STP Gas Booster 500

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Martinsville is a short track. Actually, it’s the shortest track. One lap is just .526 miles. Drivers either love short tracks or hate them. Since most got their start racing on short tracks, this is a popular place to visit.
Most crews will bring their Bristol ride here. The difference is Martinsville runs moderately different than Brisol. The Paper Clip (it really is shaped like a paper clip) differes from Bristol (and Dover for that matter) in two ways.  

Drivers will contend with  two reasonably long straightaways with zero banking, then hit two tight corners. Since it’s a 500-lap race, you don’t have to be a math major to realize how often the breaking package will be tested Sunday. Martinsville also has asphalt on the straightaways and concrete along the turns. Even though this is  the shortest track on the circuit, there are plenty of opportunities for a driver to feel uncomfortable.
As a result qualifying here is huge. You could argue qualifiying is as important here as any track on the Sprint Cup. The pits are tight, so getting a good stall is a legit bonus. Plus, there’s a 1/4 lap difference between first and last on a double file restart. It’s easy to get caught in traffic or lapped, even if you have a good car.
Business will be interesting on Sunday. Now some other random facts to impress the friends and annoy the ladies Sunday:
  • Martinsville opened in 1947. It is the only track to host a race in NASCAR’s top series every year since 1949.
  • The banking is twelve degrees in the corner. There is no banking on the straightaways, which are 55 feet wide and 800 feet long.
  • Winners receive a grandfather clock instead of a trophy
  • Ryan Newman won this race last year.
  • Jimmie Johnson won the fall race.
  • Johnson has the highest average finish at Martinsville among active drivers. The #48 won here seven times. 
  • Denny Hamlin swept Martinsville in 2010 and has four career wins. He won't be racing Sunday.
  • Jeff Gordon has sevenwins and the second best average finish among active drivers. 
  • Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin have the third through  fifth best average finishes. 
  • Tony Stewart has three wins here. Mark Martin won here twice. There are no other multiple race winners. In fact, only Harvick, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch and Bobby Labonte are the only active drivers with a win here.
  • No driver has qualified with a speed over 100 MPH.
  • Coolers are allowed, but they must have soft sides.
  • Fireworks and strollers are not allowed at the track.
  • Who would bring a baby to a NASCAR race, let alone a baby and fireworks? That just seems unsafe.
  • Why would you need fireworks in April? I know every fireworks store has 80% off all the time, but come on.
  • Several sites suggest the hot dogs at Martinsville are really good.
  • Martinsville won’t reveal the recipe that makes their hot dogs so great.
  • I'm hungry.