Apr 7, 2013; Martinsville, VA, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson (48) celebrates winning the STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Martinsville: Who To Watch

It’s that time of the season again when the Sprint Cup Series goes from its biggest track to its shortest and fastest half-mile.

The differences between Talladega and Martinsville are astronomical but there is one thing that you can find at both tracks: Excitement.

When going to Martinsville, there are always a handful of drivers who know how to bump and push there way around the track. Here is a lost of who you should watch this weekend at Martinsville.

Jimmie Johnson: With a total of eight wins, including the sprint race this season, it’s easy to say that this track should be renamed Jimmiville. Johnson sat on the pole and led the most laps when the season was there earlier this season and Crew Chief Chad Knaus knows how to set up a car for “the paperclip.” After taking over the points lead  at Talladega, Johnson is four points ahead of Matt Kenseth and heading to one of his best tracks. Barring a wreck, look for Johnson to be near the front and emerge with a bigger points lead heading into Texas.

Denny Hamlin: He missed the first Martinsville race this season after an injury kept him out of the car. Although his season hasn’t seen the best finishes, Martinsville is one of Hamlin’s best tracks. With five wins, Hamlin is well overdue for a win, or at least a top-5 finish. His last win came back in 2010 but his average finish is 8.2. Keep an eye on Hamlin, he is itching for a win in the No.11.

Jeff Gordon: Like his teammate, Jeff Gordon and Martinsville also have a very good relationship. Gordon has a total of seven wins at the paperclip and although his last win was back in 2005, Gordon still has an average finish of seventh. Gordon was added into the Chase right before Chicagoland but has been contending for wins and top-5’s all though the Chase. He is still in contention to with the title and a win at Martinsville would surely help his cause.

Danica Patrick: Now, before you close out of this article, hear me out. Danica Patrick made her first start at Martinsville this spring. She had to start from the rear after changing an engine and was spun out in the opening laps of the race. As many as 2-laps down from the leaders, Patrick battled her way through the field, played into the caution flags, go back on the lead lap, and finished 12th. Some of NASCAR’s top drivers can’t do that, especially their first time at Martinsville. The speeds and close racing that is Martinsville fit well in to Patrick’s skill set. After a devastating penalty of pit road cost her a top-10 finish at Talladega, Patrick is determined to get that good finish.

Three seasoned drivers and NASCAR’s highest profiled Rookie. Those are my picks for who you should watch this weekend at Martinsville.

Tags: Danica Patrick Denny Hamlin Jeff Gordon Jimmie Johnson Martinsville Speedway Talladega Super Speedway

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