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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Finally Back In Action Friday At Martinsville Speedway

STP is the primary sponsor for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stop at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. (Logo courtesy of NASCAR Media Relations)

The Sprint Cup cars have been silent for the Easter break, and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has been idle for five weeks. That changes at 9 a.m. Friday when the track goes green for the first practice session of the weekend.


Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations

MARTINSVILLE, Va.– The wait is finally over. After two weeks of excitement and buzz, the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars return to the track Friday for practice and qualifying for the STP® Gas Booster™ 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

The Sprint Cup cars have been silent for the Easter break, and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has been idle for five weeks. That changes at 9 a.m. Friday when the track goes green for the first practice session of the weekend.

The truck series has two practices Friday, at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., followed by Sprint Cup practice at noon. Qualifying for the STP® Gas Booster™ 500 is set for 3:40 p.m. and the Kroger 250 is at 5 p.m.

Starting position is key at Martinsville as 35 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races have been won from the front row: 20 from the pole and 15 from second-place. Six of those pole position wins come from active drivers: Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

Gordon and Johnson have accomplished that feat twice and are on an exclusive list of active drivers who have captured multiple wins at Martinsville. Mark Martin and Stewart are also on that list entering Sunday’s STP® Gas Booster™ 500.

Ryan Newman, last spring’s race winner, did not need the pole position to win it. Although Newman started fifth, he was in the right place at the right time on lap 498, after fighting his way back from a lap down.

“In my opinion, the driver has a little more of an impact on the end result at short tracks than some of the bigger racetracks, and I like that. The more the drivers are involved, the more I think you get to race and, from that standpoint, I think it’s more fun,” said Newman.

The field for the Kroger 250 might be said to be a study in extremes.

Six entered drivers have gone to Victory Lane at the 0.526-mile oval. Six others are attempting to make their first NASCAR national series appearance.

Among the group is NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, who debuted in the Kroger 250 on April 17, 2004. Timothy Peters is the only competitor to claim both first series start (2005) and victory (2009) at Martinsville.

Peters, Johnny Sauter, Ron Hornaday Jr., Kevin Harvick, David Starr and Scott Riggs are Martinsville winners expected to compete in Saturday’s race.

Kyle Busch Motorsports brings a pair of first-timers to the event: NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate Darrell Wallace Jr. and Erik Jones. Wallace finished third in a 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at the track. He’s 19; Jones is 16.

Other debuting are Chase Elliott, 17, son of 1988 NSCS champion Bill Elliott and a NASCAR Next9 driver; Grant Galloway, 18, an Indiana midget racer; Devin Jones, 16, a transplanted Californian racing out of Hickory, N.C., and Jonathan Davenport, a 29-year-old late model dirt touring competitor.