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NASCAR Monster Energy & Camping World Series at Martinsville this weekend; XFINITY off until April 8

Martinsville Speedway 2011 photo By GalaxyTrooper, Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: STP 500

The Place: Martinsville Speedway

The Date: Sunday, April 2

The Time: 2 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 263 miles (500 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 130),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 260), Final Stage (Ends on lap 500)

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Next Race: My Bariatric Solutions 300

The Place: Texas Motor Speedway

The Date: Saturday, April 8

The Time: 1:30 p.m. ET

TV: FOX, 1 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 300 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: Alpha Energy Solutions 250

The Place: Martinsville Speedway

The Date: Saturday, April 1

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

TV: FOX, 2:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 131.5 miles (250 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 70),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 140), Final Stage (Ends on lap 250)

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

 

California Winning: Larson Notches First Win Of Season At Auto Club

Kyle Larson snapped a streak of three consecutive runner-ups, leading 110 laps and winning Stage 1 on his way to Victory Lane in last Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

 

The No. 42 Chevrolet driver extended his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points lead to 29 points over Chase Elliott. Because of his victory and stage win, Larson now has six playoff points.

 

Larson, who also won Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race, became the 17th driver to sweep a national series weekend.

 

The 24-year-old Californian hopes to start a winning streak at Martinsville Speedway in Sunday’s STP 500 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). He owns a high finish of third there.

 

Bowyer Captures First Top-5 Finish Since 2015

Clint Bowyer’s third-place showing marked his first top-five result since he finished fifth at Bristol on Aug. 22, 2015. It was also Bowyer’s best finish since his third-place showing at Sonoma on June 28, 2015.

 

Bowyer has two top 10s so far this season, only one less than his mark from last year when he finished a career-low 27th in the final standings.

 

Right now, the Kansas native sits eighth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 100 markers below leader Kyle Larson.

 

This is Bowyer’s first season with Stewart-Haas Racing, replacing three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Ford.

 

“It means a lot to me to be in this 14,” Bowyer said. “I have a lot of fun with these guys. Buga (crew chief Mike Bugarewicz) and all these guys mean business. It’s a confidence thing right now, a momentum-builder, and we’re getting closer. Obviously, this is a good track for me. I wanted to win that damn thing, but to come home with the wild finish and everything that it was, we’ll take it.”

 

Truex Back Up Top

Martin Truex Jr. is showing his breakout in the last two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series seasons was no aberration. The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing driver, who won a career-high four races last season, has powered to a strong 2017 start with one win, two top fives and three top 10s in the first five races.

Truex leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with eight playoff points and is tied with Kevin Harvick for first in stage wins with three. His 7.4 average finish ranks second-best to Kyle Larson (3.8). Truex sits third in the points standings, 38 points behind Larson.

 

Plethora Of Young Drivers In Playoff Picture

We’re only five races into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, but if it ended today, six drivers under the age of 27 would make the playoffs: Kyle Larson (24 years old), Chase Elliott (21), Joey Logano (26), Ryan Blaney (23), Erik Jones (20) and Trevor Bayne (26).

 

Blaney, Jones and Bayne would all be first-time playoff participants. Jones would join Elliott (2016), Chris Buescher (2016) and Denny Hamlin (2006) as the fourth Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender to ever make the playoffs.

 

Martinsville’s Finest: Jimmie Johnson Leads Active Drivers With 9 Wins At The Paperclip

Seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has struggled in the first five races with only one top-10 finish – a ninth-place showing at Phoenix.

Luckily for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports driver, he’ll get the chance to turn his season around at arguably his top track – Martinsville Speedway.

Johnson leads active drivers with nine wins, 19 top fives, 24 top 10s, a 7.8 average finish and a 117.7 driver rating at “The Paperclip.”

He won the fall Martinsville race last year to clinch his spot in the Championship 4.

Hendrick Motorsports boasts a Martinsville track-record 24 wins.

Kyle Busch Attempts To Defend Spring Martinsville Victory

Kyle Busch will attempt to visit Victory Lane for the second consecutive spring at Martinsville in Sunday’s STP 500 at the Southern Virginia short track. Busch led 352 of 500 laps on his way to his first win of 2016. Overall, he claims one win, 11 top fives and 12 top 10s at Martinsville.

 

On the season, Busch has finishes of 38th (Daytona), 16th (Atlanta), 22nd (Las Vegas), third (Phoenix) and eighth (Auto Club). He won Stage 1 at Daytona.

 

Busch sits 10th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 107 markers below Kyle Larson.

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Parity Party: 5 Different Winners Through First 5 Races: Five different drivers have won the first five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races: Kurt Busch (Daytona), Brad Keselowski (Atlanta), Martin Truex Jr. (Las Vegas), Ryan Newman (Phoenix), Kyle Larson (Auto Club).

Keselowski Records Fourth Straight Top-Five Finish: Lost in Kyle Larson’s blazing hot start to the season has been the consistency of 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski. The No. 2 Ford driver has strung together four straight top-five finishes, including a win (Atlanta) and runner-up (Auto Club).

 

NASCAR XFINITY Series

 

Five Different Winners Through First Five NASCAR XFINITY Series Races

This season marks the 14th time in NASCAR XFINITY Series history the first five races of the season have been won by five different drivers. It’s been 11 years (2006) since the last time the series has seen the feat accomplished. Ryan Reed (Daytona), Kyle Busch (Atlanta), Joey Logano (Las Vegas), Justin Allgaier (Phoenix) and Kyle Larson (Auto Club) are this season’s five different winners. Also of note, five different organizations have also visited Victory Lane – Roush Fenway Racing (Daytona), Joe Gibbs Racing (Atlanta), Team Penske (Las Vegas), JR Motorsports (Phoenix) and Chip Ganassi Racing (Auto Club).  The NASCAR XFINITY Series record for largest number of different winners in a single season is 18 – set back in 1988. Last season had 14 different winners. The series resumes in all its grandeur at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 8 on FOX (at 1:30 p.m. ET).

Sadler Opens Up Points Lead Going Into First Off Weekend Of Season

Over the past three weeks, JR Motorsports veteran and NASCAR XFINITY Series driver standings leader Elliott Sadler has been accumulating points and distancing himself from the rest of the pack in the 2017 standings. Following Las Vegas, Sadler had a four-point lead over second-place in the series driver standings, then two weeks ago following Phoenix he opened the lead up to 11 points. Now following a seventh-place finish at Auto Club, he is 17 points ahead of his JRM teammate William Byron in second. In five starts this season, Sadler has posted two top fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 9.8. He also has two Stage wins that have produced two playoff points. Sadler’s season-to-date loop data stats also point to why he has been so successful early this season. Among drivers that have made all five starts in 2017, Sadler leads the NASCAR XFINITY Series in the following categories: driver rating (101.3), average running position (7.870) and laps in the top 15 (768 laps, 91.8%).

 

NASCAR XFINITY Series Points Earned In Stages 1 & 2
Rank Driver Stage 1 Pts Stage 2 Pts Combined
1 Elliott Sadler 26 27 53
2 Justin Allgaier 11 17 28
3 William Byron 18 8 26
4 Brennan Poole 12 5 17
5 Daniel Hemric 9 8 17
6 Cole Custer 8 6 14
7 Darrell Wallace Jr. 7 5 12
8 Matt Tifft 9 3 12
9 Tyler Reddick 3 7 10
10 Blake Koch 7 2 9
11 Ryan Reed 1 7 8
12 Dakoda Armstrong 3 3 6
13 Brendan Gaughan 2 4 6

 

Stage Racing Can Pay Big Points In New Enhanced Format

The new enhanced formats this season have brought a lot to the table as far as accumulating points is concerned throughout a NASCAR XFINITY Series race. Thirteen different NXS drivers have taken advantage of the new system to earn points by finishing inside the top 10 in the first two stages of a race. Week-in and week-out, the Stage points can add up to be quite the advantage. Here is a look at the Stage point accumulators through the first five races of 2017.

Of the thirteen NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers that have earned points from the first two stages of the first five races, Elliott Sadler has earned the most. He has nearly double the amount (53 points) of his nearest competitor, Justin Allgaier with 28. Sadler’s stage points are a big contributor as to why he has such a large lead in the NASCAR XFINITY Series driver standings. Sadler has finished inside the top 10 of every Stage except the two at Las Vegas this season.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Stats Through Five Races

With the NASCAR XFINITY Series taking a break this weekend, let’s look at how this season’s competitors have performed statistically through the first five races:

~        Number of Races This Season: 5

~        Number of Winners: 5 the most since 2006 (5)

~        Number of Coors Light Poles winners: 4 – the same number as last season through five races

~        Average Number of Leaders: 5.40the most since 2015 (6.20)

~        Average Number of Lead Changes: 13.60 – the most since 2013 (16.20)

~        Average Margin of Victory: 0.459 second – the closest MOV since 2010 (0.420 second)

~        All five races this season have had a margin of victory less than a second – the most since the inception of electronic scoring in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 1996.

~        Percentage of Lead Lap Finishes: 59%the highest since 2005 (62.3%)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Ringing The Bell Into Martinsville

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series picks back up this weekend at Martinsville Speedway for the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 on Saturday, April 1 (3 p.m. ET on FOX). NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader Christopher Bell will look to capture back-to-back wins for the first time in his young career.

 

Bell captured his first win of the 2017 season in the Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The win jolted him into the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs and atop of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings.

The No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports driver has raced in two career races at Martinsville Speedway– both in 2016. He finished 19th in April and fourth in October.

Bell leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings by seven points over reigning series champion Johnny Sauter and Ben Rhodes. Sunoco Rookie contender Kaz Grala (-15) and Matt Crafton (-21) round out the top five.

 

Sauter Looking To Skip Into Martinsville Speedway History

Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion Johnny Sauter has a chance to make history at Martinsville Speedway this weekend with a win in the Alpha Energy Solutions 250.

 

If Sauter captures at win at Martinsville on Saturday, he would become the all-time leader in wins in track history with four. Sauter captured his third win at Martinsville last season when he took the checkered in the fall and punched his ticket into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs.

 

In seven of his last eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Martinsville, Sauter has posted top-10 finishes, including two wins (2016 – fall and 2013 – spring).

 

In 18 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career starts at Martinsville Speedway, Sauter has three wins, six top fives, nine top 10s and 386 laps led.

 

Mixing It Up At Martinsville

The last five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Martinsville Speedway have all been won by different race winners.

 

Johnny Sauter (2016 – fall)

Kyle Busch (2016 – spring)

Matt Crafton (2015 – fall)

Joey Logano (2015 – spring)

Darrell Wallace Jr. (2014 – fall)

 

Will Saturday’s Alpha Energy Solutions 250 produce its sixth-consecutive different NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner at Martinsville Speedway?

 

There have been seven drivers who have won multiple NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Martinsville Speedway since 1995:

 

Kevin Harvick (3)

Johnny Saunter (3)

Dennis Setzer (3)

Mike Skinner (3)

Matt Crafton (2)

Denny Hamlin (2)

Darrell Wallace Jr. (2)

 

Getting Off To A Fast Start

Since 2010, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver who has started on the pole for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway, has gone on to win the race five times. Those winners account for 36 percent of all 14 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins at Martinsville from 2010-16.

Starting with the most recent, below are the drivers to win the pole and the race at Martinsville Speedway between 2010-16:

Joey Logano (2015 – spring)

Darrell Wallace Jr. (2014 – fall)

Kevin Harvick (2012 – spring)

Johnny Sauter (2011 – spring)

Kevin Harvick (2010 – spring)

 

Based on recent NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history (2010-2016), if you win the pole at Martinsville, you have a 36 percent chance at winning the race.

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

Crafton Counting Up Martinsville Speedway Records: Matt Crafton has accumulated multiple Martinsville Speedway track records over his 17-year NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career. He currently leads the following series categories at Martinsville Speedway:

  • Races Run (30)
  • Top 10s (17)
  • Lead Lap Finishes (26)
  • Laps Completed (6,665)

Chase Elliott Trucking At Martinsville: Chase Elliott will run this Saturday’s Alpha Energy Solutions 250 for GMS Racing. This will be Elliott’s second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start of 2017. He started ninth at Atlanta in the Active Pest Control 200 and finished fifth. Elliott’s last win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series came in 2013 at Bowmanville.

Ty Dillon Returns To NASCAR Camping World Truck Series For First Time Since 2015:

Ty Dillon was a late addition to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series lineup at Martinsville and will run the No. 99 Chevrolet for Ranier Racing with Mathew Miller in this Saturday’s Alpha Energy Solutions 250. Ty’s brother Austin ran in the No. 99 Chevrolet at Atlanta and finished seventh.

 

Ty last appeared in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2015 and finished 23rd. He has 53 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career starts with three wins, 19 top fives and 35 top 10s.

 

Harrison Burton Readies to Make 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Debut at Martinsville: NASCAR Next alumni (Class of 2016) and K&N Pro Series East driver Harrison Burton will make his 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway this weekend in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra. Burton appeared in one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race last season – the fall race at Martinsville Speedway. He finished with a top-25 in the No. 18 KBM Toyota after starting 16th.

 

RACE PREVIEWS WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF NASCAR COMMUNICATIONS