wheel...but we’re certainly learning a lot and are hopeful to strike when we come back in the Chase.
The four Hendrick Motorsports racers Gordon, Johnson Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne tested on the half-mile paper clip-shaped oval on Tuesday and Wednesday.
With three of the drivers, Gordon, Johnson and Earnhardt already qualified in the Chase grid, the strategy of win and you’re in for title contenders makes absolute sense.
Under NASCAR’s new Chase to the Sprint Cup system, 16 drivers will comprise the initial grid following the race at Richmond International Raceway in two weeks. However, after three rounds of four races four drivers will remain to decide the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16.
The Goody’s 500 at Martinsville kicks off the third “Eliminator” round.
“You want to give yourself every opportunity to win at every race that’s in the Chase to guarantee yourself moving forward,” said Gordon, the defending winner of the race. “We know that Martinsville is a great track for us.
“I think all of Hendrick Motorsports understands that we’ve had great success here and we have confidence here and we can run really well here, and it’s important. It’s in the Chase.”
You want to give yourself every opportunity to win at every race that’s in the Chase to guarantee yourself moving forward.
Hoping to contribute
Hendrick drivers have scored 21 victories at Martinsville since the organization first debuted in 1984 with Geoff Bodine. Although Gordon and Johnson have contributed 16 victories to that tally, Earhardt is hoping for his first breakthrough win at the Virginia track.
He’s finished a career best second twice at Martinsville since joining Hendrick Motorsports in in 2008. In March Earnhardt finished third.
This is one of those places that has a lot of history and it would mean the world for me to win here.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“The success that we have here comes from a lot of testing and a lot of practice,” Earnahrdt said. “We have some pretty good balance on these cars. We have a good understanding of what you need to get a car around this place and keep the tires on it. We’ve had a lot of good runs, we just haven’t won here.
“This is one of those places that has a lot of history and it would mean the world for me to win here. We’ve had some cars that have run well. We’ve finished in the top five several times. We just haven’t been that guy. So we’re down here to just trying to find that extra little bit to give us a little more dominant of a race car and hopefully give us that edge we need to come out of here with a win.”
Gordon added this lap around his most successful track. Note: Don't watch after breakfast.