MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 21, 2011) – Jimmie Johnson is in an unaccustomed position a week before the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Not only is he not leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup points, there are six other drivers between him and leader Carl Edwards.
But he couldn’t think of any place he’d rather be headed 35 points behind the leader than Martinsville Speedway. It may not be home to the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, but it’s certainly a comfort zone.
He has six wins on the .526-mile oval, second only to Jeff Gordon, with seven wins, among active drivers.
“I’m excited (to get to Martinsville). I’ve always been able to count on Martinsville and a good run here in the fall,” Johnson said during a media stop at Martinsville Speedway Thursday. “It’s been very important for our championship hopes.
“And the hole we are in from our crash at Charlotte, we need good tracks and we have got good tracks coming up. We’re excited to be coming back to Martinsville.”
Johnson has done more than just win races at Martinsville; he’s dominated. He is among the top three at Martinsville in almost every statistical category NASCAR has kept the past six years.
His average finish of 3.8 leads all drivers as does his driver rating of 149. He has led 22.2 percent of all laps run at Martinsville in the past six years, leading more laps than anyone else during the period.
All of that said, though, Johnson is mired in his longest winless streak at Martinsville, with his last win coming in the spring of 2009. Since then Denny Hamlin has won three in a row and Kevin Harvick won last spring.
“Running up front consistently is the key to the championship and we haven’t done a very good job of that in this Chase,” said Johnson. “We have to get back to top threes, top fives and this is a track where we can do that. We haven’t won here in a bit and I hope to change that.
“There are guys who have figured this track out. Denny Hamlin is no slouch here. Kevin Harvick has always been right on the brink of winning here and he has won. It’s a great track for Jeff Gordon. We know we’ll be in the mix and hopefully we’ll be the one on the front stretch winning that awesome (grandfather clock) trophy.”
Race-week excitement ramps up at Martinsville Speedway Friday when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars and the Camping World Truck Series trucks take to the track for a full day of practice.
Farm Bureau Pole Day and the Kroger 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is set for Oct. 29 and the TUMS Fast Relief 500 is on October 30.
Good seats remain for all events and may be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX or by visiting www.martinsvillespeedway.com.