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Pre-Race Notes and Quotes: Martinsville

Hendrick Motorsports | Race Preview Published 3/26/2014
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EVENT: STP 500
DATE: Sunday, March 30, 2014
TRACK: Martinsville Speedway
LENGTH: .526-mile oval
TV: FOX (Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET)
RADIO: MRN (Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET)

News & Notes

POINTS REPORT: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 12th last weekend at Auto Club Speedway and currently ranks second in the driver standings. After five NASCAR Sprint Cup events this season, Earnhardt has one win, three top-five finishes and three top-10s. He trails leader Carl Edwards by one point.

AT MARTINSVILLE: In 28 Sprint Cup starts at Martinsville Speedway, Earnhardt has scored 10 top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led 868 laps. He recorded a career-best runner-up finish at the Virginia short track behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet in October 2008 and again in April 2011.

PERSONAL BEST: Earnhardt's 868 laps led at Martinsville are his personal best at a track. He has tallied 256 of those laps driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

SHORT TRACK STATS: In 86 Cup starts on short tracks, Earnhardt has recorded four wins, one pole position, 26 top-five finishes and 41 top-10s. He has an average starting spot of 17.0 and an average finish of 13.0 on these racetracks.

DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Earnhardt is ranked fourth in the driver rating category at Martinsville with a score of 98.9. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

LAPS IN THE TOP 15: Earnhardt ranks third among drivers for laps run in the top 15 during the last 18 races at Martinsville behind teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Earnhardt has spent 77.1 percent of all laps (6,963 of 9,034 laps) in the top 15 per NASCAR's loop statistics.

CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-789 for this weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to an eighth-place finish at Martinsville last October.

30TH ANNIVERSARY: In 2014, Hendrick Motorsports is celebrating its 30th anniversary in NASCAR. The organization began in 1984 with five employees and 5,000 square feet of work space. It has grown to more than 500 employees with a 430,000-square-foot facility that sits on 140 acres. Driver Geoff Bodine won the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway spring race on April 29, 1984, marking Hendrick Motorsports’ first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

HENDRICK BESTS AT MARTINSVILLE: Hendrick Motorsports has recorded its most wins, top-five finishes and top-10s at Martinsville. The organization has 21 victories there, with Gordon most recently reaching Victory Lane at the short track in October 2013. During that race, three Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished eighth or better to give the organization 110 career top-10s at Martinsville. That figure is a team-best for Hendrick and ranks as more than any other team has acquired at any Cup track in NASCAR history.

MARTINSVILLE DUO: Johnson and Gordon recorded victories at Martinsville in 2013 and remain tied for first among active drivers there with eight wins apiece at the paper-clip oval. Gordon leads active drivers at the Virginia short track in the following statistical categories: top-five finishes (27), top-10s (34) and laps led (3,593). Gordon also ranks first among active drivers with a 7.2 starting position, and Johnson ranks first with an average finish of 5.3.

HENDRICK SWEEPS: Hendrick Motorsports has swept the Cup events at Martinsville five times since entering its first race there in 1984. The organization has won three straight events at the short track on four occasions, including most recently when Johnson won in October 2012 and April 2013 followed by Gordon in October 2013. A win this weekend would mark the first four-peat for Hendrick Motorsports at the Virginia short track.

Quotes

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (ON MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY.): “Every seat at Martinsville is the best seat in the house. I think it’s a great place to watch a race. I used to go up there and watch when I was a kid. It was only an hour and a half up the road so we never missed that race. I’ve been going there forever, and I love racing there.”

Standings
After Oral-B USA 500
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Jeff Gordon 872 0
2 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 851 -21
3 +2 Matt Kenseth 794 -78
4 -- Joey Logano 791 -81
5 -2 Brad Keselowski 782 -90
6 -- Jimmie Johnson 766 -106
7 +1 Carl Edwards 755 -117
8 -1 Kevin Harvick 748 -124
9 -- Ryan Newman 747 -125
10 +1 Greg Biffle 728 -144
11 +2 Kasey Kahne 708 -164
12 -2 Clint Bowyer 705 -167
Full Standings