NASCAR returns to another short track this week for the 2009 Goody’s Fast Relief 500, but it won't be anything like last weeks race at Bristol.
Martinsville Speedway maybe the toughest track on the circuit to try and pass any drive, nevertheless the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, who have combined to win four of the last five races and seven of the last nine at Martinsville.
Hendrick Motorsports has done what no other team has, and that is win here on a consistent basis and have almost owned the place in the COT car. Of all the tracks and races on the NASCAR schedule, this one might be the hardest race to predict, but that one stop us from handing out some picks.
Jeff Gordon 6/1
If anyone can break Jimmie Johnson's stranglehold here, we think it's his teammate, who was the king at Martinsville before Johnson came along. In his last 20 races at Martinsville, Gordon has only finished outside of the top 10 just three times and has 14 top 5 finishes with five wins and an average finish of 6.5. If anyone can keep Johnson out of victory lane this week, we look for Gordon to have the best chance at a fair price.
Denny Hamlin 7/1
Hamlin showed us last week just how good he is on short tracks and Martinsville is the track he cut his teeth on. He always wants to run his best in front of the fans that have cheered him on from the start. From the first time he came here in a cup car he has showed he knows how to get around this track and finally found victory lane last year after some very close calls and a fair amount of bad luck. If anyone can break Hendrick's stranglehold here, look for Hamlin to give them a run for their money.
We think two drivers who have a good shot at knocking off the favorites this week are Tony Stewart (20/1), who has two wins at Martinsville and Mark Martin (25/1), who has one. What separates these two from all the other long shots is that they’ll be driving cars that are almost identical to the ones built for Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
Last week we mentioned how we have gone against rookie sensation Joey Logano and we’ll do it again. It should be another long weekend for the rookie, just like last week's race at Bristol where he finished 38th and had trouble all race till his engine finally gave out.
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