Posted 03/30/2012 at 01:45 AM
HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 320 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500. This former No. 33 racer was transformed to a No. 29 entry during the off-season and will turn its first competitive laps as a Budweiser is Back Chevrolet during Friday’s opening practice session.
JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Will return in the same car (chassis No. 653) that he finished 11th and second with in both Martinsville races last season.
RYAN NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: This will be the fifth start for Chassis No. 39-645, its first this season and its third start at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The chassis made its first start last April at Martinsville, where Newman started second and finished 20th, two laps down. Newman led three laps and was in the top-10 for much of the first 300 laps of the 500-lap race, but a broken header pipe and a flat left-rear tire caused him to lose two laps. The next start for Chassis 39-645 was in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where Newman started on the pole and led 119 of 301 laps en route to his 15th career Sprint Cup Series victory. The chassis returned to Loudon in September, when Newman again started on the pole and then led the first 62 laps before finishing a disappointing 25th. A cut tire with less than five laps remaining dropped Newman from 11th to 25th.
TONY STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: No. 14-587 - This car made its debut in March 2010 at Martinsville, where it qualified fifth and finished 26th. Prior to Martinsville, Chassis No. 14-587 never turned a wheel on the racetrack. With a new body honed in the wind tunnel, it was tested at The Milwaukee Mile June 1 in preparation for its second career start in June at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. There, Chassis No. 14-587 earned a hard-fought second-place finish, for after starting 25th, it fell to 33rd after a lap-36 pit miscue on the team’s first stop. Two late-race cautions allowed Stewart to regain his lost track position, and with a savvy two-tire pit call, Stewart wheeled Chassis No. 14-587 to pass second-place Kurt Busch on the penultimate lap.
The car returned to New Hampshire for the first event of the 10-race Chase for the Championship, where in its third career start, it qualified third before leading three times for 100 laps. But while leading with less than two laps to go, it ran out of fuel. Stewart coasted around the 1.058-mile oval for the final circuit of the 300-lap race and finished 24th, the last driver on the lead lap. Clint Bowyer, who served as Stewart’s primary competition for much of the race, wound up with the victory. Chassis No. 14-587 revisited Martinsville for round six of the Chase, where it qualified sixth and rallied back from two pitroad miscues during the race, but a flat right-front tire with less than 10 laps remaining relegated it to a 24th-place finish.
With another new body, this car made its first start of 2011 and fifth overall at Phoenix International Raceway in February. It started 18th and led four times for 59 laps before an ill-timed caution period late in the race jettisoned solid pit strategy and left it with a seventh-place finish. Chassis No. 14-587’s second start of 2011 came at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway back in April, where it qualified 31st and rallied its way to a ninth-place finish. The car sat idle until returning to Richmond in early September for it seventh career start, where it logged its third straight top-10 finish.
In its final start of 2011, Chassis No. 14-587 went out on top. The site was Martinsville in late October, where it started fourth, nearly fell off the lead lap midway through the 500-lap race, and overcame an unscheduled pit stop on lap 415 to replace a perceived flat tire. Stewart used Chassis No. 14-587 to rally his way from 20th to take the lead from five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson on a restart with three laps to go. When the checkered flag dropped, Stewart had his third Sprint Cup win at Martinsville and was on his way to his third career Sprint Cup championship.
EARNHARDT JR CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-654 for this weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway. This will be the third time that Earnhardt has raced this car, which he drove last season to a second-place finish at Martinsville in April and a seventh-place finish in October at Martinsville.
EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: RK-791 - This car debuted at Martinsville last fall where it finished ninth.
BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 15 5-hour ENERGY team will race chassis No. 701 at Martinsville. Chassis No. 693 will serve as the backup. Both chassis are new in 2012.