ThatsRacin

NASCAR Goody’s 500 preview in 3 minutes

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jeff Gordon hasn’t won yet in the Chase (or this season), but he’s won eight times at Martinsville over his career.
NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jeff Gordon hasn’t won yet in the Chase (or this season), but he’s won eight times at Martinsville over his career. AP

Everything you need to know about Sunday’s Goody’s 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, in three minutes:

Three things to watch

1. The third round of the Chase begins, with Sunday’s winner advancing to the final round at Homestead. That will be the case in the two following races at Texas and Phoenix.

2. Martinsville recently completed installation of SAFER barriers around all its exterior walls. One consequence of that is that it has made an already-narrow and tight track narrower by about 30 inches. Remember, at .526-miles long, Martinsville is already NASCAR’s shortest track.

3. Sure, Joey Logano should be favored, but he’s never won at Martinsville in 13 career tries.

Observations

▪  Rain could be a factor Sunday. Bad weather will move into Martinsville at some point during the day – hopefully after the race is over. Darkness could become a factor (Martinsville has no lights), especially if the race isn’t started as scheduled at 1:15 p.m.

▪  Every once in a while a non-Chase driver wins a playoff race. Maybe it will be Jimmie Johnson on Sunday. Johnson has eight career victories at Martinsville, tied with Jeff Gordon for most among active drivers. Johnson also was fastest in Saturday’s final practice (97.108 mph).

▪  Kyle Busch was recovering from injuries suffered in a wreck at Daytona and didn’t compete in the spring race at Martinsville. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Denny Hamlin (first), Matt Kenseth (fourth) and David Ragan (fifth) all had big days during that race.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Joey Logano: Can he make it four in a row and tie the modern-day record for consecutive victories? He’ll start from the pole.

Martin Truex Jr.: Had an impressive run at Talladega and found more speed during qualifying at Martinsville, where he will start on the front row.

Jeff Gordon: Hasn’t won yet in the Chase (or this season), but he’s won eight times at Martinsville over his career.

He said it

“Even though it can get chaotic and there’s a lot that can happen, it just feels like a race track that’s a little more in the driver’s hands. I’m not saying everybody is going to be happy afterwards, but I think going into it you just feel like you have a little more control of things.” – Carl Edwards

Getting there

Race facts

Goody’s 500

Where: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Track type: .526-mile paved, paper-clip-shaped oval.

Race distance: 263 miles, or 500 laps.

Green flag: 1:15 p.m.

Weather: Cloudy, high of 62. Chance of rain 50 percent.

TV: NBC Sports Network.

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

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