Martinville II: GM Racing preview

MARTINSVILLE, VA - With just five races remaining on the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup tour, Team Chevy heads for Martinsville Speedway this Sunday, October 21, for the Subway 500 with momentum on its side. With nine drivers in the Chase for the Nextel...

MARTINSVILLE, VA - With just five races remaining on the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup tour, Team Chevy heads for Martinsville Speedway this Sunday, October 21, for the Subway 500 with momentum on its side. With nine drivers in the Chase for the Nextel Cup and four atop the chart in the points battle, the Bowtie Brigade is ready to tackle the famed .526-mile paperclip-shaped Virginia track.

Always a challenge, the tight hairpin turns, negligible banking and interior concrete "curbs" are three unique characteristics of Martinsville Speedway. Photo finishes are often the norm, as was the case at the recent round there in April, when Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS edged Gordon for the win by a scant .065 second.

"I think at Martinsville we'll put on a good show," said Johnson, in pursuit of the Martinsville season sweep this weekend. "It will be like what we saw in the spring. I think everyone will be racing hard there. With the bumpers and how tough these cars are, we might actually see a more intense and exciting Martinsville than what we had in the spring."

Fresh from back-to-back victories at Talladega and Charlotte, Gordon has extended his lead to 68 points over Johnson in the standings. The two are tied with a series-high six wins apiece in '07, and will likely continue their memorable Martinsville battle this coming Sunday.

"If things continue on the way they are, it's definitely going to push the limits of it and put us to the test," said Gordon about the challenges of vying for the title with his friend and teammate, Johnson. "We both want to win. We both want to win the championship. I know Jimmie well enough to know that our friendship is as important to him as it is to me, but we're race car drivers and we want that championship.

"As long as you're not beating and banging on one another out there on the race track, then it's all about wins and who finishes ahead of who, and the points fall as they may with that. Up until that point, it's a friendly rivalry on the track. We're competitors, and off the track we can smile and laugh about it. Just like I wasn't happy (when) I didn't win the race at Martinsville (in the spring) because I felt like I had the best car and everything going for us to win it. It wasn't because he beat me, it's just because I felt like we should have won."

Sitting just 78 points behind Gordon, Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniels Impala SS closed the gap between himself and Johnson with his second place finish at Charlotte last Saturday night. Bowyer wants another strong finish to keep him soundly in the game. Could Martinsville be another wildcard race? "It could be. It's so small that if something happens in front of you there's just no getting around it. We finished 11th at Martinsville in the spring and we need to get more out of it this time. We knew we'd have to pick up our program and finish better at all these race tracks and I think we can go there this weekend and do better than we've done in the past."

Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS has earned two wins on the quirky Martinsville Speedway (fall '00 and spring '06) and sits 198 points behind Gordon in fourth place. Determined to shake off the pit road incidents at Charlotte that took them out of contention for the win, Stewart's crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, has himself and his crew prepared for Martinsville. "Next week, Martinsville is a place for three, four of us that are going there in the top-five in points run really well. So, I am sure, it will come down to one of us. Hopefully we will do our work next week, have good pit stops, be able to keep good track position and do all the things we need to do and have a shot of winning."

A victory on Sunday in the Subway 500 by a Team Chevy driver will bring the total 2007 NNCS victories for the Bowtie Brand to 23 and tie the total wins scored in 2006.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Clint Bowyer