Jamie McMurray will lead the field today as NASCAR comes to Martinsville for the Goody's Fast Relief 500. McMurray scored his first pole of the year in a race that's traditionally one you want to start up front for. Three of the past six winners at Martinsville were won from the front row, it has been won 18 times by the driver in the pole position including last October when Denny Hamlin won from the pole.
Sprint Cup series leader Carl Edwards figures to have his work cut out for him today having never even led a lap at Martinsville and starting from the 23rd position. Jeff Gordon, who starts just ahead of Edwards in the 21st position has won this race seven times, the most of any active driver.
However, no discussion of the favorites at Martinsville can exclude Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson, who between them have won the last nine races at the track. Johnson has six wins at Martinsville while Hamlin has been victorious in the past three races. This week, Kyle Busch almost seemed resigned that those two would be fighting for the win.
"You can almost guarantee the top two spots will be the 11 [Toyota of Hamlin] and the 48 [Chevrolet of Johnson], so everybody else is racing for third," Kyle Busch said.
Remarkably, Jimmie Johnson has never finished out of the top 10 at Martinsville. The fact surprises even him.
"I would think those first two or three years that I would have been outside the top 10," Johnson said. "I heard that stat before I came up here this week and was pretty shocked to hear that myself."