Martinsville Speedway, Ridgeway, VA — April 9, 2022
The short track swing continues tonight at Martinsville Speedway. From last week’s 0.75-mile D-shaped oval at Richmond, the NASCAR Cup Series turns to Martinsville’s 0.526-mile paperclip with the concrete paved corners and asphalt straightaways. Car setups are changing with the different racing surfaces. Just wait until next week’s Easter evening event on the dirt track at Bristol Motor Speedway. It is enough to send the Cup crew chief’s heads spinning.
Martinsville Speedway is the longest continuously running track on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, and the only currently active track that was a part of the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series season in 1949. Martinsville Speedway was originally a dirt track and the facility hosted 12 NASCAR Cup Series races on the then dirt surface before paving the track in the late summer months of 1955, between the track’s two Cup races of that season.
In total, there have been 146 NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway, one in the inaugural year (1949), and two races per year since 1950. The first 500-lap event at Martinsville Speedway was in 1956 and the concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976.
Martinsville Speedway is celebrating its 75th anniversary by hosting the Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400. The race is 400-laps, equal to 210.4 miles around the vintage track. Stages are set for 80/180/220 laps and the defending champion is Martin Truex Jr.
Chase Elliott starts on the pole tonight with Aric Almirola lining up beside him on row one.
The all-electric 2022 F-150 Lightning will be the official pace vehicle for this weekend’s NASCAR event at Martinsville Speedway. This marks the first time an electric truck will pace a NASCAR race and follows the Mustang Mach-E, which handled pace car duties at Talladega Superspeedway last year.
The 146 NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway are the second-most points-paying series events run at a facility behind Daytona International Speedway’s 150 races. Nine former winners will take the green flag tonight.
|Active Race Winners (9)||Wins||Seasons|
|Denny Hamlin||5||2015, 2010 sweep, 2009, 2008|
|Martin Truex Jr||3||2021, 2020, 2019|
|Brad Keselowski||2||2019, 2017|
|Kyle Busch||2||2017, 2016|
|Kurt Busch||2||2014, 2002|
If the 2022 season sees an eighth different victor this weekend it will become just the third different season in the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-Present) to start with eight different winners in the first eight races; joining 2003 and 2000.
Among the active drivers this weekend, 10 have posted wins on short tracks in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch with 16 short-track Cup victories. Team Penske’s Joey Logano is the only driver to win at all four of the currently active short tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule with his victory last season on the Bristol Dirt.
|Active Short Track Winners||Total||Martinsville||Richmond||Bristol||Bristol Dirt|
|Martin Truex Jr||6||3||3||0||0|
Chase Elliott(9) fired off from the pole and quickly built a lead at the front of the pack in Stage One. Aric Almirola(10) lost the second position to his teammate Cole Custer(41) and then faded to fifth as William Byron(24) and Christopher Bell(20) charged to the front.
Byron moved to the runner-up position and closed on Elliott as the leaders worked through lapped traffic near the end of the Stage. Elliott held on for the Stage win, but the fast pace put a number of drivers a lap down. Only 22 of the 36 starters were able to stay on the lead lap after the 80 circuits in Stage One. Denny Hamlin(11), last week’s winner, was one of the drivers to fall from the lead lap. Six Ford drivers scored Stage Points in the first segment of the race.
Stage One Results
*Ford Mustang Drivers
First out of the pits and quickly back to another growing margin on the restart, Elliott has led every lap of the race so far. The same lead group rounded out the top five with the exception of Joey Logano(22) taking over the fifth spot from Almirola.
Thirty laps into Stage Two, Byron closed to Elliott’s bumper and put some pressure on his Hendrick Motorsports teammate.
Team Penske drivers Logano and Ryan Blaney(12) were the movers in Stage Two as they worked their way up to third and fourth as the Fords had another strong showing in the second segment.
Elliott completed his sweep of the first two Stages having led every lap so far.
Stage Two Results
*Ford Mustang Drivers
The Final Stage
Post another number at the top of the leaderboard as Byron beat Elliott off pit road to take over the top spot.
Cole Custer, who ran in the top five all race long, had a mishap on pit road. His crew let a tire escape from their pit box while making replacements, Custer hit the tire exiting his pit. NASCAR penalized the team forcing Custer to the rear of the field on the restart.
Byron and Elliott moved away when the race went back to green with Logano and Blaney following. Austin Dillon(3) joined the top 5 after making a strong run at the end of the second Stage.
Pit strategy will likely play a key part in the Final Stage, it will be the only segment that requires a stop for fuel and tires.
As laps ran down close to the 100 to go mark, Logano caught Elliott and bumped him out of the way to take over the second position. Blaney followed his teammate through the opening for third. Dillon also got around Elliott as the handle on the number nine car seemed to be going away.
Kyle Busch(18) and Martin Truex Jr.(19) were the first of the lead lap cars to pit with 108 laps to go. Elliott pitted five laps later. Truex had a tire go flat shortly after returning to the track and had to return to the pits a second time for repairs.
Byron pitted with 96 laps to go. Blaney was the last of the leaders to pit coming in on Lap 307. When all the stops had cycled through Byron was back out front, Logano ran second, Dillon third, Elliott fourth, and Kyle Busch completed the top five.
The caution was displayed for the first time, other than at the end of a Stage, for debris on the track with 89 laps to go. Erik Jones(43) caught a big break as he had yet to pit and made up two laps to get back on the lead lap. Kyle Busch and Elliott opted to pit for different tires and adjustments in the hopes of improving the handle of their race cars.
When the green flag dropped the pushing and shoving started as drivers realized it was “go time.” As positions sorted out the top 5 were Byron, Dillon, Logano, Kurt Busch(45), and Blaney.
As the laps wound down, Byron stretched his lead. Logano closed on Dillon trying to get close enough to move him off the bottom of the track so he could make a pass. But, positions remained the same.
With seven laps to go, Todd Gilliland(38) locked up the brakes and slid into the outside wall bringing out the caution and sending the race into overtime. All of the top 10 cars stayed on the track.
Byron lined up on the inside, at the “choose cone” Dillon followed him. Logano took the outside with Blaney behind him. Byron got a good start at the drop of the green flag and Logano slid in behind him. Logano could not get close enough to move Byron out of the way and the Hendrick Motorsports driver became the first repeat winner of the year.
|1||William Byron||276||In Win (2)|
|2||Ross Chastain||246||In Win|
|3||Alex Bowman||237||In Win|
|4||Chase Briscoe*||220||In Win|
|5||Kyle Larson||201||In Win|
|6||Austin Cindric*||201||In Win|
|7||Denny Hamlin||157||In Win|
|11||Martin Truex Jr.||237||+50|
|NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Cut Line|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Results of the Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 from Martinsville Speedway
|22||19||Martin Truex Jr.||-2||401|
|27||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||-3||400|