Previewing the STP 500
By Daniel Courson
March 31, 2017
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is headed back east to the historic Martinsville Speedway, located in southern Virginia.
Thirty-eight drivers are entered in the STP 500 at Martinsville (2:00 P.M. E. T. Sunday, FS1)
DRIVERS TO WATCH
In Kyle Busch’s last three races at Martinsville Speedway (missed Spring 2015 due to injury), the 2015 Champion has led 355 laps and claimed a victory last Spring at the 0.5 mile track, known as the paperclip.
Busch has finished inside the top five in each of his last three starts, earning an average finish of 3.7.
Martin Truex Jr. will be seeking his first grandfather clock this weekend. In his last four starts, Truex Jr. has finished inside the top ten three times. The driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota has led 197 laps.
Kyle Larson has not finished worse than second since the Daytona 500 over five weeks ago. While Larson has one top ten in the last four races with an average finish of 12th, he finished third in this race a year ago and fourteenth in the November race.
“I’m actually excited to get to Martinsville,” Larson said. “I feel like I have become a better short, flat track racer. I think I maybe understand kind of what I need throughout practice to help me in the race a little bit better than I had in the past. Just got to wait and see.”
The driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet led 6 laps at Martinsville in 2016.
Jimmie Johnson has had a slow start to the 2017 season. While only earning one top 10 in the first five races, the seven-time champ has work to do.
Johnson is no stranger to success at Martinsville, having claimed victory nine times at the famous half-mile short track. This weekend will be a true testament to see if Johnson can come out on top at one of his best race tracks.
“Martinsville is about keeping the fenders on it and being around at the end,” Johnson said. “The track has changed quite a bit with the tire that they’ve brought. It seems that our strategies continue to change more and more every time. I’m not really sure what to expect.”
At the time of publication, according to weather.com, the Martinsville, Virginia area has a 80 percent chance of thunderstorms on Friday. Saturday and Sunday look to be mostly sunny, with highs in the upper 60s and lows in the mid to upper 40s.