Martinsville II: GM Racing preview

It's Jeff and Jeff as Team Chevy Heads to Martinsville Speedway Where Chevy is Winningest Manufacturer Jeff Burton Holds a 45 Point Lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup; Jeff Gordon Leads Active Drivers With Seven Victories on the ...

It's Jeff and Jeff as Team Chevy Heads to Martinsville Speedway Where Chevy is Winningest Manufacturer

Jeff Burton Holds a 45 Point Lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup; Jeff Gordon Leads Active Drivers With Seven Victories on the .566-Mile Oval

Martinsville, VA - It is Jeff and Jeff stealing all the headlines as Team Chevy heads to Martinsville (VA) Speedway for the Subway 500. Sunday's 500-lap event is race six in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup and the 32nd race of the 36-event NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) 2006 season.

Chevrolet leads all other manufacturers in the win column at the long straight, narrow cornered track that has been on the NNCS schedule since 1949. With 34 wins in the NASCAR Modern Era, the Bowtie brand has more than double the victories of the next competing manufacturer.

Chevy drivers have won six of the last seven races at Martinsville Speedway including Jeff Gordon's, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, 2005 sweep of both races. In fact, Gordon won four of the six races bringing his total trips to Martinsville's victory lane to seven, the most of all active drivers in NNCS competition.

As the defending winner of the Subway 500, Gordon is looking forward to a race that many other drivers dread because of the close racing, unpredictable turns-of-events that happen and wear and tear on equipment and drivers.

"I always love going to Martinsville," said Gordon, four-time NNCS champion. "We run so well there. We've got some things we're working on that will hopefully take us to that next level. We're trying to continue to raise the bar in the performance of the cars and the teams and we're having a lot of fun doing that."

In all, Gordon's record at Martinsville is staggering. In 27 starts, in addition to his seven wins, he has 15 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s - an incredible feat.

Gordon finished second in the spring 2006 race behind Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS and just ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS. It was an all-Chevy top-five on April 2, 2006 with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS and Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo SS finishing fourth and fifth.

A blown engine with just 30 laps remaining at Lowe's Motor Speedway relegated Gordon to the 24th finishing position and 10th in the Chase standings.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS, extended his lead in the Chase to 45 points following his third place finish at Lowe's Motor Speedway last Saturday night. With four races remaining in the Chase, Burton's consistency continues to be the key to the success of his Richard Childress Racing (RCR) team. But the ever-cautious Burton isn't jumping ahead of the task at hand with five races to go to crown the 2006 champion.

"In this sport, five races is a long time," said Burton. "You can go from having all your stuff together and really feeling good about yourself to really figuring you can't run a lick. So I've been through it, I've seen it, and I'm not going to, actually we're not going to take ourselves too seriously just yet. We still have a lot of work to do. And you know anything can happen.

"We put a good effort together and hopefully we can just continue to put a good effort together. I just hope that we can keep yielding results."

Burton has one victory; nine top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 24 starts at Martinsville. He finished fifth here one year ago and 33rd in the spring 2006 race.

Kevin Harvick, No, 29 GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo SS, is third in the Chase standings, 89 points down to his RCR teammate. After lady luck shone on him when he lost three gears in the transmission at Charlotte and still was able to salvage an 18th place finish, Harvick is looking forward to getting back to short track racing. In 10 starts at Martinsville, Harvick has three top-10 finishes.

"We dodged a bullet at Lowe's with our GM Goodwrench Chevy," said Harvick. "We took what we could get and now we are ready to head to Martinsville. We feel good about going there and feel like everything should be okay. If we can keep luck on our side we'll be in good shape."

Earnhardt,Jr., is looking for his first victory at Martinsville. He has scored six top-five and six top-10 finishes in 13 starts. His best finish is third, twice, but sitting fifth in the Chase standings, 106 points behind the leader, "Junior" knows this would be the perfect time for his break-out win.

"It's a tough little ol' track, because you can never get away from anybody," said Earnhardt, Jr. when asked about Martinsville. "There's always someone to race, whether it's a lap-down car or for position. We need to qualify a little better than we did last time so we don't get caught up in some crashes. I think the last three times we've been there, the best we've started was 20th. But we're taking a good car. It's the one we finished fourth with at Martinsville last time, so we should be able to race like hell and give 'em a show!"

Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Monte Carlo SS, and Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo SS, both contenders in the Chase, Hamlin is seventh, 135 points out of the lead and Busch is ninth, 195 points down, will pull double duty at Martinsville. Out to have a little fun in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Hamlin will pilot the No. 46 Econo Lodge/Rodeway Inn Chevrolet Silverado and Busch will jump back in the No. 15 SunTrust/Manheim Auto Auctions Chevrolet Silverado.

Johnson, currently seventh in the standings, 146 points down to Burton, finished second at Charlotte. Johnson is quietly racking up an outstanding record at Martinsville. In nine starts, he has notched one win; five top-five and eight top-10 finishes and intends to use that success to his advantage Sunday.

"I can't wait to get back (to Martinsville)," said Johnson. "That's been a great race track for me. I think it's a chance where I can score some points on some of the guys like Matt Kenseth and maybe (Jeff) Burton - even though Burton has been strong there. I really like the track and I think it's a chance for me to get some points."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports