Goody's 500 Preview
November 1, 2015
By Micah Roberts
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Holy smokes, it's been a long time since we've seen a driver win four straight NASCAR Sprint Cup races and Joey Logano has a chance to do it Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. So much for the target on his back at Talladega after wrecking Matt Kenseth at Kansas two weeks ago. He not only fended off any veteran wrath, he ends up winning the race. Crazy!
But is he out of the clear yet? Could it be that justice will be served when it counts most, during the Eliminator Round? If one of the veteran drivers were going to attempt to teach Logano a lesson, wouldn't it matter more if they did it on a track where he was most likely to win?
This week's race at Martinsville could see the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford punted easily, but why mess with him here? At Texas, that's a place he can win at. So if the veterans wanting to really teach Logano a lesson want to really make an impact, why not make him pay at a track he can win at?
In the next Chase round -- Elimination Round -- there's Martinsville this week, then Texas and then Phoenix.
Logano most likely won't win this week -- even though he's had a top-five finish in his past three starts there, and Harvick's got Phoenix wrapped up liked he's done the past four races there, so that leaves Texas as the big day of justice to teach Logano a lesson. If you really want to make Logano feel some wrath, Matt Kenseth, or several other veterans like Denny Hamlin or Kevin Harvick, then Texas is the place.
As it sits now, Logano advances with seven other drivers as possible candidates to win the 2015 Sprint Cup. Hamlin, Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman are out.
While we can most likely cross out Logano as a candidate to win this week at Martinsville -- maybe not, he did lead 108 laps in March 29 race, we have to look at three drivers that we have been looking at on the the flat half-mile Virginia layout for the past decade in every race.
Jeff Gordon will be making his 46th and final Martinsville start -- maybe -- on Sunday and has compiled eight wins with a track best 6.8 average finish. His last win came in the fall of 2013 and he was runner-up to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in this race last season. No one is better than Gordon here, but Jimmie Johnson may disagree.
Johnson has eight wins in 27 starts with a 7.3 average. The two Hendrick Motorsports teammates are tied as the active leaders in Martinsville wins. Johnson was also the last driver to win four straight races. He did in in the 2007 Chase using Martinsville as one of the races en route to the second of his six Sprint Cup titles. His last win on the flat half-mile layout was in 2013.
Hamlin, the native Virginian, only has five wins on the track including the race there earlier this season. Short flat tracks is what Hamlin is all about and he's probably kind of pissed about getting involved in the last wreck at Talladega -- thanks Harvick -- and being eliminated from the Chase.
Let's roll with Hamlin this week to sweep the season. No title, but he can keep his Martinsville crown and that's very important to him. Martinsville is about as consistent as it gets in NASCAR and the big-3 can be counted on.
Top Five Finish Prediction:
1) #11 Denny Hamlin (7/1)
2) #24 Jeff Gordon (6/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)
4) #4 Kevin Harvick (8/1)
5) #2 Brad Keselowski (12/1)