We saw the Round of 12 come to an end last week at Kansas, punctuated by a Denny Hamlin victory. His win set the field of 8 for this next round, and doing so at a track where he just might win again.
Here’s what to look for:
–And he’s on the Pole. Denny Hamlin will start out ahead of everyone else on Sunday, a great view for him. And he certainly knows his way around The Paperclip, an 11.0 average across the last ten races. His most recent Win here is the 2015 Spring race, but he’s had five Top 5s since starting that one.
–Chase Elliott is our outside polesitter for this one, exactly where he finished back in the Spring. Last year’s race saw him finish 7th, each of the last three better than the last. Only one direction to go from here on the current trajectory, and that is a Win today at Martinsville.
–Brad Keselowski won the STP 500 back in March, but he is one of those drivers who didn’t make the cut at Kansas. Slipping and sliding back in the closing laps, Brad lost enough points to find himself on the outside of the points standings. Rough outing for him there, and a great situation lost. A win here today is huge for any driver, guaranteeing them a chance in the Championship race at Homestead-Miami. He won’t win the title this year, but his 2nd best 9.3 average over the last ten races is notable.
–Joey Logano was last year’s winner at this race, something he’ll look to do again this year. Teammate Keselowski is out, but he and Blaney remain alive for Team Penske. Logano’s 11.9 average is 5th best among active drivers, where does the #22 come home today?
-Are we forgetting about Kyle Busch? Seems like this guy has been gliding under the radar as of late. Not really making waves, and just kinda coasting silently. He’s got the best average among all active drivers at this track, with a wicked 3.8. 3.8, is that a misprint? I’m afraid not; since he broke his leg back in 2015 and missed part of the season (missing the Spring race, won by teammate Denny Hamlin), Rowdy is yet to finish outside the Top 5. Incredible!
Coverage of the race starts on NBCSN at 3:00pm, green flag scheduled for 3:14pm.