Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Martinsville: So will it be Jimmie, or Denny?

   Nothing says Martinsville quite like one of these Martinsville hot dogs! (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    By Mike Mulhern


    Can anyone beat Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin at Martinsville Speedway?
    No one has in a long time.
    Maybe Jeff Gordon, the Phoenix winner remember, still has some tricks.

    Sunday's 500, with qualifying Saturday, could be another engine test for the Joe Gibbs guys, who have had erratic problems this spring.
    "I do ask what happened," Kyle Busch says, "because I am intrigued by all aspect of the car. 
    "I've heard a little bit about the problems we've had this weekend. There were some valve issues, things like that. 
    "I don't want to elaborate too much on it. At least we know what happened and where the source of the problem is.  Anytime that you can figure all that out, you're moving forward. 
     "For us, it was like my bottom-end issue at Las Vegas. Catastrophic failure.  We don't know what happened, so we haven't been able to diagnose that.
    "But we haven't had any of those in so long we don't know if it was just a part malfunction or something we missed. 
    "We've already found the source of last week's issues with both Denny and Joey (Logano). So we feel pretty confident we're heading in the right direction."
    And what to make of those Jack Roush Fords, which have been so strong? Carl Edwards came out of California with the Sprint Cup tour lead. And David Ragan posted the quickest laps in Friday's 'final' practice session.
    "This has not been our best race track," Edwards concedes. "We have a fairly decent car; it's not a rocket ship just yet."

     Carl Edwards' crew pushing ol' 99 toward the Martinsville grid for Friday practice (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    The points? The new point system has everyone a bit confused.
     "As competitive as things are you've got to pay a little attention to the points at this point in the season, because you don't want to get yourself in a hole where you're playing catch-up," Edwards says.
   "We'd like to get another win or two before this chase, so we feel we're locked in, even if something goes bad in the points.
     "But it's really early still to be able to say who is even going to be in the chase. Anything can happen with the points.  We’re leading now, but there are a lot of races to go, and a lot can happen -- especially with the point system now.  You can lose so many points having a couple of bad weeks."
    One question mark in particular has been Hamlin. A good run here could redeem him. But another engine problem….
   "I haven't been paying much attention to his season….I haven't seen exactly what put them in the hole they're in," Edwards says.
   "But they're a championship-caliber team.  If they had Homestead to do over again, I would bet they would win the championship just as many times as they would lose it.
     "So I don't count them out of anything. 
     "They could win here.  They could win Texas.  They could win Darlington."
    Edwards and teammates meanwhile are still scratching their heads over California, where they didn't show much punch:
   "I was surprised last week that all of our cars and the struggles we had during the race.  Matt (Kenseth) finished fourth with two tires on that last pit stop, and we were sixth with no tires -- but we didn't have that speed those front three or four guys had.  We just never had it all day.
    "We talked a lot about that this week.  That was one of the tracks we thought we'd do really well at, so that was a little bit frustrating.
    "The test now will be Texas."

         Fastest in Friday's final round of practice for Sunday's Martinsville 500


    Remember when David Ragan was a 'dart without feathers' at Martinsville? This time around he's the fastest in final round practice. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Give us a tally on the number

Give us a tally on the number of those hot dogs you knock back this weekend, Mike. Good to have you back.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com