Martinville Speedway pre-race notes

Stewart Could Surprise Gordon, Johnson In SUBWAY 500 MARTINSVILLE, VA (October 15, 2007) -- Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson are neck-and-neck in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup coming into the SUBWAY 500 at Martinsville Speedway this ...

Stewart Could Surprise Gordon, Johnson In SUBWAY 500

MARTINSVILLE, VA (October 15, 2007) -- Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson are neck-and-neck in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup coming into the SUBWAY 500 at Martinsville Speedway this weekend.

That's similar to last spring's scenario when Johnson edged his Hendrick Motorsports teammate by a mere .065 seconds for a win in the Goody's Cool Orange 500.

At least on paper, you would think that tight battle between Gordon and Johnson would continue in Sunday's SUBWAY 500, especially considering their recent performances on the half-mile oval.

Gordon leads all active drivers with seven career wins on the difficult track and has five straight top-five finishes. Johnson has won the last two Martinsville races and has four consecutive top-five finishes.

Gordon has an amazing 17 top-5 finishes and 23 top-10 finishes. And perhaps most amazing of all, he has been running at the end of each of the 29 races he's started at Martinsville.

In 11 starts, Johnson has the three wins, seven top fives and 10 top 10s.

But Tony Stewart, who is fourth in the points coming into this weekend, could actually be considered a favorite along with Gordon and Johnson.

Martinsville has to be considered one of Stewart's best tracks. He won here last season, has two career wins and four straight top-10 finishes. In 17 starts, he has six top 5s and 10 top 10s. He leads all drivers in both Driver Rating and Average Running position.

Clint Bowyer, third in the Chase, and one of the hottest drivers in the past two weeks, has not enjoyed great success at Martinsville. In three starts, he does not have a top 10 finish.

The SUBWAY 500 could offer a couple of drivers a chance to makeup some ground in the Chase. Kurt Busch, who is seventh in the points, has a win, two top fives and four top 10s at Martinsville in 14 starts.

Jeff Burton, from nearby South Boston, has always been solid at Martinsville. He comes into the race 10th in points, but has a win, nine top fives and 13 top 10s and has an average finish of 15 in 26 Martinsville races.

Denny Hamlin, like Burton, a Virginian, has just four Martinsville starts, but has been impressive. Hamlin, ninth in the points, has a pole, two top 5s and three top 10s.

Action doesn't pick up at Martinsville Speedway until Thursday when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series trucks begin rolling through inspection at 2 p.m. The NEXTEL Cup haulers will enter the infield at 5:30 on Thursday.

There will be a full day of action on Friday with the first NEXTEL Cup practice scheduled at 11 a.m., followed by Kroger 200 Craftsman Truck Series rookie practice at 12:40 p.m. A full Craftsman Truck Series practice is schedule for 1:20 p.m. with the final truck series practice at 2:30 p.m..

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup qualifying will begin at 3:45 p.m. on Friday.

There will be a pair of NEXTEL Cup practice sessions on Saturday, one at 10 a.m. and the other at 12:50 p.m.

Qualifying for the Kroger 200 is at 11:10 a.m. with the race set to take the green flag at 3 p.m.

The SUBWAY 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race will take the green flag at 1:30 on Sunday.

Fan gates will open at 8 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

Tickets remain for both the SUBWAY 500 on Sunday, October 21, and the Kroger 200 NASACAR Craftsman Truck Series race, on Saturday, October 20, and can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.racetickets.com

Ticket prices for the SUBWAY 500 range from $42 to $77. Tickets for the Kroger 200 are $37 in advance and $42 at the gate. Kroger 200 tickets for children ages 6 to 12 are $5.

The SUBWAY 500 weekend kicks off on October 19 with Carilion Pole Day, featuring times trials and practice for the SUBWAY 500.

The Kroger 200 is scheduled for October 20 and the SUBWAY 500 on October 21.

The Martinsville Speedway ticket office will be open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday the ticket office will open at 8 a.m.

-credit: ms

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports